Why there’s so much more to Portugal’s Algarve than just golf resorts

Algarve Family


There are golden cliffs surrounding sandy beaches, gorgeous seaside restaurants, and more sunny days than anywhere else in Europe. Portugal’s Algarve has all of the requisites of a fabulous summer holiday, yet remains relatively obscure except to British golfers, making it all the more appealing.

The coastal region in the southern most part of Portugal is a mecca for sun-seekers and for lovers of food, wine, culture, and anyone who enjoys long days spent at the beach. It’s just as beautiful as Mediterranean classics like the French Riviera and Mallorca, but it’s not overrun with mass tourism (just yet, anyway).

Lisbon, Porto, and the Douro Valley have dominated must-see destination lists over recent years (and with good reason), but the Algarve is certainly a Portuguese highlight worth visiting. Here’s what to do if you’re heading there this summer.

What to do

The beaches

Beaches are the biggest draw in the Algarve. There are 150 in total, so there are plenty of options to choose from depending on what you’re after: good surf, a social atmosphere, nature, or something completely isolated.

Praia da Marinha in Lagoa is the most famous beach along the coast. Chances are, you will have seen it on your Instagram feed – its limestone rock formations and waves crashing in from the Atlantic provide an incredibly photogenic backdrop.

Some of the most popular beaches for sunbathing are located in Albufeira such Praia da Falesia and São Rafael, which both draw in crowds of beachgoers throughout the summer season.

Algarve Beach

Outdoor pursuits

If you’re into the great outdoors, hiking, and spotting wildlife, Ria Formosa Natural Park in the east is worth a trip. Colourful flamingos run wild and it has the largest population of seahorses in the world.

For surfing and water sports, head to Praia da Amoreira in Aljezur (the western Algarve). It has solid waves, rock pools, and is backed with wild sand dunes.


In addition to its sprawling beaches, the Algarve has a venerable history and architecture that is evocative of its Moorish heritage. Allocate a day to exploring the 16th Century town of Lagos and wander through the cobblestoned lanes, markets, and local boutiques.

Algarve Church

Where to eat and drink

With such a flourishing fishing industry, finding fresh local seafood is never difficult. Also, the climate is perfect for harvesting fruit, herbs, and vegetables, so a lot of what’s on the menus is generally grown locally.

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