Blue Flag coastlines
There are nearly 70 Blue Flag award-winning beaches in the Algarve region alone, meaning that no matter what resort you choose, you won’t be far from a knock-out set of sands. Praia da Marinha in Carvoeiro is regarded across the board as being one of the most stunning beaches in the world, while Albufeira alone has 25 beaches to choose from.
With 30 kilometres of coastline to explore, we’re pretty sure you’ll find somewhere to lay your towel. Awash in golden and rusty red tones, they’re what holidaymakers come far and wide for. Most of the beaches come clad with yellowish sands and aqua blue water that’s cut into the coastline and formed craggy cliffs, caves and rock pools for exploring.
Parks, parks and more parks
Algarve holidays let you mix water fun with seeing animals in mega attractions. Zoomarine Algarve is a super-sized park with water slides, rides and animal shows, not to mention a chance to take a dip with the resident dolphins. There’s also Aquashow Park, one of the biggest waterparks in the Algarve. Here you’ll find slides, pools and roller coasters, as well as even more animal shows.
There’s a traditional zoo too with no added water – that’s the Parque Zoologico de Lagos, home to more than 200 species of animals. We can’t forget the Parque Nacional da Ria Formosa either, a massive expanse of land that’s part wetland, part lagoon and part saltpans. A number of the area’s rare animal species roam here and you get the chance to see them up close and in their natural habitat.
Algarvios are known for their affinity with seafood, as is evident by many of the menus found in the local restaurants. On the whole, cuisine in the Algarve is influenced by the groups of people that have graced this side of Portugal, plus a hint of flavour from the Mediterranean.
You’ll find fresh, local food everywhere, from the Algarve’s Michelin-rated establishments to cosy coastal restaurants with outdoor patios. Algarvios are vigilant about ensuring only the freshest fish is prepared, of which there’s plenty due to the region’s seaside landscape. Salted cod is Portugal’s national dish, but other Algarve favourites include fish stews, rice and beans and fresh veggies, often accompanied by a fiery glass of aguardente – the local spirit.
You won’t have trouble finding your regular watering hole in the Algarve. Each resort has a number of night-time venues, from laid-back bars to pulsing nightclubs that are sure to keep you going long into the evening.
Albufeira is renowned as being the Algarve’s nightlife capital, which holds down the Algarvian nightlife scene with its own strip of bars and clubs, as well as a selection of classy lounges.
However, Lagos and Sao Joao are hot on its tail. Lagos is filled with nightspots the whole family can settle into, while Sao Joao houses a popular strip, packed with cosy wine bars on one end and nightclubs on the other.
Malls and markets
Retail enthusiasts need not fear – just as the Algarve brims with eye-popping beaches, there’s lots of shops, markets and malls for the shopping-inclined too. Both Portimao and Guia have shopping malls, with Guia’s being the largest in the Algarve, housing more than 200 shops cheap holidays to the Algarve are not just about sunbathing and partying, they also offer plenty of shopping opportunities too.
Almost every major resort holds at least a monthly market as well. Here you can pick up everything from textiles to fresh fruits and veggies, fish and clothing.