In the east of the Algarve, where the border of Portugal sits snug with that of Spain, Altura offers all the fun in the sun without the noise, crowds and nightclubs. It's a compelling reason why so many of us choose to head to destinations like this year on year, where the true Portugal shines through in every traditionally prepared meal and sublime shoreline sunset.
Although tourists have flocked to the Algarve for decades, the area around Altura has remained largely untouched, which leaves acres of pristine countryside open to exploration. Altura is a brilliant place for nature lovers to hang their hats between adventures out to the waterfalls to the north, the marshland nature reserves to the west or the neighbouring cliff-top villages, where fishermen ply their trade.
The daily market brings bargain hunting back down to earth, in a far cry from the slick crisp malls of the bigger resorts, and gives you a chance to connect with the locals.
Flavoured with passion
You'd be missing out if you didn't make the most of the local restaurants in town, which all showcase traditional values and inherently Portuguese culinary style. That shines through in family run venues like Restaurante des Mares and stylised offerings such as O Charco, where a hearty stew with old fashioned flavours always hits the spot. Pizzerias and beach grills are also fairly common, and an affordable way to dine.
Nightlife is similarly inviting and pleasingly calm, with local musicians and rustic tavernas giving plenty to enjoy. Venues like Chloe's Bar and The Blue Parrot are storied watering holes whose histories are woven into the fabric of the people. While the likes of Moby's Bar, Mar's Bar and the Central Sports Cafe give a little more liveliness to proceedings, without losing the community touch.
Adventures at sea
One part of life in Altura where they really push the boat out is in their love of watersports. Although life on the beach is always relaxing, head out onto the waves themselves and it's a whole new world of adrenaline and adventure.
Diving remains a popular choice for many visitors to Altura, where classes for beginners and courses for experts stand side by side for your enjoyment. Similarly, you'll find plenty in the way of waterskiing and jetskiing taking place on that pristine blue sea.
Test your swing
If you're adamant on taking your sports on dry land alone, rent a car and head out to some of the local golf courses, where you can test your swing against a range of smartly designed fairways.
The closest of those is Eurotel Altura, near the coast, although further afield you can try your skill against the fairways of Quinta Do Vale, beside the River Guadiana that divides Portugal and Spain. For those truly seeking a challenge, Benamor Golf Course near Tavira was designed by Sir Henry Cotton as a challenging course for those looking to show their mastery of the sport.
Some visitors pick cheap holidays to the Algarve so they can take the chance to head across the border and see the sights of Spain too, yet with so much here in Altura we wouldn't blame you for staying put in the sun, fun and serenity.