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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Sao Rafael

Sao Rafael, Portugal

Sao Rafael holidays offer some of Portugal's best beaches, chilled out villages and delicious cuisine. Like many holidays to Algarve, you can expect warm and sunny weather, and a great choice of places to stay. Sao Rafael is a small, peaceful seaside town with charming streets leading to neighbouring villages and long stretches of golden sand. The houses and buildings are built in the traditional Portuguese style with plenty of whitewashed walls and terracotta tiles. Once you've sampled the bars and restaurants here, you can head to the more lively city of Albufeira, just ten minutes away.

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Experience one of the Algarve’s best beaches

The Algarve has some truly stunning stretches of coastline, and Sao Rafael Beach is one of its finest spots. With limestone cliffs, clear waters, golden sands and fab facilities, it's one of the region's top destinations, and has been awarded the title of Portugal's best beach a number of times. Locals and tourists alike flock here, namely to relax on its fine sands, enjoy the glorious views and take part in fun watersports. The cliffs surrounding Sao Rafael Beach are beautiful all day – but their rich red-orange colour is brought to life as the sun sets. Combined with the sand's golden hue, you're in for a treat if you linger into the evening.

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Portuguese
  • GMT - None

Take part in a range of water sports

As the sea off Sao Rafael Beach is extraordinarily clear, it's the perfect place to snorkel. If you head towards the rocky outcrops, you'll see glittering shoals of fast-moving, brightly-coloured fish. The current can be strong at times, so keep an eye out for any warnings. If you're feeling adventurous, embark on a diving trip to explore some incredible caves and shipwrecks. If you head to Albufeira Marina, just down the road from Sao Rafael, you'll find a huge choice of boat tours. You can try anything from dolphin watching and jet-skiing to deep sea fishing.

Try the local food and drink

Holidays in Sao Rafael go hand-in-hand with eating delicious food and trying exotic cocktails. There's a handful of family-run restaurants between Sao Rafael and the neighbouring Galé. They serve up fresh, traditionally cooked seafood, as well as regional specialities like braised clams, grilled sardines and swordfish steaks. Before you leave the region, head to Guia to try the piri-piri chicken, where the dish was invented. There's even an annual chicken celebration! If you're after seafood, Os Salgados serves some of the best fish dishes in the area, all paired with local wines.

Take a trip to Albufeira

Sao Rafael is loved by many for its tranquillity and peace but if you do want to visit somewhere more vibrant, Albufeira is a short drive away. The city is a labyrinth of narrow streets, buzzing squares and traditional churches – as well as classy nightclubs and glamorous bars. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy, and it's a pick-up point for many tours. It's also well connected with a number of main attractions like Aqualand and Zoomarine. When the sun sets, there's no shortage of entertainment in this city. Whether you want to dance 'til dawn or sip drinks overlooking the plush marina, the choice is yours. The main strip runs from Areias de Sao Joao all the way up the hill.

Enjoy fun family days out

There's plenty of choice when it comes to family entertainment on holidays to Sao Rafael. A ten-minute drive takes you to Aqualand, the Algarve's top waterpark. The whole family will love racing around the slides, chutes and adventure playground before relaxing on a lazy river ride. If one waterpark isn't enough, Slide and Splash and Aquashow are close to Albufeira too. The three parks cater for all ages, so no matter how old you are – you'll find something to enjoy. Zoomarine is another marine-themed park close to Sao Rafael. In addition to a fun waterpark, there's also a zoo and aquarium. You can even sign up to swim with dolphins or watch the acrobatic animals take part in demos with their trainers.

Sao Rafael holidays sparkle with great beaches, food and attractions. Whether you want a relaxing getaway spent on the sand or one full of hair-raising waterslides, there's plenty of variety in this small village and its surrounding area. Plus, you get the added bonus of staying in a sleepy, traditional town and venturing out to the louder attractions on your own time. Sao Rafael gives you instant access to one of Europe's best beaches – and that's well worth visiting for.