Things to do in the Algarve

The Algarve is a vast and gorgeous landscape on Portugal‘s southern coast, treated to sweeping waterfront scenery and rolling hills. That’s why the majority of activities here are centred around getting holidaymakers out and about, off-roading through the countryside, exploring caves and rock formations and whipping down waterslides. Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t forget your sun cream.

Swim with dolphins

Part waterpark, part animal adventure, Zoomarine Algarve near Guia is sure to be any ocean enthusiast’s holiday highlight. At this mega park, you can not only swim with dolphins at the aptly named ‘Dolphin Emotion’ experience, but catch shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, tropical birds and pirates. Then you can have a go at gliding down waterslides or splashing around in the wave pool.

Explore the cliffs at Ponta de Piedade

The Ponta de Piedade is a cluster of naturally-formed sandstone cliffs and arches off the coast of Lagos. In the centre is a gorgeously vibrant pool of blue-green water that’s so crystal clear, you can see the rocks and sand beneath. Access the pool via a steep staircase carved into the cliffside, or join a boat tour and reach the cliffs by sea. Coasting in under the towering archways is one seriously epic way to make an entrance.

Get up close and personal with endangered animals

The Ria Formosa is a patchwork of landscapes near Faro featuring everything from beaches to marshes, dunes, lagoons and saltpans. It’s one of the official ‘Seven Wonders of Portugal’, and is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon wandering around the vast terrain. The park is home to rare species of birds, aquatic life and animals like the chameleon and the purple swamphen, which can be observed on foot, from a kayak or by bike.

Coast through the waves on boat cruises

As plentiful as the array of cheap holidays to the Algarve is, so is the number of cruises on offer. Cruises come in all shapes and sizes here, primarily because there are so many beaches and no two same ways to experience them. You can hop aboard a catamaran cruise, a speedboat tour of the caves and cliffs or a boat that quietly glides past a pod of dolphins or a turtle coming up for air. There are also some that’ll show you the highlights of the area, pausing into fishing villages and little islands for the full Algarve experience.

Hit the slides at Aquashow Park

The Aquashow Park is one of the biggest and best waterpark experiences in Portugal, situated on the outskirts of Vilamoura. It not only features waterslides, a massive wave pool and a rollercoaster, but also houses the tallest freefall waterslide in Europe. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a lazy river and hot tub for the less adrenaline-inclined, as well as reptile, sea lion and exotic bird shows.

Befriend a monkey at Parque Zoologico de Lagos

Lagos Zoo is a family favourite of Algarve holidays, providing three hectares of land that is home to more than 120 species of animals and 200 different types of plants. Inside its enclosures are exotic birds, a reptile house and big cats, but the most popular exhibit is undoubtedly the primate enclosure. There, you’ll find everything from gibbons to lemurs and tamarins, whose feeding time often draws the biggest crowds.

Go off-roading

Just as exploring the coast by boat is a popular pastime in the Algarve, off-roading is the way to get around on land. The Algarve is laced with vast, hilly landscapes behind the gorgeous coastline, so nearly every resort in the region is privy to an off-roading company that’ll get you set up on an ATV. Most routes will have you stopping off at local hotspots, pausing for a swim and dining at charming countryside restaurants.