Royals, celebrities from around the world, families, nature lovers, birdwatchers, trekkers, nightclubbers, everyone finds happiness in the Algarve, a destination to discover throughout the year. The Algarve is like a good friend always smiling, always in a good mood, warming your heart and taking away the worries of the day.
The Algarve is an incredible destination that offers sublime hotels at very attractive prices in winter such as the Pine Cliffs Hotel located in Albufeira, the EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel or for small budgets who want to enjoy sea views the Muthu Oura Praia Hotel.
During your stay do not miss to visit the Best Beaches in Portugal, Most Beautiful Secret Destinations in Portugal, Best Castles in Portugal, Best Places to Visit in Portugal and Best Things to do in Portugal to enjoy the very best of Portugal.
Top things to do in Algarve Portugal
Discovering the Via Algarvina route
Country walks allow visitors to explore the natural riches of the unspoilt Algarve landscape. All over the region extensive areas of coastline, hills and fertile plains invite tourists to discover the great outdoors. One of the best ways to see the Algarve hinterland is on foot, bicycle or horseback along the Via Algarviana, an extensive 240km network of paths stretching across the Algarve between Alcoutim in the east to Cape St Vincent in the west.
Boat ride in Ria Formosa
Admire the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa elegance on a ride in a traditional fishing boat. A boat ride is also the perfect way to enjoy the Algarve’s fine weather. Covering over 18,000 hectares the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is comprised of sand dunes, marsh lands, lagoons and fresh water lakes. Its diverse group of inhabitants includes birds, fish, mammals and amphibians.
Canoeing through the Guadiana river to Alcoutim
The Guadiana River, a natural boundary between Portugal and Spain, is navigable from its mouth to Alcoutim. Starting from Vila Real de Santo António, you pass through Castro Marim surrounded by saltpans, schist rock and a castle that stands proudly above the Nature Reserve, home to over a hundred different species of birds.
Sun and beaches
Some of the best and most beautiful beaches in the entire world are to be found in the Algarve. Hardly surprising then that the region is a favourite for sun-seekers from all over. They come in search of the natural heritage that is now managed in a sustainable fashion, in order to provide quality recreational facilities able to meet all kinds of requirements.
Even the most fearless of visitors should find enough variety in the Algarve to fill their free time with active sports, always with nature as a magnificent backdrop.
Breathtaking paragliding or hang gliding flights are the perfect choice for adventure lovers. Taking advantage of good winds along the entire Vicentine Coast, flights provide a unique opportunity to contemplate the magnificent splendour of the cliffs and the azure seas.
How to get to The Algarve Portugal
Book your flights to Faro, your accommodation and tours & activities in the Algarve.
Where to stay at The Algarve Portugal
“Portobay Falesia” features direct access to the white sandy Falésia Beach.
What is Algarve Portugal known for?
Lifestyle in Algarve Portugal
he Algarve has some of the best weather in all of Europe with over 300 days of sunshine, hot dry summers, and mild winters. Summer temperatures average around 87 F, in the fall they dip down to mid to low 60s F, and winter brings some rain with temperatures hovering around 59 F.
In the west, near Lagos Atlantic winds buffet towering cliffs and generally keep the air four or five degrees cooler than in the east, near Tavira.
The choice is yours: do you want a beach with dramatic geological formations, or would you rather stretch out on sandy protected coves? The sheltered bay in Monte Gordo close to the Spanish border is said to have the warmest water in all of the Algarve.
As far as language is concerned, generally you can get by in English. The key is “get by.” If you want to venture into the Algarve’s authentic, sparsely inhabited, interior villages and savor the true flavor of the country, learn at least some Portuguese.
Portuguese is a romance language, very similar to Spanish or Italian, and not any more difficult to learn. Just be sure to study European or Continental Portuguese and not the Brazilian version since the latter is very different. It’s a welcome sign of respect to attempt to speak to locals in their native tongue. They’ll love you for it. And then they probably will want to practice their English.
Below are three suggestions representing a few popular expat havens in the Algarve but there are many more to consider.
Dip your toes into the lazy Gilão River that runs through the center of this historic, charming city or hop aboard the ferry to Tavira island for a walk on the beach. Its old-town shines with colorful tiled buildings and the remnants of a castle from days gone by. Meander along the cobbled lanes packed with cafes and restaurants where surely you will hear English being spoken by the many foreigners who call this adorable city home.
Originally conceived in the 1980s as a world-class golfing venue, Vilamoura offers elegant hotels, fine dining, and a large marina complex in addition to the pristine Praia da Falésia beach. For a more traditional Portuguese feel, Quarteira is only steps away with a local fish and produce market. A short drive to Loulé, to mingle with locals at the Arabic-inspired market or stroll around the historic center.
History abounds in this coastal walled city with its 17th-century fort, a lively marina complex, and narrow cobbled lanes. Nearby is the stunning coastline of Ponta da Piedade where boardwalks descend to the clear blue water that is decorated with craggy rock formations, caves, and grottoes. Also, home to a sizeable expat community, plenty of restaurants, cafes, and tourists’ shops that line the marina complex.
Cost of Living in the Algarve Portugal
Housing is the primary cost factor to living most anywhere, and while Portugal’s popularity has increased prices in recent years deals can still be found.
For example, it’s possible to find a two-bedroom home for sale in Portimão for $219,000, in Albufeira for $299,000, and in Tavira for $275,000. In the same three cities, two-bedroom monthly rentals can be found from $800, $1,000, and $1,000.
Beaches, History, and Charm | 5 Must-See Algarve Towns
Portugal’s appeal, for most expats, begins with the Algarve. That’s the southern stretch of the country running from craggy Sagres in the west to the low-lying Spanish border in the east. It is a region of wild coastline interspersed with some of the best beaches in the world.
This region of Portugal has earned its reputation among expats by providing a resort feel, while at the same time maintaining the authenticity of this beautiful country. Scores of golf courses, from easy to award-winning, stud the coastline.
The dining scene ranges from simple, local food at small cafés in each town to the Michelin-starred Vila Joya in Albufeira. In fact, a total of seven restaurants in the region earned Michelin stars in 2018.
The architecture reflects the region’s 500 or so years of Moorish influence between the eighth and 13th centuries. Even the name, Algarve, derives from the Moorish Al Gharb (“western cape”). The towns are typical medieval historic centers with narrow, winding cobbled streets.
Traditional houses are white with yellow or blue borders and thick stone walls to protect from summer heat. Layered into all this history are vestiges of the Roman Empire, including first-century Roman ruins like the ones outside Faro, at Estoi.
The people are helpful and super-friendly.
Medical care is the same as it is all over Portugal: available at very affordable prices, or even free, depending on one’s residence status.
Real estate ranges from simple studios along the coast to villas with sweeping panoramic views in the surrounding hillside towns. It’s easy to drive around, with excellent highways and municipal roads. Let’s take a trip to some of my favorite towns in the Algarve.
Climate of Algarve Portugal
Climate, through its effect on vegetation, divides Portugal. As in Spain, three sets of influences are involved: Atlantic, continental (Mesetan), and Mediterranean. The Atlantic climate predominates overall, putting most of the country into the humid zone of the Iberian Peninsula; this is especially true in the northwest, where the climate is mild and rainy. Summer temperatures near sea level may average up to 76 °F (24 °C) but are rather lower at exposed higher elevations. Winter temperatures average 37 to 40 °F (3 to 4 °C) but tend to be milder south of the Douro. Annual rainfall averages more than 40 inches (1,000 mm).
In the extreme northwest, much of the Minho receives 40 to 80 inches (1,000 to 2,000 mm) of precipitation, with more than 100 inches (2,500 mm) falling on mountain slopes. Inland, lee slopes are arid, receiving at most 20 inches (500 mm), much of which is lost through high evaporation rates. In the interior, continental influences increase the duration of the summer drought to more than a month and intensify winter severity. High-pressure conditions from the Spanish Meseta or from Siberian anticyclones bring very cold temperatures. The Alentejo can experience both acute winter cold and extreme summer heat. In the highest areas of the Estrela Mountains and northern ranges, temperatures drop to 32 °F (0 °C), and snow remains on the summits for several months. In the south, where the Azores high-pressure system prevails in summer, the period of drought lengthens to two months or more. Temperatures average about 75 °F (24 °C) in summer and 50 °F (10 °C) in winter. Mean annual precipitation is slightly more than 20 inches (500 mm) along the coast and a bit higher in the mountains of the Algarve. Nevertheless, there is considerable climatic variability from one year to the next.
Mediterranean, Saharan, and oceanic influences produce seasonal precipitation, occasional dry winds, and thermal equability, respectively, in the Madeiras. Climate varies markedly with altitude. In the Azores the anticyclone dominates, though conditions can be highly variable. Rainfall, for example, is irregular both in annual total and in regime: Horta (on Faial Island) may have more than 40 inches (1,000 mm) a year or may suffer severe drought.
Plant and animal life at Algarve Portugal
Portugal’s vegetation is a mixture of Atlantic, or European, and Mediterranean (with some African) species. Overall, the former accounts for some two-thirds of species, but the regional distribution is revealing. North of the Mondego valley, nearly three-fifths of the plants are European species (some seven-eighths in the northern interior), and only one-fourth are Mediterranean. In the south the proportions are three-tenths and nearly one-half, respectively. One-third are foreign species, introduced in periods of colonization.
Millennia of human activity have left Portugal with only one-fourth of its area under woodland. The remainder of the country features two types of Mediterranean scrublands—called maquis and matorral, or steppe. Mixed deciduous trees are confined to the north and northern interior, where the landscapes of the Minho are lush and green except for the heaths (mato) of the Cambrian schists. These carry erica, heather, cistus, and bracken. The original oak climax (with Quercus robur as the dominant species) has been largely replaced by maritime pine with some cork oak and extensive plantations of eucalyptus. Olives extended into the north in Roman times but are now generally limited to elevations below 1,200 feet (400 metres); inland, where the summer drought is longer, they can be found in some areas with elevations as high as 2,200 feet (700 metres). In the Douro valley, juniper scrub has been replaced by vineyards.
Wildlife of Algarve Portugal
The fauna of Portugal is a mixture of European and North African types. As in Spain, the wild goat, wild pig, and deer can be found in the countryside. The wolf survives in the remote parts of the far north and northeast, and the lynx inhabits the Malcata Mountains. The fox, rabbit, and Iberian hare are ubiquitous. Birdlife is rich because the peninsula lies on the winter migration route of western and central European species. Hunting zones cover nearly one-third of Portugal. In the Azores, only the smaller mammals are found—such as the rabbit, weasel, ferret, rat (brown and black), and mouse as well as various types of bats. Game birds include woodcock, red partridge, quail, and snipe. The highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal is native to Madeira’s Desertas Islands, which were designated a nature reserve in 1990. Some 40 species of birds breed there, including the Madeira laurel pigeon and the Zino’s petrel. The variety of beetles (nearly 700 species, many indigenous) and moths (more than 100 species, about one-fourth of which are peculiar to the Madeiras) is remarkable.
Fish are plentiful in the Atlantic waters of mainland Portugal, especially the European sardine. Crustaceans are common on the northern rocky coasts, and clams and oysters are raised in the Algarve. Larger fish (tunny, bonito) as well as mullet are caught off the Azores and the Madeira Islands.
Algarve Portugal Ethnic groups and languages
Although western Iberia has been occupied for a long time, relatively few human remains of the Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) have been found. Neolithic Period (New Stone Age) and Bronze Age discoveries are more common, among them many dolmens (stone monuments). Some of the earliest permanent settlements were the northern castros, hill villages first built by Neolithic farmers who began clearing the forests. Incoming peoples—Phoenicians, Greeks, and Celts—intermingled with the settled inhabitants, and Celticized natives occupied the fortified castros. For two centuries these were centres of resistance to the Roman legions. Subsequently the Romans, Suebi, Visigoths, Moors, and Jews exerted influence on the territory. Portugal’s location at the western extremity of Europe made it a gathering place for invaders by land, and its long coastline invited settlement by seafarers.
More than nine-tenths of the country’s population are ethnic Portuguese, and there are also small numbers of Brazilians, Han Chinese, and people from Portugal’s former colonial possessions in Africa and Asia. Ethnic Marranos (descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity but who secretly continued to practice Judaism) constitute about 1 percent of the population, and the country’s Roma (Gypsy) population lives primarily in the Algarve. Language is an extremely common bond: Portuguese is the first language of nearly the entire population.
Algarve Portugal Religion
Some ninth-tenths of Portugal’s citizens are Roman Catholic, and one of the most globally famous of all pilgrimage sites tied to the Blessed Virgin Mary is found in the village of Fatima. Regular attendance at the Catholic Mass, however, has declined in the cities and larger towns, particularly in the south. Less than 2 percent of the population is Protestant, with Anglicans and Methodists the oldest and largest denominations. In the late 20th century, fundamentalist and Evangelical churches grew in popularity, though the number of their adherents remained quite small. The Jewish population of Portugal is also tiny, as Jews were forced to convert or emigrate during the Inquisition in the late 15th century.
Economy of Algarve Portugal
Portugal was the world’s richest country when its colonial empire in Asia, Africa, and South America was at its peak. Because this wealth was not used to develop domestic industrial infrastructure, however, Portugal gradually became one of western Europe’s poorest countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. From the mid-1970s, after the Portuguese revolution, the country’s economy was disconnected from Portugal’s remaining overseas possessions in Africa and reoriented toward Europe. In 1986 Portugal joined the European Economic Community (ultimately succeeded by the European Union [EU]), spurring strong and steady economic growth. Similar to those of other western European countries, Portugal’s economy is now dominated by services; manufacturing constitutes a significant share of output, while agricultural output is relatively minor, accounting for less than 3 percent of output. In the early 21st century, economic growth had improved living standards dramatically, raised incomes, and reduced unemployment. In addition, since Portugal’s accession to the EU, large inflows of structural funds, private capital, and direct investment have fostered and sustained development. Portugal was one of the countries hardest hit by the euro-zone debt crisis that erupted in 2009, however, and a raft of government measures proved ineffective at halting the country’s economic meltdown. In 2011 the EU and the International Monetary Fund authorized a €78 billion (about $116 billion) bailout package for Portugal, contingent on the adoption of strict austerity guidelines.
Resources and power at Algarve Portugal
Tungsten, tin, chromium, and other alloy metals are mined in commercial quantities, and most of the tungsten is exported. Ornamental and industrial rocks, especially marble, have become a substantial export. Coal mined at Moncorvo supplies the national steelworks. Copper is extracted at the extensive Neves Corvo mine, and since 1989 Portugal has exported large quantities of copper concentrates. Other products range from granite to mineral water, and the country has large uranium reserves.
Portugal imports about four-fifths of its energy supplies; it depends heavily on the importation of petroleum and petroleum products as well as coal, which accounts for about 25 percent of the country’s electricity production. (Domestic production of coal has increased since the mid-1980s, but the coal is of fairly low quality.) A natural gas pipeline from North Africa was completed in 1997. Nearly one-fifth of Portugal’s electricity is provided by hydropower, and a smaller proportion comes from thermal energy.
In the early 21st century, Portugal increased its use of alternative energy sources. A large wind farm—the largest in Europe at the time it was built—opened in 2008 in northern Portugal, and one of the world’s largest photovoltaic farms (which use solar panels to generate electricity) is near the town of Moura in southeastern Portugal. The country also has experimented with wave-power technology.
About four-fifths of Portugal’s industrial capacity is concentrated around Lisbon and Setúbal in the south and Porto, Braga, and Aveiro in the north. Lisbon and Setúbal support oil refining, chemical industries, cement processing, automobile manufacturing and assembly, electronics manufacture, wood-pulp and cork production, and fish and beverage processing. Light industry prevails in the north. Textiles, footwear, furniture, wine, and processed foods are produced in Porto. Aveiro is a centre for wood pulp and wood products, and Braga specializes in clothing, cutlery, and electronics. Fuel and energy production is important at Sines, a deepwater port about 90 miles (150 km) south of Lisbon, and Coimbra and Leira are notable for the production of plastic molds and machine tools.
In 1975 (after the revolution) Portugal’s heavy industry, basic industries (e.g., cement and petrochemical processing, shipbuilding, generation of electricity), and even some light industries were nationalized. However, in the late 1980s these industries underwent privatization, which has had far-reaching effects. Nearly all public enterprises were privatized, some in tranches, providing the central government with large revenues. Private domestic firms handle the traditional labour-intensive light industries and construction, and subsidiaries of multinational corporations dominate the more technologically advanced industries such as electronics manufacture, automobile manufacture and assembly, and pharmaceutical production.
Services at Algarve Portugal
The service sector is extremely important to Portugal’s economy, accounting for more than three-fifths of total output. Tourism has surged to become a major industry, and millions of people visit Portugal annually. Notable tourist destinations include Lisbon, the Algarve, and the Douro valley. Visitors from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom make up the bulk of tourists.
Transportation and telecommunications
Several of Portugal’s main roads date to ancient times. Transport and communications were seriously neglected for much of the 20th century, but, beginning late in the century, there was a concerted effort backed by massive funding from the EU to remedy the situation. As a result, the total road network has been extended. A four-lane auto-estrada (superhighway) connects Lisbon to Porto, the capital of the north. A motorway links Lisbon with Madrid, and there is a four-lane highway from Lisbon to the Algarve. Expressways reach the largest towns and extend to the border and ports. Secondary roads link the towns with almost every part of the interior. The 10.7-mile (17.2-km) Vasco da Gama Bridge, the second bridge in Lisbon to span the Tagus River, was completed early in 1998. However, the bridge has not totally relieved traffic congestion, prompting consideration of building either a new bridge or a tunnel to cross the Tagus.
The Portuguese railway system has been improved, and the enterprise Rede Ferroviária Nacional (REFER) was established in 1997 to manage it. In the 1990s and early 21st century, Lisbon’s metro system was extended outside the city limits with the addition of several new stations. Among them was the Gare do Oriente, a main station located in the Parque das Nações (Park of Nations), on land east of the city centre, that was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. Porto also has developed a light rail system, parts of which run underground. Lisbon’s 25th of April Bridge, once Europe’s longest suspension bridge, has been adapted to include a railway line.
Portugal’s main international airport is Lisbon’s Portela Airport. There are also international airports in Faro and Porto, and airports in Madeira and the Azores receive flights from international destinations. Small airports for domestic flights are located near several other cities. The country’s flagship airline is TAP Portugal. There are several other Portuguese airlines, and the country is also served by numerous international carriers that provide both passenger and cargo services.
Advances in technology and telecommunications have speeded the transformation of Portugal’s finance and business sector. Historically, the extension of fixed telephone lines in Portugal was slow; as a result, many individuals have adopted cellular phones, making Portugal among Europe’s early leaders (by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the country had 1.4 mobile phone subscriptions per person) in per capita mobile phone use. The cellular phone market is intensely competitive. Portugal has implemented reforms in its telecommunications sector that favoured liberalization and privatization. Internet use grew dramatically in the late 1990s and early 21st century, though computer use in Portugal remained low compared with that of most other EU countries.
Security at Algarve Portugal
The Portuguese military is commanded by the president, who also appoints the chiefs of staff. Formerly, military service was compulsory, but conscription was eliminated in the early 21st century. The armed forces consist of an army, an air force, and a navy. Before passage of the National Defense Law in 1982, the military had veto power over legislation affecting it, including expenditures and international agreements. Portugal was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, and it is also a member of the Western European Union, which serves to coordinate European defense and security policies.
The Portuguese police are divided into four categories. The Public Security Police (Polícia de Segurança Pública; PSP) and the Republican National Guard (Guarda Nacional Republicana; GNR) are under the control of the Ministry of Internal Administration. The GNR includes the road police and has jurisdiction over rural areas. The PSP patrols urban areas and directs city traffic. The Fiscal Guard (Guarda Fiscal), which is stationed at frontier crossings and points of entry and is responsible for collecting import duties and investigating smuggling and other violations of border regulations, is under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. There is also a judicial police force, the Polícia Judiciária. The crime rate in Portugal is low, and the decriminalization of virtually all drugs in 2001 made Portugal a test case for law-enforcement agencies around the world. With rates of addiction down and rehabilitation programs replacing incarceration, the Portuguese experiment was widely heralded as a bold response to a pressing public health issue.
Health and welfare at Algarve Portugal
The Portuguese welfare system is composed of several types of institutions that insure workers against sickness, disability, and old age and provide for the payment of pensions and family allowances. Compulsory insurance is provided by employers in most sectors of business and industry; employees also pay into the fund. Trade-union provident funds and welfare funds for other employees provide assistance for most categories of workers, and there are voluntary mutual assistance associations and provident institutions for the military forces and civil servants. Many large companies maintain their own welfare and sickness benefit programs and pensions for their employees.
Portugal has both public and private hospitals. Major hospitals are generally located in the main district capitals, and other hospitals are found in smaller centres. There are also several hundred other health centres. Charity hospitals (santas casas da misericórdia), which were first founded in 1498 when the Irmandade da Misericórdia (Fraternity of Mercy) was formed in Lisbon by Leonor de Lencastre, the widow of King John II, are funded by a national lottery and play an important social role, especially among the elderly. Special institutions include a cancer hospital and research unit in Lisbon, a school of tropical medicine, and a modern rehabilitation centre for people with disabilities near Lisbon. The health care system was long undermined by inefficiency, funding shortfalls, and a shortage of doctors, though, beginning in the 1990s, the government began to address the system’s endemic problems. A major reform of the health care system was undertaken in 2002 with the goal of reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Key challenges for Portugal’s national health service in the 21st century included balancing the needs of an aging populace with the costs associated with providing the necessary care.
Early education for children age 3 to 6 is available for free, and schooling is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 18. Education has become a high priority of government funding, particularly since the late 1980s, when a study found that one-fifth of the population over age l5 was illiterate. By the beginning of the 21st century, the literacy rate exceeded 90 percent, and nearly every child was enrolled in school; however, failure rates remain high, and child labour, prevalent especially in the north, has not yet been eliminated. Private schools supplement the state schools, which provide free education for the majority of people. There are several public and private universities, including the long-established University of Coimbra (originally founded in Lisbon in 1290, relocated permanently to Coimbra in 1537), the University of Lisbon (founded 1911), the Technical University of Lisbon (founded 1930), the University of Porto (founded 1911), and the Portuguese Catholic University (founded in 1968 in Lisbon). There are also technical institutes, nursing and technical health schools, military academies, and several specialized schools for subjects such as the sciences and hotel management.