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Algarve, Southern Portugal: Klaava Travel Guide

Algarve, Southern Portugal: Klaava Travel Guide

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Algarve, Southern Portugal: Klaava Travel Guide

317 pages
2 hours
Dec 1, 2017


Portugal in southern Europe has become a trendy and popular travel destination for people who are looking for a citybreak in one of the major cities of the country, and for people who enjoy the sun and the sea. The principal destination in Portugal for sunseekers and outdoors lovers is Algarve, the country’s southernmost province.

Algarve, Southern Portugal is a visual travel guide that shows the key places, sights, and activities on the south coast. Once you find something that is for you, you may study the descriptions for details.

Top 5 listings in the travel guidebook give you a quick overview on the key towns, attractions and activities in the region. You can quickly identify candidates for resorts you might want to stay, places you might want to visit, natural parks to explore, or scenic drives for next day’s road trip. Detailed descriptions of all towns, villages, sights, activities, and events are then easy to find and study from he book.

Portugal has a long and fascinating history as a nation between North Africa and the rest of Europe. The colorful history is visible and part of daily life in many towns and villages of Algarve. Ancient castles, fortresses, cathedrals and other treasures from periods when, among others, Romans and Arabs ruled the region are fascinating to explore.

In many ways, Portuguese culture has developed its own path if it is compared to other southern European cultures, but that’s what makes it fascinating. The book has plenty of cultural tips for travelers for navigating in this world of traditions and customs.

Hotel prices, their star ratings, or restaurant menus and reviews are not featured in the book, but you will get a good understanding of the overall hotel and restaurant scene, and which towns and beach resorts have facilities you are looking for.

Dec 1, 2017

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Algarve, Southern Portugal - Ari Hakkarainen

Algarve travel guide


Southern Portugal

Klaava Travel Guide

Ari Hakkarainen

Algarve, Southern Portugal

Klaava Travel Guide

ISBN 978-952-7074-84-8 (EPUB)

Copyright Ari Hakkarainen

Images by Ari Hakkarainen unless credited to other photographers.

Editor: Jo Ann Morales

Publisher: Klaava Media / Andalys Ltd

Published: January 2018





Algarve in a Nutshell

Algarve on a map


When to visit

Essential Tips for Travelers

Safety tips for pet owners

Tips for the road traffic

Public holidays in Portugal

Getting There and Moving around the Region








Algarve Top 5

Top 5 towns

Top 5 beaches

Top 5 sights

Top 5 villages

Top 5 natural parks

Top 5 scenic drives

Top 5 places for shopping

Top 5 outdoor activities

Key Places and Sights

Western Algarve

Eastern Algarve

Destinations near Algarve

Natural Parks

Small natural areas











Local markets

Shopping districts in old towns



Food and Drink

About Portuguese food


Port wine

Madeira wine


Finding Accommodations

Short-term stay

Road travelers

Digital nomads and remote workers

Winter escapees

Practical Information

A Brief History of Algarve

Country Facts

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Algarve travel guide

Olhos d'Aqua.

Algarve travel guide

The old town in Albufeira.

Algarve travel guide

The coastline in Lagos.

Algarve travel guide

A café by the river in Tavira.


Portugal is a unique European country that is full of surprises for travelers. Its landscapes vary from lush green hills and mountains of the northern territories to the dry and hilly central and southern territories. Portugal’s long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and its location in southern Europe largely set the climate for the country, with rain in the north and plenty of sun in the south.

Portugal’s southern coast, the province of Algarve, has one of the most varying and spectacular coastlines in the world. Impressive landscapes, rich sea life, ancient traditions, fishing communities, pleasant year-round climate, and a long, fascinating history from the days of Roman and Arabic rule that characterize Algarve for today's visitors.

This travel guidebook provides you with all the essential information about Algarve, southern Portugal. If you want to get a quick overview about the greatest attractions, sights, and towns of Algarve, view the Top 5 lists first. They will help you find the things that are top priorities for you. More details on each destination, activity, and attraction are provided in later chapters.

Readers who like to follow visual prompts, can browse the hundreds of photographs included in the book. The high number of photographs shows Algarve's urban places and natural areas as visitors see them, and the text fills in the details. A number of video clips, for instance, in a section of scenic drives, are included as well. They can be viewed if your reading device is connected to the Internet.

Even though many travelers may arrive in Algarve with sun, sand, and sea at the top of their agenda, there is so much more to see and to do in the region. Even the laziest sunbather will change his mind in favor of touring the sights of the region when he experiences the ancient town of Silves or the end of the world at Sagres.

Algarve travel guide

Falesia beach.

Algarve has probably the most spectacular beaches in the world. It is not only the long sandy beaches, but also the variety of beaches that makes the southern coast unique. You may choose anything from dunes, tiny beaches between tall cliffs, surfers’ spots, sandy islands, or full-service beaches with restaurants, bars, and activities. After the busy summer months, when there is more space on the beaches, people use them for many kinds of recreation: yoga, football, jogging, dog walking, and when the tide turns, picking up sea food from the bottom of the ocean.

The coastline is dramatic. Even if you usually want to stay as far away from beaches as possible, Algarve’s beaches are for everyone. The southern coast has so much diversity and so many places to explore that they will make any photographer, outdoor activity seeker, or horizon-gazing daydreamer happy. Often, there are hiking paths on top of cliffs behind beaches. The views are magnificent to the sea and to the coast from above.

A number of rivers flow from the north to the southern coast, creating deltas where local and migratory birds thrive. Protected areas along the coast are sanctuaries for birds and allow visitors an easy way to experience the rich bird life. The rocky shores are spectacular when viewed from the sea. The sea also provides access to many caves carved into cliffs, to islands, and to coves protected by cliffs.

If you are a surfer, you already know that Algarve’s western coast has some of the best surfing beaches in Europe. For the rest us who don’t (yet) surf, it is a fun spectator sport to watch from the beach or from a cliff above.

Some of the today’s major tourist centers of Algarve, like Albufeira and Lagos, were originally small fishing villages. These fishing villages can still be found inside these busy towns. The villages have become tourist attractions on their own as the old town centers. In small towns and villages, like Carvoeiro, Olhos d’Aqua or Sagres, fishing still is an important means of making a living. In these villages, you can see fishermen going out to the sea daily in their small boats, returning with their catches, and perhaps preparing and enjoying a seafood meal right there on the beach.

Algarve had been inhabited long before the Romans settled and brought their infrastructure and other development projects with them, but precious little has remained of those days for a visitor to see. When the Moors took over the region, a long prosperous period of development began on the southern coast. Many landmarks from those days still exist and have been restored for all to admire. Ancient fortresses, castles, churches, bridges, and other buildings can be seen across the region. Even if you are not interested in history, these are magnificent sights that all can appreciate. In fact, the fortress of Castro Marim, the castle of Silves, and the old towns of Loulé or Aljezur are exciting destinations to explore.

Norway may have Nordkapp (North Cape) that marks the northernmost point of continental Europe (once thought to be the end of the world), but Portugal has Sagres that once was also regarded as the point where the world ends. Fortunately, it is possible to drive or sail to both of these places to see if the world really ends there.

Algarve travel guide


In Sagres, two peninsulas extend into the Atlantic Ocean from the continent. Massive cliffs stand high above the sea, leaving some space for small beaches here and there. Sagres has its own special atmosphere that doesn’t stem from the fact that it is a fishing village occasionally taken over by surfers, but there is something remarkable about the landscapes and life at the end of the world.

Those tourists who are exploring Algarve with a group, perhaps guided by someone who knows the local ways, may find differences between the cultures and customs of other southern or central European nations. In Algarve, the infrastructure for tourism is in place and it is constantly being developed. Options for accommodations are many, restaurants and bars are easy to find, and any other services a visitor might need are readily available as well.

Travelers who stay in Algarve and tour the region on their own will encounter different shades of local culture – not only the friendly English-speaking customer service personnel at a tourist resort.

Even though Algarve is a fantastic place to visit, tourists must be aware of potential conflicts with local culture. To begin, communication with Portuguese people outside tourist resorts can be a challenge. Few locals speak foreign languages. Even if you speak Spanish, it won’t help. Portuguese language and culture are very different from its neighboring country. In addition, road traffic in Portugal and in Algarve is among the most dangerous in Europe. Generally, roads are in worse condition than in neighboring countries, but unfortunately, they don’t slow down Portuguese drivers. Finally, dogs and cats roam freely in cities, towns, villages, and in the countryside. If you are traveling with pets, you need a plan for coping with the inevitable conflicts with local animals.

Thanks to its climate, Algarve is a delightful region for outdoors enthusiasts most of the year. Mid-summer can be too warm for physically-demanding exercises, and strong winds in winter may prevent some activities, but overall, the climate is pleasant year-round. Hiking, fishing, cycling, birdwatching, paddling, and other activities on the sea are easy to find in Algarve. Golf is one of the major attractions of modern Algarve. Its renowned golf courses are familiar to the best professional golfers in the world.

All and all, everyone, locals and visitors alike, enjoy what Algarve has to offer:  fabulous landscapes, the sea, historical places, traditions, varying natural environments, and tasty wines in a pleasant climate that is hard to beat.

Algarve in a Nutshell

Algarve has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in southern Europe. The southern coast’s exceptional landscape has given shape to many types of beaches that vary from miles-long undulating dunes to tiny idyllic coves between tall cliffs. Fishermen’s beaches in traditional Portuguese villages can show a glimpse of traditional daily life to sunbathing tourists. Along the shores, delta areas of rivers and large marshlands support rich wildlife communities. The hilly inland, the green Monchique Mountain, and the quiet western coast have hiking paths and mountain bike trails for every occasion.

The long and colorful history of the region is visible in old towns, fortresses, churches, and public buildings. Algarve was inhabited long before the Romans settled in the coastal areas, but little is left from those times. The most exciting remnants that visitors can still see today were built by Arabs. They ruled the region from the 8th century to 13th century, establishing Algarve as a prosperous region of trade and farming.

Algarve travel guide

A shop in the historical town of Loulé.

Today, Algarve’s most important business is tourism, and it shows along the entire coastline south of highway A22. The busiest tourist towns Albufeira, Armacao de Pera, Lagos, Portimao, and Faro have plenty of accommodation capacity in apartment blocks and hotels near the beaches and around the town centers. North of highway A22, life in villages and farms in the countryside goes on as it has for hundreds of years.

In addition to the exceptional coastline, Algarve’s climate is nearly ideal for year-round tourism. Sunbathing starts early in spring and continues until late autumn. Summer months can be very warm, but the sea balances the temperatures on the coast. In any case, the sun always shines in Algarve, except occasionally during winter.

The fascinating thing about Algarve is that it is an historically remarkable region. Every visitor who lifts his or her head from the sand or from the sea and takes a tour in any of the ancient towns, fortresses, cathedrals, and castles will be rewarded. The region’s history from the Roman times and from the era of Muslim rule can be explored in many places. The multitude of small and large museums with artifacts and objects from the past provides an endless opportunity to study the rich history.

Portuguese seafarers embarked on journeys across the Atlantic to discover new worlds in the 15th century. The Era of Discoveries, led by Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator, was extremely beneficial for Portugal and for Algarve. Voyages to remote lands were often launched from the southern coast.

Because the Algarve province is not a very large area, getting an overall impression of the region doesn’t take a lifetime, only a few days of driving or riding along its bumpy roads. From Castro Marim in the east next to the Spanish border,

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