Favorite thing: The weekly newspaper "Algarve resident" gives a good rundown on news in the Algarve and news that might have interest for foreigners living in the Algarve and whenever I am in the Algarve i always try and get a copy of the paper every week as i find it very informative.
I will here offer my two cents regarding the Algarve where you plan to spend your second week...as the Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra etc. are places so much more covered already with good practical info.
What you've probably heard about the Algarve being touristy and riddled with a certain hyped and glitzy resort-type atmosphere and worse, outrageous behaviour especially at the beaches, is quite accurate but only partly true.
Algarve, like all the other regions of Portugal, is clearly divided in topographical diversity from the coast to its gorgeous hilly/mountainous interior, not to mention diverse in cultural offerings especially at their rural settings. So, don't be dissuade by half-truths about the Algarve, go and spend your worthy week here, pick the good better little nooks of fantastic villages - inland and on the uncrowded part of the coast - soak up the Mediterranean-type terrain and climate.
I quite know a lot of the Algarve (as with the other parts of Portugal) not only as a frequent long-time visitor but mostly as a partime resident in the region. If you're travelling either by train or bus or flying, you'd likely get to Faro first (Algarve's capital city)from Lisboa and move on to anywhere in the outlying coast by bus or the connecting slow-chugging but scenic regional train; and if heading up to the hill towns, by bus. To have your own transport would be even better.
THE COAST (for sun, sand, tranquil setting, great seafood, unique rural architecture):
- Tavira. It's the town on the westerly part of the Algarve close to the Spanish border. Beautiful and very historic with lots of old churches, fantastic architecture and with nice beaches especially at the Ilha de Tavira (Tavira islet). The town gets plenty of Brits during summer but very relaxed off season. If you choose to visit here, take time to explore the little villages near and around Tavira especially the hamlet of Cacela Velha, ten minute bus-ride away, which I highly recommend. Here you'll be thoroughly far away from crowds and a setting which conveys the old Algarve some 50 years ago.
-Mertola. Not far from Tavira towards inland. High on a hill overlooking a river. Small and crowned with an old church dating back to the Moorish times.
-Salema. One of my favorites on the coast. It's a tiny fishing village after Lagos to the opposite easterly part of the Algarve. Salema is such a charming little village right on the water which retains much of its laid-back fishing community feel. It's got only one street but has a good selection of great seafood restaurants. From my last visit, there was only one hotel in the village, so if you decide to come look up Hotel A Mare and book in advance. A note of caution tho, small Salema is, there are now some modern apartment development high above the village's hill. You can use this place as a base to explore the magnificent cliffs on both sides and the magnificent promontory of Cabo de Sao Vicente which has a significant connection to the country's overall history of discoveries.
Aljezur. This has to be my favorite of all towns on the Algarve coast. The main little town of typical Portuguese setting and architecture in situated slightly inland - 10 minute drive into and from the ocean - tiny surrounded by verdant hills and an ancient Moorish fort at the top of the village. If you want to stay by the ocean, Aljezur is reputed to possess two of Portugal's most beautiful beaches, Monte Clerigo and Arrifana. Which ever beach village you'd prefer, you can find lodgings here and you can't go wrong with their unmatched setting. The owner of Hotel Dom Carlos in Aljezur town has rooms to rent in Arrifana. Go here if you're looking for the very best of beach vacation.
AVOID ALBUFEIRA, PORTIMAO, VILLAMOURA AND LAGOS - Algarve's most heavily touristed and over-developed coastal towns - if you can help it. Although Lagos has a few redeeming quality as far as architecture, regional museum, convenient shopping and transport hub...still, it's packed to the gills.
-The city of Faro. Most people skip and bypass this interesting provincial city and rush to go rapidly elsewhere. But Faro has great architecture in its old quarter, great museums and great restaurants. Being a transport hub, it's a good base to be at to do daytrips and explore the wonderful villages in the interior.
-Estoi. A sleepy little white village 40 mins. by bus from Faro. The largest Roman archelogical digs/find in the form of a Roman villa is found in Milreu, just at the entrance of Estoi. If you want to splurge, the brand new and well-restored Palacio de Estoi is now a pousada.
-Alte. A charming typical ultra-white village also not far from Faro is worth visiting. It's so tiny that it looks as tho there's not even one place to be found here in terms of accommodation.
-Querenca. Another beautiful ultra-white village just a short ride away from the market town of Loule which in itself is worth an hour or two of stopover.
-Silves. The most historic place of all Algarve which does not in any way diminish its gorgeous setting and layout. This was the seat of Moorish rule in their domination of Southern Portugal and also where the ultimate and deciding battles fought to regain the country during the Reconquest. The town thus very old, highly picturesque and not far from the coast itself.
-Monchique. The spa town high up in the mountains. An excellent market town with lots of crafts on top of its fantastic setting among mostly pine forested
I can give you more places but it would fill an endless list. But this should suffice your initial trip which I'd recommend you do more research with already ready info available especially here on VT on many many member pages....which unfortunately I haven't done with mine from pure laziness.
Have a great trip and a fantastic time.
The beaches on the Algarve are very good and are really clean but you need to do your bit to keep them that way.
If you smoke don't just drop your cigarette ends on the beach, pick up one of those red cones from the stands were you walk onto the beach, stick them into the sand and put some sand into them. they are ash trays and when you pick them up after the sand will fall out of the holes in the bottom and the Cig ends will stay inside so you can dispose of them in the bins provided.
Please don't drop your litter on the floor, put it into the bin.
I think it's always good to have some inportant local numbers with you.
National Emergency Number: 112
Ambulance: (+351) 289 416 702/703/704
Faro Hospital: (+351) 289 803 411
Lagos Hospital: (+351) 282 763 034
Portimao Hospital: (+351) 282 450 300
Albufeira: (+351) 289 513 203
Faro: (+351) 289 822 022
Lagos: (+351) 282 762 930
Olhao: (+351) 289 702 144
Portimao: (+351) 282 417 510
Tavira: (+351) 281 322 022
Vilamoura: (+351) 289 388 989
Fire Station: (+351) 289 416 702/703/704
Train Station: (+351) 282 762 987
Bus Station: (+351) 282 762 944
Faro Airport: (+351) 289 800 800
Algarve Tourist Board: (+351) 289 800 400
Tourist Support Services: (+351) 808 78 12 12
Tourist Information Centres:
Aljezur: (+351) 282 998 229
Lagos: (+351) 282 763 031
Sagres: (+351) 282 624 873
Civil Protection: (+351) 21 424 71 00
Civil protection District Office: (+351) 289 806 937
Favorite thing: Have a look at the cliffs.The algarve has some super cliff formations which change every year because of tides,erosion and stormy weather.I have over the last 8 years taken some lovely pics of them so here is just a few
the people.. feeling safe.. the culture.. the beaches.. i just loved it.. i went as a single female traveller and drove round all over.. it is so easy to drive over there and i didn't get lost once .. and the drivers aren't scary like some countries i have been to.. not to mention their sister country Spain, for one lol!!! Highly recommend the algarve and will visit again many times and hopefully eventually buy property there for my "older" years!
Fondest memory: mateus wine lol.. tis not a prob though.. may cost a little more but I can buy it here. I just loved the quiet pace and feeling safe. I travelled there oct/nov.. so the weather was good for 5 days and then rain and thunderstorms..but at least it's warm rain and people texting me saying it was cold in the UK!!! Travelling out in oct/nov however it is very quiet.. but that's what I was looking for. Albuferia still had life in it.. but i was staying in Monte Gordo.. which was pretty much a ghost town.. but during summer season..Monte Gordo is much busier.. Monte Gordo has a beautiful flat long clean beach.. and is a good base to drive over to spain etc.. so if you want "quieter" then go there.. Having the car gave me the ease to travel around. Tavira is lovely.. Olhao..interesting but a bit poorer & wouldn't fancy all the narrow cobbled quiet streets on a dark night. Praia Rocha next beach with caves/caverns.. and seemed to be life there..ie pubs/restaurants etc.. also visited Vilamoura.. more money in this place with beautiful yatchs etc and golfing.. contact me if i can be of any help.. thanku for reading.
through out all algarve one of the atractions are ...chimenys
this one smaller and cute was waiting on the pool lawn of the hotel, to be putted on someones roof. and they are one of the main features of the Algarve. if yu look close you´ll see throu out the region the rooftops full of chimneys.
being there, hand touch, i took the pic...
Favorite thing: Just a few kms from the hustle and bustle of the posh and touristy beaches we may find some authentic and real small villages, where life and habits are so different from the ones on the coast. The population is mainly elderly who seem to abstract and live in a different context. Be sure not to miss a visit to one of these villages, as Alcoutim for instance (East).
Favorite thing: Algarve covers the south of Portugal spreading from West to East for about 100km. Algarve coincides with the District, being that Faro is the main city capital of this area. On its East side it borders Spain (Andalucia), and it is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean.
Favorite thing: Algarve is much more than just beaches and nightlife. Its interior landscape is very beautiful and unknown for most visitors. There are 2 major mountains in Algarve - Serra do Caldeirão (West) and Serra de Monchique (East); in-between there is the Espinhaço de Cão. Unfortunately, some of these mountains have been severely damaged by fires which occur every summer. But still, there is plenty to visit and enjoy. In some areas there are also dams, which always provide a pleasant and refreshing landscape in hot summer days and mild winters.
Beaches and the coastline are the main must see in Algarve. The coast is about 100km long and it varies between the colder and wilder ocean in Sagres (good for surf and windsurf) and the warm and calm sea in Tavira. In between, there is a beautiful protected area – Ria Formosa Park – and also small beaches amidst the cliffs with amazing blue and green water (Carvoeiro).
There are the posh areas of Quinta do Lago, Balaia, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura, which, as I mentioned before, are the place for those who wish to see and to be seen – but be prepared to pay as those are expensive. Places like Albufeira and Portimão and nearby villages are the touristiest destinations in Algarve, because they are cheaper than the previous. In my opinion, they are very ugly, with big block of apartments and hotels and overcrowded beaches.
Favorite thing: Algarve is one of the most popular destinations in Portugal. Its sandy beaches, warm water and good weather are known all over the country and Europe. Every summer, a great percentage of the Portuguese population moves “down” to Algarve, to enjoy the beaches and the lively nightlife; August is the month to be in Algarve if you want to see and to be seen – the main parties occur in August and the “national jet-set” installs there. But, fortunately there are still plenty of places where you may quietly enjoy the splendid beaches and avoid all that “hustle and bustle” of the posh destinations and touristy villages.
It is Europe's most south-western point, and is the site of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
Cape St. Vincent is aproximetly 6km's from Sagres. To get there you can either follow a road or a rocky path that runs along the cliff edges. The path makes for an exhilirating walk with breathtaking scenery.
On the Cape itself there is a lighthouse. Rumours are that you can get a tour of the lighthouse if the keeper is in the mood. But you would have to be there when there is no other tourists because the place is usually swamped with them.
From Algarve is very easy to visit Sevilla, as it is all motorway, not sure about trains or buses, but by car is less than 2 hours driving, and I saw many companies doing excursions to Sevilla for a day and even 3 days ones including Gibraltar and Tanger (www.bestday.com)
Get the road 124-1 cross the A22 and you will get to lagoa, we did not stop and follow down to Carvoeiro.
We stopped for a quick lunch and follow old and small roads along the coast across urbanisation?s to visit some of the most famous beaches around, for more information about them, check my Albufeira page.
There is no proper map for it, you will have to follow your orientation and guess and hope not to get lost.
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