Out of the main touristy area, this small village by the sea has invested in serious recuperation work, enhancing its traditional look.
It is not comfortable to reach the beach, but the views are great. You may see my Cacela page
More than 20 years later I was back to Oura, and I enjoyed what I saw.
Algarve was spoilt by heavy construction, and Oura is no exception, but the beach keeps the beauty that makes it one of my favorites.
I stayed in Altura for a week 20 years ago. I went back there last month, and... couldn't recognize it. I mean, the only thing that I remembered was the hotel, the only high building in several kilometers of coast.
Big construction (with wiser criteria than commonly seen in Algarve) new roads and streets, and a lively place. Altura is a beach that I may consider in future vacations.
I've been there again - it didn't change much, and that is good.
One of the most historic places in Algarve is one of the least known by the Portuguese, included... me. Beach is the common destination and only foreigners like to travel inland watching the country. It's an error that I will correct.
This year I stayed in the eastern side of Algarve, and saw something there (Tavira and Cacela, for instance). Next time in the central or western side I will leave some time to Silves.
One of the most exclusive places of Algarve, Vale do Lobo is something that... I don't like.
It is exclusive because it is expensive, and it is expensive only to be exclusive. Maybe I was unlucky, but all my few experiences there were negative.
I didn't swim, but the beach didn't attract me, and I only used restaurants, and bar for the night. All expensive, without any reason - the quality ranged from bad to average, the service was slow and unkind, though professional, and the small unmerited tip was collected with disdain.
No, Vale do Lobo is not MY Algarve!
Most Portuguese skip Tavira. When they go to Algarve the essential is... sea, and Tavira is distant enough from the sea to become a top destination. When we "are" in Algarve, and decide to leave the sea, for variation, Tavira is too close to the sea to be the alternative, and we prefer to go inland.
That's why Tavira is mainly for foreigner eyes, more interesting in the contact with the whole and real Algarve. And, for that, Tavira is one of the best solutions.
Tavira is also the best point to reach lone and remote beaches. Always needing a boat, those who hate crowds may find from Tavira the best wild and hard to reach beaches of Portugal
The area west of Lagos is... foreigner land. This means that we, Portuguese prefer to go east of Lagos. Between Lagos and Sagres, the main vacation area is Praia da Luz. English and Nordic people do have here the needed sun, in a not so expensive nor crowded ambiance. But the colder water (1-2º less than in the east), the more windy weather and higher surf don't attract us.
As a matter of fact, we love to be abroad, but... in the other countries.
This town at very short distance from Faro is in a second line of touristy destinations, because its good beaches are not very easy to reach, some of them needing a boat.
However, Olhão deserves three special references:
- It's the best place to watch the typical roofs of Algarve, in a wise respect to the local traditions.
- Fish is generally sold in the market much cheaper than in Faro, largely paying the trip if you are cooking at home.
- If you want savage and lonely beaches, you can't find better elsewhere.
This is the town that is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches of Algarve, being also one of the areas where foreigners exceed Portuguese all the year round.
Of course, any visit to Algarve must include Lagos, one of the top places to stay.
Largely promoted by the pink magazines, this beach didn't convince me. Very wide beach, distant from the densely constructed area, has nothing to challenge its neighbours Monte Gordo or Altura except... some pink business.
Apart from being the western-most point of mainland Europe and the large fort/castle at Cap San Vincent there are some good and fairly uncommon birds to be seen onshore and offshore.
You'll probably see the large Gannets, brilliant white with black wing tips out at sea but up on the cliffs you are likely to come across a member of the Crow family called a Chough. These are black birds, the size of a small crow, which have a bright red curved beak. They'll be busy poking around on the limestone pavement. They are locally common in the area but not particularly common across the Iberian peninsula. We had also gone in search of some smaller birds; accentors and larks but only managed to see the latter.
A long stripe of sand between sea and lagoon, allows a different vacation. There, you have shortage of nightlife, and even of restaurants and shops. You will divide yourself between the bath in the clean and mild waters of the deep ocean beach, and the amusement of the lagoon with its richness of shellfish.
Supplies and amusement stand in Faro, ten minutes away by car or by boat. And if someone invites you to go catch some cuttlefish at night, do follow the rules, wear a white shirt and be prepared to laugh. Kids enjoy the lagoon, but the proximity to the airport may be bothersome.
Maybe the best "family beach" of Algarve. The long coast goes from shallow and wide, to rocky and secluded, filling all kinds of expectation. Lodging is easy, with all kinds of solution, from good hotels to camping, with many familiar houses close to the beach.
The only problem in Armação de Pera is that you have to share water and sand with... many, all the time.
For wild places lovers, the western coast immediately north of S. Vicente cape is a paradise.
Fabulous landscape, with secluded or wide sandy beaches, broken rocks evidencing millions of years of geological history, a preserved fauna, all gathers to make the weekend or day trip a very relaxing and heady day.
Its only problem is that, getting there means car or... very long trekking.
For a Portuguese, Sagres is the meeting withthe best of our history. For a foreigner, it's an opportunity to learn something abouts us, and a brake in a too much touristy coast.
Sagres is the wild, where the warm of the south meets the strength of the west. Empty beaches, steep cliffs, and the lasting signs of the authentic Algarve and its fishermen. Easily accessible, it is a must see for all that go to Algarve
I stayed two nights here in December 2004. The pools & garden are very nice. There is a indoor pool,...more
The Tivoli hotel in Lagos is a nice 4 star hotel with good facilities such as a couple of...more
Rooms are in need of a makeover - ours was noisey especially in the evening in the form of...more