To the Heart of Algarve, Portugal

| March 30, 2011 | 18 Comments
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Portugal is one of my favourite countries in the world, and in Algarve the weather’s amazing, the food is better and the people are some of the friendliest I’ve had the chance to intrude upon. And that’s the precise thing I love about Portugal: I didn’t feel like I was intruding. I didn’t feel like an outsider.

carvalho beach in algarve

My destination, the Algarve is a beautiful region of Southern Portugal, popular with tourists for its safe cities  and relatively low prices. Going in the summer is a popular choice, but if you really want to get to the heart of the area, I would recommend going in winter; there are less tourists, the weather in algarve is warm without being stifling and you’ll get to miss the worst of English weather!
bicycle in algarve

On my arrival at Faro Airport, I was greeted by a bright and warm January’s day. I never thought I’d catch myself saying that! Faro is the regional capital, a title which the city definitely lives up to. On my first visit to Faro, I was surprised at the city’s mellow atmosphere (though don’t expect to feel this in summer) – a statement which in no way means that Faro is boring. On the contrary, the city was by no means short of things to do: some of my favourites included walking along the gigantically long Praia de Faro (Faro beach), visiting Faro’s historic Old City (don’t miss the Cathedral), and the Algarve restaurants where you can sample the delicious speciality, Piri Piri Chicken. My personal favourite activity in Faro is definitely the boat tours around the Rio de Formosa, a stunning natural reserve that stretches all the way into Spain. The price of 30 Euros (£26) makes this trip a one-time treat, but the 3 hour ride is well worth it!

On my first trip to Faro, one person in my group was massively into golf. When I asked about the 15 tons of extra luggage he’d brought, I was treated to a history of golf in Portugal. Fascinating. No, that wasn’t sarcastic; it really was. Sparing you the details, in terms of Algarve sports, golf has been one of the top attractions of the Algarve since Sir Henry Cotton opened the Penina Resort in the ’50s. The Royal Golf Course, for example, is one of the world’s most famous golf courses!
lady in faro algarve

So, where exactly is ‘the heart of the Algarve’? The answer is simple: wherever you find it. For my golfing friend, the heart of the Algarve is most certainly the Royal Course. For many others it is Faro. For me, the heart is the beautiful village of Bordeira.  This discrete little village located inside the Sao Vicente Natural Park is so local, so scenic and so friendly that I can’t help but wish I had the money to afford a second home there. However, we all know ‘home is where the heart is’, so it’s pretty much my home. Right?
Louis Jobin is an undergraduate studying English and Japanese Studies. His passions are European literature, Asian cuisine and Scandinavian music.

Algarve is perhaps Portugal’s most visited area after Lisbon. Have you been there? What did you like most: the beaches, the food or something else? Share some tips about your trip below, and this post too if you liked it!

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18 Responses to “To the Heart of Algarve, Portugal”

  1. Merrill says:

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  2. Hi Louis! I’m one of those lucky people who have a home in the Algarve and I just have to put a good word in for Tavira at the Eastern end. It’s just 20 minutes from the Spanish border so trips to Sevilla and the Costa de la Luz are easy. More importantly it’s a lovely little working town in it’s own right, with riverside gardens and a great free programme of entertainment on Summer evenings. If you’re on a budget the campsite over on Tavira Island is a good base and you absolutely can’t fault the beaches.
    You can check out my website for evidence.

  3. Algarve is a beautiful part of Portugal although it might be busy in certain times of the year. We can recommend the area around Alvor, beaches are also splended there. For people who prefer the more authentic taste of Portugal might try the Costa Lisboa area. Great article by the way!

  4. I have never been there, but recently had the opportunity to meet a woman from Portugal while I was showing houses. She was there accompanying her daughter, who was buying in California where I work. As she told me about her country and how lovely and welcoming it is, I was amazed. Then she invited me to come stay at her house for a visit. What a sweetheart. She said everything is within walking distance and she lived right off the beach. Many things she described are similar to the way you did and boy would I just love to go!

  5. Joao Cravo says:

    When it comes to sun and sea holidays, Algarve is a jewel in the Mediterranean due to its awesome weather and atmosphere. Algarve also offers many activities to do, do not just discover the urban side of it and more mainstream. There are plenty of amazing spots in the western Algarve, less known and explored. It will offer also some of the best golf courses too…

    For those who love surfing or want to have a different experience, I definitely recommend to have a look to Surf’inn Surf Camps is a surf camps network intended to develop and promote a set of surf and kite activities.. This coast attracts surfers from all over the word due to its amazing conditions…

  6. Sudarwanto says:

    I appreciate your info here as compared to the beauty of Bali. It’s an added value. Hope someday I can go there

  7. I agree that the people in the Algarve are very welcoming and friendly. Winters can be wet and mild, so I recommend May/June or October/September time (just outside the tourist season). The further west you go the more unspoilt, Salema a traditional fishing village is one of my favourites. Piri Piri prawns are also delicious – washed down with vino verde. Lovely beach photo, reminds me of Donna Anna.

  8. My favourite city in the Algarve is Lagos out to the west. From there you can visit some of the best beaches in Europe especially those on the south western corner of Portugal which are more rugged on the Atlantic. The weather there is slightly milder in the winter and cooler in the summer than further to the west. Another tip is to visit the Monchique mountains and try out some of the chicken Piri Piri restaurants up there.

  9. While we still expect the housing market to cool gradually — and the data over the past couple of quarters has been consistent with that view — the February existing home sales number shows the considerable strength that is still in the residential sector.

  10. Portugal is a wonderful place if you want to have vacations .. I was there last year with my family and it was a great fun.. We enjoyed a lot and spent a healthy time with each other.. Your post express a great view of Portugal and I really enjoyed reading it..

  11. Great pictures you almost made me feel like being right there, reality-check it is no time for vacation for me yet. I will not play any golf but Volley-ball yes! I will not let that beautiful seashore go to waste.

  12. I would agree that going during the winter not only kills some of the tourist traffic but the weather is a little more manageable. Really nice photos and thanks for the post.

    • maitravelsite says:

      Glad you like them! It is much milder in winter, though to a point that it can be cold- forget about swimming. Also, the water is cool-cold year around in Portugal becuse of the current that sweeps along its shores.

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