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.
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!
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!
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!
[Some of these links might be making us some money, however we wouldnt include them if we didn’t think they can benefit travelers. Photo credits @ Flickr: Lost in Japan, number six, pedro prats]