10 Reasons to pack your bags and head to the Algarve

By Katherine Sparshatt,

Portugal’s southern Algarve region is one of Europe’s most popular destinations and there really is no better time to pack your bags and head for the sun, sea and sand of its dramatic coastline.

Whether you are the adventurous type or prefer putting on your glad-rags for a night of Michelin-starred cuisine, we’ve found the perfect hotel for you. So no matter what you are looking for in a holiday, you can rest assured, the Algarve definitely has it in spades.

1.      The Algarve’s Amazing Beaches 

Blessed by a gorgeous 200 miles of coastline shaped by the rugged Atlantic Ocean, the Algarve is known as a haven for beach-goers. The many beaches and nature reserves can be enjoyed year-round but are at their best in the summer months. The warm seasonal temperatures, produced by the Mediterranean-style microclimate, heat the waters leaving them just cool enough to refresh the skin.

algarve beaches

The coastline includes both sandy and rocky beaches and features a number of cliffs, coves and caves adding natural character to the already stunning landscape. The coast is sustainably managed and features a number of family-friendly beaches with calm waters for paddling.

Perfect for beach lovers | Hotel Oriental

Praia da Rocha, Algarve

Oriental Hotel Beach

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Located on the fabulous Praia da Rocha with stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean, Hotel Oriental is a luxury 4-star hotel, perfect for those looking to enjoy the Algarve surrounded by elegance. The beach is located just a few steps from the hotel, and supports a variety of watersports and kid’s activities or simply a chance to relax by the water.

Oriental hotel Room


2. The abundance of golf courses

One of the finest golfing destinations in Europe, the Algarve is regarded as an elite destination by top professionals. The courses are open to play on year-round and with 300 days of sunshine, there really is no excuse not to tick this off your bucket list!

algarve golf

With many courses also having spectacular coastal views, and featuring lakes, wooded areas and most importantly decadently luxurious club houses, there is no finer place to tee-off in Europe.

Perfect for golfers | Penina Hotel and Golf Resort

 Portimao, Algarve

One of the leading luxury resorts in Europe and one of the Algarve’s finest golf resorts, the Penina Hotel is truly a hidden gem. Tucked away in the Algarve the hotel is an oasis of luxury, with five-star treatment at every turn, a host of leisure activities including tennis courts and a large outdoor pool, – you’ll be spoilt for choice! When it comes to Golf, the Penina is the only resort to offer three different courses across 360 acres.

Penina hotel restaurant

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The Penina Resort has been named Portugal’s Leading Golf Resort by the World Travel Awards. The Sir Henry Cotton championship course was the first to be constructed in the Algarve and provides some of the best and most challenging golf in the world.

Penina Golf course


3. The capital of water sports

From jet skiing to sailing, surfing, fishing and snorkelling, the Algarve offers a wealth of water-based activities. The majority of the Algarve’s most popular beaches are equipped for body boarding, surfing, wind surfing and kite surfing all year-round with lessons readily available for beginners.

Algarve watersports

If sailing is your past-time of choice, then the marinas of Lagos, Portimai, Vilamoura and Albufeira all fly the prestigious blue flag and there are numerous ports along the coast. Big game fishing is also a possibility when you take to the open seas around the coast. If fresh water is more your thing, then head inland to canoe or kayak your way down the fast moving waters of the River Guaradiana or River Arade.

Perfect for water sports | Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort

Sagres, Algarve

Martinhal Beach

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A luxury resort with beach-front views, this family-friendly resort has a wealth of activities on offer including access to some of the region’s best water sports. Fancy trying your hand at surfing, or perhaps you want to up the adrenalin rush several notches and go for kite surfing? When the wind is up there’s wind surfing and when the waters are calm you can try paddle boarding or kayaking. In short there won’t be a moment of boredom!

Martinhal view


4. Cycling in the Algarve

The Algarve has in recent years become a very popular cycling destination, hosting a number of world renowned on and off road events. Whether you are looking to do some leisurely cycling, long road rides, or adrenalin-filled mountain biking, the Algarve has it all.

Algarve cycling

Look beyond the usual tourist hotspots and there’s a wealth of weathered hill tops, sea cliffs, quiet roads and dusty dirt tracks. The Eastern Algarve is known for its rural charm and has many small villages and cobbled streets to explore, alongside many great eateries to stop for food along the way. In the Western Algarve, head to Monchique for a challenging ride up a thickly wooded mountain range called the Serra de Monchique.

Perfect for MAMIL’s (Middle-aged-men-in-lycra) | Memmo Baleeira

Baleeira, Algarve

Memmo Pool

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Set in Baleeira, surrounded by beaches and nature, is the Memmo Design Hotel. Check in and rent a bike from the hotel for just €12 a day, then begin your exploring of the surrounding area. Memmo have teamed up with Megasport to provide an array of special packages and bike tours on the beautiful Vincentina coast with trails and circuits specially designed for different fitness levels.

Memmo exerior view

5. The Algarve’s delicious cuisine

Anyone with a penchant for lovingly prepared food and catch-of-the-day fresh seafood, will simply love to gorge themselves on the culinary offerings of the Algarve. Grilled sardines are a traditional Portuguese food but in the Algarve they really know how to cook fish and seafood so that it’s mouth-wateringly good. Try clams cooked in garlic and oil for a starter to whet your appetite, followed by a delish course of succulent sardines. If fish isn’t your favourite, the ever-popular Piri-Piri chicken.

algarve sardines

If you happen to be on the Eastern Coast of the Algarve then check out Olhão. The Algarve’s biggest fishing port, Olhão is host to an amazing water-front fish market where you can try a variety of the best the Atlantic has to offer.

Perfect for delicious dining | Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa

Porches, Algarve

A luxury hotel overlooking its own private beach, Vila Vita Parc offers a multi-sensory gastronomic experience from the moment you walk through the door. Their innovative savoury cuisine takes its inspiration form the bounty of fresh seafood available from the nearby ocean, infused with decadent ingredients such as rare caviar, artisanal cheeses and vintage wines.

Vita Parc Michelin Starred restaurant

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The resort features eleven restaurants and seven bars, including a Moroccan inspired grill, a sushi restaurant and several beach side locations. The Ocean Restaurant is a grandiose fine-dining experience. The head chef has been named the best in Portugal in both 2009 and 2012 and he and the team have been awarded two prestigious Michelin stars.

vita Park Restaurant


6.  Hiking in the Algarve

There’s a variety of trails snaking their way across the Algarve, over mountains or down by the coast. In recent years, old pilgrim routes have been re-appropriated across Portugal, leading to the Atlantic Ocean and what was considered for thousands of years to be the end of the world – before the Americas were discovered. Check out Algarve Cliff Trails for a hiking programme that takes in the natural beauty of the Algarve’s limestone cliffs, coastal views and quaint fishing villages along the way.

Algarve Hiking

Perfect for walkers & ramblers | Monchique Villa Termal Spa Resort

Monchique, Algarve

Set into a mountain-side and just 20 minutes away from the Algarvian coast, Monchique Villa Termal Spa Resort enjoys a privileged location perfect for hiking. The surrounding nature and verdure hills create a stunning landscape for walking, with tiny white washed houses perched on hill tops, the scent of eucalyptus trees, and winding roads down to the coast.

Monchique Thermal

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Fill up your bottles with Monchique waters, said to contain healing properties and head to the Algarve’s highest peak, Foia – 902 metres above sea level, for fabulous ocean views. When you’ve finished your wandering you can enjoy the luxury thermal spa waiting for you back at the hotel.

Villa thermas Hiking Tour


7. Adventure in the Algarve

You don’t have to come in the Summer to enjoy the Algarve’s wealth of activities on sea, on land, or in the mountains. Throughout the year the region is open to sports enthusiasts of all kinds and its spectacular nature facilitates anything from climbing to deep-sea diving.

adventure

Algarve Adventure offer rock climbing courses for beginners to experienced climbers, along the beautiful sea cliffs. They also offer exciting mountain biking excursions or surfing lessons and hire. If you’re looking to push your limits even more, then take to the skies and give paragliding a go, for some stunning views over the beaches and ocean.

Perfect for adrenalin junkies | MacDonald Monchique Resort & Spa

Monchique, Algarve

If you can feel adventure calling, then head to the MacDonald Monchique resort for a holiday jam-packed with activities. Try your hand at anything from mountain walks and surfing, to dolphin watching and horse riding. Within the resort you have the luxury of two swimming pools, a fitness studio and a regular fitness program that includes yoga, pilates and meditation.

Monchique MacDonald pool view

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The resort is set within the Algarve’s mountains, so forest trekking, cycling and finding your way around the tiny mountain villages are all considered part of the adventure!

Monchique MacDonald


8. Algarvian Culture

The Algarve region is brimming with culture from traditional food and drink, to music and dance. But there are also hidden treasures such as the Chapel of Bones near Faro. Once a traditional practise in Catholic Europe, bones would be moved from graves after 7-10 years and used to construct Ossaries. This particular Ossary contains the bones of 1,245 monks.

Algarve Culture

Traditional dance in the Algarve goes by the name of Corridinho, a fusion of the Polka and Mazurka dances to a music composed of Accordion melodies and a beat played on the triangle.

Perfect for culture vultures | Real Marina Hotel & Spa

Olhão, Algarve

Real Marina Exterior

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Located just 15km away from Faro in the small town of Olhão, the Real Marina Hotel and Spa overlooks the Ria Formosa National Park, one of the seven great wonders of Portugal. Whether you are looking to indulge in the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Faro, or explore the sleepy fishing villages and islands located where the River Formosa meets the sea, you will be at the heart of Portuguese culture.

Real Marina Room


9. The Algarve’s incredible spas

Not only does the Algarve have spectacular beaches and nature, but it’s the ultimate destination if you need to relax and get away from it all. Perhaps rally a group of girlfriends and book yourselves into a luxury spa, where you can enjoy state-of-the-art treatments, massages, and relaxation pools, all accompanied by great food and great views.

Spa time

Perfect for pampering | EPIC SANA Algarve

Praia da Falésia, Algarve

Relax and unwind at the EPIC SANA Algarve where you will be pampered, exfoliated, scrubbed and buffed into youthful rejuvenation. Strongly inspired by Oriental treatments the spa offers nine treatment rooms, including a Vichy shower room, massage rooms and beauty parlours with outdoor terraces, plus two tents and outdoor garden pavilions for couple treatments, with a Jacuzzi and ocean views.

Epic Sana pool

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A range of fitness and meditation treatments are also on offer, including yoga and pilates alongside the indoor and outdoor pools, Turkish steam bath and sauna.

Epic Sana pool


10. The Algarve’s Gorgeous Boutique hotels

Portugal in general is carving itself a reputation in Europe as the chicest of them all. On the frontlines of its Glamourati are the incredible boutique hotels dotted along the coastline, that ooze luxury, unique artistic flair and distinctive design.

Bela Vista pool view

Perfect for Relaxing | Hotel Bela Vista

Praia da Rocha, Algarve

Located in the swanky area of Praia da Rocha, Hotel Bela Vista emanates luxury, comfort and style from every room. The décor is a fusion of beach chic and traditional Portuguese elements with a touch of glamour. The rooms boast plush furnishings, stunning views and L’OCCITANE amenities.

Bela Vista room

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The hotel enjoys direct access to its own private beach, or you can choose to relax by the outdoor swimming pool and make good use of the chic pool bar. When you are not lounging in the sun, the hotel’s l’OCCITANE spa will happily take care to chase all your troubles away.

Need more information on the Algarve? Check out the Visit Algarve website.
Looking for more Portuguese inspiration? Check out our Top Ten Portuguese Beach Hotels.