From Energising Golf, to a Dazzling Nightlife and Relaxing Beaches – The Algarve has it all
Ask most people what instantly comes to mind when they picture the Algarve, and their response will likely involve golf... and why shouldn’t it? Since the first golf courses began springing up in the 1960s, the Algarve has become the world’s leading golf destination. From the regions oldest course, the Championship Sir Henry Cotton Course at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort, to the award winning San Lorenzo, and a host of others, the Algarve is a golfer’s paradise. However, there’s a lot more to the region that meets the eye…
The Algarve is a region full of contrasts. During the summer months, tourists from all over Europe descend on the towns and villages of this picturesque corner of Portugal, but you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem if you visit in early spring or late autumn. The region is home to Lagos, one of the hottest party destinations on the planet, yet make your way along the coast and you’ll find a selection of tranquil towns, like the city of Tavira, with its 37 churches, or Silves, dominated by the Moorish castle on top of the nearby hill.
The region has a long and rich history, with the presence of communities dating back to beyond 1,000 BC, with power passing between Celtic tribes, Romans, Moors and others, all the way up until the early twentieth century, when it officially became part of the Portugal we know today. This rich history is reflected in the diverse architecture and ruins you’ll see while visiting. The Algarve also served as the base for new-world expedition in the fifteenth century, where the explorers of the day set off towards the so-called ‘edge of the world’, and made it as far as modern day Sierra Leone.
One of the standout historical buildings is the resplendent cathedral in the region’s capital of Faro. Originally built in the thirteenth century, the cathedral is generously decorated with gilded wood panels and historical paintings. Other must-see places of interest include the remains of the imposing fortress of Sagres Point, as well as the Milreu Ruins, which provide a fascinating glimpse into life during Roman occupation.
Today, the region is first and foremost a tourist destination. Its population triples at the height of summer, as revellers set up stall in the likes of Lagos, Vilamoura and Albufeira. The party atmosphere isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in the mood to let your hair down, you’re in the right place. The array of seemingly endless bars and clubs in the livelier towns cater to all generations, and many are open long into the night (and some well into the next morning).
If you’re looking for something a bit more serene, it’s very easy to leave the towns and cities behind completely, with the mountain ranges of the Algarve providing peace and tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding towns. The largest of the three Algarve mountain ranges, the Serra de Monchique, is a treat for any wildlife enthusiasts, with eagles, rare Iberian lynxes and chameleons just a handful of the many species that call the Algarve home. The beaches, too, are sights to behold. In particular, the Praia de Marinha, voted one of Europe’s top beaches, is worth a visit. It lies at the bottom of a rocky outcrop and down a steep stone path, but is home to soft white sand and some of the best snorkelling spots in the region.
The locality of many of the Algarve’s best natural landmarks means that extreme sports are very popular in the area. Carrapateira and Praia do Amado are the go-to spots for surfers, while you’ll find everything from kitesurfing to scuba diving dotted all along the coastline. Away from the coast, there are plenty of mountain-biking trails to be explored. You can even explore on horseback, with numerous riding schools catering to all abilities.
From the tranquil beaches to the high peaks of the Serra de Monchique, and all the charming towns and cities in between, the Algarve caters to all types of tourist, regardless of what you’re after from your holiday. The Dona Filipa Hotel, the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort and the Formosa Park Apartment Hotel are all situated in the region. These excellent hotels offer a luxurious and relaxing base for your visit to the region, allowing you to explore the sights and sounds at your leisure, and return to rest and relaxation when you’ve had your fill.