Travel To The Algarve, Portugal: The Wine Making Region and Holiday Hotspots in The South of The Country.
Why is the Algarve such a popular destination? Yes, it’s because you can get cheap flights from most UK and Irish airports and Yes it’s because the weather is good pretty much all year round. Oh, and Yes, it’s because it has a huge number of golf courses.
But the next time you go to the Algarve, have a day away from the beach and take in some of the Algarve’s more traditional attractions.
“Algarve or as it was baptized by the Arabs as Al Gharb meaning ‘to the west’, is the most southern province of the eleven that Portugal has been divided into.
Its variety in terrain which starts at the small town of Odeceixe on the west coast, nicely tucked into the Espinhaco do Cao mountain range bordering the coast and the brave Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its shoreline runs down through Aljezur, symbolic in the Portuguese history thanks to its castle which is one of the seven that appear on the flag of Portugal.
Still enjoying the different shades that the fertile valleys offer, you continue along the shoreline to Alfambra, a walled in city and well-known as a fishing village and tourist attraction.
To the most western tip is the Cape of Saint Vicent and to the town of Sagres where Henry the Navegator first started his navigation school. At this point, you have come to the come into contact with the most attractive Algarve beaches.
Not leaving the hypnotizing view of the Atlantic, your car hire seems to know the route and continues on to Faro, the capital of this area after having taken this title away from the city of Silves in 1577.
Here in Faro you have the main gateway into this southern region when arriving at this well-prepared international airport for your holiday stay. But there is still more beach towns like Tavira, a very historic medieval town and Castro Marim another city surrounded by a protective wall.
From here, the journey northward following the Guadiana River, which is the natural border between Spain and Portugal.
Saved by its Ancestors
The Algarve region has seen all the cultures beginning with the Lusitanians, Celtics, Romans and Arabs who were forced out of Faro in 1249 by Sancho II. But thanks to the combination of all these people, especially the Arabs, the Algarve province now has a strong production of olive trees which produce rich olive oil, figs and almonds.
It is said that the almond trees were a gift from a Moorish sultan who was in love with a Nordic princess. She dearly missed the snow covered ground in winter and what most resembled that were the almond trees in full bloom in the spring.
From this, the Algarve makes a rich dessert from almonds, figs, eggs and sugar called ‘morgados’. And thanks to the dry weather, pears, tomatoes, melons and grapes are among the delicious fruits available year round.
Algarve Wine, A Sweet Caress for Your Lips
Grapes in Portugal are synonymous to wine, and Algarve has quite a variety. The exportation of wine from this region started under the Muslim domain and reached its climax in the 14th and 15th centuries. Lagos, Portimao and Tavira are the principal wine producers.
- The Algar Dry from Lagos is a dry wine, served very cold for appetizers. The dry and sweet moscatel wines are aged in oak barrels for at least seven years and have about 18% alcohol content.
- Alfonso III is another dry wine from Lagos and also served very cold.
- Cruz de Portugal is a smooth red wine which should be served at room temperature for dessert.
- From Tavira you have Licoroso de Tavira which is very sweet and dark in colour, served at room temperature.
- Medronho is a type of liquer very well known all over the Algarve region and usually found in the typical ‘tascas’ or taverns and served in glasses from Oporto.
Cute places to see around Portugal
Between Tavira and Castro Marim, one can easily manage a nice beach day in Monte Gordo and a leisurley stroll through the Natural Reserve Park to appreciate the marvellous view of pink flamengos and long-legged storks soaring in and out of sight.
For golf lovers, near Albufeira and hidden among pine trees and the shore you will find Villamoura with its campestral fields for playing a relaxing game of golf. Wherever you go in this region, be it on the coast or deep in the forest area, there are all kinds of hotels with great facilities for your stay in Algarve or the capital of Portugal, Lisbon.
Portugal has an impressive history, and this is reflected in the surviving buildings in the marina town of Lagos. Take a break from the sun by visiting the cool, historic churches of Santa Maria of Misericórida, Santo António and Säo Sebastiäo and then relax at the marina – a great day out.
Many of Loulé’s most impressive buildings were destroyed in the Algarve’s great earthquake of 1755, but sections of the castle, dating back to the 12th century, remain. Loulé is inland from the Algarve coast, so it’s a great opportunity to take a short drive inland – particularly on Market Day, when the town is busy and full of life.
Most tourists fly into Faro and drive straight out to their holiday destination. Few bother to come back during their stay and take a look at the historic buildings and fascinating museums in the town. As the Algarve’s capital, there’s a lot to see within its medieval walls, including the Roman-Gothic cathedral and the Infante Dom Henrique Museum. Get to Faro before your flight home to catch it at its best.
Sagres is the most south-westerly point of Europe and is commonly known as “the end of the world” by locals. It’s best to visit Sagres when the weather is good, but walking out to the rocks jutting into the Atlantic on a rainy, blustery day really makes you feel at one with the elements, and it’s worth the drive along the Algarve coast to get there.
Set slightly inland from the popular coastal destinations, Silves is a beautiful historic town, with Phoenician, Roman and Moorish influences making it a great day out. It boasts what is probably the most intact castle in the area, and its cathedral was built on the site of a Moorish Mosque. Narrow streets and hidden cafes make Silves a real “must visit” destination.
Visitor Attractions, Events & Fun Activities, in The Algarve