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Gorgeous beaches, warm water and glorious sunshine year-round: the dream holiday.

A typical painted façade from the Algarve.

Situated on the extreme South of Portugal, this part of the territory was the last to be conquered from the Moors by the Portuguese king Dom Afonso III, in 1292. Traces of the Moorish presence are still seen in its unique terraces, chimneys and whitewashed houses.

However, the distance that was difficult to cover back in the 13th century is no longer an obstacle thanks to the modern Lisbon-Albufeira-Castro Marim road (IP1) or Faro international airport. So why not visit this charming region, with its idyllic temperatures (average temperature in winter of 14°C and 24°C in summer, rarely going below 12°C during winter and reaching as high as 28°C or 30°C in July and August), which are ideal for playing golf and other sports.

Golf course, Quinta do Lago.

In the northern part of Algarve, the ranges of Espinhaço de Cão, Monchique and Caldeirão shelter the coast from strong winds. This brightly-coloured region, with its fig trees, orange groves and almond trees in blossom, is also the most verdant and fertile. The southern coastline consists of a long stretch of fabulous sandy beaches, broken up by extraordinary rugged cliffs and fantastic grottoes.

Apart from the wealth of available water sports facilities (the marinas of Vilamoura and Lagos deserve special mention, amongst the various ports and harbours), there are other alternatives, such as tennis courts, famous golf courses, luxury hotels or quaint holiday resorts and an exciting nightlife.



The capital of the district, with a medieval wall and a large number of monuments: Cathedral (Romanesque-Gothic origin), Nossa Senhora da Assunção Convent (Renaissance), São Francisco Church (16th-18th centuries). Museums to visit: Infante Dom Henrique, Regional Ethnographic, Ramalho Ortigão and Antoniano (next to Santo António do Alto Chapel). Also worthwhile visiting are the beautiful churches of São Pedro da Misericórdia and Nossa Senhora do Carmo. Roman ruins of Milreu in the suburbs.


Enclosed within 15th century walls, with its Manueline window, are the magnificent churches of São Sebastião (Renaissance portals and 17th and 18th century tiles), Santa Maria or Misericórdia (16th-19th centuries), Santo António (Baroque) and the very old São João Chapel (8th-9th centuries). Other points of interest: Regional Museum, Governors’ Palace, Pau da Bandeira Fortress and the old slave market. Charming marina.


Amongst the beautiful houses on the slope stand the mother-church (Manueline), the Misericórdia Church (with a Baroque retable) and the Senhor do Pé da Cruz Chapel (17th century). Nearby, look for the famous thermal spa of Monchique and Fóia for (902 m high), overlooking the hills and the ocean.


The square-shaped flat-roofed houses, with their Moorish-style terraces, are this fishing town’s ex-libris. Behind the mother-church (17th century) you will find the Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos Chapel.


In this fishermen’s town, visit the mother-church (14th century, rebuilt in the 18th century), the Colégio Church (17th century), and the Town Hall. In the suburbs, the renowned Praia da Rocha (with its Santa Catarina de Ribamar Fortress), and the Roman ruins of Abicada.


It was here that five centuries ago Prince Henry set up a school of navigation, which played a crucial role in the Portuguese Discoveries. Apart from the Nossa Senhora da Graça Chapel, you can visit the magnificent fortress (originally built in the 14th century, and later altered) and the 15th century rosa-dos-ventos (a 43 m-diameter compass card). Nearby, on the extreme southwestern tip of the European continent, is Cabo de São Vicente (Romans’ Promontorium Sacrum), opening on to a vast horizon of sea and sky.


Stones of different times and cultures overlap in this town: the castle and walls are of Arab origin; the Gothic Cathedral (having undergone several restoration works) was built on the site of an ancient mosque; the 12th century bridge was built where formerly stood a Roman bridge. The Cross of Portugal also deserves special mention (16th century religious sculpture), as well as the following examples of Manueline motifs: the Nossa Senhora dos Mártires Chapel and the Misericórdia Church. The Archeology Museum is built around an almost unique Arab water cistern, dating from the Almohad period.


With its inviting long beaches, typical roofs and chimneys, this picturesque town offers a beautiful view over the Gilão river and its Roman bridge. Churches to visit: Santa Maria do Castelo (13th-18th centuries), Misericórdia (Renaissance), Nossa Senhora das Ondas (17th century), São José (with Gothic and Manueline elements), São Paulo and Carmo (17th-18th-centuries). If you are browsing along the Travessa de Dona Brites, you will see beautiful medieval houses, with Gothic windows and portals. In the suburbs, in the village of Luz there is a Renaissance church, which has been a pilgrimage place for many centuries.




Vale do Lobo beach, Albufeira.

Albufeira, Alcoutim, Aljezur, Almansil (beautiful São Lourenço Church, a Baroque masterpiece), Alte, Cacela, Carvoeiro, Castro Marim, Estômbar, Lagoa, Loulé, Moncarapacho, Monte Gordo (casino), Ponta da Piedade, Porches, São Bartolomeu de Messines, Vila do Bispo, Vilamoura (casino and marina) and Vila Real de Santo António (marina).




  • Fish soups
  • Fish and seafood
  • Tuna fish cooked in onions
  • Sweets: fig, almond and egg sweets




  • Loulé Carnival
  • Procession of Nossa Senhora da Piedade or Mãe Soberana – Loulé, May
  • Senhora do Carmo Festivities and Fair – Faro, July
  • Senhora dos Mártires Festivities and Fair – Castro Marim, August
  • Algarve Folk Music and Dance Festival – different locations, September
  • Santa Iria Fair – Faro, October • October Fair – Monchique




  • Wicker and osier objects
  • Straw hats and baskets
  • Copper and tin objects
  • Wooden objects
  • Ceramics from Porches