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8 top tips for first-time visitors to the Algarve

The Algarve in southern Portugal is a favourite summer holiday destination for Brits and the Irish. Many head there for its fabulous beaches and legendary golf courses. With so much more to explore, Algarve Tourism has compiled a list of ‘must do’ experiences for first timers visiting the region. It offers a mixture of favourite places to visit, plus some off the beaten track locations that will enable visitors to discover the region’s stunning scenery, history and tasty cuisine. Take a boat trip Take a boat trip in Ria Formosa Natural Park, a unique coastal lagoon in central Algarve, elected as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. Visit Cape St. Vincent Visit Cape St. Vincent, the southwest edge of mainland Europe, which is particularly spectacular at sunset. Heading north from here you can enjoy a scenic drive or walk up the Vicentine Coast, considered Portugal’s greatest coastal paradise and part of a protected Natural Park. Go hiking Hike along some of Algarve’s key walking routes such as the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail near Lagoa, with views over the famous Benagil Cave. Towards Lagos you can see Ponta da Piedade with its rock formations and caves carved by the elements over thousands of years, Portugal’s equivalent to the 12 Apostles. Go cycling Cycle on the Ecovia trail to discover the natural marvels of the region. Highlights include the birdwatching haven of the Alvor Estuary, the majestic cliffs of Sagres point, and the pretty coastal fishing villages of Salema and Burgau. Take a walk through history Walk through Portuguese history. The Algarve’s numerous, white-washed parishes bordered with greenery, like the picturesque inland village of Alte or the shore-lined Alvor offer a glimpse into traditional rural and coastal living. The Castelo de Silves is a great national monument to learn about the Moorish influence on the region, whilst the Church of Lourenço in Amancil is a wonder to behold with its vibrant interior of blue and white azulejo tiles. Take a ferry ride Take a ferry from Olhão to Armona Island or from Faro to the least developed and inhabited Deserta Island, for an authentic Algarve experience. Dine al fresco Enjoy an alfresco lunch of sardines or fresh seafood in Portimão, at one of the many riverside restaurants, or in Olhão, next to Ria Formosa promenade. Heading inland try the stews and dishes of rich game and meat with strong, aromatic flavours. Relax on the beach Enjoy a day relaxing on the beach. The Algarve is often lauded as having some of the best beaches in Europe. From sandy beaches to deserted islands, and award-winning beaches like Dona Ana, Camillo, Meia, Marinha and Falésia beach, there is plenty of choice to suit every taste. A trip to explore the impressive Benagil Cave is also a must.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Even though I’m a very keen walker and have been to the Algarve for a couple of holidays I had never heard about the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, could be a spectacular one to try.

  2. I was a first time visitor to the Algarve 4 years ago. I may sound a bit snobbish but I was pleasantly surprised I was expecting something like one of the Spanish Costas.

    There’s no doubt that the Algarve is a stunning stretch of coastline with plenty of opportunity to find your very own peaceful spot. I’d certainly go back again.

  3. Along the Algarve I’ve sat myself down at a beachside restaurant for a late coffee, watched the fisherman land their catch of sardines and then an hour later enjoyed a very fresh sardine salad with a wedge of lemon that was probably grown about 200 yards away.

  4. Good timing. I see that Portugal has been added to the UK’s green list for travel. I like the Algarve I’ve always found the locals very warm and welcoming.

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