Algarve Holidays – Golden beaches and glorious countryside
The Algarve has been a favourite with British visitors since tourism began in the 1960s, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Best known for its beaches and golf holidays, the Algarve has far more to offer than simply sun, sand and a stroll around the green.
The resorts along the coastline of central and western Algarve are family favourites, for the wide range of well-organised family entertainment, while to the east, where the waters are warmed by the Mediterranean, the flatter terrain and accessible beaches are favoured by older visitors. Lagos is where couples, groups and single go to party, while those looking for quiet and culture go inland, to the beautiful country towns of Silves and Monchique, where you will discover the history of Portugal and enjoy peaceful walks through its vast array of flora and fauna.
When to go to the Algarve
Only a three-hour flight from the UK, the Algarve is an extremely popular destination for a long weekend during the cold of a British winter. Golf enthusiasts play year-round, and you can enjoy autumnal country walks when the heat of summer has died down. Summer is officially 21st June to 21st September when, inevitably, beaches are more crowded, queues are longer and there are fewer deals on flights and hotels available. The Algarve is at it most delightful from the tail end of September through to November, when balmy evenings and light breezes mean you can still wear shorts.
Weather in the Algarve
Even during the winter months the temperature can be in the low 20’s in the sun, (although chilly in the evening), occasionally rising to a heady 40º during July and August. Spring sees temperatures of up to 20º in the shade, and, watered by the brief winter rains (around two inches a year on the coastal zone), the western region becomes a riot of colourful flowers in bloom. During the summer months there’s barely a cloud in the sky, with an average of twelve hours of sunshine each day – and you will be grateful for the cooling breeze coming off the Atlantic.
Getting the best deal
There is one golden rule when looking for a good deal – if work and family don’t restrict you to fixed dates then look outside the times when schools are on holiday. Fewer deals are to be had during Easter, the last couple of weeks of July and through August, and at Christmas, when most resorts are busiest. Bear in mind, though, that the Algarve is extremely popular with most European holidaymakers. Their school holidays might be different from those in the UK and can affect hotel occupation, although they won’t affect deals on flights from the UK.
As a year-round destination, the Algarve offers an enormous variety of holiday experiences, so try looking off the beaten track if you want a country retreat or look for all-inclusive deals in the main resorts. These can often be very economical, if you take into account your holiday spends on meals and drinks.
One of your surest ways of finding the best deals is to check those below or keep an eye on our late deals offers.
Airport and transfer need to know
Faro is the only international airport in the Algarve and most of the main resorts are within one hour’s easy drive. Almost all the low-cost airlines fly into Faro from a number of regional and London airports. Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2, bmibaby, are all well represented from local airports throughout the UK, with Aer Lingus, Thomson Flights and Monarch all operating flights into the Algarve. http://www.faroairportsguide.com/flights.php
Getting about the Algarve is easy. Comboios de Portugal, the Portugues railway, is fast and efficient. Stations dot the coast from Vila Real de San Antonio to Lagos, but be aware that some of the small stations could be a bit of a hike from your hotel, so you may need to pick up a taxi or local bus.
Eva Bus (http://www.eva-bus.com) is the main bus service of the Algarve with regular services in most resorts and along the coast. Taxis are reasonably priced, and while fare rates should be displayed at taxi ranks and inside the taxis it’s best to check the fare with the driver. Expect to pay a 20% surcharge between 10.00pm and 6.00am and at weekends. Transfer from Faro to Albufeira approximately 35€ (£28), to Lagos 65€ (£53). Best to book.
A selection of top resorts in the Algarve
The Algarve has almost two hundred kilometres of pristine beaches. Seventy-four of them were awarded the Blue Flag in 2011. Albufeira, with its combination of quaint old town and lively São João district, is one of the most popular resorts in the Algarve. The beaches of the eastern Algarve are basically one long stretch, so there is plenty of room for everyone, even during the height of summer. Albufeira’s two main beaches, the Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Túnel, both have a good selection of bars and restaurants within easy walking distance. Pescadores, Fishermen’s Beach, is white sand and calm waters with few waves, so it’s good for swimmers and families. The water is usually slightly warmer than beaches to the west.
One of the most luxurious and prestigious resorts in Portugal is Vilamoura, which was specifically built as a leisure destination. The Michelin Guide voted Praia da Marina, Vilamour’s main beach, one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Europe and as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. If beach lounging is your style, stretch out on the sofas and canopied beds in front of the Tivoli Marina Hotel.
In the western Algarve, Praia de Rocha is one of the longest established resorts in the region, going as far back as the end of the19th century. The beach is enormous, one of the biggest in the Algarve. There is no shortage of water sports to keep you active, or you can take a boat ride around the two enormous rocks, the Two Brothers, that give the beach its name, (Rock Beach). It is also popular with families and kids building sand castles.
- The Best of the Best of Things to See and Do in the Algarve
- Hassle free Algarve
Take a look at a selection of our great quality 4 star hotels in the Algarve
Areias Sao Joao
Armacao de Pera
Praia da Falesia
Praia da Luz
Praia da Rocha
Praia de Oura
Quinta do Lago
Vale de Parra