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The Algarve - Summer Paradise

25th July 2012 • Posted in Where2 Magazine

Over a hundred miles of golden sand and dramatic coastline, some wonderful resorts and outstanding sports facilities make the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost coast, a tourist paradise. Best of all, it takes a little over two hours to fly to Faro with from any one of our seven UK hubs. The Algarve is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal – small wonder some come and never leave, seduced by the mild climate and relaxed pace of life!

The Algarve where2 image

From lovely Faro in the east, and the magnificent surrounding Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, to Ponta de Sagres in the west you’ll find a swathe of glorious sandy beaches – paradise for the bucket and spade brigade and everyone else too – and a dizzying choice of resorts with a range of facilities and buzzing nightlife. Just half-an-hour’s drive from the city of Faro and airport and on the edge of the stunning Ria Formosa wildlife park lie the exclusive resorts of Quinta do Lago and Quinta do Lobo with their luxury villas and apartments, lush gardens and private pools, and some enticing sandspits running along the outer edge of the lagoon. These complexes provide outstanding golf and tennis facilities, a magnet to keen players, and serve as a luxury second home base for celebrities.

But most tourists coming to the Algarve drive on to the beaches and nightlife of the bigger resorts further west where there are some spectacular beaches – spreading for miles from resort to resort.

Further along the coast, it’s almost impossible to believe that modern resorts such as Quartiera were once just quiet little fishing villages. The tourist boom of the 1960s and 1970s changed all that. Just look at purpose-built Vilamoura, the largest seaside resort in Portugal – and possibly even in Europe. As if countless hotels, an extraordinary range of watersports, a huge marina, a casino, tennis centre, shooting and bowling clubs, and no fewer than three golf courses were not enough, there’s even a private landing strip! From Vilamoura captivating Praia Falésia, its golden sand backed by soaring cliffs, stretches all the way to the beaches of Albufeira, one of the most popular resorts on the Algarve.

Continue west, and south of Lagoa you’ll come to stunning Praia da Marinha beach with its intriguing rock formations, lying below honey-coloured cliffs. Many say this is the most beautiful beach on the Algarve and it’s forever appearing in promotional material. It has a Portuguese Golden Beach (Praia Dourada) award.

The resort of Praia do Carvoeiro, usually just called Carvoeiro, is renowned for its cliffs, caves and grottoes. Further on, there’s Praia da Rocha, the earliest established resort on the Algarve and hugely popular. Watersports include windsurfing, sailing and water-skiing and the resort also offers deep-sea fishing. There’s a lovely resort beach and several attractive smaller coves, linked by a tunnel. Further west, Lagos has some terrific award-winning beaches backed with stunning natural scenery.

As a break from the beaches, do find time to visit the port town of Lagos. It was from here that Henry the Navigator set off on his historic voyages in the 15th century. During Portugal’s glittering Age of Discovery, many other famous voyagers sailed from Sagres, the westernmost point of the Algarve. Driving in this direction you’ll find countless picturesque coves, and continuing northwards up the Algarve’s Atlantic coast there are yet more to explore...

But stop en route just a short drive beyond Sagres to visit the famous Cabo São Vicente lighthouse – perched on the south- westernmost tip of Europe. Gazing out over the ocean, you’ll feel as if you’re at the very end of the world!

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