Places Of Interest In Algarve

Branqueira is situated in a residential area within a 5 minute drive from Albufeira, one of the Algarve’s most popular resorts, as well as a number of beaches including Olhos d’Água, Falésia, Santa Eulália, as well as Albufeira's Fisherman's beach being a short car ride away. Branqueira is also around a 10 minute drive from the prestigious Pine Cliffs Golf Course, with the world class Vilamoura Golf Course just 5 minutes further.

Sao Rafael, Castelo, Galé Sao Rafael is a stark contrast to the larger Algarve resorts. With bustling streets and no high-rise developments, visitors can indulge in the natural beauty of The Algarve.

The restaurants are family orientated, with children always welcome, and needless to say there are some wonderful beach restaurants offering excellent lunchtime or early evening menus including sardines, salads, locally caught fish and grilled meats – perfect with a chilled bottle of Vino Verde!

Some of the beaches have rock pools where children can spend hours exploring or observing the marine life left behind when the tide goes out.

Vale do Lobo Vale do Lobo, just west of Faro, is an exclusive resort known for its chic shops, boutiques and restaurants, glorious beach and choice of superb golf courses.

There is also an art gallery and a selection of nightclubs.

The plaza area at the entracne to the beautiful beach is known as the Praca which has entertainment for all tastes and ages - a small shopping mall, a range of restaurants and bars, mini golf and a beachside swimming pool. In the summer months there is also live entertainment and music as well as bouncy castles and games for kids!

Vale do Lobo is also a favourite with golf enthusiasts, having several excellent championship golf courses such as Pinheiros Altos, the superb San Lorenzo, The Royal Golf Course and The Ocean Golf Course which is situated almost on the beach with views over the ocean.

Sand Sculpture Festival The International Sand Sculpture Festival, held in Pera, takes place every year from May to October. The festival celebrates a different theme each year and takes the 50 international artists 8 weeks to prepare for! The exhibitions are an impressive sight both during the day and at night when the sculptures are illuminated with coloured lights. The exhibits are fantastic and are created by artists from all over the world - great fun for all the family!

Alcoutim This area is a powerful example of the life that water brings. The Guadiana River, a natural border with Spain, breathes life into an otherwise barren part of the Algarve. Inland, the hills of the Serra are fairly deserted and could be from another age or planet. But by the river the soil is alive with forty shades of green, redolent with nature’s perfume.

An enjoyable day’s sightseeing through the narrow streets of Alcoutim will take in the castle that stands on a Roman site and the tall white walls of the Mercy Church.

Half a mile outside the city, across the bridge that spans Cadavais Creek, is an old Moorish settlement. These ruins are an unusual reminder of an intelligent, vibrant culture that inhabited this soil yet left little visible remnants to this day.

Cap off the day with a cool drink on an esplanade by the water’s edge and a boat trip at sundown.

From Faro, follow the A22 east for 32 miles to Vila Real de Santo Antonio and then travel north on the N122 for a further 25 miles to Alcoutim.

Castro Marim Like Australia, Castro Marim has the inauspicious claim to be the place of shelter for refugees and wanted men up until the 18th century. Linking the church, castle and fort, the streets are lined with typical Algarve houses, mostly white, with some ochre and blues, and bright floral and geometrical patterns on the facades. The castle stands on one hill, the star-shaped fort upon another and a river passes by the town.

Adjacent to the town lie the salt pans which look like mirrors reflecting the sun and large white pyramids of salt. Visitors are encouraged to tour the pans and learn about century-old salt extraction methods.

From Faro, follow the A22 east for 32 miles to Vila Real de Santo Antonio and then travel north west on the N122 for a further 2 ½ miles to Castro Marim.

Tavira Tavira is a very attractive city as it is breached by the Gilao River. Painted boats, palm trees and benches line the promenade along its banks. Four hundred year old houses peer at their reflections in its waters. The ancient bridge provides a good place to take all this in.

Its history is also notable as it played host to vociferous battles during the reconquest and was in the 15th century the most populous city in the Algarve. Inside the 13th century church lurk the tomb of seven knights killed by a Moorish ambush that triggered the Christian attack.

The castle offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

Do not miss the Church of Mercy regarded as the finest Renaissance building in the Algarve. The porch is of great beauty. If this does not satisfy the visitor there are over a dozen more churches and chapels dotted around Tavira.

From Faro, follow the A22 east for 17 miles to Tavira.

Olhao Olhao is an area of the Algarve for nature lovers. The coastal stretch of beach rises above the land next to the coast. This produces the phenomenon of inland lagoons and islands, ideal for swimming and sunbathing. This geographical rarity also lends itself to fertile land for a variety of flora, fauna and animal life. Amongst the woodlands, marshes and pools are many migratory birds and fish.

Visitors may also spot a tidal mill, Roman ruins or even a Portugese water-dog which fisherman once trained to help them in their work.

Within the city of Olhao, the fishermen’s quarter and church are worth a visit. It is also a centre for water sport enthusiasts and those taking boat trips to the islands of Armona and Culatra.

From Faro, follow the A22 east for 5 ½ miles to Olhao.

Estoi Like many old towns in the Algarve, Estoi enchants visitors with its whitewashed walls and small gardens full of trees and flowers. It also has a 16th century church with well-decorated façade, bell-tower, pulpit, baptistery and silver treasures.

The town is famous, however for its splendid palace. The romantic tastes of the first owner, an Algarvean nobleman, dictated that the mansion should be built in neo-baroque and neo-rocco style. This was an adventurous departure from the conservative architecture of his time. Enjoy the out-building that houses a nativity scene and the garden statues.

The Roman ruins are also worth a visit. In the 3rd century a luxurious villa was built with mosaic floors and columns. On these ruins stands a 16th century house.

From Faro, follow the N2 north for 5 ½ miles and then travel east on N2-6 for 1 mile to Estoi.

Faro Faro is the capital of the Algarve, home to the international airport, University of the Algarve and the district hospital. The city’s tourist attractions include long beaches, Farol and Culatra Islands, the Roman ruins at Milreu, a long artistic heritage and many museums and restaurants.

Faro’s old town consists of three distinct areas. The Vila-Adentro area contains the Cathedral which houses the finest collection of 17th and 18th century art in the Algarve, Episcopal and Italian-influenced buildings, the ramparts and castle, and the archaeological museum.

The old Moorish Mouraria quarter houses the Mercy Church built in the style of a Greek cross, the regional museum, city walls and octagonal Granary of St Francis. Finally, the Bairro Ribeirinho has several impressive churches and classical institutional and private houses.

The 20th century new town includes luxurious middle class residencies, epitomised by the Palacio Fialho.

Faro can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Sao Bras De Alportel This is traditionally the world centre of cork production and well-decorated buildings remind us of this former opulence. Inside the main church are gilded 18th century carvings and 17th century paintings depicting saints.

The Antonio Bentes Cultural Centre, once home to a wealthy cork trader, contains typical Algarvean costumes, old carriages and of course corks. The area around Sao Bras De Alportel is worth a visit for the views, flowers, Pousada Hotel, old hermitages and Fonte Ferrea Picnic Area but most of all for its tranquillity.

From Faro, follow the N2 north for 10½ miles to Sao Bras De Alportel.

Loule The ancient town of Loule is renowned for its Saturday market and attracts eager bargain hunters from all over the Algarve. During the rest of the week visitors shop in a variety of handicraft stores along the narrow white streets. Sightseers marvel at the imposing castle on the spur of a hill.

The St Clement Church is also worth a tour as its interior and three side chapels have notable carved and gilded decorations. There are also many other smaller churches and a museum.

Special dishes in Loule include hare in white wine, Loule-style chicken (boiled and then fried). Also keep an eye out for goat’s cheese and woodland flower honey brought in from the hills.

From Faro, follow the A22 northwest for 4 ¾ miles and then continue on N125-4 for a further 5 ¼ miles to Loule.

Alte On a sun-drenched afternoon in the Algarve where more refreshing a village to stop off at than Alte? Its pretty streams and waterfalls cascade down cobbled streets. Freshly whitewashed walls are crowned by flowery balconies and delicately laced chimneys. A perfect spot at which to take lunch.

From Albufeira, follow the N595 north for 3 miles and then continue on the N395/N270 for 10 miles to Portela de Messines. At Portela de Messines, proceed east on N124 for 4 ¾ miles to Alte.

Alvor Alvor was an ancient coastal village in Portugal and is now a very popular holiday location. Many of the streets boast bars with live music and different types of restaurants, but leading off from these there are still memories of the older fishing village.

Alvor is a well located village for a villa holiday, facing a natural lagoon opening onto the sea. There is a choice of a long open sandy. beach or a number of small coves tucked under the cliffs. The attractive 16 century parish church is a prime example of the Manueline era of architecture and worth a visit on your holiday. It is one of the only buildings to survive the earthquake of 1755.

Silves As if paying tribute to a turbulent history in the middle ages, the blood red walls of mighty Silves Castle overlook the surrounding countryside. The largest military monument to the Islamic period in Portugal, it remembers a different past in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Old Cathedral (which features gargoyles from over 500 years ago) city walls and medieval bridge emphasise Silves as an historical town. An historical town would be incomplete without a museum which in this city contains an 11th century well!

Visitors may wish to take a trip through time by sailing down the Arade River to the sea, passing vestiges of Roman and Viking presence.

Lagoa Lagoan people are very skilled in crafting decorations from natural materials. Women can be seen weaving dwarf palm into hats, rugs and mats. The men make baskets from reeds. Copperware and ceramics are also popular products.

The Algarve’s largest craft show takes place in August each year in Lagoa, the province’s craft capital.

A stroll around the hilltop town reveals a labyrinth of whitewashed houses with windows edged in blue, Manueline doorways and the imposing turret of the monastery. At the entrance to the monastery is an 'outcasts hatch' once used for receiving abandoned children. In the garden is a stone menhir dating from 4,000 BC.

Lagoa can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Portimao The second most populous city in the Algarve, Portimao is crowned by a fetching white church on a hilltop. Marvel at its impressive gargoyle, buttresses, high naves and altar. The city is further characterised by the narrow streets.

Visit the old fishermen and tradesmen quarter and its immense beach Praia da Rocha.

The local delicacy, grilled sardine served on a slice of homemade bread, can be had in any of the quayside restaurants. Sample the Portimao-style clams, razor clam risotto and whelk stew for a real taste of Portugal!

Relax in the shade of the Manueal Bivar gardens and soak up the architecture and slow pace of life.

Or you could visit Portimao Marina, which not only has an array of fabulous restaurants and bars, but is also home to a number of large, beautiful yachts and a number of sporting activitities and competitions. In the summer you can catch the International Game Fishing Competition, Powerboat Championships or the Portimao Global Ocean Race – a 30,000 mile race around the world starting and finishing at Portimao Marina stopping at America, Brazil and New Zealand in between, taking about 8 months to complete!

Portimao can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Caldas de Monchique News has been spreading fast about the healing powers of the spa waters of Caldas de Monchique. This little market hamlet is beginning to thrive on the therapeutic qualities of its waters. Bars, restaurants and hotels are springing up.

The Romans adored its 32’C slightly sulphurous waters. The spas beside, there is plenty to do in the vicinity - mountain biking, hiking and horse-riding tours are available.

Restaurants across the Algarve and especially here serve frango pira-pira. This spicy condiment mixed with roast chicken will give you a taste of Africa from where it came.

From Silves proceed west on N124 for 6 ½ miles and then continue north west on N266 for 13 miles to Caldas de Monchique.

Monchique Away from the heat and the crowds, the freshness of the Monchique hills is most tangible. This area of the Algarve is blessed with fertile rolling hills, shrouded in flowers and outcropped boulders, ideal for walking.

Amongst the whitewashed houses of this hill town stand three churches each housing impressive carvings and sculptures. Most notable is the porch of the Igreja Matriz with its twisted stone columns.

A breathtaking view of Monchique can be enjoyed from the ruins of the Nossa Senhora de Desterro Monastery. The monastery gardens are decorated with tiles showing birds and a magnolia tree that may be the biggest in Europe. Arbutus trees, from which derives a strong brandy, are also found in this area.

From Silves proceed west on N124 for 6 ½ miles and then continue north west on N266 for 13 miles to Caldas de Monchique. Continue past Caldas de Monchique for 3¼ miles to Monchique.

Lagos Lagos had its hey day in the 15th century when wealthy merchants and bankers built sumptuous houses with the ivory, gold and silver that returned on boats from Africa. This walled city was levelled in 1755 by an earthquake and a tidal wave that followed. Today it is a bustling city proud of its past.

City sites include the churches of Santo Antonio, Sao Sebastiao, Santa Maria, Nossa Senhora, the 15th century slave market, the panoramic views from the walls and the museum.

Local delicacies include Dom Rodgigos, a cake favoured by nuns at the Convent of Our Lady Carmel. Local crafts include pottery, copperware and textiles.

Lagos can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Ferragudo A multi-faceted and instantly recognizable beach in the centre of Carvoeiro village. The beach is flanked by high cliffs that provide excellent shade from the afternoon sun. Intrepid explorers will love the striking rock formations of the Algar Seco as well as boat trips to nearby coves, grottos and otherwise inaccessible beaches.

Flags and lifeguards are out in season when it can become crowded.

The beach is served by a small car park and is signposted from the N125 at Lagoa.

Salema Ten and a half miles from Lagos, Salema is set on a wide attractive bay.

The town has a very easy-going atmosphere having avoided over development and

is close to several small secluded beaches – namely, Praia de Salema, Praia da Figueira and Boca do Rio.

Overlooking the Praia de Salema is the popular Restaurante Atlantico which offers a sumptuous variety of fish dishes.

Salema can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Sagres Established by Prince Henry the Navigator as the town from which to discover the world, Sagres sits at the helm of Europe. Surrounded by sea on three sides and whipped by fierce winds, its cliffs and fortifications present an austere landscape to visitors.

Christopher Columbus studied at the School of Navigation, perhaps tossing stones into the sea, dreaming of foreign lands.

Not so intimidating for Sir Francis Drake, it seems, who in 1587 captured and wrecked the defences!

Fair skinned folk make a note of the cooler climate in Sagres than elsewhere in the Algarve.

Sagres can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Sagres The Fort Known locally as Fortaleza de Sagres, the fort in its present form dates from 1793. Just inside the gate to the impressive building is a 141 foot wind rose for measuring the direction of the wind, excavated in the 18th century. As with many ruins, building has taken place on top of the original stonework throughout the centuries. In this case until as late as the 1950s in preparation for the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry’s death and beyond. For example you will find a very old church and lighthouse near a modern museum hall. The fort is open daily between May and September.

Vila do Bispo This is a town where the history of the Algarve can be appreciated in full. Stone menhirs have stood in this south western area of the Algarve in testament to the Palaeolithic period when Europe was joined to Africa. Today a church tower rises high above the whitewashed houses that make up the town. The church itself contains some beautiful 16th to 18th century paintings and tiles and is surrounded by a pretty old quarter. It is said that the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora de Guagalupe was a place of prayer for the great conquistador Prince Henry the Navigator.

Vila do Bispo can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Aljezur This region houses the Costa Vicentina Natural Park which covers 50 miles of coastline. It is vibrant with wild animals and verdant with flowers. While walking in the fields near Rogil visitors can pick up a peanut – the fertile soil cultivates unusual edible peanuts and sweet potatoes! The west-facing beaches are surrounded by tall cliffs and offer excellent fishing and a sense of isolation.

The town of Aljezur is crowned by a castle that overlooks the creek and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area. There is also a pillory where criminals were once exposed to public scorn and the Church of Mercy where presumably they were redeemed. Elsewhere, the Main Church houses treasures such as a Eucharist box encrusted with mother-of-pearl. Also keep a look out for the Fountain of Lies which has an interesting story behind it.

From Vila do Bispo, proceed north on N268 for 15½ miles, then continue on N120 for a further 4½ miles to Aljezur.

Cabo de Sao Vicente Cape St Vincent is Europe’s south-western most point. Next stop Rio de Janeiro. A barren place that would have left sailors with a sense of foreboding as it past their starboard side on the way out into the Atlantic. The cape derives its names from the name of a Spanish priest killed by the Romans in 304 AD. His body lies in the church in the fort and the ravens that followed him as he was transported here by boat for burial have been sanctified on Sagres’s coat of arms.

Another story says Vincent was an Italian martyr washed up on the rocks here.

The cape is a stunning three and three quarter miles cliff top walk from Sagres, passing restaurants en route. Not a bad sunset when you get there either...

If the lighthouse is open you can climb up the spiral staircase to see the prisms and the 3000-watt bulb. The lighthouse is one of the most powerful in Europe, casting its light some 60 miles out into the Atlantic.

Cabo de Sao Vicente can be found on our Region Map which is within The Algarve link.

Quinta do Lago Founded in 1972, Quinta do Lago is one of the points of the Golden Triangle, with Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura together forming one of the most prestigious areas to live in Portugal. It is a very exclusive resort boarded on one side by the Atlantic and on another by the lush rolling hills of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Vale do Lobo, just ten years older, with its two glorious, 18-hole championship golf courses is five minutes down the road from the villas. Not to be outdone, Quinta do Lago has four courses, and the first Portuguese Open took place here in 1976.~Golf is at the heart of Quinta do Lago but there is a lot more to it than that. For example, a spectacular beach accessible only by crossing a picturesque wooden bridge over the tidal lagoon, a man-made lake offering an impressive range of water sports, striking and spectacular villas, some owned by superstars, an upmarket shopping centre that is designer heaven for shopaholics as well as having a supermarket and pharmacy, exceptional gourmet restaurants, cafes and bars and fantastic wildlife with rare species of fauna and flora. Add to this list spectacular scenery and a superb climate, and you will understand the appeal of a villa holiday at this amazing place!

Buganvilia Plaza Situated at the end of Vale do Lobo and before the entrance to Quinta do Lago,

Buganvilia Plaza shopping complex includes boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, bars and a sizeable supermarket.

Quinta Shopping Centre Adjacent to Buganvilia Plaza, the exclusive Quinta Shoppping Centre has a vast range of designer shops and luxury restaurants as well as the Melting Pot pub.

Ria Formosa Nature Park This vast protected area covers some 71 square miles. It was established to preserve the natural resources on which the local population depend for most of their traditional activities such as fish and shellfish farming, traditional fishing and salt production.

Amongst other natural attractions, the nature park is home to wetlands, indigenous fauna and flora and migratory species.

Almancil Villas in Almancil offer you easy access to the golden sandy beaches and top notch golfing opportunities of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo but with your base in a traditional local town rather than a big resort. Almancil is an attractive destination in its own right.

As well as a great selection of bars and restaurants, Almancil has more than its fair share of cultural venues, as well as interesting food shops and several markets for you to peruse.

The Church of Saint Lawrence Known locally as Sao Lourenco do Matto (Saint Lawrence of the Wood), the church stands on a small hill overlooking the main N125 road 16 kilometres west of Faro. Inside is one of the world’s finest displays of design. Azulejos (pronounced ah-zoo-lay-zhoos) are hand-painted, glazed ceramic tiles introduced by the Moors.

Every square inch of this 15th century baroque church is covered in these hand-painted blue and white ceramic tiles, including the walls, ceiling and cupola. Most date from the 18th century and depict biblical scenes detailing the life of Saint Lawrence. The only thing not blue and white is the carved, gilded alter.

The church is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 6pm, and Monday 2.30pm to 6pm, admission free.

Vilamoura Vilamoura is an opulent, purpose-built, privately-developed resort devoted to pleasure! It has 2 sandy beaches, buzzing night life with a casino and huge range of clubs, bars and restaurants, a 1,000-berth marina housing some of Europe’s most glamourous yachts, Roman ruins and of course, excellent golfing opportunities! Add boat trips, tennis and shopping and you will certainly be needing an air-conditioned siesta in your villa after lunch!~At the heart of Vilamoura is the largest marina in Portugal, busy by day and buzzing by night. Despite the neatly aligned millionaires’ yachts, this is not a pretentious place and anyone with a passion for boats will be in heaven just sitting in a bar or café absorbing the sights, sounds and smells. It’s a great place for a stroll in the sun, watching the boats come and go and spotting celebrities at play.

Vilamoura Marina This modern marina offers everything a yachtsman might want. In terms of services and facilities it is second to none. Once a Roman harbour, it is a fascinating place to walk around. Stop off for lunch at one of the many cafes and visit the large commercial centre with two levels of shops, restaurants and bars.

Vilamoura Casino This internationally famous casino promises a fantastic night out. Try your luck at one of the numerous gaming tables, the one-armed bandits or in the bingo rooms. The casino’s vast restaurant which accommodates 500 people features a nightly floor show.

Cerro da Vila Roman site In 1963 an archaeologist made an exciting find on the northern side of the marina when fragments of Roman mosaic were spied in the soil. The spot turned out to be the remains of Cerro da Vila, where Romans, Visigoths and Moors all left their mark. Take a look at the water piping system and the surviving mosaics and enjoy the museum containing coins, vases and other artefacts uncovered here.

Olhos D’Agua If man-made, modern resorts are not your thing, you will probably find Olhos D’Agua very appealing.

It is a quiet fishing village and is much the same today as it was a 100 years ago.

The pace is relaxed, and fishing is still important to the community, with many traditional restaurants relying on the catch of the day to serve you after sundown.

With its whitewashed cottages and cobbled streets leading down to a small, charming beach, Olhos D’Agua is a popular holiday destination for Portuguese families.

It may be quiet, but you are only 15 minutes away from the far livelier resorts of Albufeira and Vilamoura. ~

If you are fortunate enough to be in Olhos d’Agua in August, you are sure to eat a lot of sardines!

The annual Sardine Festival is one big beach party with live music, fireworks and as many delicious barbecued sardines as you can eat! This is a really friendly village and you will be made to feel very welcome.

Praia D'Oura/Montechoro Although Praia D’Oura and Montechoro are so close to Albufeira, they take the party vibe to a whole new level! They attract a young and lively international crowd in search of fun and pleasure. Both Praia D’Oura and Montechoro have glorious beaches to while away the day, but also offer vibrant and varied nightlife for dancing, drinking and dining. You can groove to techno or house anthems at 90s–style old-school discos or get right up to date with clubbers, foam parties and playlists featuring chart toppers played by excitable DJ’s. Or dance till the small hours at a beach party! But if you want a more relaxed, cosy ambience, there is also plenty of choice.

Kadoc With a name that is difficult to translate and probably better left that way, Kadoc is one of the most popular discos in the Algarve and a particular favourite of the younger generation. The disco is located between Albufeira and Vilamoura.

Discoteca Locomia One of the largest in the Algarve and popular with twenty-somethings, this disco promises to be just what it says on the tin – loco. It has esplanades with breathtaking views of the sea, the night sky and later of course the dawn.

Open daily during the summer season from midnight until 6am,

Locomia is located on Praia de Santa Eulalia, 82200 Albufeira (Tel 289 542 636).

Forte Sao Joao Fort Sao Joao is a pleasant small holiday resort in The Algarve with a good sandy beach , between the resorts of Praia d'Oura and Albufeira The Fort of Sao Joao de Arade started life in the 15 century as a lookout tower and was extended in the 17 and 18 century. Today it is private property and was turned into a home on the initiative of the poet, Coelho Carvalho. The remains of Atalaia and Quinta da Torre can be seen in the area which were medieval watchtowers used to give warning of attacks by pirates.

Albufeira Albufeira is the town where tourism in the Algarve really began. until the 60's it was a lovely old fishing town, with the familiar whitewashed cottages and winding, cobbled Moorish streets leading to charming squares and churches, and fishing boats all clustered around the sea shore. The scenic old town is much the same today, but benefits from the modern accommodation and luxury holiday villas that border it. The town has a fine marina, and about 1¼ miles away is the main strip – Avenida Dr Francisco Sà Carneiro. This is the centre of the club scene and comes alive with cocktail bars, karaoke joints, and discos that never seem to close. Albufeira remains the most popular resort in the Algarve for a good reason.

Sao Rafael, Castelo, Galé Sao Rafael is in stark contrast to the larger Algarve resorts . With no high-rise developments and bustling streets, visitors are free to indulge in the natural beauty of The Algarve.

The restaurants are family orientated, with children always welcome, and needless to say there are some wonderful beach restaurants offering excellent lunchtime or early evening menus including sardines, salads, locally caught fish and grilled meats – perfect with a chilled bottle of Vino Verde.

Some of the beaches have rock pools, which children can spend hours exploring, or observing the marine life left behind when the tide goes out.

Guia The old and the new co-habit in style in Guia, a small upmarket town where life rotates around good food. If you are staying in a villa in Guia head to the main street, which is lined with traditional family-run tavernas serving braised clams, grilled sardines, and succulent swordfish steaks. Most visitors want to try the fiery piri-piri chicken,

said to have been invented here and reputedly the best in Portugal. A huge shopping mall on the edge of town offers a great line in retail therapy

if you need an air-conditioned break from the pool or the beach.

Armacao de Pera Villa holidays in Armacao de Pera offer guests an interesting mix of old and new. The town has expanded rapidly to accommodate the thousands of visitors, many of them Portuguese, who flock here each year to enjoy one of the finest beaches in Portugal. The whole shoreline buzzes with high rise apartments and hotels, shops, bars and restaurants. Yet the old town is almost unchanged, and still preserves its original charm.

Carvoeiro Carvoeiro today is essentially the same picturesque traditional fishing village it always was, with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses clustered on the cliff tops curved around the bay. Your villa holiday in Carvoeiro can be as lazy or as active as you like! There are exceptionally lovely beaches all around if you just want to take it easy, but diving, jet-skis and pedaloes are yours for the asking if you feel energetic. The town is crammed with excellent shops, bars and restaurants so you won’t have to walk far to find great local cuisine.

Algar Seco The cliffs, grottoes and rocks of Algar Seco are the most famous in the Algarve. One kilometre to the east of Carvoeiro, this geographical wonder is best reached by local boat. It is also a magical part of the world for avid snorkellers. Well worth a visit if you are in the vicinity.

Estombar The historical centre of Estombar has the appeal and charm typical of The Algarve’s towns.

Originally, Estombar was a thriving urban centre with an economy built on salt production. This Algarve town lays claim to being the birthplace of a renowned 11th century poet as well as an infamous 19 century guerrilla warfare leader who apparently terrorised the whole of The Algarve.

Ferragudo Tranquil Ferragudo is well worth a visit on your villa holiday. Despite its proximity to tourist resorts and its' two excellent beaches, Ferragudo has managed to avoid commercialization and retains the traditional ambience of an Algarvean fishing village. Ferragudo is a reminder

of how unspoilt this part of Portugal was just a few decades ago. Nearby are two fortresses, the Fortaleza de Santa

Catarina de Ribamar, built in 1621 to defend this coast of Portugal against the Moors, and the beige-coloured Fortaleza de Ferragudo, which looks like a giant sandcastle.

Portimao The bustling town of Portimao faces Ferragudo across the Rio Arade estuary and is one of the largest towns in The Algarve . Portimao has a good pedestrianised shopping area, traditional sardine restaurants by the old bridge, and a stylish marina with restaurants , bars and a number of sporting activities and competitions. Portimao is a town of contrasts with the ancient and modern living side by side.

Amongst Portimao's attractions are an eye-catching shopping centre , a number of charming harbour-side cafes and the nearby long, sandy beach If you are looking for nightlife on your villa holiday, Praia da Rocha is a bustling holiday resort just beyond Portimao with a huge beach and all manner of bars, clubs and entertainment.

Lagos Marina Your first view of Lagos is often from the long riverside Avenida dos Descobrimentos, which divides the old walled city from the port. Across the river is the marina, where fishermen work on handsome anchored boats. From here a fabulous view can be had of the city from above its walls. Visitors can see these mixed Roman and 16th century ramparts, taking in views of the marina and the sea.

Fortaleza da Ponta da Bandeira This little fortress at the southern end of Avenida dos Descobrimentos dates back to the 17th century. It was originally built to protect the port from invasion, most likely from Francis Drake and his contemporaries.

Today it is a museum tracing the history of Portuguese conquest and discovery and is a fascinating history of a time of aspiration, adventure and much cruelty in the name of wealth and religion. The museum is open from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 10am to 1pm Sunday.

Golden Church of San Antonio This is Lagos’ main historical attraction – the little Igreja de Santo Antonio. The dome and the panelling were installed after the earthquake of 1755 which flattened every building in the Algarve. The interior is an inspiring array of gilded, carved wood depicting ripening grapes and smiling cherubs in a baroque style.

Access is from the adjacent Museu Municipal which contains unusual artefacts such as 16th century grave markers, church robes and pickled foetuses. Opening hours are 9.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm daily except Mondays. The church and museum are situated on Rua General Alberto Silveira, just south of the Praca da Republica. (Tel 282 762 301)

Luz The village of Luz, like most towns on the Algarve coast was originally a fisherman's village before tourism arrived in the 60's. The town, now a well-developed resort particularly popular with English ex-pats, overlooks the Praia da Luz which translates as Beach of Light, a lovely long beach with gentle sloping sand and shallow waters that make it ideal for children. ~Luz is an attractive little place, steeped in history and typically Portuguese in many respects with a comfortable, family-oriented atmosphere. It is close to Sagres, a lively fishing town with a picturesque harbour which becomes particularly busy at the end of the day when the fishermen return with their daily catch.

Burgau Burgau is a peaceful Algarve village nestled on the edge of a national park, approximately 1 hours' drive from Faro Airport and located 10 minutes drive west of Lagos. The working fishing village of Burgau is a great place for soaking up the ambience of The Algarve and slowing down the pace on your villa holiday.

The local economy is not wholly reliant on tourism, which means that Burgau, with its' peaceful cobbled streets, retains its age-old personality. Most tourist facilities are available in Burgau.

Visitors on their holiday can admire the colourful fishing boats and relax on the beautiful sandy beach. Those that enjoy walking there are some fantastic walks up the hill that is the backdrop to Burgau and coastal walks to Luz which is the next village or the other way to Salema.

Parque de Floresta This golf and leisure resort has one of the most spectacular golf courses in Europe. The imaginatively designed course offers incredible variety as well as spectacular views across the surrounding countryside and right down to the sea. No two holes are the same which gives players a chance to really test their skills.

The addition of a Golf Academy to Parque de Floresta and substantial investment in the course add to its continuing appeal with golfers tempted back year after year. (Tel 282 690054)

Sign Up
Stay in touch
Your email has been entered into our data base, and you will now receive newsletters from Villa Plus.