And now for some information about the Algarve, Portugal…..
Sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, framed by golden cliffs, virtually deserted islands marking the boundary between Ria Formosa and the sea, and small coves sheltered by the rocks. The ocean, in every shade of blue and mostly calm and warm, invites you for long swims and to indulge in water sports.
And there are also the mountains, where people live in harmony with nature and maintain traditions that they love to share. And the cities,Silves, preserves traces of its Arab past and Lagos from the time of the Discoveries. More cosmopolitan Portimão and Albufeira are bustling towns by night and day. Tavira is a showcase for traditional architecture and Faro, the gateway to the region, deserves a long stop to discover its beautiful historic centre.
To relax, you can have various treatments in the spas and thalassotherapy centres and in the Monchique Thermal Baths. There are also many internationally acclaimed golf courses where you can enjoy a spot of exercise. And hotels, tourist villages, resorts, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. In short, a varied array sharing a genuine love for hospitality.
You can use footpaths and cycle trails to get to know the region, such as the Algarve Way inland or the Vicentine Route along one of the best preserved coastal stretches. And boat rides are another ecological way to observe the flora and fauna.
At the table, you will be delighted with the fresh fish and seafood, either grilled or in a casserole. These are divine flavours which you can enjoy on a simple beach terrace or in the most refined Michelin-starred restaurants, where chefs turn out new versions of traditional cuisine. They are further experiences not to be missed on a visit to the region.
Sun and sea
The long coastline is bathed by the Atlantic ocean, which brought Portugal closer to other peoples and cultures. For company, there is bright sunshine that turns the skin golden and warms the soul.
The sun fills the fine white sands of the beaches with light and joy. Whether they are immense stretches of sand as far as the eye can see, or little coves sheltered by rocks, each beach has its own dazzling and surprising beauty. Some are crowded, with lots of entertainment, while other remain deserted and unexplored, holding secrets waiting to be unveiled… there’s always something for every taste and state of mind, whether it’s to stretch out and relax on the sand, take a walk by the sea, to enjoy a date or to have fun and party the night away.
But despite their many differences, the beaches do have something in common: their quality, demonstrated by the large number of EU blue flags awarded each year, certifying their excellent conditions and amenities.
The clear waters of the sea also have different moods. Some beaches have quiet, peaceful seas, especially in the Algarve, which even in the winter is a great holiday destination; others have livelier seas, with waves that are just right for various high adrenaline sports.
Art and Culture
The land that is now Portugal has been inhabited for thousands of years and its national boundaries have been defined for eight centuries. This long history is reflected in a particular culture that is the result of the mixture of the many peoples who settled here and those that the Portuguese encountered on their journeys of Discovery.
It is found in the villages and towns, in the monuments and traditions, which bring together influences that the Portuguese have applied creatively. And the omnipresent sea has also shaped our personality and taken us beyond the continent of Europe, enabling us to learn and share with the rest of the world.
Manueline art, tiles and fado are unique expressions and genuine symbols of the Portuguese, but also a contribution to World Heritage. There are 18 such classifications by UNESCO in Portugal, including monuments, landscapes and intangible heritage.
The extensive Portuguese Atlantic coast is a paradise for lovers of pleasure boating, who will find here the perfect sea for them.
With calm waters for quiet sailing, or rough waters ensuring higher levels of adrenaline, the ocean displays its various moods that present no difficulties for those who know it well. The beauty of the landscape is a constant, with its towering cliffs, sand dunes and beaches, providing excellent settings for all water sports.
Some areas are considered among the best regatta locations in the world, so they often host international events and races. In the depths of the sea, divers can discover a world of biodiversity, with fish of every colour and even ancient treasures.
The History of Portugal is full of exploits by explorers who crossed uncharted seas, sailing beyond capes and braving storms, to reach the other side of the world. These days, sailing is done with the support of the latest technology, but the love of the sea, of adventure and of welcoming those who come to visit remains. And visitors arriving by sea will find marinas and yacht harbours all over the country, with excellent facilities and services, where they can dock safely to then explore other wonderful places ashore.
Anyone playing golf in Portugal will have the experience imprinted on their memory, and they’ll be sure to want to return. Why? Excellent courses in dazzling scenery, a mild climate all year round and the hospitality and friendliness of qualified pros.
There are around eighty golf courses, with different layouts and levels of difficulty. But the greatest challenge is to resist the beauty and light of the surrounding landscape and remain focused. There are ocean-facing greens, flanked by cliffs and white sand dunes; and others framed by lakes and mountains, where the fragrances of flowers and herbs blend in a blur of sensations.
Many have been designed by famous architects, such as Henry Cotton, Rocky Roquemore and Arnold Palmer, and they all share environmental quality and harmoniously blend into the landscape.
The Algarve and Lisbon coasts are well-known destinations amongst more experienced players and have been awarded a number of international prizes. They host some of the major events on the professional circuits, a case in point being Madeira with its mountain courses. There’s also golf to be played in the countryside in the Azores, but it was in Porto and the North that it all started, since the oldest golf course in mainland Europe is in Espinho.
Portugal may be only a small country, but the variety of its landscapes and species is such that any trip, is a pleasure of discovery.
From the towering mountains to the vast plains, from the wide sandy beaches with their gently rolling waves to the jagged coastline battered by rough seas, the country has a little of everything. Wherever you are, the sun shines all year round, offering a mild climate that is ideal for enjoying nature and the outdoors.
From kite surfing to bike rides over hill and dale, or rock climbing, abseiling and zip wiring for the more adventurous, the options are endless for those who like to keep active.
For those wanting to pump the adrenaline, Portugal has some great challenges in its perfect waves for surfing. Or windsurfing, sailing or paragliding with winds that are guaranteed to get the thrills soaring. Skiing and parasailing, too, provide some amazing experiences.
Try rafting, canyoning and canoeing on Portugal’s rivers. And discover their sources deep within the earth, going potholing to delve into unexplored caves.
To enjoy nature in all its charm, try some calmer activities, such as hiking or horse riding, taking in the fragrance of the wild flowers on a beautiful sunny day. Or mountaineering, where apart from the stunning views, you can reach the highest peaks to be rewarded with a view of the nests and flight of birds of prey. There are also boat trips to see dolphins and whales, images that you will never forget.
Portugal’s cuisine is as rich and varied as its landscape.
The most distinctive feature of Portuguese cuisine comes from the sea. As you enjoy a simple grilled fish, always fresh like the seafood that abounds from end to end along the coast, you can be sure that you are in Portugal! Cataplanas, bouillabaisses and any other fish or seafood dish are also excellent choices.
For meat dishes, try cozido à portuguesa, a mix of meats, vegetables and various sausages, cooked in a delicious way. Portuguese olive oil is of prime quality and is part of every dish, including cod (for which it is said that there are 1001 recipes.
Each dish is matched to the right wine. The whole country produces wine and, while Port wine is famous, the Douro, Alentejo and many other table wines are no less superior.
And the cheeses! While Queijo da Serra (mountain cheese from Serra da Estrela) tops the bill, all the cheeses from Centro de Portugal, Alentejo and the Azores are delicious.
The sweets, whose roots go back to the many convents where they were originally prepared, even today make us “give thanks to heaven”. And a pastel de nata (custard tart) is a must. It is delicious with coffee, which is drunk in the form of espresso.
At the end of a meal, make a toast with some Port or Madeira, fortified wines that have been spreading our name to faraway lands for centuries. Or with an excellent sparkling wine produced in Portugal, to celebrate a memorable meal provided by the country’s talented chefs.
Portugal is a friendly, safe country, with a mild climate and an excellent cuisine, ideal to tour with the family.
There are numerous activities designed for the little ones, both outdoors and indoors, in castles, museums, zoos, theme parks and aqua parks. Following the footprints of dinosaurs, watching dolphins and whales at sea or learning about the stars are just some ideas of what you can do. Bicycle or donkey rides in natural parks and reserves are also much appreciated and a relaxed way to learn about and discover nature.
On the fine sandy beaches, with their calm waters and pleasant temperatures, children can run and play at will, swim and make sandcastles. But the greatest fun of all is to take advantage of the waves and introduce the whole family to surfing.