Due to the importance of its position on the world map this province was at one
time its own Kingdom. It has been invaded and fought over by the Phoenicians,
Romans and Moors. Closely associated with the sea throughout its history this
was the base of the famous Henry the Navigator who, from the point at Sagres
organised the 15th Century exploration of the New World.
The Algarve is composed of 5.411 square kilometres with approx. 350,000
permanent inhabitants. This figure can swell to over a million people at the
height of the summer. Its administrative centre is Faro controlling 16
Municipalities, who in turn govern a total of 77 Parishes.
The length of the south-facing coastline is approx. 155 kilometres and stretches
about 52 kilometres to the north on the west. At the widest point to the north,
it is approximately 36 kilometres deep. Communication is mainly by road but there is
also a single-track railway line running from Lagos to Vila Real do Santo António that
also links to the line running to Lisbon and the north. The old "EN125" main
road runs along the whole coast and has now been partially replaced by a new
dual carriageway "Via do Infante" starting at the border to Spain and stretching
to Lagos - Bensafrim, also links with the main road to Lisbon. There is one international airport
located close to Faro and this conveniently lies in the middle of the Algarve
The interior from the coast greatly varies in its picturesque appeal due to its
variety of fauna, soil and contours. In January and February the coast is
painted white with almond blossom shading the many varieties of wild orchids. In
March, the heady perfume of orange blossom mixes with the bloom of acacias.
During the month of April the bountiful wild flowers give cause to the
delightful music of the many colourful birds. May and June is the time to see
the raw beauty of the striking bare barks of stripped cork trees in contrast to
the palette purple of the jacaranda. July is the time of cherries, strawberries
and melons. August and September provide the picking of grapes, figs and
almonds. November is for the gathering of chestnuts for the national festival of
São Martinho. Whilst, in December it is time to start picking the famous sweet
juicy Algarve oranges which continue through to March.
Away from the immediate coastal plain are the foothills leading up to the
highest point Foia (902 mts.) above the un-spoilt village of Monchique. This
mountain area is well known for the layers of Roman terraces with granite stone
walls that provide the stream of local vegetables that can be found on sale in
the local market. Also, from this region comes the local brewed drink "Medronho"
that is best drunk in one of the many local taverns.
Algarve Map (Click Here)
800 296 296 - Support to Tourists
112 - SOS
There are so many lovely interesting sandy beaches in the Algarve that you will
find amongst them a good selection on which to enjoy your holiday. Everyone has
their favourites and these are often hidden away from the more popular ones!
When you see the sign “Praia” this means in Portuguese “beach”.
They beaches vary from the small sheltered coves to broad endless stretches of
sea washed sand. Equally the sea bed near to the beach can vary from a
comfortable shallow shelve to a more sudden drop! In general, the rule is that
as you travel from east to west along the coast, the beaches become more subject
to seasonal currents. As some excellent beaches are not immediately accessible
from the holiday towns we recommend that these are very worthwhile to seek out.
The exception to the above is the coastline running from the west point of
Sagres up to the north. This coast is very variable and being open to the winds
and Atlantic Ocean waves from the west it normally presents different conditions
to those found on the same day along the southern coastline. This area has a
rugged atmosphere and the at times the winds can be biting. The sea is many
times choppy with big waves and often combined with a dangerous fast
All main beaches have in the season Lifeguards on safety patrol. Many beach
concessions offer all the usual water sports facilities along with restaurant
food and snacks. Below are a few Algarve Beach suggestions:
Located to the west of Monte Gordo it stretches westwards towards Tavira. This
beach takes its name from the line of trees and bushes that line the land side
of the broad endless beach. Ideally suitable for most families with their
PRAIA ILHA DE TAVIRA
To some this is the jewel in the crown of the eastern side of Faro. It is also
often locally referred to as Praia das Cascas. A few minutes boat trip will take
visitors from the jetty of Tavira located just outside the town across to this
attractive sandy bar. For visitors with naturist inclinations there is an area
reserved especially for their needs which is about one kilometer walk to the
west end of this beach.
PRAIA DO BARRIL
This beach is really an extension of the above beach known as Praia Ilha de
Tavira. However, this section is easily reached from the tourist villages of
Santa Luzia and Pedras del Rey. From the later village a small train takes the
visitor across the intervening water to the sandy island bar in a slow journey
which reminds everyone that they are definitely on holiday!
PRAIA DA ARMONA
The three Islands of Armona, Culatra and Farol act as a barrier to the sea and
on the inland side there are the extensive lagoons forming the nature reserve of
Ria Formosa. Reaching these beaches can only be done by Ferryboat which leaves
from the fishing port of Olhão. The journeys can takes some 30 minutes and leave
at about 15 minute intervals during the day – in season each ferry with the
destination to one of the three islands. As you can imagine once you arrive at
the chosen Island you are going to find yourself as one of the limited number of
PRAIA DA ILHA DE FARO
This beach is a long narrow sandy bar that is accessed by a road traversing a
lagoon just south of the Faro airport. Being near to the principal town of the
Algarve it is usually very busy and there are many water sports faculties and
plenty of restaurants.
PRAIA DE GARRÃO
This beach fronts the chic area of the holiday resorts known as Quinta do Lago
and Vale do Lobo. This beach can now be easily reached by road and one area
popular for its beach restaurants is a section know as “Julias” – a local lady
and a character who opened the first beach place at the time when access was
either by horse or by a very sandy road through the pine trees.
PRAIA DA FALÉSIA
This beach takes its name from the fascinating gouged red cliffs that form a
backdrop to the endless stretch of sand. As these cliffs are not very tall it
makes access convenient whilst acting as a suitable barrier to any winds from
the north during the out-of-season. This beach is to be found west of Vilamoura
before reaching Olhos de Água.
PRAIA DA GALÉ
Another long sandy stretch but as there are no cliffs it has many point of easy
access by road. This beach is located to the west of Albufeira and runs round
the Bay of Armação de Pera to the town.
PRAIA DA ROCHA
This is probably the oldest and best know beach in the Algarve. It is located
just south of the main town of Portimão and was originally much shorter in width
and with a lot more charm. This beach in the past has been seriously enlarged
with the sand that was pumped out during the dredging of the Portimão Harbor and
at the same time meeting the needs of the many visiting tourists to this area.
PRAIA DE ALVOR
The beach is located and accessed from the old popular fishing village of Alvor.
It stretches just over two kilometers from the village to the west in the
direction of Lagos. This beach acts as a sand bar creating an interior lagoon
which acts as a form of port for Alvor. Some twenty years ago a tourist could
walk at low tide by beach all the way to Lagos by wading across a small sea the
then shallow outlet from the lagoon.
This beach forms the other half of the previous walk from Alvor to Lagos. It
takes its name from being part of this walk as “Meia” indicates the word “half”.
The approach to this beach is from the town of Lagos and it is easily accessed.
This beach is popular with windsurfers and surfers alike as it faces the open
Bay of Lagos and also protected to the west by the promontory of Ponta da
Piedade. The beach is possibly a little longer than that of the Alvor and there
are many small beach bars to satisfy the thirst for those who wish to walk its
PRAIA DO MARTINHAL
This beach is located in the Bay of Baleeira close to Sagres. Another
windsurfers paradise and is a smaller beach in a reasonably shallow bay that is
shouldered to the west by Ponta da Atalaia. It is recommended as a location if
visiting the area of Sagres.
PRAIA DO CASTELEJO
One of the few beaches on the west coast were it is safer to swim due to the
underlying dangerous currents. This beach is located just to the north-west of
the small town of Vila do Bispo. It is one of the smaller beaches and has a
completely different atmosphere to those found on the southern coastline. It may
not suit everyone but those that do visit tend to return.
PRAIA DA BORDEIRA
This beach is on the west coast of the Algarve and can be reached by traveling
north from Vila do Bispo, then after passing the small village of Carrapateira
turn seaward where there is a sign that reads “Praia”. Virtually a long sandy
beach with many sand dunes and very often virtually deserted out of the season.
Enjoy the feeling of being open to nature and exploring the surrounding area on
PRAIA DA ARRIFANA
This is a beach which also is considered to be reasonably safe for swimming and
a very special place with quite stupendous views. Take the road north to Lisbon
from Lagos. Just before reaching the small town of Aljezur take the turning left
when you see the name “Arrifana”. On reaching Arrifana you will find the beach
on your left at the bottom of a very steep narrow road with little or no parking
area at the bottom. A visit to this beach out of season is seriously