Why is it called the Algarve
The German calendars are no longer correct in the Algarve. Here spring begins as early as January when the almond blossom covers the slopes with a white and pink veil. And nowhere in the country is the summer so long and the autumn so pleasantly mild. When the Algarvios take out their sweaters in November and December, some Central Europeans are still lying on the beach; On this 150 km long and 50 km wide coastal strip in the south of Portugal, it is always vacation time.
The former, historical province of Algarve coincides with the current administrative district of Faro. In the main season, its 350,000 inhabitants are slightly outnumbered compared to holidaymakers - understandable, given the weather.
The Algarve is not only associated with the sunny south. The name goes back to the Arabic "al-Gharb" and means "the West". This is where the region was from the point of view of the Moors, who invaded from North Africa in the 8th century and ruled here for 500 years - until the middle of the 13th century, when the Algarve fell to the Portuguese crown. But your influence continues to have an effect. In many place names the prefix "al" reveals the Arabic origin, and the Moorish language is unmistakable in the villages with their crooked alleys and white houses, whose chimneys stretch out towards the sky like minarets. The tourism planners wanted to go even higher. With some infrastructure measures of the last decades, parts of the coast were not exactly beautified. In some places construction is still going on, but these days it is often more demanding and certainly with a return to the Moorish flair.
The sweet charm of this region is immortal. In the villages of the hilly, only sparsely populated hinterland, life continues its leisurely, slow pace as always. And the coast itself, where tourism often sets the pace, has lost none of its attraction. Even the most resourceful gossip reporters are unlikely to be able to list all of the celebrity guests - whose visits are often only found out much later. World-famous musicians, top managers, state presidents and professional athletes relax on the beaches of the Algarve.
Strictly speaking, there are two, even three coasts in one. If you are looking for wide dune beaches, you are right at the "Sandalgarve" (the "Sotavento") between the district capital Faro and the border with Spain. West of Faro extends the "Fels Algarve" (the "Barlavento"), which has been photographed thousands of times, with long, fine sandy beaches or small bays with picturesque rocks, bizarre grottos - and the more important bathing resorts. Those who long for wild solitude will find it on the sometimes inaccessible beaches of the "Costa Vicentina" north of Sagres. Some are deserted even in summer.
Tips for your vacation
All year round! If you arrive in midsummer, you should book early because of the higher number of visitors. The pre- and post-season has long been appreciated not only by golfers, riders and hikers, but by all those who then appreciate the mild, warm climate, the peace and tranquility.
Destination airport Faro. Those who want to get around a lot are mobile with a rental car; in some places mopeds and bicycles are also available for hire.
On "Europe's most beautiful coast" some of the beaches are a sight in themselves and an experience for active vacationers as well as for quiet connoisseurs. Even the little sunbathers are not neglected: there are beach castle backdrops everywhere, and role models are not scarce.
Show your children the castle of Silves or the fortress of Sagres. Somewhere nearby, Heinrich the Navigator once planned the overseas expansion. Who says history is only in books? In the Algarve, it stands partly suddenly in the landscape, which you can overlook from the highest peak of the dreamy Serra de Monchique (Fóia - 902 m).
In several places you can charter fishing boats and other small motor boats for mostly 4-6 people on your own to explore the surrounding area from the seaside (e.g. from Lagos, Carvoeiro and Albufeira).
sport and freetime
The sports offer doesn't really need to be mentioned. The golf current drives amateurs and professionals from all over Europe to the Algarvian greens.
In the hotels and holiday complexes, fans of the white sport get their money's worth as well as riding and hiking enthusiasts, but above all the wet pleasure knows no bounds. Windsurfers are mainly drawn to the beaches of Alvor, Meia Praia (Lagos) and Martinhal (near Sagres), which offer a lot of wind, especially in summer; For divers, the grounds in front of Sagres and Lagos are recommended. In addition, fishing, water skiing and sailing - Vilamoura, Lagos and, more recently, Praia da Rocha have the largest marinas. In recent years, the range has also been expanded to include less well-known activities (e.g. hang-gliding).
Nightlife: The constantly warm climate makes the Algarve nights pleasant and invites you to go out. Quaint pubs and "scene get-togethers" await your visit on almost every corner. The nightlife strongholds are Albufeira and Vilamoura, followed by Lagos and Praia da Rocha. Most clubs are open every night in July and August, otherwise the week is quieter. Numerous hotels hold Fado evenings, and the three casinos (in Praia da Rocha, Vilamoura and Monte Gordo) offer exclusive shows and music programs.
To eat and drink
Confidently whistle on the tourist light food. There are still restaurants everywhere for local cuisine, the further away from the main street, the better. Try a "sopa de peixe" (fish soup) or "camarões" (crab) as a starter. The main course is a traditional "cataplana" (with mussels, bacon and potatoes - steamed in a copper kettle), the fish stew "caldeirada" and, in addition to the extremely popular sardines, excellent types of fish such as "besugo" or "sargo" - to name just a few. The spicy chicken "piri-piri" is very popular both on the coast and in the hinterland.
The Romans brought viticulture to the Algarve (mainly around Lagôa); With the help of a sophisticated irrigation system, the Moors were already growing oranges and melons. The final "bica", the invigorating café, tastes good with an "amêndoa amarga" (bitter almond liqueur) or "medronho" (schnapps made from the fruit of the strawberry tree).
There is always market or festival day somewhere; There is also a wide-ranging cultural and entertainment program. Classical music fans will get their money's worth at the Algarve International Music Festival (from late June to mid-August). What, when and where you can find out from the local Turismo offices, which publish detailed overviews.
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