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A soft climate tempered by the Atlantic, soft sandy beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, exhilarating coastal scenery; it’s no wonder that Portugal’s Algarve is one of Europe’s favourite holiday destinations.
We’ll run our finger over the best things to do in the Algarve, from unwinding on dreamlike beaches to exploring coastal caves, teeing off at some of Europe’s leading golf courses and getting lost in charming old towns.
We’ll also add some heritage to track down, like the Church of São Lourenço, decorated with exquisite blue tiles, or Faro’s monumental Arco da Vila gate.
Blessed with some of the world’s most famous beaches, the Algarve is the southernmost region in Portugal. An unmatchable combination of refreshing weather, crystal clear waters, and glittering sand, the quintessential beaches in Algarve do not come alone to surprise you.
Algarve is one such abode of hidden caves of which the top ones are The Benagil Cave, The Zorreira Cave, The Arches of Marinha, The Captain’s Cave, and The Elephant Cave. Exploring these hidden cave beaches is one of the best things to do in Algarve, Portugal.
Choose from around 150 beaches in Algarve and indulge in activities like surfing, lounging, and diving. You can reach these beaches by either swimming or via a boat.
At all of the main marinas along the Algarve you’ll see ocean boat trips advertised.
There’s deep sea fishing for instance, but the experience you’ll really treasure is dolphin spotting.
There are large numbers of common and bottlenose dolphins in the ocean off the Algarve, so you’re almost guaranteed to have a successful expedition.
This is also made easier by the creatures’ inquisitive nature, and before you know it pods of up to 50 will be keeping you company.
The best companies bring a marine biologist along to give you added insights about the dolphins habits and physiology.
On the Atlantic it will come as no surprise that the fish and seafood is divine in the Algarve, whether it’s crab, oysters, squid or a shellfish medley in rice dishes.
But the fish that shows up the most is the humble sardine, which is just right grilled and served with salad and a white wine.
Chicken piri-piri is another star; it’s barbecued chicken marinated in a sauce made with the piri-piri chilli, which was first imported by Portugal from its former colony in Mozambique.
For an authentic accompaniment to your morning coffee you can grab a pastel de nata at a bakery.
This is a tasty custard tart flavoured with almonds.
These are always obligatory if you’re holidaying with children, and fortunately the Algarve has a few waterparks competing with the best in Europe.
Side & Splash in Estômbar is the largest in Portugal, and one of the largest on the continent, with 16 slides and pools and almost two hectares of open grassy areas for sunbathing.
Aquashow Park in Quarteira is maybe for older children as some of the slides are not for the faint-hearted, like FreeFall, the highest slide in Europe at 32 metres.
Zoomarine Algarve meanwhile has an animal park with live shows together with its new “Beach” area with a wave pool, fine white sand and waterslides.
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