Searching for a European paradise with gorgeous sandy beaches, spectacular vistas, sporty adventures, and unique photo opportunities? Portugal’s Algarve is it — it’s the perfect spot to explore, relax, and enjoy.
Here are just a few things to do in this picturesque region.
Hit The Glorious Sandy Beaches
The beautiful golden beaches are the number-one reason to love Portugal’s Algarve region.
Praia da Marinha, frequently named one of the best beaches in Europe, is the quintessential Algarve beach. Great for families, the beach is large with stunning rock formations to photograph and explore.
Praia da Falesia is a long stretch of beach that is extremely popular in the summer. The area is just under 2 miles, which makes it perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Praia de Vale Figueiras is a more remote Algarve beach. The waves are fairly reliable, and you’ll find plenty of surfers in the water. There are no facilities, but if you brave the bumpy road, you can enjoy a quiet afternoon of surfing (actually or vicariously).
The beaches along the southern coast are protected by high cliffs that provide a wind barrier. This also means, however, that there is typically a steep climb down to the beach. Additionally, it is not recommended — as appealing as it may be — to sit next to the cliffs, since falling rocks can be a hazard.
Tour The Caves By Boat
The spectacular cave formations along the Algarve are a draw for many tourists. Besides the famous Benagil Cave, there are many other caves to explore.
Cave boat tours leave from most of the coastal towns, so they can be accessed from wherever you are staying. Most tours visit the Benagil Cave to showcase its photographic “eye,” but only small boats are allowed in this cave. Also note that most boat tours will not let you disembark in Benagil Cave.
Kayak Or Paddleboard To Benagil Cave
If you are an adventurous traveler and want to enjoy Benagil Cave at your own pace, you can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at Benagil Beach.
The less intrepid can join a sunrise kayak tour. Your guide will navigate through Benagil Cave, where you can spend time exploring, taking photos, and marveling at nature’s handiwork.
Go Scuba Diving
Everyone from scuba novices to seasoned divers will enjoy the watery wonderland of the Algarve.
If you have never gone scuba diving before, you can get a PADI certification to dive 12 meters by taking the two-day course offered by Algarve Dive Experience.
Once you’re certified, try the Praia do Pintadinho or Vale de Covo dive, where you can explore the beauty of this underwater world.
Birding in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, one of the most important wetland areas in the Algarve, is a wonderful way to appreciate the peaceful natural beauty of the area. Natura Algarve offers boating tours that specialize in wintering waterbirds. Your guide will highlight some of the 200-plus bird species that have been identified in the region, including spoonbills, plovers, terns, storks, flamingos, and others.
The Great Bustard Birding Day Tour will take you to the Alentejo grasslands in search of the great bustard. Along the way, you might catch a glimpse of a Spanish imperial eagle or griffon vulture.
Enjoy Traditional Portuguese Seafood
If Michelin-star dining is on your vacation agenda, head to Sao Gabriel Restaurant in Almancil.
“We want to provide a unique experience to our customers, so that even with their eyes closed they can identify the flavors that represent Portugal,” says the website.
Sao Gabriel offers a plated dinner and two different tasting menus that will fill you with seafood delight. Of course, reservations are required far in advance during the summer season.
Taste Algarve offers a variety of regional cooking classes where you can prepare local cuisine and share your meal family-style with your classmates.
Alternatively, you can embark on a weeklong journey into the region’s agriculture and wine production coupled with culinary instruction.
In the Algarve, you can tee off with breathtaking vistas at top-of-the-line courses. In a region known for its stunning views, it may be hard to avoid distraction and keep your eye on the ball!
Try Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus signature course in Vila Nova De Cacela. It’s consistently ranked one of the top courses in Portugal.
Vilamoura is home to six golf courses. Check out the Vilamoura Old Course Golf Club, a premier Algarve course and one of the oldest in the area.
Portugal’s Algarve region is a fantastic vacation destination for summer fun. You can relax and soak up the sun or rev up your visit with some action-packed adventures, but either way, you’ll want to stay forever.
By: SANDI BARRETT/ www.travelawaits.com