by Bea Broda
Ah, the Algarve! That famous wine district that straddles much of the south part of Portugal, with around 200 kilometres of varied scenery to soak in from one end to the other. It’s easily accessed with round 46 airline companies arriving directly and well over 100 routes. Portugal was a leading destination in 2019, and the weather is not the least of the pleasures you can experience all year round. Outdoor activities are possible year round as a result. There is accommodation for every type of traveller, from upscale to historical to budget, all of these which have been reasons for the Algarve’s popularity for decades.
Activity options include highly unique experiences such as visiting Anchors Grave Yard on the beach, where hundreds of anchors that honour the tuna fishermen of bygone days populate the beach. The Algarve is surrounded by the sea, making many activities nature and sea-related, such as boat tours inside caves, paddle surfing, scuba diving and seeing coastal rock formations. Some outer islands that allow no cars reward passersby with a view of pretty waterfalls. A trendy activity has tourists picking clams for their own dinner, rounded off with dolphin watching, food tours and city walks. Many of the food stories reflect back on Portugal’s cultural historic pedigree - it’s impossible to separate the preparation and ingredients of the food from the stories and lore of Portugal herself. There is a sea-life park that is one of the top ten in Europe, with dolphins, sea lions and other species, and 4 Blue Flag marinas as well.
The Algarve landscape is synonymous with sunny beaches for sure, as always, but it’s possible to discover new things every day. From the west side to the centre, there are dramatic rock formations and cliffs to bounce your sunset shots off of, although the beaches are guaranteed sandy. From the centre to the east which borders Spain, you’ll find gentle sand dunes and small islands. Golf is an important activity here too, with more than 40 golf courses, some of them award-winning. Bird watching, hiking and cycling draws nature enthusiasts to this varied landscape, and jeep safaris are available in the rockier areas found more often in the west.
Others choose to luxuriate in the spas that freckle the region. Many of the hotels offering upscale spa facilities don't require you to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy the spa.
Food is such a large part of the culture, and Portugal's envious position by the sea ensures high quality, fresh ingredients in the restaurants. Couple that with high quality wine producing areas, and it’s time for tastebud tango!
Evidence of Moorish and Roman heritage in the Algarve can be explored in a variety of castles, churches and temples. You won't find major cities in the Algarve, but rather numerous adorable towns that come with requisite coffee shops and markets. Often, there is an “old town,” where most of that village's historical elements can be enjoyed.
At this time in summer 2020 in light of the global Covid19 pandemic, people are maintaining social distancing on the beaches, and if there is a situation that results in greater proximity to other people, then masks are being worn, as a nod to the “new reality” caused by the virus.
Companies such as boat tours are still operational while recognizing these precautions. Restaurants are open once again, while observing mask and distancing protocol. Markets and restaurants are equipped with hand sanitizer as well, as Portugal works to safely emerge from the pandemic.
Consult Portugal’s social media for the latest updates regarding health protocols