Sensational beaches and a year-round balmy climate make the Algarve a magnet for visitors in search of sun and sea. Portugal’s most popular holiday destination, it’s easy to see why people keep coming back for more. There’s a good range of hotels in the Algarve to suit just about every budget and requirement. So, whether you’re looking for something big and swanky or small and friendly, you’re sure to find it at lastminute.com.
Crescent-shaped bays, hidden coves and rocky inlets make up the Algarve’s coastline. Most of the golden sandy beaches are child-friendly and many have Blue Flag status. As you’d expect, parts of the coast are fairly developed, especially from west of Faro down to Albufeira. Then again, the beaches are stunning and the facilities excellent. Often, even the busier places, like Albufeira, have another side to them – with bars and clubs giving way to cobbled streets and pavement cafés.
Lagos offers good surfing and has an old town with 16th-century walls and an Arab-built castle. At Vilamoura check out the million-pound yachts in the huge marina then have lunch in one of the authentic Portuguese restaurants. West of Vilamoura the coastline becomes wilder with the rocky outcrops and coves for which the Algarve is famous. The resorts are smaller, generally attractive and some in former fishing villages. Alvor, for example, has narrow cobbled streets leading down to the harbour and retains an old-world charm.
If you’re looking for something a little quieter still, then you might want to stay in a hotel around Sagres and Tavira. Here you’ll find a far more Portuguese sense of tranquility and style, along with relatively empty stretches of golden sand.
Between Faro and the Spanish border on the eastern coast, is the Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa, a series of small, sheltered sandbank islands. Again the resorts here have a more Portuguese feel. And if you fancy a stay near here, one of our hotels in Faro, the capital of the entire region, would be a great choice.
If lazing on the beach has its limitations, you’ve no shortage of things to see and do in the Algarve. You can swim with dolphins at Zoomarine or enjoy some wet and wild action at one of the region’s amazing waterparks. You’ve world-class golf courses and top surfing. If you fancy a spot of souvenir hunting, discover colourful local pottery, embroidered linens and leather goods in the boutiques or local markets. Explore the Old Town of Faro, the Roman ruins of Milreu or the old Moorish town of Silves.
Portugal does great food – especially seafood. There are plenty of waterfront cafés that serve up super-fresh fish. Sometimes you can even see the fisherman hauling in the catch. A plate of grilled sardines eaten overlooking the sea is the kind of thing holiday memories are made of.