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An Introduction to the Algarve

Portugal’s Algarve region is a favoured destination for Brits and other Europeans. It is located in the south of Portugal, which is ironic when you think the name derives from the Arabic for ‘The West’ (Al-Gharb). Perhaps that’s because it lay west of Andalusia, which was also swept up in the Moorish conquest of Spain. The area has a royal history. Once the Moors lost control in the 12th century, the region was known as the Kingdom of the Algarve. Until the start of the 20th century, it shared equal billing with other major Portuguese territories. Portuguese kings ruled over the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

Image credit: Sue Elias

The Algarve Climate

When arriving by plane, visitors to the Algarve usually fly into Faro Airport. The airport is just a couple of kilometres away from Faro city centre, the administrative capital of the Algarve. From Faro Airport it doesn’t take long to get to some of the region’s most popular holiday resorts. Millions flock to the region in the summer, when the temperature has been known to reach a blistering 40 degrees Celsius. Even in winter, the Algarve is worth visiting and many have winter homes there. Temperatures rarely fall below freezing and have been as high as 25 degrees Celsius – bliss!

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Popular Algarve Destinations

The Mediterranean climate, great beaches and a reputation for safety add to the popularity of this beautiful region. On arrival, tourists usually spread out to some of the popular provinces and resorts including Albufeira, Vilamoura, Lagos, Alvor, Praia da Luz, Carvoeiro, Praia da Rocha, Tavira, Olhos d’Agua and Quarteira. Whether you prefer a guesthouse, a villa or a high-rise hotel, there’s accommodation for every taste and budget here. If you go for a guesthouse, don’t be surprised if it’s run by someone from England, Germany or Holland – it’s a very popular occupation for those moving to the region! And since it’s part of the European Union, there are few formalities for fellow EU citizens.

What to Do in the Algarve

There is no shortage of things to do in the Algarve. Sun worshippers are of course in heaven with miles of beaches to lie on, it’s got some of the best golf courses in Europe – and there are plenty of festivals to enjoy. Check out the arts and crafts fair in Alcoutim and the Moorish Nights celebration in July, the Seafood Festival in August and the Folklore Festival in September. One unusual and unmissable event is the Silves Medieval Fair – dress up, watch the jousting and enjoy Middle Eastern food.

Image credit: John Thurm/Flickr

As well as tourism, which takes over during the summer, the region’s most important activities are fishing and growing fruit. That works well for visitors who can enjoy fresh sardines, sole, bream and other seafood, as well as strawberries, oranges, figs and almonds. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the richest and most desirable regions in Portugal.

Planning to visit the Algarve? Marian Jaime writes for Suntransfers, a great place to reserve Faro airport transfers.

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