Off to the Algarve? Cathrene Rowell shares her experience of Portugal’s popular holiday spot exclusively with CD-Traveller
The climate in the Algarve is one of the most pleasant in the world: The winters are never too cold, the summers are never too hot and the skies are blue for the majority of the year.
BEACHES AND COASTLINE
The Algarve is best known for its spectacular coastline, small coves, and its long beaches with pale sands, and enough shells for even the most reluctant of shell-seekers to return with an amazing find.
Lagos has been a seafaring town since the 15th century, when Henry the Navigator had his ships built here ready to set sail for his voyages into the unknown world. As such, there is a beautiful marina to walk around dotted with a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and delicious ice cream parlours.
CAPE ST. VINCENT
Cape St. Vincent is the most south-westerly point in Europe. In ancient Greek and Roman times, this cliff was considered to be a most enchanting and magical place, where the sunset was much larger than anywhere else in the world. At sunset each evening, the sun sank hissing into the ocean, marking the edge of the world as they knew it. Consequently Cape St. Vincent is also known as “The end of the known world”.
Situated around four miles from the village of Sagres, the cape is a famous landmark – rising nearly vertically from the Atlantic to a height of 75 meters – for seafarers travelling to or from the Mediterranean. Perched on the cliff, is a lighthouse.
For the ornithologists amongst you, it is well worth the visit as it is the home to a wide variety of birds including the rare Bonelli’s eagle, peregrine falcons, kites, rock thrushes, rock pigeons, storks and herons.
For those who are fond of a really good German sausage, try a Bratwurst from the “Letzte Bratwurst vor America” (The last sausage before America), which is not only delicious, but is served from an immaculately clean and hygienic van by a genuine Bavarian!
PRAIA DA LUZ
Praia da Luz, once a quaint little fishing village, is now a large holiday resort, offering sun, sea and a pumping nightlife. Almost half of the local population haild from the UK or Germany, so one can expect very few language barriers here! The name, Praiade Luz means “beach of the light” – an image which is reflected in the beautiful long beaches.
Praia da Luz also has a lot of history – its the home to the ruins of a set of Roman baths which were used between the 3rd and the 5th centuries AD.
THE CORK OAK TRAIL
Less known, but equally attractive, is what one finds further inland: Vinyards (including Sir Cliff Richard’s!), olive, almond, carob and fig groves, not forgetting the famous cork!
Despite the recent threat of plastic bottle stoppers and screw tops, the cork industry in Portugal is fighting back, and evidence of this can be found along the small winding inland roads along the hillsides, where piles of cork are stored, and the trees harvested are visible from the road.
A day driving around in the hills provides a change of scenery from the beaches.
ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
It’s a cliché, I know, but in The Algarve, there really is something for everyone. Here a few suggestions…
Fun for the kids: water parks
Animal matters: dolphin watching, jeep safaris
Sports: fishing trips, quad biking, horse riding, golf, tennis, sailing, wind surfing, scuba diving, sky diving, paragliding
Food and drink: a wide variety of bars, cafes and restaurants can be found in most of the towns along the coast of the Algarve
Local crafts: ceramics and pottery shops are a given in Portugal – there appears to be a large number on almost every road, cheerfully decorated from the ground to the roof in examples of their wares. Aside from corks, cork is used to produce place mats and even handbags, bowls, shoes and clothes!
Spas: a large number of spas offering all sorts of massages, manicures, pedicures and other ways to relax can be found along the coast. A spa session is not only enjoyable but is the easiest way to get your body bikini ready!