The region was occupied by the Arabs during the 17th century and the Algarve still boasts a strong Moorish influence in its buildings as well as its various ruins of Islamic settlements and forts. Reminiscent of this period, are the white houses, open chimneys, and azulejos (ceramic tiles typical of Portugal), which are now an integral part of the Algarve's identity.
The beaches are beautiful, with soft golden sand and turquoise waters, the problem is that the main beaches get very crowded in peak season. But as we mentioned above, there are plenty of beaches for travellers who are willing to go beyond the hotel beach.
The main attractions of the Algarve are its golf courses (especially in Vilamoura), its beaches, surfing (in Aljezur), its beautiful weather, and its favourable prices. Even for travellers under a tight budget, options other than huge resorts are within reach. See our reviews of the Algarve's hotels and guesthouses.
Maximim temperature between 22°C and 24°C, the perceived temperature is <30°.
Little or no rain (less than 1.5mm per day).
Sunny (over 80% sunshine).
Sea temperature between 20 °C and 22°C. Wind speed between 4 mph and 7 mph.
Light winds (between 6mph and 12mph).
The best way of seeing an area is by hiring a bike and lining the coast. Alternatively see more of the Algarve by hiring a car and making a road trip of it; this would allow you to pass through or stop at quaint villages like Boliqueime and Tavira in the east as well as seeing the distinct change in atmosphere as you head west. The Algarve is a region that needs to be explored and appreciated for its natural wilderness, so there is very little use spending time lounging around a pool all day every day if you want to get a real feel for local life.
'Rural tourism' is slowly becoming a popular trend among Britons, and it's a great way of learning about the destination. Rural tourism is essentially staying at a small guesthouse or quinta, as they are called in Portuguese, which is a converted farmhouse, and venturing out to explore the surroundings as well as tasting the delicious local produce, which is often served up at meal times at guesthouses.
Worth thinking about if you are desperate for a bit of R and R, then consider rural tourism, where you stay in an original converted farmhouse. It takes a little bit more planning to make a decision, but lots of these little guesthouses are popping up all over the Algarve's most beautiful rural spots far from the madding crowds. See our Algarve hotel reviews.
Contrary to common perception, the Algarve isn't all towering hotels, fast-food restaurants and Irish pubs. Behind the facet often shown on television, it is one of the most beautiful regions we have had the privilege of visiting on our travels. Imagine wild green pastures, rose bushes, orange and lemon ...
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