The Algarve is scattered in quant and traditional towns that provide the perfect places to become acquainted with authentic life in this sun-drenched region of southern Portugal.
Portuguese wine is amongst the most famous in the world with Portugal being the world’s seventh largest wine producer.
Being doused in sunshine for virtually the whole of the year, boasting a beautiful golden coastline of soft sandy beaches and scattered with vibrant towns and villages bursting with character and life, it’s hardly surprising why the Algarve has long been a popular destination for families seeking sun, fun and a memorable holiday with a difference.
With mile-upon-mile of long sandy beaches backed by a dramatic cliff-lined coast, scattered with traditional towns and villages bursting with authentic charm and heritage, not to mention seafood-heavy cuisine served in many a Michelin-starred restaurant, it’s not difficult to understand why the Algarve has long been a tourist magnet.
When it comes to villas possessing a Mediterranean ‘feel’ Villa Gomes in the Algarve is surpassed by little. Set in two acres of fertile gardens, the discerning visitor can truly relax in a place of great tranquillity. Being well secluded, this is a perfect private villa in the Algarve.
Shades of white and terracotta dominate the villa, surrounded by emerald green broken up only by a deep blue pool. The only other colours on show is the golden sun, the flowering plants and whatever colour your swim wear happens to be.
A traditional cobbled driveway greets the visitor followed by a large space for ample parking. Palm trees line the lawn besides the pool strategically planted as if the landscapers predicted one day these immature trees will be huge. Nothing is cramped or hemmed in at Villa Gomes and as consequence there is a real feeling of space.
The interior adopts the same theme of space and airiness, with subtle, elegant décor augmenting the overall style. The first of the villa’s three bedrooms is on the ground floor and with its own bathroom and air conditioning radiates luxurious comfort. The living /dining area has doors that lead out onto the covered dining terrace, which overlooks the large and inviting pool. For those yearning an even more luxurious bedroom you may want to ‘bagsy’ the master bedroom, which has its own spa.
A large sun terrace is accessed from upstairs and offers stunning views of the ocean – the ideal place to sit with a glass of local wine as the sun goes down below the horizon.
The nearby hilltop village of Estoi is well worth a visit with two millennia of history to peruse. Situated in the foothills of the Serra De Caldeirao, Estoi is endowed with narrow winding cobbled streets that lead down to a charming little square. On the second Sunday of the month a lively market takes place in this charismatic square. If you happen to be in Estoi in August a fantastic equestrian event is held, an enriching experience particularly if you witness the horseback night time entertainment. The “Pink Palace” is another focal point of this traditional Algarve village, which was built by a rich aristocrat in the 18th century. Another nearby highlight includes the Milreu Roman ruins which date from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.
Of course a holiday in the sun-drenched Algarve would not be complete without spending many a lazy day on the beach. Long stretches of soft, golden sand await with nearby convenience to Villa Gomes.
For further information on this private villa in the Algarve click HERE.
As you walk along the seafront of the Algarve at Christmas time one thing that is notable is the maze of Christmas lights, which drape and sparkle over the palm trees. Initially you may think that this doesn’t look right because there is a distinct lack of snow and fir trees.
Despite Xmas lights looking distinctly out of place in warmer countries we should try to remember that Jesus was not born in Scandinavia’s Lapland and Christmas did not originate in a land filled with snow, robins and fir trees.
The sapphire sea and the blue sky might seem out of place at Christmas but the Algarve’s climate is likely to be much more similar to that of Bethlehem than of London in December.
Put simply, Christmas in the Algarve is a wonderful experience and there’s not a reindeer in sight. There’s some artificial snow though as similar to many American and North European countries, the town of Faro opens its doors to an artificial snow rink at Christmas.
Another Portuguese Xmas tradition that might be difficult for us British to swallow is the fact that in Portugal they have their traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.
Not only this but instead of comprising of turkey, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings, a Christmas dinner in the Algarve consists of salt cod, known locally as Bacalhou. However, as plenty of English live in the Algarve, turkeys, cranberry sauce and sprouts are all available.
Many restaurateurs on the Algarve also understand the demand for traditional ‘English’ Christmas dinners. If you couldn’t quite face salt cod on Christmas Day you’ll be pleased to know that there will be a sufficient number of restaurants and bars offering the traditional British turkey dinner with the usual trimmings.
If your Christmas in the Algarve is going to extend into New Year’s Eve then heading to the beach at Lagos to experience a phenomenal firework display will certainly be something to remember.
Thinking of spending Christmas in the Algarve? Make sure you view Vintage Travel’s collection of luxury Algarve villas!
Cruise the Algarve on the Santa Bernada – A 500-year-old caravel replica! If you are staying lucky enough to be spending time in the Algarve this summer, then you may want to try out something different. One way to fulfil yearnings for adventure is to embark on a historical yet refined exploration that is brimming with intrigue and fun.
If this is the case then we recommend boarding a ship similar to the one Christopher Columbus left Europe in to discover the New World. Sail from the coastal town of Portimao on a replica of a 500-year-old caravel, known as the Santa Bernada Pirate Ship.
The Santa Bernada is authentic but at the same time is up-to-date with regards to the present-day maritime code. When the sails are unfurled and the wind is fair, you will find yourself reaching a decent rate of knots through the perfectly blue and inviting Atlantic Ocean. Yes, it’s safe to say that Santa Bernada is an outstanding replica of the great ship that escorted Columbus in his quest to discover new lands.
Exploring the stunning Algarvian coastline on board this two mast sailing vessel is naturally a popular Algarve family activity and it is advised to book in advance to avoid disappointment. Different cruise programmes are available, all of which offer slightly modified itineraries.
For example with programme three the Santa Bernada leaves Cais Vasco de Gama and cruises down the river Rio Arade, following the coastline of Carvoeira Then the ship drops the anchor at the lighthouse at Alfanzina and Benagil and cave boats pick passengers up and take them around some exhilarating ocean caves.
After the fun of the caves passengers are then taken to a beach that is only accessible from the sea. Here a three course BBQ will be served on china plates. Once the grilled sardines and Piri-Piri chicken have had time to go down, it’s time for some snorkelling and swimming, or if you prefer, lazing the afternoon away sunbathing on this exceptionally beautiful beach.
The cost for programme three is 60 euros for adults and 30 euros for children and when you think of what you get for your money, a cruise on the Santa Bernada has to be one of the best deals in Portugal.
A truly marvellous Algarve family activity that you will not forget in a hurry.
If you arrive in Faro by plane, you may get a glimpse down below of a nester of off-shore islands, defined predominantly by huge sand swept beaches and lagoons.
From this privileged position you may even notice the Atlantic Ocean changing through different shades of blue like some Pantone chart as it laps against the islands’ shores. As you feel the vibration of the plane’s landing gear being activated as the pilot prepares up for the final approach, you may well decide that a visit to those tantalising islands off the Algarve in the Portuguese Atlantic as a definite for your holiday itinerary.
Here’s three great islands off the Algarve;
IIha da Tavira
IIha da Tavira lies directly opposite the quaint and attractive town of Tavira. The island can be reached by boat, many of which run daily during the summer months. Don’t worry if you miss the last boat back as you will always find a local boat taxi driver ready to take you back to the mainland on his water taxi, for a fee of course!
As you disembark onto the island you will be greeted by the warm and lovely scent of pine. From here you follow the path and come out onto a wonderful beach, which is the perfect place to idle away the whole day.
IIha da Armona
With significantly more buildings and dwellings, the character of IIha da Armona is quite a bit different to Ilha da Tavira. When you take the boat to the island from the old Moorish town of Olhao, you might notice all manner of live goods being loaded onto the ferry, so be prepared to lay down your towel for the day amongst clucking chickens!
The ferry docks at a delightful sandy bay where you can choose one of many a pathway that lead through to the huge swath of sand, facing the mighty Atlantic. Whilst walking along these paths you can easily find yourself walking through houses with sandy gardens, many of which contain a delicate sand-loving daisy.
If you don’t feel like taking a picnic to IIha da Armona, than fear not as there is a bar on the beach, which serves up delicious local cuisine.
Ilha da Culatra
Due to a lighthouse being housed here, IIha da Culatra is the most visible of all the islands. It takes about 30 minutes by ferry from Olhao to reach the island and there are four ferries per day.
Asides many great sandy bays and beached, one of the specialities to savour on this island is the sea food tagine, known locally as Cataplanas.
If you’re looking for a great base in the Algarve, you should take a look at Vintage Travel’s collection of luxury villas in the Algarve.
The late summer and early autumn can be a preferable time to take a ‘runner’s vacation’, namely because the heat is slightly less aggressive yet sunny days are still pretty much guaranteed.
If the prospect of running in an enviable late summer climate in some truly stunning surroundings sounds appealing, then why not pack up yours shorts and trainers and try running in the Algarve?
Running alongside invigorating cliff top paths with the exhilarating Atlantic Ocean smashing menacingly upon dramatic cliffs, interrupted by more gentler tracks that run alongside long stretches of fine sandy beaches, the Algarve provides runners with a refreshingly diverse landscape in which to train and improve fitness levels and performance. And if it’s a ‘refreshing’ run which you are after, then the autumn months are the best times to achieve an invigoratingly successful running holiday in the Algarve.
As ardent runner and founder of the Running Bug, Joe Mountain, who moved to the Algarve some time ago, said in a low down on why the Algarve makes the perfect running holiday:
“September, October and November perfect warm weather training again and with the sea at its warmest of the year, a refreshing cool down swim fully clothed is a must.”
If you are really serious about running in the Algarve this September then you may welcome being informed about the Algarve Summer Running Training Week.
Taking place from 15 – 22 September 2012, this late summer Algarve running week follows on from the successful spring Algarve running week, which combines cliff top runs, with trails through orange fields, racing through a Natural Park and includes the ‘Almond Blossom’ cross country circuit, all in the Falesia region of the Algarve.
The Algarve Summer Running Training Week is suitable for all abilities of runners as runners will be split into various groups depending on their ability.
For more information on the Algarve Summer Racing Training Week CLICK HERE.
Unlike the tranquil and lucid waters of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean is dramatic, rugged and wild and possesses a menacing exhilaration that is not as prevalent in the ‘calmer’ oceans, such as the Med.
It is within this invigorating setting that the luxury villa on the Algarve, Quinta dos Tomilhos lies, an exceptional five bedroom country residence that brags a commanding panoramic view of the lifting coastline from Faro to the mighty distant Monchique Mountains.
This sensationally grand villa is located at Malhou close to the village of Boliqueime, a village that despite its sleepy and restful ambience is home to a surprisingly good choice of shops, amenities and not to mention several delicious restaurants, serving seafood caught from the mighty Atlantic earlier that day and boasting views of the surrounding countryside that are almost as impressive as the views from Quinta dos Tomilhos itself!
Although with a villa this high-quality and grand, it would be easy to devote one’s time entirely to this magnificent country home and its surroundings.
Boasting such an impressive design it is no surprise to learn that the design inspiration for Quinta dos Tomilhos came the stately manor houses of the Portuguese aristocracy, encapsulated poignantly by the cobblestone driveway, a huge walled courtyard and immaculately landscaped gardens.
On the inside Quinta dos Tomilhos could be considered to be nothing short of an architectural marvel. Huge stone archways and ample doorways lead guests from room to room; rooms that are adorned with many tasteful ornaments and antiques yet at the same time are enhanced by practical and modern amenities to make one’s stay at this luxury villa on the Algarve as comfortable as possible.
The kitchen, whilst aesthetically delicious to the eye is equipped with appliances that even Gordon Ramsey couldn’t turn his nose up at, including a huge American-style fridge/freezer, long marble worktops, a large oven and a 200-year old pine table that is so huge that 12 guests could comfortably sit round it!
The living room is equally as delectable; with a flat screen TV just crying out to be viewed from any of the ultra-comfortable sofas and chairs. Each of the villa’s five bedrooms is en-suite and also combine tasteful traditionalism with tad of the refreshingly modern.
As its interior, Quinta dos Tomilhos’s exterior really is a site for sore eyes. Asides its stately and impressive pool with a large surrounding terrace, the gardens of this villa provide the perfect setting to get lost in, with banks of shrubs, bougainvillea and immaculately manicured lawns generating excitement and inspiration for each family member.
Panning out further to beyond the villa’s borders, acres of wild thyme spawn for miles, hence the inspiration for the property’s name, which actually translates to the ‘Estate of Thyme’.