The adjacent area is known as the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina,
a wild and rocky nature reserve. For nature lovers and bird watchers it offers great opportunities to spot a variety of birdlife – up to 200 species have been identified - and perhaps even the Iberian lynx!
Explore the nearby town of Aljezur
– climb up through the narrow steets lined with white washed cottages and take the path that leads up to the ruins of a 10th century Moorish castle and marvel at the far reaching views out to sea.
This wild coastline is a favourite for surfers and body boarders,
in particular the beaches of Arrifana, which boasts a blue flag, and Monte Clérigo. For the less energetic, these spacious beaches are an ideal spot to relax with a good book or take in the dramatic scenery from the cliff tops.
For a day out with a difference
drive inland to the Barragém da Bravura, which is a huge man made lake just north of Lagos. Surrounded by woods of cork oak and eucalyptus, it is a great place to enjoy a picnic by the side of the lake and enjoy the sight of fields of wild flowers.
Explore this lesser known part of Portugal and visit Odeceixe,
a charming village which marks the boundary between the Algarve and the Alentejo and close to the beach of the same name, popular with surfers. The river Seixe flows through this sleepy backwater, which has an interesting museum recreating a traditional winery and cellar. A far cry from the madness of parts of the southern coastline!
The Moinho da Arregata Museum is in the village of Rogil
– it is a typical working windmill where the whole process of milling cereals can be seen.
Visit Praia do Monte Clérigo at low tide and explore the rock pools
where you might be lucky enough to spot crabs, starfish or octopus. It is also possible to swim in the natural pools that form against the rocks. Behind the beach are some impressive sand dunes and as you walk down to the beach you will enjoy some fantastic panoramic views.
Praia da Arrifana, is a beautiful long and narrow cove, bordered by cliffs.
The famous Pedra da Agulha, a tall rock shaped like a needle, has become an icon of the south-west coast. The northern end of the beach is also popular with divers.
When in Rome……
don’t forget to sample the many different types of port wine! Chilled white port makes an interesting aperitif and can be a serious rival to sherry. Accompanied by some delicious local olives, it’s a great way to preface a supper of freshly grilled sardines!
Monchique is a spa town
set in the hills planted with cork, eucalyptus and fruit trees. There are some lovely walks through the woods with stunning views of the mountains. Pamper yourself with treatments in the Spa Hotel Termal in Caldas da Monchique.
Horse riding around the area of Bensafrim,
just north west of Lagos, among the almond and cork oak trees makes a lovely outing. Quinta do Paraiso Alto riding centre. Tel: 282 687 596.
For the truly energetic, there are some excellent mountain bike trails and tracks
suitable for all abilities, both coastal and inland. Visit www.themountainbikeadventure.com, who are based in Lagos, for information regarding the hire of bikes and helmets and trails available. Tel: (00 351) 918 502 663.
Play a round of Golf!
The Western end of the Algarve has a selection of golf courses, include Parque da Floresta, Boavista, Penina and Alto Golf, to name a few.
Explore the town of Lagos,
famous for its sea faring traditions and the former capital of the Algarve. Take a rest in the Praça Infante Dom Henrique and enjoy a well earned cool drink.
The highest peak on the Algarve is nearby Foia,
which at 902 metres, affords fabulous panoramic 360 degree views.
Pamper yourself with treatments in the Spa Hotel Termal in Caldas da Monchique.
Tel: 00 351 282 910 910 for details of treatments and prices. Afterwards, have a wander around the little shops selling handicrafts, locally produced honey and medronho.
The Fortress of Cabo de Sao Vicente
was built in the 16th century in order to protect the coast from the frequent attacks by Moorish pirates. From here it is possible to see the famous lighthouse, which was built in 1904. To watch the sun set here is a truly memorable experience.
The new Autodromo Internacional do Algarve opened at the end of 2008. It is just off the A22 between Portimao and Lagos and is well signed. Check out the events for this forthcoming season on www.autodromodoalgarve.com for both cars and motorbikes. The petrol heads in the party will love the experience.
Try sardines along the quay at Portimao
– freshly caught and simply served with salad and local wine. Explore the narrow streets of the old quarter with their fascinating shops, some specialising in leather goods.
Buy some ceramics to take home.
The region is famous for its wide range of pottery, ranging from simple glazed brown dishes and tableware to the highly coloured and intricate ranges of ornamental plates, jugs and bowls, to name a few. There are several pottery shops to be found all along the EN125.
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