Go to the beach!
You can catch a boat from Olhao to one of the small islands just offshore where the uncrowded white sandy beaches are reportedly some of the best in Portugal. There are beach bars and restaurants available.
The nearby village of Estoi is famous for its Roman ruins at Milreu dating from the 2nd Century.
They are about a 10 minute walk out of the village. The 19th Century Estoi Palace and Gardens are also well known and attract visitors to see the ornamental fountains and the blue and white tiled terraces.
Go ride a horse!
Horse riding Horse and Pony rides are available from Centre Hipico Quinta Almadena, Sao Bras de Alportel. Tel: (351) 289 997 118. www.clubsantamaria.com.
The Algarve is a stop off point for migrating birds and as such is a haven for birdwatchers. One of the most important sites is the Parque Nacional do Ria Formosa, close to Faro and the wetlands are considered to be amongst the most important in Europe in terms of birdlife. Amongst the species that have been spotted are white stork, flamingo, hoopoe, stone curlew, Caspian Tern, Iberian Chiffchaff…..
It is worth taking a trip to the border with Spain at Vila Real de Santo Antonio,
on the banks of the river Guadiana, which forms the border with Spain. Explore the twin castles of Castro Marin which were strategically placed to protect the settlement for many centuries.
Visit the Pego do Inferno
7kms northwest of Tavira this spectacular series of waterfalls stretch over 2 kms is well off the beaten track. It can be reached by a series of wooden walkways and wooden bridges. There are picnic areas and the pool is a great favourite with families who can enjoy a dip in the crystal clear waters.
For a day out with a difference, visit the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa,
which stretches along 37 miles of coastline east of Faro from Olhao to Tavira. It was created to protect the ecosystem of the area and is an important breeding area for wetland birds.
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.
Anyone for tennis?
Brush up your tennis skills at one of the many tennis centres and academies in Vilamoura and Vale do Lobo. Take your own racquets. If you are lucky you might be there when some big names are in town to participate in a tournament.
Visit the Museu dos Frutos Secos in Loulé
– an unusual museum, which focuses on early harvesting methods for figs, carob and almond fruit. Indulge yourself afterwards at the exciting Pastelaria Baguetomania, just off Avda 25 Abril. You only pay as much as your plate weighs.
Visit a water park.
There are several along the Algarve coast, including Aquashow Algarve at Quarteira. (Tel: 289 389 396). Open daily from 10am – 5.30pm (7pm in August). It is also a bird park with birds of prey and tropical birds such as parrots and macaws.
Explore the town of Olhao, one of the most important fishing ports along this coast.
The town once had close trade links with North Africa which is reflected in shape of the town’s cube-shaped houses with flat roofs and external staircases. Reward yourself with a fantastic lunch of the day’s catch of the day at one of the many seafront fish restaurants.
Take your budding Lewis Hamiltons go-karting.
Karting Algarve at Almancil offers karts for adults and children along with other activities such as mini boats, trampolines and radio controlled cars. An exciting day out for all of the family. Located on the EN125 at Almancil. Kartodromo de Almancil. Tel: (00 351) 289 399 899. www.kartingalgarve.com. Open from 10am daily.
Learn about the traditions of the area
- visit the museum in Sao Bras de Alportel which houses a collection of traditional Algarve clothing throughout history and an exhibition about how cork is produced.
A delightful beauty spot to visit is Quatro Aguas, just southeast of Tavira,
which has lovely views of the lagoon. There are some very good seafood restaurants to try. The regular ferry departs here for the Ilha de Tavira, the sand dune island stretching 11 kms, popular in the summer months for its excellent swimming
Loulé is famous for its lively Saturday market
where it is possible to buy some great bargains in leather and textiles. It is also well known for its crafts and you can watch artisans wood carving, making lace and painting pottery and tiles.
Visit some charming inland villages.
Alte is a popular village with white washed houses and narrow cobbled streets. Explore the charming little shops and then relax in the shade with a picnic by the Fontes and have a refreshing swim in the freshwater pool.
Visit the World of Sand.
This international sand sculpture festival is usually held between May and October. Reportedly the biggest sand city in the world, this fascinating and spectacle will amaze all members of the family! There are sand sculpture activities for children and it is illuminated by night. Take Exit 8 off the A22 (Algoz/Pera), or from EN125 at Pera and follow signs.
Go to Lisbon!
Yes, it is possible to do – the fast train from Faro will take you to the centre of the city within 3 hours, giving you time to use one of the City sightseeing bus tours, which have guided commentaries. You can jump on and off wherever you like, thus enabling you to explore the sights and attractions that interest you.
The village of Guia
is renowned for the number of restaurants famous for serving the typical Algarvean dish of chicken piri piri. Naturally, they all claim to be the best but you can be assured that they are all very good and represent excellent value for money.
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