The southernmost region of Portugal, better known as the Algarve, is a popular European holiday destination, especially for families. Breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, scalloped bays and sandy islands beckon, with pretty castle towns and historic villages to be found inland. Read on for my top 5 list of things to do in the Algarve…
1. Visit The Beach
It would be impossible to list the top things to do in the Algarve without mentioning the beaches; endless stretches of sand await, with some offering the perfect conditions for water sports, while others are calmer and are ideal for quiet family time. With over 150 it’s not hard to find one that offers exactly what you need; Praia da Marinha, Lagoa with its stunning orange cliffs is the star of many Algarve brochures and perhaps a good typical example, or try Praia da Falésia in Albufeira, it’s vast with 6km of sand and colourful cliffs with green pines, popular with families, it’s another classic Algarve top beach.
2. Play Golf
Trying to resist repeating myself here, but the Algarve is also very well known for its golf courses! With 35 golf courses throughout the region and a total of 42 9-hole or 18-hole layouts that can be played across them, there’s a huge amount of choice. Still very popular, the very first course in the region, built in 1966, is the Sir Henry Cotton Championship course (18 holes, par 73) at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort, this is a great introduction to golf in the Algarve; alternatively, the wonderful Dom Pedro complex at Vilamoura dominates the golfing scene here with its 5 popular golf courses.
3. Castelo de Silves
For a history fix, the town of Silves is the proud site of a red sandstone castle, the best-preserved castle in the Algarve, that stands firmly against the valley of orange and lemon groves. The castle is well worth a visit, it offers spectacular views from its battlements and alongside sits a lovely cathedral, Largo da Sé, which dates from the 13th century. The pretty town features cobbled streets, beautiful gardens, a paved river front and an archaeological museum. The town was the centre of culture during the Moorish occupation of the Algarve and was home to poets and orators, the artistic spirit lives on and is very evident today.
4. Zoo Marine
Undoubtedly, the Algarve’s biggest visitor attraction, the marine park features excellent seal, sea lion and dolphin shows, an aquarium, a 4D cinema, an exhibition centre and a sandy beach with water slides and a wave pool. The emphasis is firmly on conservation and education and they encourage the children to interact with the animals and birds at close range.
5. Water Parks – Aqualand
There are several fabulous water parks in the Algarve; they make excellent family days out and are hard to beat for the sheer fun factor! Aqualand in Alcantarillha is one of the most popular; with high slides, a river rapid run and a surf beach area with wave pool. The much-loved kamikaze is the highest water slide in Portugal, it takes just four seconds for you to slide 36m! Alternatively, the Congo River is a much more chilled out option; relax in the sun as you drift slowly through the 270m river.
For a great base from which to explore all this, Casa Manuela (pictured in the scroller above) is a quaint traditional house located in the heart of the Algarve countryside with easy access to many local attractions. It’s a great place to get back to nature while still being well placed to explore the local area. It sleeps up to 8 people and features a beautiful south-facing outdoor entertainment area perfect for BBQs, socialising and sunbathing, with stunning views of orange groves, hills and peaceful countryside. Inside, there is a lounge/ dining space and a fully-equipped kitchen, as well as a garage with parking for 3 cars. The house is just 45 mins from Faro Airport making it the perfect location for your Algarve holiday.
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