The Algarve region of southern Portugal attracts visitors from around the world due to the fantastic beaches, mature tourist industry, value for money, great food and wine, and the year round warm climate.
Apart from the beaches, the Algarve is a popular destination for golf, walking, cycling, sailing, wind-surfing, bird-watching and other outdoor activities.
See our guide to some of the best known Algarve resorts for an idea of the types of holiday location the Algarve offers.
Springtime and autumn in the Algarve are reminiscent of summertime in northern European countries, although there is generally more sunshine.
The eastern Algarve coastline towards the border with Spain is typically flat, with long sandy beaches. Further west the scenery becomes more rugged, with spectacular rock formations such as those at Gale, Lagos and Sagres.
The flowers and wildlife are particularly vibrant in the western Algarve. Early springtime (Feb to April) is a good time to visit for seeing flowers, while the wintertime (Dec to Feb) attracts lots of migrant birds sheltering from the northern European winter cold. The scenery becomes more arid in around mid-May due to the lack of rain in the summer months, and by late june the landscape is dry and arid. Rain is very unusual from late May to early September in the Algarve.
Algarve Economy and Prices
The economy of the Algarve is fuelled by tourism, and much of the money is re-invested into the local economy of the region providing work for many of the local inhabitants. Although the Algarve has experienced much development in recent years, it is still relatively unspoilt compared for example to some parts of the Costa del Sol.
After tourism, fishing is one of the major sources of income for the economy of the region. The Algarve also exports a lot of fruit and vegetable produce such as oranges, lemons, tomatos and olives.
The cost of living in the Algarve is generally higher than in neighbouring Spain, but holiday makers can still expect excellent value for money. Eating out is relatively cheap, and it is possible to find 3 course meals for € 10 to € 15 including wine. The Alentejo region of Portugal produces some of the best red wines in Europe, and in Portugal you will only need to pay € 3 or € 4 for a good red wine from the supermarkets.
Wines and food
If you prefer whites "Vinho Verde" or green wine is a refreshing white with a light sparkle, and is also available for € 3 or € 4 per bottle. Many fresh fish restaurants offer excellent value. For reviews of Algarve restaurants TripAdvisor offers impartial advice.
Unlike Spain, property prices in the Algarve tend to remain constant during economic downturns, so it is a popular location for investors, although prices tend to be higher than in Spain. Some products such as tobacco and alcohol are cheap in the Algarve due to low taxes on these items. A packet of cigarettes will cost 3.5 to 4 Euros, and unlike in Spain, prices at the airport are the same as in the Algarve shops.
If you are interested in Portuguese cooking, we have a selection of typical traditional Algarve recipes.
Algarve cuisine is based on the fantastic selection of fresh produce which grows in the warm climate of the Algarve region.