Tag Archives: Algarve

This is why Portugal has become such a popular travel destination: 5 arguments

2018-02-26

The differences between north and south, east and west in Portugal are surprisingly big, even though the geographic area of the country is not large. Is it possible to identify reasons for the growth of tourism that apply to all parts of the country? The author of the travel guidebook Algarve, Southern Portugal lists five key reasons for the success of tourism in this southern European country.

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

1. Nonuniform cities.
2. Nature and landscapes.
3. Tourism infrastructure.
4. Pleasant climate.
5. Colorful history.

Cities are different from other old cities in Europe

Two largest cities in Portugal, Lisbon and Porto, are old cities and they show their age. There is nothing like these cities in Europe – they are odd, strange, but lovable. The unique Portuguese culture defines the way of life in all communities. Traditions are readily visible in small villages, but city residents also like their cod and coffee. Digital nomads may choose to stay in Lisbon or Porto, or head to the south coast for a less hectic environment. Towns like Faro, Lagos and Albufeira in Algarve draw thousands of people from Nordic countries who spend their winters on the coast.
Faro old town, Algarve, Portugal

Varying landscapes from beaches to mountains

Mountains, hills, and rivers define the inland landscape in Portugal. In central Portugal, large fields dominate the landscape, but in other regions, the sceneries are varying.

Both the west coast and south coast have so many types of beaches and coastlines that they provide endless possibilities, for instance, for hiking and birdwatching. Most visitors spend their time sunbathing and swimming, but beaches near town centers, like in Portimao (Praia da Rocha) and in Albufeira have plenty of activities on the sea as well.

The west coast that faces the Atlantic Ocean is a home for many of the best surf beaches of the world.

Services for tourists

Services for tourists, such as hotels, apartments, restaurants, shopping malls, health services, car rentals, motorhome parks, and tour services have been built relatively recently. Of course, tourism started in Portugal a long time ago, but a big investment in infrastructure has been made later than in other southern European countries. It means that many facilities are modern in Portugal.

In Portugal’s main tourism regions (towns on the south coast of Algarve, Lisbon region and Porto region), everything a traveler needs is readily available. In these areas that have plenty of tourists, English is widely understood. Outside those areas, everyone has to survive in Portuguese.
Surfers in Sagres, Algarve, Portugal.

Coast vs inland, north vs south

The most pleasant climate around the year in Portugal is in the south, Algarve. That is why winter escapees from other parts of Europe have discovered it.

The rule of thumb is that it rains very little in the south, and the amount of rain increases the further north you go. The same with the temperature: south is warmer than north. Inland is another story. For instance, in summer, it is not a pleasant destination for outdoor activities because of excessive heat.

Rich history

The oldest Portuguese towns were established even before the Romans moved in to the territory, but the richest history in Portugal was created by Moors who ruled large regions of Portugal and Spain for hundreds of years. Castles, fortresses and other buildings that they left behind have been restored, and can be visited in many towns.

The rich history is visible in everyday life of Portuguese people. It is easy discover: find a fishing village that still has wooden fishing boats on the beach. Follow how the fishermen work and spend their time in there while other locals hang around in cafes and restaurants.

How come “incredible food” or “friendly people” didn’t make it to the top 5 list? Well, there are good reasons for it that are explained in the book. A travel guide to Algarve, the warm south coast of Portugal is available at bookstores, including Amazon.

Tips for finding a place to work and sleep in Algarve, on the south coast of Portugal

2018-01-03

These tips were written with digital nomads and remote workers in mind, but the travel guide where the tips have been extracted from (Algarve, Southern Portugal) features much more information on accommodations, sights, beaches, villages, culture, activities, food, and towns.
Carvoeiro, Algarve, PortugalHouses on the coastal cliffs of Algarve, Portugal.
Professionals who can work anywhere as long as the supply of electricity and decent Internet access are guaranteed have discovered Algarve’s pleasant climate and peaceful lifestyle. Lisbon and Porto are the business centers of Portugal, but the whole point of staying in Algarve is to manage a business remotely.

Even though the region lacks big cities, the largest towns have nightlife, and popular pubs have crowds from lunch time onwards. Internet access in coastal towns is relatively reliable, but having a backup connection, like a mobile data connection for Internet access, is imperative.

A wide range of hotels and holiday homes are available for short and long term stay in Algarve. If you want to stay in large towns, like Albufeira, Lagos, or Portimao, the chances are that the best selection and best prices are for rooms in apartment blocks. Townhouses, bungalows, and other types of places with a terrace or a small garden are easier to find in small towns or villages, such as Luz or Carvoeiro. In addition, villas are available for rent on the outskirts of towns and in the countryside.

Many apartment blocks built for tourism come with a community pool. In winter, the pool may be closed. Another nice feature with recently-built apartment blocks is that they tend to have spacious balconies. For instance, a place where I stayed on the outskirts of Albufeira was a one-bedroom apartment with three balconies. The kitchen, living room, and bedroom had their own balconies.

If you love to watch television, here is an important tip. Verify the channels that can be viewed in the place you are going to stay. If it is only RTP (Portugal’s public broadcaster), you may have to do something other than watch television during your stay. I stayed one month in a place with only RTP channels, and I could only find one show that I could understand and watch: “The Voice of Portugal” singing contest every Sunday.
apartments for tourists in Albufeira, AlgarveApartments for tourists in Albufeira.
If you are looking for a place to stay and work for a few weeks, month, or more, I recommend getting in touch with local real estate agents. First, book a place for a few days only – perhaps via an online service. It will be your base while you search for a long-term place. You should have an idea of the area where you want to stay. If not, hire a car and drive along the bumpy roads of Algarve and explore. Once you have decided on the area, contact a real estate agent in that particular district. They will show you the places available at your price level. For instance, I once dealt with an agent who handled the maintenance and rentals of apartments for entire buildings in a particular section of a town.

The important thing in this whole process is that you actually see the place before you pay. The big, ugly problem with booking a long-term stay via an online service is that you have to pay without seeing the place. When you open the door, step in, and find that it is not like the web pages, you have already lost. In that situation, the only thing you can decide is what kind of loss you are going to take: money, time, or both. Maybe you grit your teeth and decide to stay, demand reimbursement from the landlord, or negotiate with the online service. In any case, you are going to lose precious working time with the hassle – and even more time if you have to start searching for new place to stay.

The better way is to research the area, contact an agent, and ask the agent to show you the place you intend to rent.

Even if the apartment where you are going to stay comes with Internet access, always get a backup connection. This is ridiculously easy to accomplish. Walk in to a mobile phone shop (for instance, Phone House) or a mobile network operator shop (MEO, NOS or Vodafone), ask for a data only SIM card, and choose your initial data amount. There are no formalities. After you have used the initial amount of data, you can top up online, at an ATM, or in a post office. I managed to top up my SIM card at a post office (cash only accepted).

book cover image: Algarve, Southern Portugal
The travel guide Algarve, Southern Portugal is available in all major bookstores, such as Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and Kobo.

Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide

Algarve, Portugal ranked as the most affordable European destination: this travel guide shows you around the region

2017-12-04

Portugal is such a hot travel destination these days that after winning the best tourist destination awards, statistics indicate that Algarve, the province on the south coast, is the cheapest European region to visit. There is only one way to find out what all the buzz is about and visit Algarve yourself. Here is a travel guide to Algarve that shows you around the south coast beaches, villages, mountains, castles and national parks.

Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide
The World Travel Awards is an annual event for travel industry professionals who vote for the best destinations and service providers. The big winner in 2017 was Portugal.

The Best European Destination: Portugal
The Best Beach Destination in Europe: Algarve, Portugal

Even price comparisons favor Algarve province on Portugal’s south coast. British 2017 Post Office Holiday Money Report ranks Algarve the cheapest travel destination in Europe, Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach the second and Costa del Sol in Andalusia, Spain the third. The ranking included 44 destinations, so it is certainly possible to find even cheaper places to go in Europe, but as major tourist regions are considered, that’s the top three.

What does the Algarve travel guidebook say about the reasons why people like to visit Portugal’s south coast? According to the author of the book, it is a well balanced combination of sunny climate around the year, relatively new infrastructure for tourism without overbuilding the region, unique coastline, fascinating history as a territory between North Africa and Europe, and remarkable possibilities for outdoor activities around the year.

More about the Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide and its availability here Download: Algarve, Southern Portugal - Klaava Travel Guide.

Sample pages from the travel guide below:
Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide
Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide
Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide

Top 5 beaches of Algarve, Portugal with a photo gallery

2017-05-02

There are so many long, tiny, shallow, deep, rocky, fine-grained, and you-name-it kind of beaches in Algarve, South Portugal that I am not going argue that I would be able to pick the best one. I have selected nice, popular beaches that are different, and suit to different tastes and needs. The key point is that if you can, go ahead and discover beaches that may be a few kilometers away from the closest one to the place you are staying – you will be surprised about the variety and beauty that Algarve features along its shores. The following top 5 praias (beaches) are listed in alphabetical order (with permission from the travel guide Algarve, Southern Portugal).

Praia do Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal. Fishing village beach

The main beach of the fishing village Carvoeiro is a small, idyllic nook between tall rocks that rise vertically from the sea. The old village is located right next to the beach, also sheltered between rocky hills from the whims of the sea. The setup creates an idyllic and pretty place – just like many people imagine a classic fishing village and its beach. A few fishing boats on the beach are still in active use, allowing tourists to get a glimpse of traditional work and life in the village.

A walk or meal in the village, or a hike along paths on the rocks above the coastline complements a day on the beach. A boat tour to nearby caves is an adventure that you can book and set off from the beach. As the original village has become a (relatively small) tourist destination, small hotels and houses have been constructed around the community. Shops, cafés and restaurants have occupied the street-level apartments in the village center. Parking is problematic down in the village, but carparks have been built up on the hills.

Praia da Falesia

Sunrise at Falesia beach, Olhos d'Aqua. Algarve, POrtugal

The beach of Praia da Falesia is so long and varying that you can visit it daily for a week and still discover new places along the shore. The beach is about 5 kilometers / 3 miles long. From the outskirts of the village Olhos d’Aqua, it stretches east to the port of Vilamoura. Near Olhos d’Aqua, rocky hills rise behind the beach. Gradually towards Vilamoura, the hills get lower. Depending on the tide, peaceful coves are connected or disconnected from the rest of the beach near Olhos d’Aqua.

There are many entry points to the beach, but the most spectacular one is in Olhos d’Aqua. A 500 meter / 550 yard -long tiny road along a gorge carved into rocky hills starts from the street Rua Nossa Senhora Fatima at a point where the street makes a 90-degree turn. Some local people drive along the tiny gorge road down to the sea, but I would not recommend it. Walk or ride a mountainbike to check the condition of the unpaved road first. There is a small carpark down on the beach and two restaurants that attract visitors to this end of the beach.

Praia da Rocha

Portimaro, Praia da Rocha beach, Algarve, Portugal.

Praia da Rocha is probably the most famous beach of Algarve. If you have seen a brochure of Algarve with an image of a beach, it just could be Praia da Rocha. The beach is an impressive sight when you view it from the rocky hills above the coastline. Soft, sandy beaches stretch for about 3 kilometers / 2 miles under magnificent rock formations that rise from the beach and from the sea.

Praia da Rocha is located in the outskirts of Portimao, which is one of the major towns of Algarve. The beach starts from the mouth of Rio Arade and stretches to the west. Portimao town center is about 2 km/1.2 miles up river from the shore. Praia da Rocha beach area has developed into a major tourist destination with high-rise hotels and apartment blocks. Plenty of visitors also means plenty of services on the beach: restaurants, boat tours, jet ski rentals, and anything else you might want to have or do by the sea.

Sagres

Surfers in Sagres, Algarve, Portugal.

The long west coast of Portugal faces the Atlantic Ocean, featuring many beaches that are particularly popular among surfers. When heading south along the west coast, the community of Sagres is the point where the European continent ends, and the sea surrounds the land from the west and south. Sagres is one the highlights and most memorable sights in the whole Algarve, and worth a visit even if you don’t give a damn about surfing. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating sport to watch, at least, from the safety of solid ground.

The beaches in Sagres are: Praia da Mareta (below the Sagres village center), Praia do Tonel (the most spectacular), Praia do Beliche (sheltered place where families like to bathe), Praia do Martinhal (near the resort of the same name). Most surfers wait for the waves on Praia do Tonel that faces the Atlantic Ocean.

Praia dos Salgados

Salgados, Armacao de Pera, Algarve, Portugal. River meets the sea

The dunes of Praia dos Salgados and Praia Grande form a long stretch of soft, continuously moving fine-grained beach. The gorgeous beach is not the only thing that attracts visitors to Salgados. The delta of Alcantarilha River is a sizeable wetland area where thousands of birds live or rest during their migration. Boardwalks and viewing towers have been built for visitors to observe the busy life of birds of all sizes in the delta. A golf course borders the delta and the beach for those who want to try their driver and putter on Algarve’s famous courses.

Praia dos Salgados stretches from the mouth of Alcantarilha River to the community of Gale in the east. The same beach continues to the west side of Alcantarilha River, but near the town of Armacao de Pera, it is called Praia Grande. There are several entry points to the beach, but if you want to explore local wildlife as well, head to the large carpark in Salgados that is on the east side of the river mouth. The beach and the marshland are accessible right next to the carpark.

More Top 5 destinations, sights, attractions, and things to do in Algarve in the travel guidebook that covers the south coast of Portugal.