The Algarve Portal is one of the leading multilingual Internet portals dedicated to the Algarve, in Portugal. Since its launch in 2001 several million people from all over the world have used it to search for information about the Algarve, to plan their stay in Portugal or to book the services of our local business partners.
We, the authors, Karin Dostal-Stahr and Juergen P. Dostal, have been fascinated by the Algarve - the friendly people, the mild Atlantic climate, the variety of landscapes, the rich cultural and historical heritage and much more - since we came to the Club Med near Albufeira for a golf holiday in 1987. That’s why many years later we decided to make the Algarve our new home. And we would like to share our passion for the Algarve and Portugal with you - the visitors to the Algarve-Portal!
The Algarve-Portal was fundamentally re-designed in 2014 to accommodate the growing number of people using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
- Discover The Algarve provides carefully selected information about this part of the country, for those of our visitors who are not yet aware of this area, located on Europe's westernmost tip, in the south of Portugal.
- Algarve Holidays helps you to find the best place and time of the year for your next stay in the Algarve and to book your accommodation, flights, golf tee times and a rental car –taking advantage of the most favorable conditions.
- Things To Do advises you about the best locations and opportunities where you can spend your time (and money) once you are here, including our personal recommendations.
- The A To Z Directory is a quick reference guide to find and get in contact with the services and facilities available - whether you are a temporary visitor or an Algarve resident.
The Algarve in Portugal
The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal
The Algarve is situated in the most south-western corner of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean. The river Guadiana marks the eastern border with neighbouring Spain, and in the north it borders the agricultural region of the Alentejo.
The administrative district of Faro covers the whole of the Algarve region with the administrative capital being Faro. The International Airport at Faro is the third largest airport in the Country (after Lisbon and Porto), less than 3 hours away by plane from many European destinations
Actual weather conditions, weather forecast and climate of the Algarve
The geographic position of the Algarve leads to a unique bio climate. Although located on the Atlantic, the climate is more Mediterranean: more than 3 thousand hours of sun shine per year and a low rainfall, mainly during the winter season.
You can find a table with the average climate values in the Algarve during the last 30 years here: Algarve weather and climate
The Serra do Caldeirão has a considerable influence on the climate of the region. It forms a physical barrier against the cold winds blowing from the north and the lows from the Northwest, thus giving the Algarve coast an almost Mediterranean climate, with low annual rainfall and mild temperatures in winter. Furthermore, it is also a barrier for the misty winds that come from the South.
Despite the fact that the Algarve has a uniform annual climate, actual weather conditions may significantly differ between various locations due to the winds on the Atlantic coast. Therefore we are publishing more specific and detailed weather data and 72h forecasts for selected spots on the Algarvian coast, including wind speed and direction, altitude of waves and rating for surfers as a special service to our visitors interested in water sports. According to our own experience, and based on local knowledge, this is the most accurate weather information currently available for the Algarve.
The Algarve, the great holiday destination in the south of Portugal
The mild, almost Mediterranean climate of the Algarve and the fantastic coastline of around 200 km with over 150 great beaches have contributed in making the Algarve the most popular holiday region in Portugal. More than 40% of the total turnover of the Portuguese tourist sector is generated in the Algarve
The diverse landscape offers a variety of holiday options for everybody’s taste:
- The sandy Eastern Algarve from the Spanish border to the lagoon landscape of the Ria Formosa with endless flat and broad beaches is ideal for families with little children.
- The adjacent lagoons and islands of the Ria Formosa, a unique eco system, stretches from Tavira to Faro, the capital of the Algarve.
- The „Golden Triangle“ of the Algarve with the world renown golf and holiday resorts Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura are sought after by golfers and other discerning holiday makers.
- The rocky coast of the Western Algarve between Albufeira and Lagos with dramatic rock formations, beautiful sandy beaches, hidden grottos and rocky bays has particularly contributed to the Algarve’s image as perfect holiday destination.
- The lonely western coast, the so called “Costa Vicentina” between Sagres and Aljezur, exposed to the wind from the Atlantic, is popular with surfers, paraglider and other extreme sportsmen as well as with lovers of unspoilt nature.
- The sparsely inhibited hills and mountains of the Serra, whose hot springs have been known since Roman times, are ideal for hiking and biking and many other outdoor activities.
- Almost unknown and untouched by tourism is the undulating landscape along the lower course of the Rio Guadiana, the border of the Algarve with Spain, where only recently several golf resorts have been built.
Algarve Cities and villages
The district of Faro is subdivided into 16 municipalities:
- Albufeira: The former fishing village in the heart of the Algarve has evolved into the most popular holiday destination in Portugal with fantastic beaches and a vibrant nightlife during the summer season
- Alcoutim: The village in the north-eastern corner of the Algarve was in former times an important place for shipping due to its position on the river Guadiana, the border with Spain.
- Aljezur: The village near the western coast is an insider’s tip for lovers of nature and hiking.
- Castro Marim: The mighty castle and fortress, in the distance, bears witness to the times of armed conflicts between Portugal and Spain.
- Faro: The international airport of the capital of the Algarve region is the third largest in Portugal. The historical old town on the Ria Formosa is a place of special interest.
- Lagoa: The small city in the interior of the Algarve is an important centre for agriculture, tiles & pottery and viniculture. Better known as holiday destinations are Carvoeiro and Ferragudo on the coast.
- Lagos: The most beautiful town in the western Algarve was Portugal’s window to the worlds during the Age of Portuguese Discoveries. The Golden Coast with the famous Ponta da Piedade is a popular destination for excursions by boat.
- Loulé: The city in the fertile Barrocal hinterland of the Algarve is an important commercial centre, well known for its carnival and other street festivals. Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura are located within the municipality of Loulé.
- Monchique: The highest village in the Algarve is situated in the heart of the Serra de Monchique. This mountainous area between the Algarve and the Alentejo in the north, is an ideal starting point for hiking and other outdoor activities.
- Olhão: Like no other city in the Algarve, Olhão on the Ria Formosa is linked to fishing. The local fish market is said to be one of the best in the Algarve, and during the summer the „Festival do Marisco“, a one week festival of sea food is celebrated.
- Portimão: The city on the estuary of the river Arade, already an important harbour during the times of the Phoenicians, is an international centre of water sports. Its main beach Praia da Rocha is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Algarve.
- São Bràs de Alportel: This rural village in the hinterland of the Algarve was a centre of cork production and the summer seat of the bishops of the Algarve. Today it is a place where you can find excellent handicraft businesses.
- Silves: During the Moorish period Silves was an important cultural centre in the south of the Iberian Peninsula for almost 500 years. The impressive castle, a monument of national prominence, is the most relevant testimony of this era in the Algarve.
- Tavira: The city on the estuary of the Rio Sequa (also known as Rio Gilão), is the architectural jewel of the Eastern Algarve. At Quatro Aguas, where the river flows into the Ria Formosa, large Salinas (salt pans) are located. The sea salt harvested there is called the “White Gold” of the Algarve.
- Vila do Bispo: The village is situated in the extreme south-west of the Algarve on the border of the natural park of the Costa Vicentina. Better known is Sagres on the coast, according to the legend the place of the school of navigators of Henry the Navigator.
- Vila Real de Santo António: The village on the estuary of the river Guadiana, the border of the Algarve with Spain, is known for the grid- like layout of its centre, the base for its reconstruction after the earth quake of 1755 which took only 5 months. A ferry boat commutes to Ayamonte on the Spanish shore
Read more about the cities and villages in the Algarve!
Hotels, holiday apartments and holiday villas in the Algarve
The beginning of tourism in the Algarve dates back to the thirties of the last Century. The first hotel in the region was the Hotel Guadiana in Vila Real de Santo António on the river promenade of the Guadiana. Inaugurated in 1926, its Art Nouveau facade is still today an architectural treasure of the Algarve. In 1934 the Bela Vista hotel opened at the other end of the Algarve on the beach of Portimão, Praia da Rocha. At that point in time the only way to travel to the Algarve was by ship.
By the 1960s the Algarve had been discovered as a promising golf destination, but the emergence of mass tourism made the Algarve the most important holiday destination in Portugal. This development is still going on as the increasing passenger numbers arriving at Faro airport and a number of new hotel, resort and golf projects indicate.
In the Algarve-Portal you will find one of the most complete portfolios of hotels, holiday villas & apartments and other accommodation, that you can book at guaranteed best prices only. Today you have the choice between almost 2.500 different properties.
In addition you will find a list of the most popular camping grounds and youth hostels in the Algarve.
The Algarve – Europe’s best golf destination
For many years the Algarve has been considered as one of the best and most popular golf destinations in Europe. The start of golf in the Algarve goes back to the 1930s, when the first 9hole course was built by the English near Portimão.
However, it was another thirty years before John Stilwell recognised the potential of the unspoilt Algarve as a destination for golfers. He charged Sir Henry Cotton with the design of Penina, the first modern golf course in the Algarve. Sir Henry, who lived for many years in Penina, also created the nearby Alto course. Since then golf in the Algarve as well as in other regions of Portugal has seen a boost. Both Portugal and the Algarve have received international awards, several times, as a best golf destination.
Now golfers can select from 38 golf courses with different profiles and characteristics, situated between the river Guadiana on the Spanish border to Lagos in the Western Algarve. All these golf courses offer an enjoyable golf experience all year round due to the excellent maintenance standards and the mild Algarvian climate. Many of these great courses have already been venues for international PGA tournaments such as the Portugal Open or the Portugal Masters. Among the most famous besides Penina, the Mecca of golf in the Algarve, are the golf courses of Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura.
Visitors to the Algarve-Portal can easily book their tee times online on all golf courses in the Algarve at highly competitive Green Fees. You will find here also promotional offers, golf packages and tournaments. If you do not want to take your golf bag with you while travelling, you can rent leading brands of clubs of leading brands via ourselves. During the golf season in spring and fall we recommend booking in advance to get your preferred tee-off times.
Add golf to your shopping car.
Sports in the Algarve
There is much more to do than just playing golf in the Algarve. In 2015 the municipality of Loulé was awarded "European City of Sport" by the private organization European Capital of Sport Association (ACES) for the number of sports available together with top-class sports events and facilities.
The windy western coast of the Algarve, the Costa Vicentina, is especially popular with surfers, kite surfers and paraglider. Around Sagres and Lagos there are a large number of surf camps, and also in many other places of the Algarve courses for beginner and advanced surfer are offered. Portimão with its new marina on the estuary of the river Arade is an excellent sailing area, where also several international competitions take place. And the marinas of Vilamoura, Albufeira and Lagos offer a variety of water sports facilities including big game fishing.
The Algarve-Portal provides the most detailed available water sports weather report and forecast for selected spots on the Algarve coast including wind strength and direction, wave height and rating for surfers.
The Algarve is an increasingly popular all year round destination for mountain biker as the hilly landscape of the Barrocal and Serra provides ideal biking territory. The elite of international racing cyclists make use the favourable conditions of the Algarvian spring to participate in the Volta ao Algarve, a one week tour, to help their preparation for the racing season.
Several riding centres and stables offer all year holidays for horse riding in the Algarve. Here you can rent a horse or book a riding excursion along the beach, in the desert Costa Vicentina or in the mountainous Serra. Once a year the elite of international show-jumpers meet in Vilamoura to participate in the Vilamoura Atlantic Tour, the most important riding event in Portugal.
Faro boasts of being a motor biking capital. Every summer thousands of bikers from all over the world come to the capital of the Algarve for a one week International Biker Convention, organized by the Moto Clube de Faro. The biker parade on the final day is the spectacular highlight of this event, attracting visitors from near and far.
Since the inauguration of the Motodromo do Algarve, a racing circuit in Mexilhoeira Grande near Portimão, the Algarve also offers a course for international car and motorcycle races. There is a go-cart track attached to this circuit, another track is situated in Almancil.
The Algarve Stadium between Faro and Loulé, erected for the UEFA European Football Championship 2004 in Portugal, is venue of the final of the Algarve Cup, the most important international tournament in Women Football besides the World and European Championships. It takes place there every year in spring, as well as the U17 Algarve Cup. During the winter break the Algarve is a well sought after training camp for many European professional club teams due to the excellent weather conditions.
The diverse landscape of the Algarve offers an ideal territory for hiking and trekking. There are a number of trails along the coast, in the fertile Barrocal landscape and in the mountains of the Serra. Especially in the Serra de Monchique and in the Costa Vicentina, the large nature reserve on the western coast, trekking tours, bird watching excursions and donkey trails are available.
The Algarve coast and the best beaches in the Algarve
The Atlantic coast of the Algarve with a span of almost 200 km offers ideal conditions for enjoyable holidays at the sea side with many kinds of water sports. The profile of the coast from the Spanish border to the western coast, the Costa Vicentina, is diverse and shaped by the forces of the wind and the Atlantic Ocean.
Long and flat sandy beaches, separated by dunes from the hinterland, stretch for more than 10 km from the estuary of the river Guadiana on the border of the Algarve with Spain to the lagoon landscape of the Ria Formosa near Tavira.
The adjacent Ria Formosa extends from the Peninsula de Cacela to the Ilha de Faro (Peninsula de Ancão) west of Faro International Airport. This unique nature reserve is a system of lagoons, protected from the open sea of the Atlantic Ocean by a chain of barrier islands, where the beautiful sandy beaches, protected by dunes, are found on the sea side. Most of them can only be accessed by ferry boat from the mainland. In the lagoons sea salt is harvested, the “White Gold” of the Algarve.
The nature reserve of the Ria Formosa stretches from west of Faro, near the international airport, down to Quinta do Lago. Approaching Faro by plane you can see this impressive lagoon landscape. Here the so called “Golden Triangle” of the Algarve begins, that includes the famous golf and holiday resorts Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura. This short section of the Algarve coast is dominated by colourful sandstone cliffs with pine woods on cliff-top. In front of the cliffs, shaped by erosion, pretty sandy beaches extend down to the shoreline.
The rocky southern coast of the Algarve, west of Vilamoura, is the most impressive part of the Algarve coast. Albufeira, Praia do Carvoeiro, Praia da Rocha, Alvor, Meia Praia in Lagos and Praia da Luz are some of the most popular holiday locations in this area. Hidden rocky bays with small sandy beaches, grottos and bizarre rock formations shaped by erosion are broken up by larger bays with extended beaches and sand dunes.
Read more about over 130 beaches in the Algarve, including exact location and images!