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The Algarve, in the south of Portugal, is the jewel of the country and famed for its stunning coastline. It has everything you need for a perfect year-round getaway – from beautiful towns with traditional Portuguese tiled houses to beaches with the most amazing cliffs you could want to find. It is the perfect part of Portugal to soak up some sun, relax, and enjoy some excellent food and wine; and there are so many amazing things to do in the Algarve. Undoubtedly, it will steal your heart.
With 300 days of sun in the region, it is the ideal destination at anytime of the year for those looking for a beautiful getaway. I visited at the end of September and it was the dream end-of-summer trip; giving a final chance to see some sun before the days draw in. The weather was sunny for the entire week, hot during the day and a lovely temperature during the evening.
How to get to the Algarve
Getting to the Algarve is super easy and Faro airport is ideally located to explore the region, not too far from Albufeira, as well as many other coastal towns. It is a quick and convenient flight, Jet2 has flights to Faro from cities all over the UK.
I took one of the flights from London Stansted airport, which was incredibly convenient. Check-in was smooth and efficient, plus Jet2 holidays have 22kg of checked-in luggage included. It was a real luxury to be able to pack extra, and meant I could bring wine back with me!
Where to stay in the Algarve
When visiting the Algarve I stayed at the Pine Cliffs resort, which can be found on Jet2Holidays. This hotel is part of Jet2’s Luxe collection, for luxury holidays, and is only 40 minutes from Faro airport. It boasts 7 pools, multiple bars and restaurants, a spa and health centre and even a beautiful boardwalk down to the beach.
It is the perfect place to relax in the south of Portugal.
Top things to do in the Algarve
No matter how long you have to spend, there are plenty of things to do in the Algarve to cater for everybody. Here are the best things to do in the Algarve.
Wine tasting and lunch at Morgado do Quintão – things to do in the Algarve
The ideal lunch spot for lovers of food and wine. Morgado do Quintão is a family-owned vineyard, located around 25 minutes from Albufeira. It was founded by the Count of Silves and has been handed down through the generations for over 300 years.
You can visit this organic vineyard and have a delicious three-course meal, with paired wine from the vineyard. All in the most beautiful setting, with tables set with white linen under the shade of the ancient olive trees. The wine matches each course perfectly; white wine with the starter, the lightest red with the main course and even a tasty dessert wine, which was fermented in traditional clay pots.
Following lunch, there is also a tour of the vineyard, where you learn about the vines, the grapes and their methods. They have new vines and are growing new types of grapes. All of the vines are biological and aren’t irrigated. They are even starting to create their own beer and olive oil.
The vineyard hosts wine pairings, premium wine tastings, as well as sparkling wine and oyster evenings. They even have some converted cottages on site, if you want to extend your stay in the most peaceful of locations.
Watch the sunrise on the beach – things to do in the Algarve
There is never a better way to start the day than by getting up to catch the sunrise. And when you are visiting a part of the world as stunning as this, catching a sunrise on a beach is one of the best things to do in the Algarve. I was staying at the Pine Cliffs resort, which had a lift and then a boardwalk down to the local beach. The dramatic walk through the cliffs provided easy access to the water, ideal for the early morning.
With the Algarve famed for its gorgeous coastline, it would be remiss to not enjoy it at this most perfect time of the day. It is quieter and so peaceful and serene. Plus, it is the perfect way to start the day.
Catamaran tour around Rio Formosa – things to do in the Algarve
An unmissable experience if you are visiting the region, this is a must-do. Rio Formosa is a maze of wetlands, channels, canals, marshes, islands and barrier islands. And it is stunning. Created in 1722, when a tsunami hit Portugal, the rising waters submerged this area, resulting in the formation of Ria Formosa. Isea Charter offers catamaran tours of the area, and it is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
You meet Isea Charter at the marina in Marina and take a shuttle boat out to the catamaran, where you are greeted on board with drinks; a glass of bubbles is the perfect way to start the tour. The service onboard is impeccable, with friendly and incredibly knowledgeable staff who go above and beyond to ensure you have the best day. The cheeseboard they served was absolutely delicious, and what a perfect setting to enjoy it in!
Rio Formosa is an extremely biodiverse natural area. Home to many species of birds and marine life. It is separated from the ocean by two spits attached to the mainland and five separate barrier islands. From east to west, the five barrier islands are Barreta (also known as Deserta), Culatra, Armona, Tavira and Cabanas. Isla Culatra is inhabited, by small fishing communities residing there. The island is protected, so there are no new buildings, but you are welcome to visit and there are a few cafes and restaurants.
The Islands of Ria Formosa
Isla Deserta is also famed for the Estaminé restaurant, which you can take a speedboat out to. Formerly there were 5 fishing huts on the island, and the fishermen who worked there were the only ones allowed to live in them. As they died or moved on, only one local remained, and these huts in turn became the restaurant. The sole remaining fisherman is the only person allowed to sleep on the island; the staff and guests arrive daily by boat.
Wander around Faro
The city of Faro is the gateway to the Algarve. Most visitors will fly into the city and bypass Faro itself, but is definitely worth spending an afternoon walking around to see some of the sites. It is packed with cafes and restaurants, and the Old Town is full of cobbled charm.
Start by finding an entrance to the Old Town. You can enter and exit through gaps in the old city walls, with gates dotted around. The walls were built to protect the city from the sea and encircle this part of Faro. The prettiest gate is Arco da Vila, which has remains of the original Moorish wall. Also, look out for the huge stork nests perched on the top. Once inside, take some time to wander around the pretty cobbled streets, spot street art, and admire the cathedral.
Afterwards, take a wander down the canopy-lined shopping streets, and even pop in to buy some famous Portuguese Sardines. Finally, wander down to the Marina to admire the boats. You can also admire this beautiful view from the roof terrace of AP Senses, which offers a buffet lunch every day and dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Beer tasting at Algarve Rock Brewery
One not to miss for the beer lovers! Algarve Rock Brewery opened in 2018, but closed down during the pandemic and then recently reopened with new owners. You can pre-book tours, but the tap room is open daily, check out their website for timings.
The brewery creates a range of quality craft beers, each with its own uniqueness, full of flavour and character. I tried ‘Tino’s Big Bash Fruit Sour’, which was light, refreshing, and perfect for the Algarve! The operation is small to have that personal feel, but big enough to have all the gear. Check out where they produce the beer, and learn how it works. I also loved the beautiful, locally created and colourful labels created for each brew.
Check out the colourful buildings of Albufeira
The marina at Albufeira was created about 10 years ago and is a hub for tourism. You can book many tours of the region from this spot, and it also is home to hotels, restaurants, bars, a nautical club, shops, swimming pools, apartments, villas and a recreational and leisure centre.
But it is the colourful buildings that will most catch your eye. Take some time to wander around the pretty architecture, grab a coffee overlooking the boats, and then embark on a tour.
Beach Barbecue tour with AlgarExperience
With the Algarve being famed for its coastline, what better way to see it than from the water? AlgarExperience offers many different tours, from dolphins to Benagil cave to water sports. The beach barbecue experience is a six-and-a-half-hour tour. You start the tour by sailing along the beautiful coastline. See how the coastal erosion is constantly changing this beautiful scenery. Spot the submarine rock formation and you get a chance to view the beautiful Benagil cave.
After two hours of cruising along, you then arrive at the beach. With an option to either swim to shore or get taken in by a shuttle boat. A barbecue is cooked fresh, with plenty of options and then you have some time to relax. The crew also has activities such as paddle boards.
Included in the tour is an open bar, which is available all day. The journey back to Albufeira is definitely much more of a party vibe.
This day is a perfect mix of sightseeing, relaxing, eating and partying.
Cocktails at W Algarve
The W Algarve opened in June 2022 and is the first W hotel in Portugal. Its beautiful architecture is inspired by the hotel’s motto ‘to make waves’ and you can see this reflected all over, right down to the glimmering fish scale-inspired walls. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to be staying at this stunning hotel, then you absolutely need to swing by for some cocktails, all inspired by mixed foraged ingredients and signature Portuguese flavours – from sweet paprika to fig, and even one with a mushroom infusion.
There is incredible music playing all over this magnificent hotel. They have international DJs that come and play and also host Aura – an open-air music festival. Definitely worth a visit for some truly indulgent luxury.
Where to eat in the Algarve
Dinner at Paper Moon
Located in the W Algarve, this restaurant was named after the founders’ favourite film – Paper Moon, and the decor features black and white photographic stills from the movie. But beautiful decor aside, this is the place to come and eat in the Algarve for the most delicious Italian food. The restaurant’s philosophy is to serve good good value, top-quality Italian cuisine in a casual congenial environment. And boy does it deliver.
The burrata was fresh and delicious, served with yellow, black and red tomatoes, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. The eggplant parmigiana was incredible, and the pizzas – simple but perfect. But the highlight is their signature dish, the pappardelle Paper Moon – homemade pappardelle with bacon, tomato sauce and cream. Mouthwateringly scrumptious. To finish off, the tiramisu and panna cotta were both outstanding. This was all washed down with a white wine from the Douro Valley – Invincible.
This restaurant is definitely one to add to any foodie’s bucket list.
Dinner at Restaurante Figueiral
Restaurante Figueiral is located about equidistant from Faro and Albufeira and has a focus on high-quality culinary experiences. Their specialities are rump steak and the Chateaubriand for one, which you cook on a stone.
There are two indoor dining areas, but the best place to eat is the outdoor courtyard, surrounded by greenery and lit with huge lamps that drape over the table.
Dinner at Atlântico Restaurante – things to do in the Algarve
Located at Grande Real Santa Eulália Resort & Hotel Spa and overlooking Santa Eulália beach, Atlântico Restaurante is the perfect place to come for sunset views. It is the ideal restaurant for relaxed dinners overlooking the sea, having dinner with the background noise of the crashing waves of the sea is always a great way to spend an evening.
At this restaurant, you can enjoy traditional Portuguese food, made from fresh ingredients from the land and sea. The wine list also boasts some local, delicious, Portuguese wine which goes so well with the menu.
A huge thank you to Jet2 and Visit Algarve for this trip. My trip to the Algarve was a complimentary PR press trip, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I genuinely had the best time!
Interested in more Portugal trips? Check out this post on 14 things to do in Porto
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