The Algarve - A Region of Hidden Delights…
Acknowledged as Europe’s leading Beach Destination by the World Travel Awards, the Algarve is one of the world’s most beautiful provinces and a truly captivating region for its landscape diversity. Located in the south of Portugal the coastline spans over 200 kilometers and boasts some of Europe’s cleanest and picturesque sandy beaches.
The region is roughly 50 kilometers wide from the Atlantic coastline to the mountains of Monchique and Caldeirão and 150 kilometers from Vila Real de Santo António in the east to Sagres in the west. With over 3000 hours sunshine a year and Mediterranean-like weather, the Algarve is a perfect place to visit or live all year round.
Wherever you look, the colours of the mountains and sea are always with you, creating the impression of a water-colour dotted with highlights of gold, green and blue. The region is an extensive and pleasant one, marked by the smell of the sea at low tide and the scent of wild flowers. A stroll through the tangled web of narrow streets, alleys and steps to be found away from the coast is the best way of getting to know this part of the region. But you can also easily lose yourself in the vastness of the coastal strip. Here the backdrop is composed of beautiful beaches, from where you can admire the rocky coastline and the playful shadows they cast on the sand. After the enchantment of the landscape, you can discover the aromas and flavours of the traditional Algarve cuisine that will pull you back time and time again. The menu may consist of fish and shellfish, with such dishes as caldeirada de peixe (fish-stew) or cataplana de amêijoas (clams steamed in a copper pan), or you can enjoy the traditional mountain food such as home raised meat and vegetables. The range of choices will also include the famous regional delicacies, such as figs, almonds, carobs and the brandy made from the locally grown medronho (arbutus-berry), distilled up in the hills in old copper stills.
As you travel across the Algarve, amidst its hills and plains filled with places of great ecological interest, rich in biodiversity and ecosystems, you will feel as though you are passing through an area full of different traditions, unchanged for many centuries. The handicraft is skilfully manufactured by the local craftsmen, who make use of longstanding, ancestral techniques and produce an excellent range of pottery, woven baskets, copper and brass articles, or other pieces made of linen and jute.
The region's built heritage is something you cannot afford to miss. The architecture of the whitewashed houses, with their brightly-coloured mouldings and remarkably beautiful chimneys, the church belfries and the museums, all reveal particular memories of the ancestors of the Algarve people and help to make this such a special destination.
Only a step away from the tranquil peace of the inland region is the excitement of the Algarve nightlife. Bars, discos, marinas and casinos guarantee visitors the very best kind of merrymaking. Furthermore, there is always a great range of events and festivals throughout the year! Families can enjoy water parks (the water park Zoomarine was considered the 7th best theme park in Europe by TripAdvisor), theme parks and zoos or boat trips along the breath-taking coastline. A wide range of sports is also available – from walking and sightseeing excursions, mountain biking and quad biking to powerboat championships, karting, car rallies, motocross events, sailing, surfing, tennis, horse riding, kayaking, kite surfing, rock climbing and wakeboarding, golf championships and many, many more. Whether you're playing golf on lush green courses of the awarded European Golf Destination (International Association of the Golf Tour Operators) or enjoying some physical exercise at some of the region's excellent facilities, whether you're on the coast or perhaps up in the hills, where, after the rigours of winter and even before the first signs of spring, the land is covered in a pinkish white blanket, produced by the blossom of the almond-trees scattered across the horizon. Oh, and by the way… You know that it is not just for the almond crop that we do have so many almond trees in the Algarve, right?
According to the delightful legend, during the time when Al Garb still belonged to the Moors, there reigned a young Caliph in Silves called Ibn-Almundim, who fell madly in love and married immediately Gilda, the daughter of a great lord from the North, who had been defeated in battle by the Moorish king. However, after the marriage, the beautiful princess grew sadder day by day, with the Caliph unable to make her smile. They consulted magicians and wise men from all over the world, but none could find a cure for her sadness…Until one day, an old Nordic man told the king that Gilda was longing for the white snow-covered fields of her homeland. Ibn-Almundim then ordered thousands of almond trees to be planted outside the windows of the palace, which, when they were in blossom, covered the land with white petals. The illusion took away her longing and she became joyful once more.
…And this is why, since that spring so long ago, the Algarve relives each year the magic of the almond blossom.
Source: Algarve Tourism Board | AlgarvePromotion | World Travel Awards