Algarve, the extreme southern region of Portugal, is today famous for the over 200 km of its wonderful sandy and rocky coasts, and for its crystal clear sea.
The Algarve was occupied by human settlements since the Phoenician and Carthaginian era, and became part of the Roman Empire from the second century BC. In the 8th century AD the region was occupied by the Arabs. They called it Al-Gharb Al-Andalus which means Western Andalusia, from this name Al-Gharb the current name of Algarve is derived. The Algarve was the last region of Portugal to be liberated by the Arabs, it was in fact reconquered by King Don Alfonso III in 1249.
In the fifteenth century Prince Henry the Navigator chose the Algarve and Sagres in particular as the basis of his school of navigation, geography and cartography. This school allowed Portugal to discover a maritime route to Asia and to lay the groundwork for the foundation of its vast colonial empire.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF THE ALGARVE
The Algarve is the southernmost coastal area of Portugal. The region is renowned for its sea, for its varied and beautiful coast, with long beaches, high rocky cliffs, rock stacks and for its mild climate. Thanks to this, the Algarve has become the main tourist destination in Portugal.
The coast between Cabo de São Vicente and Faro is high and rocky, full of coves and cliffs. While the coast between Faro and the Spanish border is low and sandy. There are numerous places to visit in the Algarve. Starting from west to east along the coast we find: Cabo de São Vicente, Sagres, Lagos, Portimão, Albufeira, Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Castro Marim.
The Algarve is not only sea and beaches, but also cultural tourism. In fact among the things to see there are the characteristic historical architectures of the towns of the region, with the typical white houses, the inevitable churches, fortresses and museums.
Do not miss a detour inland to visit Silves, the ancient capital of the Algarve. This city is full of historic buildings. In the interior of the region you can also see the landscapes of the Serra de Monchique, where is Mount Fóia (906 meters), the highest point of the Algarve. Or small villages to be discovered such as Alte nestled at the foot of the Serra do Caldeirão.
Among the beaches to visit, towards the west, those wild, and rich in waves, of the Costa Vicentina. In particular those of Arrifana and Barriga. Absolutely to see the beautiful cliffs and shaped rock formations of Ponta da Piedade in Lagos. Also in Lagos the beaches of Meia Praia and Dona Ana nestled between the cliffs are very beautiful.
Among the most exclusive are the beach of Ancão, between Quinta do Lago and Vale de Lobo. Other beaches not to be missed are: Alvor, Prainha, Três Irmãos, Vau and Praia da Rocha. Near Portimão we find the beautiful Praia do Carvoeiro full of numerous caves.
Among the most picturesque the Praia de Albufeira with the characteristic wooden boats of the fishermen. The beach of Armaçao de Pera is instead one of the largest on the western coast of the Algarve. For lovers of tranquility and calm sea near Tavira there is the beach of the island of Barril. For nightlife lovers the most interesting places are Portimão, Albufeira and Vilamoura.
Along the Algarve coast, the viewpoints of the Atalaia viewpoint in Praia da Luz, the da Ponta da Piedade in Lagos are very beautiful. Along the Costa Vicentina, the panoramic point of Pontal is worth seeing. While near Praia da Rocha there is the Fortaleza de Santa Catarina. Finally near Sagres to visit is the Fortaleza of Sagres and the lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente.