Guest Post by Louis Jobin
Once more weary of the omnipresent grey skies so indicative of England, I packed my neglected swimming trunks and set my sights on Portugal. My destination, Algarve, is a veritable paradise for any sun-starved traveller; long scorching days, beautifully clear sandy beaches stretched over miles of scenic coastline, very safe cities, decriminalised drugs … I could go on for hours, so to put it simply: Portugal is awesome.
Not sure where to start? Well, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 settlements in the Algarve, with some of my personal tips along the way! From historical cities to quiet villages, I’m sure that the Algarve has something for everyone.
Faro is arguably the Algarve’s main attraction, and for this reason I strongly suggest that you visit it in spring. The reason for this is pretty simple, really: the Algarve is Portugal’s southern region, meaning it gets hot. Really, REALLY hot. Take it from me, pushing your way through thousands of other tourists on the bus in 45 degree Celsius heat is not a pleasant experience.
In spring, however, Faro has a much more local (and less stiflingly hot) feel to it, leaving you free to sample its delights in peace. Faro is a big city, and as such you get all the usual fare of bars and clubs, but its most memorable attraction is surely the Igreja do Carmo church, which contains a chapel decorated with the ancient remains of over a thousand former monks. This chilling sight was ideal in such a hot climate.
2: Quinta do Lago
Quinta do Lago is a golf and residential estate which is bound to make any golfer froth at the mouth with excitement. The prices were a little hefty for me, but if you have the financial muscle to stay in one of its luxury villas you’ll be living in the perfect location, right next to the ocean and the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Beautiful.
3: Beautiful Bordeira
A hidden gem, Bordeira is probably my personal favourite place on this list. This village is actually within the Sao Vicente Natural Park. Bordeira rolls along a lush green hillside, its bright white houses standing out against its green surroundings in striking contrast. What really struck me here was how kind and open the locals were. Any and all of my appalling attempts at speaking Portuguese were greeted warmly and, oddly enough, with apologies at how hard the language is to learn!
Silves’ unique attraction is Silves castle, which dates back to the Moorish occupation of Spain and Portugal. Silves is a fascinating place; I even discovered that it used to be the capital of the Algarve. Silves also has a special place in my heart, because I had my first real Portuguese Piri-piri chicken there. And yes, it was better than Nando’s.
Finally, Albufeira is another popular touristic city known for its beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere. On my walks around the city’s beautiful Old Town, I found Fisherman’s beach, where the fishermen all bring in their brightly-coloured boats in, and have done since Albufeira was nothing more than a small fishing village. That’s living history right there.
I went looking for sun and I found it accompanied by luxury, history and nature. The Algarve didn’t disappoint me, and I’m sure it won’t disappoint you either.
Post by Louis Jobin
Louis Jobin is an undergraduate studying English and Japanese Studies. His passions are European literature, Asian cuisine and Scandinavian music.