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Soaring cliffs, sea caves, golden beaches, scalloped bays and sandy islands draw over four million visitors to the Algarve each year. Surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic, it's a paradise for surfers, especially along the refreshingly undeveloped west coast.

In the south, tourist hotspots harbouring massive conglomerations of holiday villas and brash resorts have action-packed activities – from splashy water parks to water sports – and vibrant nightlife spanning beach bars to sizzling nightclubs. Natural treasures here include the bird-filled lagoons and islands of the protected Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, stretching for 60km from west of the capital, Faro, to the enchanting fishing village of Cacela Velha.

Up in the hilly hinterland are historic castle towns and whitewashed villages, rolling countryside covered in cork, carob and almond trees and citrus orchards, rural farmhouse restaurants, and the wonderful Via Algarviana hiking trail crossing the region's breadth.



From long, sandy beaches protected by golden cliffs to small bays nestled between rocks, the Algarve has beaches to suit all tastes. What they have in common is the offer of a perfect holiday in the sun.

What are the ingredients of this offer? A mild climate, with sunshine for about 300 days a year. A clear sea, almost always warm and calm. And fine white sand, an invitation to relax that can’t be ignored – it’s as simple as laying on a towel in the sun to get a tan to die for or building sandcastles by the sea with the children. 

There are about 200 kilometres of beaches between the southwest coast near Aljezur and the eastern end close to Vila Real de Santo António, which differ widely among themselves. The majority have the high safety and quality conditions recognised by the European blue flag symbol, with amenities that promise fun and sports. Many beaches are of great beauty, offering idyllic settings for more romantic moments, and others are close to nightlife spots, sought after by those who must have some music and dance on their holidays. But there are also almost deserted beaches, where nature is preserved practically in a wild state. 

There’s a large number of beaches accessible to people with mobility problems and many even have facilities that allow everyone to enjoy bathing in the sea. And there are also beaches reserved for naturists, and others that are so little known that they have areas where naturism is tolerated. 

The most pristine beaches are on the Costa Vicentina, in contrast to the central area, between Lagos and Faro, where you will find cosmopolitan beaches, as a result of the higher number of hotels and many high quality resorts. The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa natural park is a quiet reserve, an area of calm waters dotted with islands, water channels and lagoons, which marks the transition to the east, where the sea is warmer and more serene and the sand swathes are very extensive.

Almost all the beaches have restaurants and bars in which to relax and enjoy a refreshing drink when the sun is bearing down, taste the freshest fish in the region or sit to enjoy the sunset, with the sun dipping into the sea. The perfect finish to a day well-spent.


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