The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal. It has an area of 4,997 square kilometres (1,929 sq mi) with 451,006 permanent inhabitants, and incorporates 16 municipalities. The region has as its administrative centre the city of Faro, where both the region’s international airport (FAO) and public university (the University of the Algarve) are located. Tourism and related activities are extensive and make up the bulk of the Algarve’s summer economy. Production of food, which includes fish and other seafood, fruit, oranges, carob beans, figs and almonds, is also economically important in the region. The Algarve is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal, and one of the most popular in Europe. Its population triples to nearly 1.5 million people in the peak holiday season thanks to seasonal residents, and receives an average of 7 million foreign tourists each year. In total, including national visitors, almost 10 million people visit the Algarve annually.
The Algarve is currently the third richest region in Portugal, after Lisbon and Madeira, with a GDP per capita 86% of the European Union average.
Lagos is the western Algarve’s liveliest city next to Portimão. Also, it is full of historical interest with its origins dating far back as 2000 years BC when it was mown as Lacobriga. Lagos has always had a seafaring connection and in the XV century many of the expedition during the Descobrimentos took out from its shores by Henry, the Navigator. His vision and decision to set sail for uncharted waters, helped place Portugal on the world map, and the city is clearly very proud of that great heritage.
The city center is sculpted with traditional architecture and colors from the region. Beaches vary in shape and style from long sandy beaches to almost private ones hidden by enormous cliffs. It’s here that a stunning run of cliffs, gorgeous rock formations, caves and grottoes among deep blue waters provide the backdrop to some of the most scenic beaches in the algarve. For example, Ponta da Piedade is a beautiful spot where you can take boat tours to visit the natural cave.
Sited on both sides of the broad river Gilão, Tavira is located in the eastern Algarve region. The city is celebrated for its historical legacy shaped by the Romans and later by the Moors, consisting of a marvelous collection of elegant and hipped-roof palaces and mansions and a bewildering assortment of churches, chapels and convents.
Tavira is also known for the way it has handle the tourism influence and remaining true to its traditions and original character. This stretch of river front along the Gilão River is a great place to sit at one of the cafes and enjoy the very picturesque setting. The Roman bridge, Ponte Romana, spans the river with low arches and creates gentle reflections on the water and at low tide you can see the fishermen searching for clams in the shallows. The gardens (Jardim do Coreto) near the bridge offer a pleasant shady place to sit and, more often than not, somewhere for the older men to sit and chat and while away the day with a game or two of dominoes!
Colorful boats line in Quatro Águas peer and it’s here you can catch a ferry to nearby Ilha de Tavira, one of Algarve’s most popular beach destinations and a must-visit in our opinion. The island belongs to the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve, also popular for birds and flamingos, having basic support facilities like restaurants and toilets and is supervised during the bathing season, often holding blue flag for its environmental quality. A peaceful, relaxed, picturesque view worthy every penny.
Lying on the coast overlooking the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve, Faro is the capital of the Algarve region and its international airport is the gateway for most of the tourist arriving in southern Portugal. The city is a modern industrial manufacturing hub, yet it’s the Old Town most tourists look for. The Cidade Velha (Old Town in Portuguese) is set on Roman and Moorish foundations, also extremely damaged by the 1755 earthquake, so what you might see is mostly built from the XVIII to the XIX centuries. The Cathedral square is the jewel of the district and the bell tower, a favored nesting spot for storks, offers good views over the city’s dusty red rooftops, outlying island and the ocean. Lying opposite in the same square is the Paço Episcopal, the bishop’s palace. Just a quick away you’ll find the absorbing Archeological Museum whose convent setting only adds to its allure, along the way take a moment to sit in on one of the cafés, relax and enjoy the scene go by.