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Algarve, southern Portugal
Algarve is a tourist region in the south of Portugal, a safe country with stable economic growth and good quality of life, located in the extreme southwest of Europe, known for its beaches, golf, tradition and asymmetry between fishing villages and agricultural, green landscapes, due to the friendliness of the people, and the excellence of the temperate Mediterranean climate, of the Köppen-Geisen CSA type, which makes it possible to live the 4 seasons outdoors, with a quality of life above the European average, with a average three hundred sunny days per year:
- In Spring: between March and May temperatures fluctuate between 18ºC and 30º C;
- In Summer: between June and September temperatures fluctuate between 20ºC and 35º C;
- In Autumn: temperatures vary between 20ºC and 25ºC. It is the ideal time for golfing;
- and Winter: between November and February temperatures fluctuate between 9º and 16º C;
- The sea temperature during winter varies between 15º C and 18º C; and in summer it varies between 27ºC and 20ºC.
In addition to the ideal conditions for living outdoors, the Algarve has a good offer of theaters, cinemas, shopping malls, sports clubs, marinas, and other attractions, walking, cycling, and enjoying nature are the main leisure activities that we can enjoy. in the Algarve all year round, on properly identified nature trails, beaches with several km of sand, or in towns and villages with characteristics as unique as we only find in the Algarve.
The 16 Municipalities, and the 59 parishes of the Algarve
The Algarve is administratively organized into 16 municipalities and 59 parishes, namely:
1. Loulé, with approximately 71 thousand inhabitants, organized in nine parishes: Almancil; Alte; Plum; Boliqueime; Quarteira; Salir; São Clemente; San Sebastian; Querença / Tôr / Benafim.
2. Albufeira, with approximately 32 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Albufeira and Olhos de Água; Ferreiras; Guide; Paderne.
3. Portimão, with approximately 40 thousand inhabitants, organized in three parishes: Portimão; Alvor; Mexilhoeira Grande.
4. Lagos, with approximately 19 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Luz; Odiáxere; Bensafim and Barão de São João; São Gonçalo de Lagos.
5. Olhão, with approximately 46 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Quelfes; Olhão; Pechão; Fuzeta-Moncarapacho.
6. Lagoa, with approximately 23 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Estômbar and Parchal; Ferragudo; Lagoa and Carvoeiro; Porches.
7. Faro, with approximately 65 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Faro; Montenegro; Santa Bárbara de Nexe; Conceição and Estoi.
8. Tavira, with approximately 27 thousand inhabitants, organized in six parishes: Tavira (Santa Maria and Santiago); Luz de Tavira and Santo Estêvão; Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo; Santa Luzia; Conceição and Cabanas de Tavira; Cachopo.
9. Silves, with approximately 38 thousand inhabitants, organized in six parishes: Armação de Pêra; São Bartolomeu de Messines; São Marcos da Serra; Silves; Alcantarilha and Pêra; Algoz and Tunes.
10. Vila Real de Santo António, with approximately 20 thousand inhabitants, organized in three parishes: Monte Gordo; Vila Nova de Cacela; Vila Real de Santo António.
11. Castro Marim, with approximately 7 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Altura; Azinhal; Castro Marim; Odeleite.
12. Alcoutim, with approximately 3 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Alcoutim and Ferreiro; Regions; Martim Longo; Cowboys.
13. São Brás de Alportel, with approximately 11 thousand inhabitants, organized in the parish of São Brás de Alportel
14. Monchique, with approximately 6 thousand inhabitants, organized in three parishes: Alferce; Marmelete; Monchique.
15. Aljezur, with approximately 6 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Aljezur; Bordeira; Odeceixe; Rogil.
16. Vila do Bispo, with approximately 6 thousand inhabitants, organized in four parishes: Barão de São Miguel; Budens; Sagres; Vila do Bispo and Raposeira.
Travel the Algarve by car
A22 Motorway / Via do Infante
Motorway A22 / Via do Infante, is approximately 133 km long and has 18 access nodes, crossing the Algarve from the International Bridge of Guadiana to Lagos / Bensafrim. The A22 allows the road connection to important places in the Algarve, namely to Faro International Airport and to the Guadiana River International Bridge Via do Infante was built over several decades, with the following dates being highlighted:
- August 1991: inauguration of the International Bridge of the Guadiana
- December 1992: inauguration of the first section between Faro and Vila Real de Santo António with 75 km
- April 2003: inauguration of the last section between Lagos and Lagoa with 37.8 km
National Road EN125
The national road 125 connects the entire coast of the Algarve between Vila Real de Santo António and Vila do Bispo over 158 km and takes approximately two and a half hours to be covered by car. It is the oldest road and one of the most used in the Algarve.
Access to the Algarve
The Algarve has a good access network, with highways that allow you to cross the Algarve from end to end, from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António, travel by car between Algarve – Lisbon in approximately 2h30m and travel between Algarve – Seville (Spain) in approximately 2h10m. We can travel to the Algarve by air, by land, by sea. The Algarve is connected to Europe via Faro airport, with daily flights to European capitals, by land with motorways throughout Portugal to Spain, by sea with 4 marinas with capacity for vessels of all sizes, including the capacity to receive transatlantic cruises in Portimão. Access by train is possible throughout the country of Portugal, with travel times by Alfa train of 2h56m Algarve Lisbon, with connection to Spain via Lisbon-Madrid.
Air access to the Algarve
Faro International Airport
The Faro International Airport is located four kilometers from the city of Faro, opened in 1965, Faro International Airport has approximately 42 thousand air movements per year, and more than 6 million people annually. It is the gateway to the region with 36 golf courses, and with the most hours of sunshine in Portugal. From Faro we can fly in Portugal to Lisbon, Porto, Ponta Delgada in the Azores and Funchal on the island of Madeira. Outside Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland make up more than 80% of flights arriving at Faro International Airport, with air connections between:
- United Kingdom: it constitutes 45% of the flights from Faro airport, with emphasis on air connections to London, with approximately 1.5 million people per year, and Manchester, which handles approximately 400 thousand people per year. The main air connections between Faro and the United Kingdom are: Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Doncaster Sheffield, Exeter, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, London (City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Southend and Stansted), Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Southampton in England; Edinburgh, Glasgow (International and Prestwick) in Scotland ; Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland ; and Cardiff in Wales **
- Germany: it is the second country with the most flights to Faro International Airport, with air connections between Berlin (Schoenefeld and Tegel); Bremen; Cologne Bonn; Düsseldorf (International and Weeze); Frankfurt (International and Hahn); Hamburg; Hanover; Memmingen; Munich; Nuremberg; Stuttgart.
- Netherlands: with approximately 500 thousand tourists per year between Faro International Airport and the air connections to Amsterdam (Schipol); Eindhoven; Groningen; and Rotterdam.
- Republic of Ireland: with approximately 300,000 Irish per year between Faro International Airport and Cork air links; Dublin; Kerry County; Knock; and Shannon.
- For the rest of Europe, there are air connections between Faro International Airport to: Vienna, Austria; Brussels (Charleroi and National Zavetem) in Belgium; Copenhagen in Denmark; Madrid (Barajas) in Spain; Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille (Provence), Nantes, Paris (Beauvais-Tille, Charles de Gaulle and Orly) and Toulouse in France; Luxembourg City in Luxembourg; Oslo (Gardermoen) in Norway; Prague, in the Czech Republic; Stockholm (Arlanda) in Sweden; Basel, Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland; and outside Europe, Toronto (Pearson) in Canada.
Traveling by train to the Algarve
The Algarve Railway Line was opened in 1976 with the construction of the section between Lagos and Vila Real de Santo António. Between 1976 and 1991, only interregional trains circulated. From this year on, intercity trains emerged, with the first connection between Barreiro, on the south bank of Lisbon and Lagos. Currently with the Alfa-Pendular trains, the journey between Faro and Lisbon takes less than three hours. The Algarve Railway Line, approximately 140 km long, connects to the regions of Alentejo, Lisbon, Center of Portugal and Porto, and runs practically throughout the Algarve, with a connection between: Lagos Station; Portimão; from Estômbar; from Silves; Alcantarilha; of Algoz; Tunis; Messines-Alte; São Marcos da Serra; from Pereiras; Santa Clara-Savoy; Albufeira; Boliqueime; from Loulé; from Faro; from Olhão; Fuseta; from Tavira; Cacela; and Vila Real de Santo António.
The Algarve is visited by sea by sailors and cruises from all over the world. It is one of the destinations of arrival for sailors who cross the Atlantic Ocean from the American continent, the Caribbean, northern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea.
- Vilamoura Marina: located in Vilamoura, it is the first marina in Portugal, opened in 1974. The Vilamoura marina has received several awards, namely the Blue Flag of Europe, Best Marina in Portugal awarded by Publituris Portugal Trade Awards and the International Marina of Distinction 2015-2017. Vilamoura’s marina is approximately 160 miles from Lisbon, 140 miles from Gibraltar and 190 miles from Puerto Banus. It has 825 moorings for vessels up to 60 meters in length and 4 meters of draft. The Vilamoura marina is the training ground for international racing. The services of the Vilamoura marina are: Reception pier; Maritime-tourist pier; 825 moorings; fuel docks; showers; laundry; shipyard; velaria; supply of water and energy; marine service; 24 hour security; Crane service; yacht club, with CIMAV, the Vilamoura sailing club; Commercial area; and zone of hotels.
- Marina de Albufeira: located west of the city center of Albufeira, it opened in 2004 and received several awards, namely Five Golden Anchors, awarded by The Yacht Harbor Association; Second Best Marina of 2015, and Blue Flag of Europe, the only marina in Portugal to receive this distinction for the tenth consecutive year. The Albufeira marina has 475 mooring places for vessels up to 32 meters in length and 4.5 meters of draft. The marina has the following infrastructures and services available: fuel docks; bicycle path; showers; laundry; 70 ton travel lift; underground car park for approximately 1100 vehicles; area of restaurants and bars; and shopping area.
Marina de Lagos
- Marina de Lagos: located on the east bank of the Bensafrin stream, close to the historic center of the city of Lagos, it opened in 1994, having received several awards, namely: Euromarina Anchor Award, Blue Flag of Europe, Five Gold Anchors from the Gold Anchor Award, and Five Star Blue Star Marina. The Lagos marina has 462 moorings for vessels up to 30 meters in length and 3 meters of draft. The Lagos marina has several services and infrastructures, namely: 462 moorings; fuel docks; showers and toilets; laundry; Marina Shopping Center.
- Marina de Portimão: it is a reference for yachts up to 50 meters in length, with 620 moorings for vessels up to 50 meters in length and 4.2 meters in draft. Portimão’s marina holds several awards, including the Global Anchor Awards given by The Yacht Harbor Association, the Jack Nichol Award and the Blue Flag of Europe award. The services and infrastructures of the Portimão marina are: fuel docks; shopping area; Portimão Marina Shipyard Center; Dry parking; Crane; Tivoli Marina Portimão Hotel; laundry; 24 hour security; spas.
Recreational Port of Olhão
- Porto de Recreio de Olhão: located in the city of Olhão, in the heart of Ria Formosa, it has a capacity of 320 boats up to 15 meters in length and 2.5 meters of draft. The recreational port of Olhão includes the following services and infrastructure: fuel docks; Orientation lights; Supply of water and energy.
Recreational Port of Tavira
- Port of Recreio de Tavira: port of recreation located in Tavira, with capacity for 70 moorings for small boats. The recreational port of Tavira includes the following services and infrastructure: Water and energy supply; hull washing; water access ramp.
Recreational Port of Guadiana
- Porto do Recreio do Guadiana: located in Vila Real de Santo António, with capacity for 360 boats up to 20 meters in length and 3 meters of draft. The Guadiana recreational port includes the following services and infrastructures: Sailing School of the Guadiana Naval Association: school created with the objective of promoting the sport of sailing in the Guadiana and Monte Gordo regions; Snack bar Restaurants; fuel filling station; water and energy supply; water access ramp; crane up to 5 tons; video surveillance system; 24 hour security; changing rooms and toilets.
The History of the Algarve
The Algarve has been populated since the year 1000 BC by various peoples, namely Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Suebeans, Visigoths and Arabs. The period of Muslim occupation was the most lasting and of great importance for the Algarve, for five centuries (715-1249), reaching a high cultural and economic status, mainly in SIlves, capital of the al-Gharb al-Andalus of the time. The Muslim influence is still visible today in many aspects of the daily life of al Garb (in Arabic it means the west), namely in the Algarve chimneys, in the formation of some words (almost all Portuguese words that start with al are of Arabic origin), windmills, in the Portuguese caravel, nautical instruments and some agricultural techniques.
The Algarve was conquered on March 29, 1249 by the Portuguese king D Afonso III, however it was during the time of the Portuguese discoveries that the Algarve had a great economic growth, namely in the towns of Sagres and Lagos, which reached a high importance due to the establishment of residence of Infante D Henrique, the great driver of the Discoveries.
The Algarve region experienced a time of impoverishment between the 17th and 20th centuries, with some events being highlighted, namely: the 1755 earthquake: the Algarve was deeply affected by the Lisbon Earthquake; the foundation of Vila Real de Santo António in 1774 by the Marquis of Pombal; the creation of the Companhia Geral das Reais Pescarias do Reino do Algarve in 1773; the Olhão revolt: Olhanenses revolt against the French Invasions on April 14, 1808; the creation of maritime steam transport between Vila Real de Santo António and Lisbon on June 2, 1853; and the connection of the Faro-Barreiro train line on February 21, 1889.
Since the 1970s, the Algarve has grown with a focus on the tourism sector to promote economic growth. The Algarve is currently the main tourist region in Portugal, offering quality in several tourist niches, namely: golf; beaches; resorts; marinas and nautics; bird watching; wine; gastranomy; equestrianism.
Currently, the Algarve is a tourist destination in strong growth, with visitors from all over the world looking for it as a permanent residence destination for the quality of life, together with the climate and strong appreciation for investment.
Geography of the Algarve
The Algarve borders the north with Alentejo, the west and south with the Atlantic Ocean and the east with Spain, separated by the Guadiana River. It has approximately 451 thousand inhabitants in a geographical area of 5412 km2, an extension of 135 km in length and a maximum width of 40 km. With totally different characteristics throughout its territory, the Algarve is divided into:
- Barlavento Algarvio: is the western part of the Algarve, includes the municipalities of Albufeira, Aljezur, Lagoa, Lagos, Monchique, Portimão, Silves and Vila do Bispo. The main natural highlights are the sandy beaches with cliffs, such as Carvoeiro beach, the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina, Benagil cave, the fishing villages;
- Sotavento Algarvio: the eastern part of the Algarve, with emphasis on the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a natural park that extends from Quinta do Lago to Cacela Velha, between the coastal parishes and the ocean, including the municipalities from Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Faro, Loulé, Olhão, São Brás de Alportel, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António. The big ones;
- Central Algarve: is the meeting area between the Barlavento and the Eastern Algarve, where the Golden Triangle area is located, a triangulation between the three tourist resorts Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura, the resorts most in demand by foreign investors in the Algarve, responsible for the great growth of international tourists since the 1970s. Around the Golden Triangle of the Algarve, a service economy closely related to luxury investments, 10 golf courses, 5 star hotels, Michelin star restaurants, architecture, engineering, interior architecture, landscaping, real estate agencies, luxury supermarkets (Apolónia). The existence of the Golden Triangle in the municipality of Loulé led all the surrounding parishes to take advantage of this growth, creating jobs related to tourism and service. Currently the Quinta do Lago resort is responsible for real estate transactions, in a single property, which easily exceed 10 million euros, as well as the Vale do Lobo resort. Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo are resorts aimed exclusively at a large audience, while the Vilamoura resort offers a more family-friendly lifestyle, having grown up with a more varied market, with both Portuguese and international residents, and provides a style high quality of life, with a wider range of services for tourists and investors!
The Algarve coast is the most populated area in the region, with approximately 200 km. The coastline of the Algarve is divided into three territories: the Planalto Vicentino, located in the west of the Algarve with landscapes of fossil dune fields; Sagres Peninsul, known as the São Vicente promontory, is the place in the Algarve with nature in its purest and wildest state. The main highlights are the cliff beaches with strong waves that provide surfing, the Cabo de São Vicente, and the Fortress of Sagres, also known as Sagres Castle or Sagres Fort; south coast: a territory with limestone cliffs in the Barlavento, and extensive sandy beaches in the Sotavento.
Barrocal do Algarve
Barrocal do Algarve is the region located in the interior center of the Algarve, between the coast and the mountains, with an extension that begins in the Cape of São Vicente and extends to Castro Marim. It is the place where we find some of the typical products of the Algarve, namely almond, carob, olive and fig trees, with several points of environmental, geological, landscape and cultural interest such as the Pego do Inferno waterfall, Cerro da Cabeça, Cerro de São Miguel, Rocha da Pena, Fonte Benémola, Nave do Barão, Paderne Castle, Salir Castle.
serra do Algarve
Serra Algarvia is a region located in the north of the Algarve, on the border with Alentejo, and covers approximately 50% of the Algarve territory, characterized by mountainous reliefs, namely: the Serra de Monchique, designated by the Arabs by Munt Sàquir “sacred mountain ”, Located in the west of the Algarve, with the highest point in Fóia, with 902 meters of altitude; the Serra do Caldeirão, located in the center and eastern Algarve, has the highest point in Pelados, with 589 meters of altitude; the Serra de Monte Figo, covers the municipalities of Faro, Olhão, Loulé and São Brás de Alportel, has the highest point in Cerro de São Miguel, with 411 meters of altitude; and the Serra de Espinhaço de Cão, located in the west of the Algarve, has the highest point in the geodesic landmark of Poldra, with an altitude of 248 meters.
The rivers and streams of the Algarve
- Rio Guadiana: born in Campo Montiel in the lagoons of Ruidera, in Spain and flows into the mouth of the Guadiana, between the Spanish city of Ayamonte and the Portuguese city of Vila Real de Santo António. In the Algarve, the Guadiana River runs through the towns of Alcoutim, Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António. The Guadiana reservoirs located in the Algarve are Beliche and Odeleite; the main rivers of the Guadiana are: the river Seco river, Beliche river, Choças river, Odeleite river and Vascão river. The Guadiana has an approximate length of 829 km, with a hydrographic basin of 67 thousand km2;
- Rio Arade: nasce na Serra do Caldeirão e desagua em Portimão. O rio Arade atravessa as serras da Carapinha, das Mocas e do Malhão, e localidades de Silves, Parchal, Ferragudo e Portimão ao longo de uma extensão aproximada de 56 km. As principais ribeiras do rio Arade são: Almarjão, Barranco do Enxerim, Boina e Gavião;
- Rio Séqua: nasce na Serra do Caldeirão e muda de nome para rio Gilão quando atravessa a cidade de Tavira.
The dams of the Algarve
- Barragem do Arade: located in the municipality of Silves, approximately three km from Casa Queimada, it was inaugurated in 1955 with a hydrographic basin of 223.67 km2. It is a place of special interest for bird watching;
- Barragem do Funcho: is a dam located in the municipality of Silves, on the Arade River, with a hydrographic basin with approximately 200 km2. Very popular place for canoeing, windsurfing, cycling and hiking;
- Morgado de Arge Dam: opened in 2004, it is a dam located at Herdade do Morgado de Arge, in the municipality of Portimão, supplied by the Arade River. The reservoir of the Morgado de Arge dam is a place that is highly sought after by fishermen;
- Dam of Odiáxere: built in 1955 in the municipality of Lagos with a hydrographic basin of approximately 76 km2, the dam is supplied by the Odiáxere stream. Odiáxere dam is also called “Bravura dam”. Popular place for hiking, cycling and water sports, namely canoeing and windsurfing;
- Vale da Telha Dam: located near the Costa Vicentina Natural Park in the municipality of Aljezur, with a hydrographic basin of approximately 20 km2.
Quick facts about the Algarve
- Capital: Faro
- District: Faro
- Area: 5412 km2
- Population: approximately 451 thousand inhabitants
- Counties: 16
- Parishes: 59
- International Airport: Faro International Airport
2. Algarve Outlet Olhão;
3. Aqua Portimão;
4. MAR Shopping, Outlet, IKEA;
6. Quinta Shopping;
7. Tavira Gran-Plaza.
1. Vilamoura Tivoli Marinotel Congress Center;
2. Grande Real Santa Eulália Resort & Hotel Spa Congress Center;
3. Arade Congress Center.
Five Star Hotels
1. Grande Real Santa Eulália Resort and Hotel Spa;
2. Pestana Alvor Praia Beach & Golf Hotel;
3. Pestana Vila Sol Golf & Resort Hotel;
4. Pine Cliffs Hotel;
5. São Rafael Atlantic Hotel;
6. São Rafael Suite Hotel;
7. Real Marina Residence;
8. Real Marina Hotel & Spa;
9. Tivoli Victoria;
10. Tivoli Marina Vilamoura.
Hospitals in the Algarve
1. Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve – Hospital de Faro;
2. Lagos District Hospital / Barlavento Algarvio Hospital Center;
3. Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve – Hospital de Portimão.
Loulé Hospital (24Hours)
Grupo HPA SAUDE Hospital Particular do Algarve (24Horas)
Alvor; Gambelas, Faro; São Camilo Hospital, Portimão; Hospital São Gonçalo de Lagos.
Hospital Lusiadas Albufeira
Marinas and Recreational Ports
1. Vilamoura Marina;
2. Albufeira Marina;
3. Marina de Lagos;
4. Portimão Marina;
5. Recreational Port of Olhão;
6. Recreational Port of Guadiana.
Private Education Establishments
1. Colégio Santiago Internacional;
2. DAS – Escola Alemã do Algarve;
3. Escola Internacional São Lourenço;
4. FAUST – Instituto de Língua e Cultura;
5. International School of Algarve;
6. Penina College;
7. Vale Verde International School;
8. Vilamoura International School.
1. Amendoeira Golf Resort;
2. Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club;
3. Monte Santo Resort;
4. Ombria Resort;
5. Onyria Palmares Beach & Golf Resort;
6. Pestana Alvor Atlântico Beach Residences;
7. Pestana Golf & Resort Carvoeiro;
8. Pestana Palm Gardens Resort;
9. Pestana Porches Praia Beach & Golf Aparthotel;
10. Pestana Vale da Pinta;
11. Pine Cliffs Resort;
12. Quinta do Lago;
13. Vale do Lobo;
14. Vilamoura World;
15. Vilalara Thalassa Resort.