Discover the Algarve region in Portugal
The Algarve is the southernmost province of Portugal. The mountain range of Monchique and Caldeirao form the natural border to the next province Alentejo.
Algarve takes its name from the Arabic word "Al Gharb", meaning west, for this was in fact the most westerly region conquered by the Arabs in the Iberian Peninsula. Although today tourism is the main industry, agriculture is still important in the Algarve. You will see large fruit plantations (mainly oranges and lemons), thousands of almond trees with the wonderful flowering period in January/February, fig trees, carob trees and cork trees; even some small rice paddies exist. The region is like a garden: flowers grow alongside crops and beneath trees so one can find geraniums, oleander, hibiscus, camelias (Monchique), Jacaranda (wonderful blue flowers in May), roses and numerous more. Especially in spring time countless little wild flowers cover the floor, which you can discover on your walks alongside the cliffs and in the countryside. Following please find some information of places in the Algarve worth to visit. We start in the East and end where Europe ends.
VILA REAL DE SANTO ANTONIO
Here the river Guadiana forms the natural border to Spain. The town was completely destroyed by a huge tidal wave after the big earthquake of 1755, but then rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal.
Is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt towns in the Algarve with almost no modern architecture. A river flows through the centre of the town crossed by an arched Roman bridge. There are no less than 32 churches.
This former fishing village is famed for its white washed, flat topped houses with tiled roofs and outside staircases in North African style. Here you will find the largest variety of filigreed chimneys.
Is the capital of the province with a large airport. Rich in historic sights with an old town centre, an excellent pedestrian shopping area and a small boat harbour.
Once the Moorish capital of the Algarve, Silves is now a quiet country town with remains of the citadel. From the old walls you have a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding landscape with its orange plantations and cork factories.
This major fishing port at the mouth of the river Arade is the second largest town in the Algarve. A popular harbour for cruise ships. There are lots of shopping possibilities and the daily market (mercado municipal) offers a large variety of fresh vegetables and fish.
A mountain range north from Portimao with small villages, Caldas de Monchique and Monchique, both worth visiting. Caldas is a very charming, ancient Spa and you will enjoy a wonderful atmosphere with fresh air and healthy waters. A couple of kilometres further up you will find the main village, Monchique, a real hillside retreat. Going a further 5 km up you are on the top of the mountain range, at Foia (900 m/300 feet above sea level).
With good weather conditions you will have a fabulous view. In any case you should plan lunch or dinner in one of the many restaurants on the way down from Foia. We suggest the following menu: special Monchique ham, chicken Piri-Piri and home made almond sweets (doces regionais).
On your way to the most south-westerly point of Europe, Cape St. Vincent, you should pay a visit to Lagos and Sagres. From Lagos Prince Henry the Navigator sent out his ships and the golden age of Portuguese discoveries in the 15th Century began. We recommend you leave your car in the parking sites on the shore and discover the town by walking through the narrow streets. The golden chapel of Santo Antonio and the small museum next to it is very interesting, even for children.
The next stop should be Sagres with the remains of the fortress. A walk around the peninsula lasts about 35 minutes, however you will be rewarded by breathtaking coastal views.
Finally you will get to Cabo Sao Vicente´, in the 15th century the end of the world! Around 200 ships pass the cape daily which is the main route between the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic. The very potential lighthouse is not only important for navigaton but also for air traffic. If you are lucky the lighthouse is open for visitors.