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Last updated : Nov 2009
Algarve
 Algarve - TravelPuppy.com
Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve, looks out onto the Atlantic on two sides. It is one of Europe’s favourite package destinations on account of its attractively rocky coastline and wonderful sandy beaches. East of the capital, Faro, the beaches are interspersed with mud flats and sandbanks and the resorts are fewer in number and relatively low key. Watersports are one of the main attractions the Algarve is also home to numerous world-class golf courses.

Faro

The capital of the Algarve, Faro was devastated by the earthquake of 1755, but part of the old town has survived. Sights include the Cathedral (Sé), rebuilt in the 18th century, an Archaeological Museum and the Carmo Church and ossuary.

Lagos

A former centre of the slave trade, Lagos was where Henry the Navigator’s mariners set sail for West Africa on their voyages of discovery. The main sight is a 17th-century fort (now a museum), offering superb views of the town’s natural harbour.

Elsewhere

Albufeira is a busy market town and well-established resort. Armação de Pêra is a fishing village with one of the biggest beaches on the Algarve. Carvoeiro is an old fishing village with a picturesque harbour.

Portimão is one of the largest towns and fishing ports in the Algarve, known for its furniture and wickerwork. Its beach resort is Praia da Rocha. Vilamoura is a modern purpose-built resort with marina and golf courses. Sagres is noted for lobster fishing and the village contains the remains of a 15th-century fort and there are beaches nearby.

Cape St Vincent is the most southwesterly point of mainland Europe. Monte Gordo is a modern tourist resort with a casino, nightclubs, restaurants and a 20km (12 mile) long beach backed by pine forest. Tavira is one of the most attractive market towns in the Algarve with cobbled streets, several fine churches and a ruined castle. There are beaches at Cabanas and Pedras da Rainha.

Inland, Monchique is set high in the mountains and has a spa. Silves is an old walled city with a 12th-century cathedral. Loulé is a market town famous for crafts such as leather and copper. The River Guadiana forms a natural boundary between Portugal and Spain. There are commanding hilltop views from the ruined fortresses at Castro Marim, nearby are the saltpans of the same name, now a nature reserve open for guided tours.