| 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
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.
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
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
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.