The Algarve is simply unique. The green hills, sparkling blue seas and wildflower aromas stay with you long after you leave. Although there is always the stunning Algarve coastline with hundreds of beautiful golden beaches to explore, strolling the narrow streets and alleys is the best way of getting to know the region a little better. The towns of Faro, Sagres, Lagos, Loule and Tavira offer travellers a chance to get off the beaten track and see that, throughout the year, the Algarve has so much more to offer.
Explore the Unexplored
Travelling here feels like passing through time, with villages and towns unchanging over the centuries. The Algarve’s many museums, brightly-coloured chimneys and architecture all reveal the fascinating history that make this such a special destination. The Algarve inherited an extremely rich and diversified culture from the Romans, the Phoenicians and the Moors, to name but a few, so for those looking for things to do beyond an Algarve sun and beach holiday, it is easy to enrich the experience with Moorish castles, Roman bridges and ancient fortresses.
Lagos and the Ages of Discoveries
One of the Algarve’s most popular historic points of interest Lagos. A well-established holiday favourite, its sense of history really helps it stand out from other beach destinations. The iconic cliffs of Ponta da Piedade are more than just poster children for the Algarve, they are reminders of the town’s long history as the centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Climbing 182 steps to reach the summit, we are greeted by a (literally!) breath-taking panorama of the Atlantic Ocean, historic Lagos bay and the rugged mountains of Monchique. From here, daring voyages to the farthest flung parts of the world would have set sail into the unknown.
A Place in History
History buffs can immerse themselves even further by visiting a 17th century marine fortress known as Forte Bandeira. The city’s last line of defence, it shielded the harbour entrance from enemy fleets and played a vital role in securing the Algarve from invaders. Moving into the city, a 16th century city wall surrounds the central plaza, from here King Sebastião addressed his troops before the disastrous Moroccan campaign of 1578. The adventurous young king was defeated at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir and Portugal soon conquered by the large Arabian army, but relics of these forgotten times still remain in the squares and gardens around Lagos.
The Algarvians themselves are incredible passionate about their heritage, and welcome visitors to a rich cultural calendar of events from medieval festivals that re-enact the famous battles of the Reconquista to vibrant carnivals that explode in celebrations of the region’s past glories…and invited to explore history with such genuine pride and warmth, who could fail to become enthralled by the enchanting story of their homelands.