This comparison table has holidays from the following holiday companies:
First Choice, Kuoni and Thomson Holidays.
Prices range from £261 to £2592, and departure dates months are May 2013, July 2013, August 2013, September 2013, October 2013, November 2013, May 2014. Prices are updated frequently from data supplied by the tour operators and are subject to change and availability - confirm with the tour operator before you book. Last updated: 07:36 23/May/2013.
In a nutshell
When to visit
Good for ...
Not great for ...
Compare dates and prices
The Algarve In a Nutshell
The Algarve area of Portugal encompasses the southern-most area of the country, on the Atlantic coastline. Incredibly popular with British holidaymakers, the Algarve is all about the beaches. There are in fact, 200km of sandy beach coastline to explore, offering over 100 beaches from wide family-friendly beaches with watersports, to small hidden bays in between the rocky headlands.
Most holiday itineraries involve a day on the beach, perhaps spiced up with trying some watersports, then rounded off with a wander into town for dinner, drinks and maybe even a bit of dancing.
Whether you want to laze in the sun and then party at night, you’re looking for a safe and sunny destination for a family holiday or you just fancy pottering around at your own pace, the Algarve is a very pleasing destination that’s easy to get to from the UK and offers a warm and friendly welcome.
The main language in the Algarve is Portugese, but most people in tourist areas speak English. The currency is the Euro and the Algarve is on the same time line as the UK. Being part of the EU, UK nationals do not need a visa to visit or even live in the Algarve.
Getting To The Algarve
Faro International Airport (IATA code FAO) is a very busy place bringing in holidaymakers in their thousands from all corners of Europe, especially the UK.
The airport is situated 2.6km west of Faro, the capital of the Algarve region. A whole plethora of airlines fly into Faro, from flag carriers British Airways and Air Lingus, scheduled airlines such as British Midlands and BMIBaby, Primera Air and Palmair, to the low cost companies such as Jet2, easyJet and Ryanair, as well as charter flights from the likes of Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Fly.
As the vast majority of visitors arrive at Faro airport as part of a package holiday, your onward transfer to your accommodation will be laid on for you.
If you arrive independently, it is a good idea to get a hire car, especially if you want to explore the various beaches, towns and villages. Otherwise, taxis and buses will take you to the main train and bus station in Faro, from where you can travel onwards to your resort.
The flight time from the London area to Faro is around two hours and 40 minutes, whilst from airports such as Manchester it is more like three hours.
Your Holiday To The Algarve
The blue, blue sea, yellow sandy beaches and rather stunning light is what initially attracts tourists to the Algarve. The Atlantic waters are unpolluted in the Algarve and offer a very safe environment to swim and enjoy the beach.
If you feel like making the effort to drag yourself away from your sea view sun lounger by the pool, you can venture inland a little to explore. The Algarve countryside is littered with sleepy towns and Moorish villages all begging to be explored.
Lagos has a beautiful old town and port to wander around. If visiting forts and castles is your thing you won’t be disappointed in the Algarve – there are loads of them, including the 12th century castle in Loule and the red stone castle which dominates the town of Silves.
If you like walking, you’ll find there are over 30 well-marked hiking trails, passing through the Rio Formosa Lagoon nature reserve which is home to hundreds of species of birds and the Monchique mountains, offering impressive vistas of the coastline from the shade of the pine forests.
For sporty types there are around 30 world class golf courses to choose from, many in the deluxe resort areas of Vilamoura and Vilalara, also home to two very large and well-equipped luxury spa centres – ideal of you want to splurge on some beauty treatments.
There are also various opportunities to go horse riding and play tennis. Back closer to the beach, there are loads of watersports such as jetskiing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing and snorkelling.
The Algarve: Staying There
The Algarve has a whole host of different accommodation options and resorts to suit different tastes and budgets.
The main resort of Albufeira boasts seven beaches and is the most ‘happening’ destination with a sun, sea and partying atmosphere. Albufeira is closely followed in the party animal stakes by Praia de Rocha.
If you are looking for a family-orientated holiday try the quieter areas such as Carvoeiro.
Anyone looking for out and out luxury will want to head towards the likes of Vilamoura and Vale de Labo, both renowned for excellent hotels, golf courses and spa facilities.
In terms of accommodation, the main resorts of Praia de Rocha and Albufeira are more highrise, purpose-built style resorts, but move a little further away from these areas and you’ll find low rise apartments residences, family-run hotels and guesthouses.
Many private villas are nestled in and amongst the rocky headlands and further inland towards the Monchique mountains, offering spectacular views and luxuries such as private pools.
All in all, there is bound to be accommodation to suit every taste and budget in the Algarve, as it is Portugal’s main tourist area.
Shopping is always a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours in the Algarve. One particular local speciality is the Algarve pottery, which is chunky and brightly coloured. Other good buys include leather goods and even knitwear.
One town that specialises in handicrafts and locally produced goodies is Loule, where there are loads of workshops you can visit and buy from, especially along the rua da Barbacca. More unusual things to buy include copperware and candles.
There are also lots of touristy shops and boutiques in Lagos, especially around the old town and the port.
The Algarve Food & Eating Mini-Guide
Food, glorious food! The food in the Algarve is plentiful and lush, with simple recipes using fresh local produce.
The classic dishes you’ll find in the Algarve are grilled sardines and piri piri chicken. You may also see meals such as ‘cataplana’ which is a fish stew made in a big, domed metal dish.
The Algarvian version of the Spanish dish paella is called ‘arroz de marisco’, whilst the fish soup dish is called ‘caldeirada’.
Desserts are a treat too, with super sweet goodies such as ‘arroz doce’ which is a lemon and cinnamon rice pudding.
As for drinks, the Algarve has many excellent local wines, especially those from the Lagoa and Lagos areas. For a lighter sparkling wine, try Vinho Verde with a meal.
When To Visit The Algarve
The Algarve enjoys a mild climate year round and it is very rare that temperatures drop below freezing, even in the middle of winter.
On average daytime temperatures are around 15 degrees in winter and up to 31 degrees in the summer months. Unsurprisingly it’s these summer months that are busiest in the Algarve with holidaymakers enjoying the school holidays.
The Algarve Is Good For ...
- Safe, sandy beaches and lots of them
- A gentle combination of exploring local towns and villages and lazing on the beach
- Sunshine and little bit of partying when you head to Albufeira and Praia de Rocha
The Algarve Isn't Great For ...
- Those who don’t want to stay in a purpose-built resort (especially Albufeira)
- Those who want to be far from the crowds
The Algarve in Portugal is an excellent choice for anyone looking for brilliant beaches, blue seas, a large choice of accommodation all with a delightful mountain backdrop, great food and a friendly welcome too.