Southern coast of Portugal
The Algarve has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, which means that it’s a pretty accommodating place all year round with highs of 25 °C in the winter, and 48 °C in the summer. The temperature rarely falls below zero in the winter, and it barely ever rains there in the summer.
The Algarve consists of 5402 square kilometers of rolling hills, small mountains, lush valleys, and some of the finest beaches in Europe. It stretches from the Targus Valley in the north to the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. In addition to its beaches, its known for its islands, limestone caves, and 170 square kilometer Ria Formosa Lagoon nature preserve.
The Algarve is a large region containing several cities, including: Faro, Albufeira, Lagoa, Lagos, Loulé, Olhão,Portimão, Quarteira, Silves, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António.
The Algarve is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and everybody knows it. The population of the area triples in the summer when it’s swarmed by 7 million foreign tourists, the majority of whom come from Britain, Ireland, Germany, and Holland. The upside of this is that English is common, making it easy for us English speakers to get around.
The geographic diversity and natural beauty of the Algarve make it an exceptional area for outdoor activities. Algarve beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. For the surfers there are lots of beach (and a few point) breaks along the West and South coast that average 4-6 foot waves. Big wave lovers don’t despair. In the winter it can get up to 15 feet on a regular basis, and even up to 25 feet at Carrapateira once in a while.
April through September a northerly wind blows up through the Sera de Monchique making the Alvor Estuary (near Lagos) a brilliant spot for kitesurfing. There is rock climbing of all difficulty levels all around the Algarve, especially along the coast and at Rocha da Pena. The diving here is among the best in the country, especially the caves at Sagres, and the snorkeling at Ponta da Piedade is said to be magical. The hilly terrain and oceanside cliffs here make for mountain bike trails that are breathtaking for both their beauty and their beastliness.
- Surfing (3 – 25 foot waves depending on location and conditions)
- Kitesurfing (winds up to 25 knots)
- Sea kayaking
- Dolphin and whale watching
- Scuba diving
- Climbing (novice – extreme)
- Mountain Biking (novice – extreme)
On a Budget?
- Budget rooms start around $20 USD per person for a dorm. Private rooms will run a bit more. You can find more information about hostels in Portugal here. In Faro the cheaper places are the Low Cost Inn and the Faro Youth Hostel.
- Camping starts around $6 USD per person (but they may charge for your tent or car as well).
- Wine starts at about $1.50 USD per bottle in supermarkets. Awesome!
- Cheap meals can be found for around $7-8 USD (but, don’t forget, the supermarket is always an option).
I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.
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