Portugal´s Algarve - the region

The Algarve, from the Arabic word (al gharb) meaning "the west" is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal and it's one of Europe's favourite holiday destinations well known for glorious year round sunshine (the maximum temperatures in the Algarve fluctuate between 15 °C in winter and 31 °C in summer, with the temperature never usually falling below zero in the winter months) and excellent sandy beaches. It has an area of 5,412 square kilometres with approximately 426,386 permanent inhabitants, and incorporates 16 municipalities.

The Algarve is hilly, but traversed with rich valleys. Its highest point is Fóia, 902 metres (2,959 ft), in the mountain range of Monchique.

The Algarve has several cities, towns and villages. The region's capital is the city of Faro where both the region's international airport (Faro/Algarve Airport) [FAO] and public university (the University of the Algarve) are located.

Other cities are Albufeira, Lagoa, Lagos, Loulé, Olhão, Portimão, Quarteira, Silves, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António.

It also includes some islands and islets. The region is also the home of the Ria Formosa lagoon, a nature reserve of over 170 square kilometres and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds.

The length of the south-facing coastline is approximately 155 kilometres. Beyond the westernmost point of Cape St. Vincent it stretches a further 50 kilometres to the north. The coastline is notable for picturesque limestone caves and grottoes, particularly around Lagos, which are accessible by powerboat. There are many other beautiful and famous summer places such as Albufeira, Vilamoura, Praia da Rocha, Lagos, Armação de Pêra, Alvor, Monte Gordo, Tavira, and Sagres.

There are leisure activities to suite everybody here in the Algarve, we have tried to give information about a variety of these on our Leisure Acivities page, but obviously it is very difficult to cover everything here.