Travelling can help us know a little bit about a place. But to spontaneously know the places we visit is impossible or, at least, very difficult. One always has to seek information or read tourist guides or blogs like this one. Tourist pamphlets have the job to help visitors find the most touristic places in the area.
That is not our intention with this post.
Today we intend to share some information about the less visited part of the Algarve.
The Algarve is situated in the extreme South of Portugal, between mountains and sea. Is a spot of beauty to which nature and latitude granted the elements of a small paradise. On the South and West it is bathed by the Atlantic, in the East flows the river Guadiana, its natural border with Spain, and in the North is the rich mountain chain – the “Serra” region, which includes Caldeirão and Monchique, separating this province from the plains of Alentejo and protecting it from the North winds and favouring the Mediterranean influence.
Since the 60’s tourism has explored the image of Algarves’ wonderful beaches, which has brought a bigger sense of attraction to the South Coast. The excellent weather conditions are in a way, an ex-libris of Algarve and that’s why most tourists visit it in the Summer. They focus mainly in the cities of Albufeira, Lagos, and Portimão. But Algarve has much more to offer.
Aljezur is located at the most northwest part of the Algarve, 110km (69miles) from Faro. With a 40km long Atlantic coast, the area has several beaches of rare beauty, like Carrapateira Beach, Vale da Figueira Beach, Arrifana Beach and Odeceixe Beach, that are far less frequented than the remaining beaches of the Algarve. A larger isolation and the lack of structures maintain this area far from the great touristic search.
VILA DO BISPO
Characteristic of this West coast is the formation of high cliffs in direct contact with the sea. There are several beaches situated in this council: Boca do Rio, Figura, Ingrina, Ponta Ruiva, Castelejo, Cordama e Barriga.
The highest cliff in the whole Algarve, with 156m, is called Torre de Aspa and is located about 50km from Vila do Bispo.
Sagres, the Sacrum Promontorium, causes great impression for being old and remote.
The Cape of St.Vicente, located about 6km from Sagres, is also a place with magnificent views.
Monchique is a relaxing place at an altitude of 455m (1493 feet) where you can breathe the mountain air. It is located in a valley formed by Foia’s Peak (902m / 2960 feet) and Picota’s Peak (774m / 2540 feet). It is truly an “island” of freshness contrasting with the rest of the hot and dry Algarve.
It’s bigger point of attraction are its thermal stations. The most important of which is situated at Caldas de Monchique, where 5 main springs exist. Unfortunately, they are not free but you can check more information here.
Silves is a beautiful town where a beautiful castle stands out. Just 20km from the most touristic beaches, this city maintains its historical character. Every year in August, one of the country’s largest medieval fairs is held here, attracting both locals and tourists looking to experience a trip to the past.
It is considered one of the most typical and picturesque villages of the Algarve. One of its main atractions is a wonderful natural pool. The beautiful surrounding region has several restaurants, an outdoor stage and a beautiful walking area adorned by the shade of old trees.
It is a cute small village with a beautiful square near the church and that deserves a visit. The village is known for its chorizo and the distillation of “medronho”.
On the last Sunday of each month, the Mercado de Querença is held between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm at the church square where you can buy various local and traditional products.
Estoi lies 10km north of the coast and has two interesting tourist attractions: the Estoi Palace and the Roman Ruins of Milreu. There is a regular and cheap bus service from Faro to Estoi, which means that this charming small town is easily accessible for all travelers.
A beautiful group of islands and sandy peninsulas arranged parallel to the coast, protecting a lagoon that forms a labyrinth of marshes and channels. This cordon of islands is formed mainly by the Ancão Peninsula (which includes the incorrectly called “island of Faro”), the islands of Barreta, Deserta, Farol-Culatra (where there is the lighthouse of Santa Maria and the fishing village of Culatra), the islands of Armona-Fuseta, Tavira, Cabanas and, finally, Cacela Peninsula.
Tavira is one of Algarve’s most important historic places and has a strong maritime tradition. In total it has 37 churches. As a coast city, Tavira has some beaches of known value, and the hottest in Algarve, as well as the Island of Tavira and Cabanas. Near Tavira there once existed a waterfall much sought after by tourists as well as locals, called Pêgo do Inferno. In 2012 the site burned down and closed. Fortunately, it was reopened to the public this year!
VILA REAL DE SANTO ANTÓNIO
Vila Real de Santo António resulted from the Marquês de Pombal initiative. After the great 1755 earthquake, he intended to create an urban center with geopolitical, social, and economical sizes. In the area of urbanism, it constitutes a case comparable to Lisbon’s downtown.
Here you can find Monte Gordo beach which was one of the Algarve’s first great attractions. But other beaches with huge sand-strands offer places with fewer tourists: Manta Rota, Cacela and Praia do Alemão.
Cacela Velha is a small cluster of traditional recovered houses with a church with a magnificent view over the Ria Formosa.
Its geostrategic position, near the border of Spain, contributed to the fact that this place and its surrounding regions would be targets for the offensives made by the neighboring country when it was at war with Portugal. And so the village deserved the attention of several monarchs who took measures in order to protect it.
Here you can find simple houses and simple people all marked by the rhythm of the rural time.
Alcoutim, as its name indicates, is sure to have known the Arabs presence.This village is geographically and historically linked to Guadiana River, which was a fundamental mean of connection before the new road was built.
Although its isolation was the great problem of the past, nowadays Alcoutim remains a typical village with few tourists which contributes to the maintenance of its genuineness.
Here you can also find a beautiful river beach.
If you like hiking and are interested in getting to know the Algarves’ countryside then this is the trail for you. The Via Algarviana is a Great Pedestrian Route (GR13) that connects Alcoutim to Cape S. Vicente, with an extension of 300km. The route crosses 11 municipalities in the Algarve (Alcoutim, Aljezur, Castro Marim, Tavira, S. Brás de Alportel, Loulé, Silves, Monchique, Lagos, Portimão and Vila do Bispo) and about 21 parish councils. In each village, we were concerned to approximate the route to places of natural and cultural interest as well as accommodation and restaurants, including Rural Tourism hotels, typical villages of the Algarve, etc.
The Algarve has much to offer besides the most touristic beaches. Even in Winter, Algarve is definitely worth a visit.
Latest posts by Joana Rita (see all)
- Algarve: 13 Less Touristic Places You Should Visit - September 7, 2017
- Rome: A Cultural Guide for “On A Budget” Travelers - July 2, 2017
- Ube Ice Cream: The Best That Filipino Street Sweet Food Has To Offer - June 14, 2017