‘All bows lead to Benagil’ I joke each summer, as an army of tourists descends daily on the most famous sea cave of the Algarve. Boats from all directions, often captained by local fishermen who have traded Sardines in for more lucrative selfie sailings, jostle for prime position to enter the Pinterest-poster child of the coastline.

Truly, it’s a magnificent rock formation. Gaping windows open to the ocean, and golden beams send a tunnel of light through the sinkhole high above. Long gone, however, are the moments of silence and solitude you once found here. Luckily, listening to the tone of lapping waves buffeting off limestone is still very much possible; you just need to know where to look.

Inês Nunes, a local marine biologist, is someone that holds all those answers. As more and more boats shuttle back and forth, changes to the coastline have become noticeable. Seeking a more eco-conscious way to share the splendour of these rugged rock formations, Inês teamed up with local guide Pedro Oliveira and created Zip&Trip.

It’s certainly no secret to the locals that there are hundreds of isolated beaches, blowholes, and indeed caves to explore in the Algarve, and you don’t need a boat to venture to them – simply a sense of adventure.

Inside of a sea-cave in Alvor

Inside of a sea cave in Alvor

Wet suits were zipped and snorkels tightened as our group clambered along the arid cliffs of Alvor, a municipality slightly further west than Benagil.

‘There’s only the noise of the ocean and us‘ Pedro grinned up ahead, as we snaked our way down to a deserted beach. We were a small group, unsurprisingly all locals. Out in the deep blue, the tourist boats herded in the opposite direction.

Diving into the crystal-clear waters of the shallows, the wet suit hugged my body in a warm embrace. Spring sun glistened off the water and bounced onto the rust and apricot-hued limestone. The grin on my face was already perfectly shaped for the snorkel.

Seconds later, we were emerging into our first cave.

Inside a sea-cave near Alvor

Inside a sea cave near Alvor

Pedro hadn’t been exaggerating. It was just us, silently taking in the staggering height of the cave ceiling. Moments before it had looked simply like a cliff-face, but a deep breath and dunk later, her secrets had been revealed.

We clambered out of the water, all making a bee-line for the perfectly circular spot-light illuminating the sand. Bathing in the warm rays, our suits dried quickly as we took a moment to appreciate the grandeur of nature’s work. For the next two hours, we swam and slithered, climbed and crawled our way into countless coves and caves.

From more towering vertical tunnels to archways and over-hanging rocks framing sand that hadn’t seen a footprint in days, the coastline delivered on all its promises. It’s a rare thing to see somewhere you’ve walked passed hundreds of times in a new light, but from an almost underwater vantage point, I was reminded just how special our coastline is.

Underwater life on the Alvor coast

Underwater life on the Alvor coast

Inês would occasionally stop us, pointing out local fish or a fleeting sea horse, and by the time we emerged to the final beach, it was a surprise to see rows of towels and tanning bodies awaiting. Though, to be fair, many faces seemed as surprised to see seven suit clad bodies rising from the waters.

We peeled off our wetsuits as Pedro peeled the rind of local cheese, and we settled into the soft sand to feast on watermelon and cherries. Gazing out at the seemingly never-ending ocean I was already wondering how many more of these ‘secret spots’ I’d have the joy of exploring in times to come.

Make it happen:

Zip&Trip run various tours around Ferragudo and Alvor, which can be booked via their website

The Algarve is arguably one of Europe’s ultimate golf destinations, with countless courses to choose from. Mark Hirst, the founder of Getaway Golfer, shares a lesser-known side of the Algarve’s ever-expanding golf scene.

Whenever I mention a golf trip to the Algarve, I’m greeted with the usual predictable destinations: Vilamoura, Albufeira, and, if we’re feeling particularly flush, Quinta do Lago. Whilst all of the above are superb options, Tavira is one place that rarely gets a mention, and it perplexes me. 

There are 39 golf courses in the Algarve, with Tavira and the surrounding area hosting six of them. One of these courses is often voted as the best in all of Portugal. What’s more, golf in Tavira is often cheaper, less densely populated and offers some superb boutique hotel options if you know where to look. Let me guide you through where to play and stay in Tavira for an unforgettable golf trip.

The beautiful town of Tavira
The beautiful town of Tavira as seen from its castle ruins / Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Where to Play Golf in Tavira

There are six golf courses within 30 minutes of Tavira. Several offer green fees for under €60 depending on the time of year. Below you can find my thoughts on each golf course, including green fee information and my favourite holes.

Quinta da Ria

Green Fess From €79

Quinta da Ria golf course is set within the Ria Formosa National Park, just a 15-minute drive due east of Tavira. I love both courses situated on this resort for their tranquillity. You won’t find any large resorts and villas imposing themselves or restricting your views, meaning you’re simply free to enjoy nature at its best. My particular favourite is the 17th hole, which plays alongside a large lake to the right of the green. Anything left is your friend. 

Green fees start at €85 in the low season, rising to €120 in the high season, but tee off after 14:30 in May, and you can fit a full round of golf for €79.

Quinta de Cima / Credit: Supplied
Quinta de Cima / Credit: Supplied

Quinta de Cima

Green Fees From €79

Quinta de Cima is the second course at the Robinson Club Quinta da Ria Resort. There’s less water to be found here (which usually means I lose fewer golf balls). Equally as stunning, you’ll experience nature at its finest. My standout hole is probably the 16th, a very getable par-5 with a lake guarding wayward shots to the right of the green. 

Green fees are the same here as at Quinta da Ria, so my preference is to opt for a 14:30 tee time at the end of May for €79, which is excellent value for any golf course in the Algarve. Website

Benamor

Green fees from €61

Benamor is one of the easier golf courses in Tavira, particularly perfect for higher handicappers and groups. I love the views you get of the Serra do Caldeirão mountains to the north of the course. My personal favourite is the par-4 sixth. The elevated tee provides spectacular views, and with a downhill fairway that adds a few extra yards to your drive, you can come away feeling like you can hit it 30 yards further than you actually can. 

Green fees start at €61 in the low season, rising to €86 in the high season. A twilight rate is available for those teeing off after 13:04, but this is only available in the low season. Website

13th and 14th Hole at Monte Rei / Credit: Supplied
13th and 14th Hole at Monte Rei / Credit: Supplied

Monte Rei

Green Fees From: €170

If you’re familiar with playing golf in the Algarve, you’ll have undoubtedly heard of Monte Rei. View any top 10 lists of the best golf courses in the Algarve, and you’ll near-certainly see Monte Rei occupying the number one spot. This Jack Nicklaus signature course is expertly maintained with slick greens and stunning views; it’s a true golfing challenge and has everything your golf heart could desire. It also requires a hefty bank balance to play it – a four-ball at Monte Rei will set the group back a cool €880. 

That said, Monte Rei is special and somewhere you should play at least once if you can afford to. My favourite hole is the 13th, a stunning par-4 that plays down a large canyon onto a green that has an (almost distracting) lake as a backdrop. 

Green fees start at €170 in the low season (15th November – 28th February), rising to €220 in the high season. Twilight green fees are available all year round when teeing off after 15:00 and cost €170. Website.

Castro Marim

Green Fees From: €51

Travel 25 minutes east along the A22 from Tavira, and you’ll discover Castro Marim Golf Course, a stone’s throw from the Spanish border. Boasting spectacular views of the River Guadiana and the Spanish rolling countryside, Castro Marim offers excellent value golf and unspoiled views. 

There are 27 holes to play broken down into three loops of nine, so it’s possible to return for multiple rounds of golf and enjoy a different experience each time you play. There’s also accommodation onsite with private villas available to rent, so an overnight stay with a couple of rounds is an excellent option. 

My pick of the holes to play here is the sixth hole on the Atlantic course. A tricky par-4 hole with a large lake guarding the left side of the fairway as you tee off. Keep it right for a decent approach shot onto the green. 

Green fees at Castro Marim represent excellent value. In the low season (between 21st May to 16th September), it costs just €65, rising to €85 in the high season (26th February to 15th April and 17th September to 31st October). Twilight green fees are available when teeing off after 15:00 and cost €51 in the low season and €65 in the high season. Website.

Quinta do Vale
Quinta do Vale / Credit: Supplied

Quinta do Vale

Green Fees From €58

Just a few minutes further east from Castro Marim Golf Course in Quinta do Vale. Designed by none other than Seve Ballesteros, Quinta do Vale is a tough course suited to more experienced golfers. It’s yet another example of a golf course near Tavira that’s devoid of overbearing development, leaving you free to enjoy the scenery and tranquil surroundings. 

My pick of the holes has to be the 18th. It’s a short 350-yard par-4 that offers stunning views of the River Guadiana and the surrounding countryside. It’s the perfect way to finish your round of golf and may well leave you wanting to return for more. 

Green fees at Quinta do Vale start at €58 in the low season (16th November to 28th February and 16th May to 15th September), rising to €72 in the high season (1st March to 15th May and 16th September to 31st October). No twilight rates are available. Website.

Robinson Club Quinta da Ria / Credit: Supplied, Robinson Club
Robinson Club Quinta da Ria / Credit: Supplied, Robinson Club

Where to Stay When Playing Golf in Tavira

Tavira offers a surprising number of hotels that are suitable for golfers. There’s a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts. Here are a few of my personal favourite places to stay when visiting Tavira. 

Robinson Club Quinta da Ria

Great For: Families and Large Groups | 🔗 Check prices

Robinson Club Quinta da Ria is one of the best value all-inclusive golf hotels in the Algarve. It is set in the resort that also features both Quinta da Ria and Quinta de Cima Golf Courses and is perfect for families and large groups of golfers looking for a hassle-free holiday.

Prices range here are higher in the peak season, with some great mid-range offseason deals – both are excellent value given this includes all food and drink. If you’re thinking of playing either of the aforementioned golf courses, Robinson Club represents the most convenient option. 🔗 Make a booking

Praia Verde Boutique Hotel (Octant)

Great For: Couples, Boutique Stay, Foodies | 🔗 Check prices

If you’re looking for a boutique experience in Tavira, I can’t recommend Praia Verde highly enough. Just a stone’s throw from Praia Verde beach, you can spend the day relaxing with the waves lapping at your toes and a cold drink in hand. 

Foodies will love this place too. The hotel restaurant, led by Chef David Domingues, focuses on wood-fired cuisine, using ingredients sourced from the hotel’s vegetable garden and local produce. Some of the dishes that Domingues creates will last in your mind forever. 🔗 Make a booking

Ozadi Tavira

Great For: Budget-Conscious, Families | 🔗 Check prices

Ozadi Tavira underwent a complete refurbishment in 2014, with particular care taken to maintain its 1970’s charm. You’ll find 77 rooms at Ozadi, all tastefully appointed with modern amenities. 

There are two superb restaurants on-site, the Orangea Bistro and the OZADI Terrace, both of which offer a relaxing atmosphere and a wide range of culinary options.

I’ve found that you can get an excellent nightly rate here, especially if you choose to book outside of the peak summer season – it’s really an excellent value-for-money option. 🔗 Make a booking

Vistas Rui Silvestre Restaurant at Monte Rei / Credit: Vistas Rui Silvestre
Vistas Rui Silvestre Restaurant at Monte Rei / Credit: Vistas Rui Silvestre

Monte Rei Golf & Country Club

Great For: Luxury, Golf, Michelin Dining 🔗 Check prices

If you’re planning on playing Monte Rei, then why not combine it with a stay at the country club as well? There’s a wide range of accommodation options available at Monte Rei, from one and two-bedroom apartments to luxurious five-bedroom detached villas complete with private pools. 

Michelin Starred dining is also an option during your stay. Vistas Rui Silvestre is located on the resort and offers some of the finest dishes in all of Portugal, all whilst showcasing local produce and an excellent Portuguese wine list.

For a more relaxed setting, guests can also dine at the grill, which offers high-quality dishes that are perfect for a light lunch or evening meal. 🔗 Make a booking

The views when landing at Faro Airport, just 40 minutes from Tavira
Ria Formosa views while landing at Faro Airport, just 40km east of Tavira / Credit: Daniel James Clarke

How to Get to Tavira

From Faro

Tavira is 40 km east of Faro airport and takes approximately 30 minutes to get to via car. Travel east down the A22 and take the exit at junction 16. Car hire and airport transfer services are abundantly available at Faro, and Hoppa, an airport transfer from Faro to Tavira costs around €26 per person based on two people sharing. 

There is also a direct train that runs from Faro to Tavira (a bus connects with the airport), which costs around €6 one way, taking just 50 minutes.

From Seville

Seville Airport in Spain is 186 km east of Tavira, and it’s a mere two hours to reach by car. If you’re thinking of touring the southern regions of Spain and Portugal during your trip, Seville is worth considering.

Again, there are plenty of car hire and airport transfer options from Seville, and a Hoppa transfer costs around €140 per person based on two people sharing, or long-distance buses provide a more affordable alternative. However, you may just need to pay an additional fee for any additional luggage such as clubs.

Green fees and costs were correct at the time of publication (June 2023). As always, G2P suggests confirming current prices direct with the clubhouse.

The Algarve is famed for its beautiful beaches, and world-renowned golf courses, but there are plenty of hidden gems in the Algarve to discover too.

While the big resorts of Albufeira and Lagos are well known, here we will guide you through twenty different spots that perhaps you haven’t heard of and will give you some new ideas to explore in the Algarve.

Silves

Silves provides the perfect mix of history, culture and cuisine. Once the capital of the Arab kingdom here in the Algarve, it’s well preserved red castle, perched above the colourful streets and squares below, is still the largest in the region. Surrounded by green hills and orange trees, Silves town has an impressive local market, an ancient Mosque (converted to a church) which boasts both Gothic and Baroque features and plenty of traditional coffee shops lining its small cobbled streets. It feels a world away from the bar filled roads at the beach resorts and its best explored during August when The Silves Medival Festival takes place.

Silves Castle

The walls of Silves Castle

Tavira

Moorish history comes alive in Tavira where the Maria do Castelo church is home to knights tombs, and the medieval castle has panoramic views of this small city. The river running through is an extension of the nearby nature park and flamingos can be found dancing through the salt flats in season. The cobbled streets and long stretches of sandy beaches nearby make this an excellent base for exploring the Algarve, and thanks to the more traditional vibe here, it provides a more authentic Portuguese experience.

The beautiful town of Tavira

The beautiful town of Tavira

Alte

A short drive from Loulé is the small village of Alte which offers a great insight into a slower-paced and local way of life. If you head away from the coastal resorts then traditional Portuguese dishes, with traditional Portuguese prices, are a welcome rest-bite from the samey and sometimes expensive tourist menus that ply the main drags of the region. The nearby waterfall, although small and now sometimes lacking in water, is a pleasant hike outside the harsh heat of the summer months.

Estoi

Just outside of Faro is Estoi, a small parish which houses Roman ruins in Milreu but also one of my favourite restored buildings in the region. The Pousada de Faro, once in disrepair, has now been renovated inside with the grounds the following suit as part of a luxury hotel renovation project which is bringing many historic buildings back to life in Portugal. You don’t have to be a guest to explore the main rooms and grounds of this 18th-century palace although a chilled glass of wine on the veranda comes with a slice of grandeur you’ll struggle to find elsewhere in the Algarve. If you want to experience the Turkish baths and boutique luxury, you’ll need to book a room.

The grand Estoi palace hotel

The grand Estoi palace hotel

Loule

The colourful streets of Loulé, with a central location, is another excellent base in the Algarve for those not wanting to stay at a beach resort. As with much of Portugal, the biggest joy comes from aimlessly wandering the stone alleys while grabbing coffees and pastries at suitable intervals. The reason I love Loulé so much is, as of yet, tourism hasn’t completely pushed out the traditional way of life, and many of the residents are locals. The town-centre has some great shops, a castle and a vast local market, and in general, it’s a chance to see the Algarve not washed out by visitors. If you are around at the end of June or early July be sure to check out the Festival Med when a whole host of musical, cultural and art-based events take over the town.

Castle of Paderne walking trail

This ruined church and fortressed walls from the 16th century isn’t much to look at anymore, but the stroll passed the nearby mill with little turtles in the river is a pleasant break from the beach if you have a car. Take the two-hour trail past the medieval bridge to get a little insight into the long history along the south of Portugal.

Praia da Marinha

The beach itself is one of the most famous in Portugal and with its striking appearance you can see why, but my favourite part of coming here is the clifftop walk above it. Multi-coloured rocks litter the walking trail to epic viewpoints, and Instagram lovers are now starting to flock to take the heart-shaped photo of the rocks). It’s a great spot to park up the car and eat a picnic lunch looking out on the Atlantic.

Marinha coastal caves at sunset

The coast and caves around Benagil at sunset

Benagil Caves

Without a doubt one of the most famed photo opportunities of the Algarve, the Benagil caves can be accessed by boat from various stops along the coast, although Praia de Benagil is the closest. You can swim from this beach into the caves although it’s not advised with the currents and tragically there was a death nearby in recent years as a boat collided with a swimmer so, please don’t. Inside the cave, you’ll be wowed by the sunlight from the hole in the roof illuminating the lapping waves inside.

Ferragudo

Although the population of this small fishing village is minuscule, it has become an increasingly popular tourist spot to sample ‘authentic Portugal’. How authentic it is now is questionable, but step away from the main square to visit the ornate interior of the church before lounging on the beach with a small castle (now, I believe, a private home) above. From here boats cross the river to the favourite tourist spot of Praia da Rocha where beach club, No Solo Agua, is an excellent sun-downer spot before hitting up the late-night parties.

The castle above Ferragudo beach

The castle above Ferragudo beach

Monchique

If you are visiting in the summer months, then some of the local springs here may have dried up, but if respite is your thing, then the ancient health resorts in Caldas de Monchique is a great place to check-in. Surrounded by dense trees and huge rocks, this elevated part of the Algarve is entirely different to the coast and is a good spot to stop if you are planning to drive to the Alentejo region next. Make sure to bring your re-refillable water bottles to take water straight from the springs here.

Carvoeiro board walk & hiking

This little village, with a small but perfectly cliff-flanked beach has become the poster-child for the Algarve of late. Walk up the hill to the left of the beach where a little church marks the starting point of the Carvoeiro Board Walk, a wooden path hugging the cliffs. Climb down into Algar Seco for rock pools and craggy formations or just to take a glass of wine at Boneca bar buried in the rock.

For those who don’t mind hiking on, continue to Vale Covo, a closed but stunning beach by the Tivoli hotel and finish up by the red lighthouse where you can turn inland to a handful of restaurants. The Sky-Bar at the newly renovated Tivoli also makes for a mean sunset spot in summer.

Fontes, Estombar

This municipal park is a popular spot for us locals to escape the beach and enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by nature. The 12+ picnic tables quickly get busy on a sunny day, and the six BBQs are available to use, just bring your own coal and cooking tools.

The old-water wheel, an amphitheatre and millers house are the main ‘sights’, but the park plays host to various wildlife and birds with flamingos being a welcome addition during the season. Estombar is small, but it does have a train station which can make it more accessible to those without a car.

The nature of Estombar Fontes

The nature of Estombar Fontes

Lagoa

Lagoa has grown hugely in the past 30 years and has become a relatively well-known wine region in Portugal (read: vineyard tasting/drinking is compulsory). It’s located just outside Carvoeiro and Ferragudo and again, like Loulé provides a much more local town feel. Small restaurants on side alleys, such as A Tasquinha in town or A Paleta on the road to Carvoeiro offer great value menus. Quinta dos Santos, a recently opened craft beer and winery spot offer the chance to hit up a cellar door or grab some tapas and the converted Cooperative, now home to the ‘Lady in Red Gallery ‘serves up both wine and culture. You’ll also find my favourite water park in the Algarve, Slide and Splash, nearby.

If you are around in early July then the night-time, candlelit market is a really beautiful time to visit and see the streets all lit by natural flames.

Praia da Senhora da Rocha, Porches

Located near Porches, I love the views from the rock jutting out between the two beaches on either side. The white-washed church perched on the edge is one of my favourite places to chill with a good book and feel like I’m on the end of the world. The beach to the right is more of a pain to get down on, but it’s usually quieter than the one on the left. It’s a perfect setting for couples photoshoots, for those looking to enjoy romantic experiences in the Algarve.

Senhora de Rocha

Senhora da Rocha

Cape St Vincent / Sagres

The most westerly point of mainland Europe I believe is Cabo da Roca near Lisbon, although this is often given the designation and comes close. The lighthouse and dramatic cliffs here are a good stopping point on a road-trip to the lesser explored West coast of the Algarve.

Ria Formosa

A well-deserved member of the ‘7 Natural Wonders of Portugal’ this nature park formed from a mix of sand-bars, inlets and lagoons is rife with wildlife, quiet beaches and beautiful views. If you have a daytime flight, keep an eye out as it looks incredible when viewed from above. Boats tours from Faro will take you on day trips out to some of the harder to reach parts, and you can even spend the night on a houseboat here, my top pick for unique accommodation in the Algarve.

Beautiful white sand islands seen from above

The beautiful islands along the Faro coastline

Aljezur

The Algarve’s west coast is awash with surfing spots, empty beaches, small villages and farming valleys. In Aljezur, the ruins of a 10th-century Moorish castle tells the history of the region; if you haven’t noticed yet, a lot of places around the Algarve begin with Al, which highlights the history and roots of the Arabic period on the Iberian Peninsula. There are some truly incredible beaches along the coast, sand-dunes, great hikes and big waves aplenty. So few tourists venture to this part of the Algarve, and given how short driving routes around are thanks to the new (toll charged) motorways, it’s a crime.

Rota Vicentina, West Coast Trails

For those who like to walk, rather than resort hop, the Rota Vicentina is a vast walking trail network which crosses between the Algarve and the connecting region of the Alentejo. The Fisherman’s Trail hugs the shoreline and the views are breathtaking; an alternative inland route provides a tour of the more arid looking hills of Portugal.

In fact, we have a whole week in April dedicated to the nature of the region and the website has lots of information on how to enjoy the hidden gems of the Algarve in various outside ways.

The windswept Algarve west coast

The windswept Algarve west coast

Fonte Benemola and Querenca

This makes for a good combo on a morning or afternoon. The pretty easy walking trail through the national park, Fonte Benemola, takes a couple of hours and takes you through the greenery, running streams, and old olive presses and watermills.
Nearby, the small village of Querenca upon a hill is a beautifully spotless white-washed land with a strong commitment to culture and literacy through its cultural centre. The little square with two restaurants and a church is the ideal spot for a bit to eat or to try the local almond cake, after a walk through the park.

Bonus: Skydiving & SevenAir

If adventure is more your thing, then the aerodrome outside of Portimao offers up Skydiving with some incredible birds-eye views onto the Algarve coast. It’s also home to SevenAir, a small Portuguese airline that none of my friends around here seems to have heard about.

For relatively good value fares, SevenAir aircraft run regular flights to Cascais, near Lisbon, and some of the more prominent cities in the far north which also have connecting routes to Madiera. Not only does this provide a convenient alternative than going back to Faro to connect through Lisbon but the small planes, which make multiple stops on route to the north offer fantastic views of the country from the windows.

The best part about the Algarve is its compact size, so it makes for the ideal road-trip to hit up many spots in a relatively short period. Whether you want a different vibe or merely a different beach every-day, there is so much more going on here than your typical brochure lead holidays would have you believe.

This post was first published on danflyingsolo.com, and has kindly been shared with Guide2Portugal.

Come rain or shine; there’s never a dull moment. Rainfall isn’t something that often happens in the Algarve, but on those few occasions that it does, fear not, there’s plenty to do. rainy day Algarve activities 

There are many cultural, wellness, and adventure activities to keep everyone entertained in between meals. With some of the best spas around, there are top-notch facilities in most of the 5-star hotels that are open to non-residents, wine tastings in gorgeous vineyards, indoor karting or hover crafting for adrenaline junkies.

Shopping malls are also a popular place to spend some time and pick up some bargains. International shows are also an option at one of the Valle Verde Casinos where dinner shows are a great choice.

Museums, underground wine cellars, beachfront floor to ceiling restaurants, and escape rooms or local markets are some of the things you can enjoy come rain or shine. Ten-pin bowling alleys are a great place to hang out, slip into those colourful shoes and test your skills, knocking down the pins.

Thankfully, there’s plenty to do and the Algarve rain, when it comes, usually doesn’t stick around for too long. You’ll be back on the beach or out and about in no time at all.  

1. Admire some art

Visit the Lady in Red gallery in the wine cooperative in Lagoa. This is a very cool gallery, set inside the vast upper floor of the functioning wine factory with an industrial ambience. The range of art is eclectic and varies from small, hand luggage sized pieces to massive wall murals and sculptures.

The artists are usually local, and the venue has a cool loft-style bar serving wine, gins, craft beers and ethical teas and coffees. During the year, they host various live music events, screenings and charity events, so check their social media page to keep up to date. 

2. Take a cooking course

The internationally acclaimed MIMO set up in the 5-star Pine Cliffs Resort a few years ago and is a fantastic way to spend a few hours while taking home some skills – especially ideal on the rainy day in the Algarve.

Learn how to make one of the most famous Algarve dishes, the Cataplana in the copper dome dish.

oin the supper club, get to know your fellow diners and enjoy wines paired with the dishes prepared for you by the chef who is always happy to offer cooking tips along the way. Take the whole family along for a Family Cooking Class that covers everything from preparation, etiquette, techniques and much more before enjoying your creations.

Quinta dos Santos vineyard

Quinta dos Santos vineyard

3. Sample the wine

The Algarve has lots of vineyards that are open to the public with tours available by appointment. Quinta dos Vales is a good one for a rainy day with an internal pathway between the cellars and a large tasting room where visitors can enjoy an informative overview of the various ranges that they offer along with some local snacks.

If you really love wine, why not go Vila Vita Parc in Porches where they have a stunning, underground wine cellar with an enviable collection of wines for sale. You can book a table here and have a unique dining experience. 

Near Carvoeiro, Quinta dos Santos combines a beautiful vineyard, restaurant and craft beer brewery, while their own wines are available for tasting at the restaurant.

4. Relax at a spa

You’ll be totally spoiled for choice with some stunning spas – is this not the perfect rainy day Algarve activity!

L’Occitane Spa by Bela Vista in Praia da Rocha has an off-street entrance where you follow the sweeping staircase down to a heavenly haven when the experienced therapists work their magic.

Conrad Algarve Spa has a plethora of relaxation areas, an excellent water circuit, ice fountain and experience showers to enjoy before or after treatments. It’s worth making a day of it and treating yourself to a cocktail upstairs after too.

Vila Vita Spa by Sisley Paris is a true sanctuary where guests can destress from the outside world in luxurious surroundings.

Photography supplied by Bela Vista Palace

Photography supplied by Bela Vista Palace

5. Shopping for goodies

Mar Shopping and the Designer Outlet are the newest shopping centres in the Algarve and has enough to keep the who family entertained. Big brands like Zara, Massimo Dutti, Mango and Primark have large stores packed with all the new season styles. The food court is really versatile with the Chefs Experience, Portuguese, Asian and international chains serve good value dining options. There’s also a state of the art cinema complex where you can watch the latest hits. All movies are in their original language and at a fraction of the price of the UK. Grab your popcorn and enjoy. 

6. Dinner & Show

Valle Verde Casinos host regular dinner & show events featuring international artists with two options, show only with a drink included for €15 or dinner and show for a three-course meal with coffee and half a bottle of wine included. The shows are modern and often eclectic with dancers and performers taking to the stage at 10 pm in Portimao and 10.30 pm in Vilamoura. Visitors often like to try their luck at the slots before or after the show and make an evening of it.  

Reservations are required via the website.

The exterior of Loule market

The exterior of Loule market

7. Atmospheric local markets

From Loule to Lagos, there are plenty of local, fresh produce markets where you can while away a few hours and get a taste for the area – while some our outside, others are inside, which is great for a rainy day Algarve activity.

The busy fish market in Lagos is somewhat of an institution and also houses some non-food stalls with local artisan products on the upper floors.

In Portimao, the market is a fully functional, multipurpose facility and the Silves market is surrounded by small stores, restaurants and bars. Each market has a very different vibe and offers an insight into the area. Loule is a little more modern, but still authentic.

8. Go indoor karting

Head down to Albufeira Marina and get ready to burn some rubber. Hotwheels, Karting Albufeira is a great place to spend a rainy day! 200cc Karts fly around the 400M track giving drivers enough speed and distance to really get into the race.

Pricing is transparent at €15 for 10mins increasing by €5 for each extra 5 minutes. Go along and join in with others or take your friends or family along with you to create some memories. Parties and private events are catered for, so it’s always wise to book in advance.

9. Marvel at museums

Museums are always an excellent place to visit when you’re in a new place, and the Algarve is full of them. Visit the Algarve Regional Museum in Faro to see traditional furniture, crafts and agricultural tools.

The Museu de Portimão is down by the river’s edge and showcases the cities history with its fishing, particularly with Sardines. Lagos is a good option for a rainy day with the old slave market and the wax museum that takes you through the Age of Discoveries.

Silves Castle and Loule Castle are both worth a visit and have artefacts housed within the walls.

Silves Castle

The walls of Silves Castle

10. Fun at bowling

Lanes and lanes of laughs await, slip on those colourful shoes and show off your skills on the bowling alley.

Currently, there are two bowling alleys, one at the Marina in Albufeira called Hotshot Bowling and Bowling Praia da Rocha. Grab some friends, test your aim and STRIKE. 

Hours of fun for all ages and both venues have other venues close by where you can enjoy a rainy day like escape rooms or indoor karting. There are also lots of cafes and bars around where you can get refreshments, and as the showers usually don’t last too long, you’ll probably be back on the beach in no time.

Long days filled with lounging on a beach with the sea breeze on your skin, followed by a romantic evening stroll along the sandy shoreline, are some of the simple things that many couples love to do in the Algarve that don’t cost a thing.

Sunset dinners, beach picnics, and long lazy lunches with your loved one are all wonderful ways to enjoy some quality time together. All are simple to arrange and can be as cheap or expensive as you like.

Then there are special moments that need a bit of planning and money to make them happen. We’ve thought of a few things that are perfect for two; some offer good value, with others being bucket-list opportunities. Bearing in mind we all have different ideas and budgets, this list is varied and hopefully gives you some inspiration to surprise your other half. Being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life allows us the luxury to spend time together, creating precious memories to look back on.

The Algarve is a highly diverse region with gorgeous restaurants looking out to sea, romantic hideaways, country retreats and fabulous weather to complement it all. Spoil yourself and take home more than a suntan.

Marinha coastal caves at sunset
The coast and caves around Benagil at sunset

Dolphin, Benagil and Sea Caves Boat Tour

Watching Dolphins frolicking in their natural environment is a magical experience, and we have plenty of them, usually not too far off the coast. This 2.5-hour cruise from Albufeira is packed with bucket list items to tick off. The hugely famous Benagil caves are a must-see when visiting the Algarve and you’ll be surprised to see that there are many more, arguably more impressive caves along the way too.

The small boat is the right size to be able to get inside the caves for the best views, and the local knowledge of the Skipper and Marine Biologist crew is invaluable to make the most of your time at sea.

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Alte Off-Road Quad Bike Tour

With a good nights sleep behind you, meet your guide at 9.30 am for a thrilling, adrenaline-fuelled Quad Bike Tour of the internal Algarve.

Spend a little time getting used to the fully automatic quads before heading for the hills and soaking up some beautiful scenery along the way. Once you hit the gravel paths and begin to cross through streams, you’ll be well into the swing of it. Climbing high up into the hills where you can take a moment to enjoy the views.

You’ll discover the historic village of Alte and its serene surroundings dotted with whitewashed houses before heading into the countryside. Passing fountains, springs and local communities along the way while soaking up some culture. On first glance, this might not seem one of the things to do for couples in the Algarve, but if you love adventure, trust us on this one!

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Alte village ducks at fountain
The quaint village of Alte surrounded by nature

Morgado do Quintão Estate Lunch and Wine Tasting

Visiting one of the oldest vineyards of the Algarve, Morgado do Quintão is set into the countryside of Silves. This family estate is proud to share their knowledge, and welcome guests to explore the history, get a feel for the production and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Following the tour, you’ll head to the shade of the 2,000-year-old tree surrounded by the native Algarve Negra Mole vines and take your seat for lunch. During the lunch, you’ll sample 3-4 wines and have the opportunity to chat and find out more about the estate and romantic Algarve wine culture.

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Portimao Arade River and Silves Cruise Tour

Join the crew on their comfortable solar-powered pleasure tour from the historical port of Portimao where they will slowly cruise into the Arade River taking you to places you would never otherwise reach. The scenery is really something else, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were not in the Algarve.

The tour cruises steadily towards the old Moorish capital, Silves where you have 1.5 hours to explore this charming old town, enough time to visit the castle, museum or even grab a bit to eat. Back on board the boat, you can enjoy a leisurely ride back to Portimao with a cold beer from the friendly captain.

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Silves village with a river
Silves medieval village is a must visit!

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Up, up and away…The views are out of this world, and it’s a once in a life-time experience that is perfect for couples in the Algarve! With the sky as your limit, the team at Algarve Balloons have been in the business for many years. The experienced Pilot will glide the balloon over valleys, following the warm breezes towards the rolling hills.

This is a unique sensation and can be elevated even further by including a Champagne picnic and even a proposal if the mood should take you. Stunning scenery, tranquillity and a once in a life-time experience await, perfect for birthdays, special occasions and romantic moments away from the crowds.

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Best of Vilamoura 3-Hour Guided Bike Tour

Hop on your bike at Vilamoura Marina where the tour begins. You’ll explore Dunes, Quarteira, the countryside, an old village, fish and fruit markets and of course Vilamoura. During the trip, your guide will give you some invaluable local, insider tips on where you can eat and drink like a local while staying in the area.

Cycling allows you to appreciate the smells, sounds and nature around you without whizzing past as we usually do. Marvel at the sights as you peddle past some fabulous points of interest and scenic beaches while enjoying being outdoors and getting some light exercise.

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Beautiful white sand islands seen from above
The beautiful islands along the Faro coastline

EDITORS PICK

Deserta Island and Farol Island Boat Trip

Jump aboard this open deck style lounge boat and sail slowly through the clear watered channels of the Ria Formosa. You’re quite likely to see indigenous birds like the Grey Heron and White Stork among others along the way. The first stop on this tour is the Culatra Islands where you’ll observe the local Oyster and Clam farms. With no roads or vehicles on Culatra, it’s like stepping back in time, and the romance of the Algarve comes alive. Then onto Farol, enjoying a stroll through this small, friendly island and head to the end where you’ll find a stunning white sand beach.

Now heading to Barreta Island the most southern point of Portugal – Santa Maria Cape for a spot of swimming or sunbathing.

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Jeep Safari and Boat Tour

Let’s head off the beaten track, this 4×4 Land Rover tour takes you up into the Algarvian Mountains and has the perfect remedy to finish a hot day in the country, a sea  tour.

The team have selected a range of carefully chosen locations and activities that cater for all tastes and ages. You will come across traditional, hidden places, gorgeous scenery and a slower way of life.

Your guide will tell you about cork oaks, let you taste fruit from the trees and take a dip in a crystal clear spring. There’s a chance to sample the local “firewater” and some other local products. Then it’s back to the coast for the boat tour where you’ll venture into the magnificent grottoes and sea caves. This is a low impact activity, suitable for all.

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Road trip in a VW Camper

There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road with your loved one, and enjoying the freedom and romance of the Algarve! Indeed, the freedom of jumping in a campervan and heading off into the wilderness is something rather magical. Siesta Campers have a great fleet of VW Campers for rent that can be collected straight from Faro airport. The Algarve is stunning and the West Coast is breathtakingly beautiful.

The interior countryside is packed with traditional villages, dams and vineyards. The world is your oyster and where better to fulfil that lifelong itch to travel in a VW Camper and live a little. From your starting point in Faro, head east and enjoy your first night in Tavira where you’ll get an excellent feel for the local culture. We would then head west and see what takes your fancy. There’s so much to see and do, a tiny bit of planning would be advisable.

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