About the Algarve
The Algarve has been established as a holiday destination for many years and remains very popular with golfers and sunseekers. However, beyond the wonderful beaches and golf courses, the Algarve has plenty more to offer the discerning visitor, such as beautiful countryside, traditional old towns and villages and a wealth of history and local culture. Our aim is to introduce you to the ‘real Algarve’ that most visitors never see and to provide you with a holiday to remember.
The Algarve boasts one of the most dependable climates in the world, with typically more than 250 days of sunshine a year. Protected by the mountains and from the influence of cool Northern air, conditions on the coast are similar to those on the coast of Northern Africa. High sunshine values are complemented by a warm, dry Mediterranean type regime, on which the Atlantic exerts a moderating effect, producing pleasant mild temperatures even in winter.
The warmest months are June, July, August and September and, during this period, the average daily temperature is around 28C, but usually accompanied by a light sea breeze. It can, however, be much hotter than this and we will take account of the temperatures during this period when recommending cycling activities for you. During the spring, autumn and winter months, it is very rarely cold, with temperatures not often below 10C. These months are ideal for cycling.
There is so much to see in the Algarve that you might like to follow one of your cycling days with some sightseeing later in the day. Simply let us know where you would like to go and we will do our best to arrange your chosen activities somewhere nearby for that day. A selection of places that you may like to visit includes:-
Albufeira is the biggest and best known resort in the Algarve. In amongst the many bars, restaurants and gift shops there are cobbled streets and whitewashed, tiled houses. The infamous “strip”, a long street of bars and restaurants, is actually a couple of miles away from the old town, so can be avoided. The beach is a long sweep of golden sands overlooked by cliffs and is busy in the summer months. Around the headland to the west is the new Albufeira Marina, where brightly coloured new apartments mix with more new bars and restaurants.
Alte is a picture postcard village up in the hills, some 30k north of Albufeira. It is famous for its 16th Century “Our Blessed Lady of Assumption Church”, whitewashed houses and narrow streets with shops selling traditional crafts and pottery. Alte is also quite unique in that a stream flows through the town nearly all year round. Upstream is the Fonte Pequena (Little Fountain), a popular location for picnics and swimming throughout the summer months .
Almancil is the gateway town to its more famous and exclusive neighbours, Vale Do Lobo and Quinta do Lago, home to some of the best golf courses in the Algarve. Close by is the Ria Formosa nature reserve of over 17.000 hectares and a stopping place for hundreds of different bird species during the spring and autumn migratory periods. Just outside Almancil is the church of Saõ Laurenço. The simple white 15th century church houses one of the most impressive displays of Azulejo (tile) designs available anywhere.
Faro is the ‘capital’ of the Algarve region, with a population in excess of 55,000. The city has both Arab and Roman ruins, but most of the attractive older buildings were constructed after the disastrous earthquakes of 1755 and 1532. Particularly quaint is the old part of the city, surrounded by Roman walls dating back to the 9th Century. The “golden” church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo is claimed to be the best example of gold-leaf woodwork in southern Portugal. It also contains the macabre spectacle of a chapel lined with the bones from over 1200 monks!
Loule is a rural administrative centre and active market town with some remains of a castle dating back to the 12th Century. The weekly market attracts tourists from all along the Algarve. Due to the demands of the tourism this town has blossomed in size. An important event is the annual Carnival held in February that is considered to be one of the best in Portugal.
Monchique lies between the two highest hills, Foia and Picota, both excellent locations from which to see dramatic views of the coastal plain to the south and to the western Atlantic coast. Monchique has retained its rustic atmosphere, with steep cobbled streets housing various artisan trades. The surrounding area flourishes on the production of cattle, pigs, cork and wood. Another important local product is the popular “medronho”, which is the name of a strong schnapps style of drink made from distilling the fruit from arbutus bushes.
Olhão is historically linked to the local fishing industry and it was in this town that the first canning factory for tuna and sardines was established. It is well known for its waterfront fish market where, every morning, there is a lively atmosphere and the impressively large variety of fish caught locally is displayed. From Olhão there is a ferry service that takes visitors to the nearby small islands of Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona. With their unspoilt sandy beaches and lack of major buildings, these islands act as a pleasant contrast to the noise and bustle of the neighbouring town.
Portimão & Praia da Rocha
Portimão is second in size only to Faro and traditionally a fishing town particularly known for grilled sardines. There are many excellent restaurants in the old town, where you can sample the local catch. Its immediate neighbour is Praia da Rocha, which originally became a beach resort for wealthy Portuguese families back in the 19th Century. More recently re-discovered by the British in the 1930’s, Praia da Rocha (Beach of Rocks) provided an inspirational refuge for writers and intellectuals.
Praia da Luz
Prais da Luz is a pleasant seaside town that has recently been dominated by tourism. The old church and fortress remain of the old town, but the rest is a tourism takeover. There is, however, a pleasant beach and some gentle cliffs rising away from the beach on either side of the resort.
The one time quiet fishing village of Quarteira has long since been spoilt by unsympathetic developments of apartment buildings. Although the old town and beach remain intact, there is little else here to attract the visitor apart from the weekly market, although the town is gradually improving to bring it up to the standard of its more impressive neighbours. Quarteira market has developed into one of the largest and busiest markets in the Algarve offering a variety of produce and clothing, all at very attractive prices.
Sagres is famous for its old navigation and sea faring school, established here by Henry the Navigator in the 15th Century, when Portugal’s explorers set out from here to sail the world. Nowadays the town is more famous as a holiday resort, especially amongst the surfing community.
Standing proudly on a hill, Silves can be traced back some 1.000 years BC. Evidence shows that it was also a place of note in Roman times but it really became an important place during its occupation in the early 11th Century by the Moors. Silves continued in importance as a main town of the Algarve until its commerce began a slow decline in the 15th Century due to the silting up of the Rio Arade that had given the town good access to the sea. A reminder of the Roman occupation is the Ponte Romana, a fine strong bridge over the Rio Arade below the city walls, which was rebuilt from the original in the 15th Century.
Tavira is probably one of the most immediately appealing towns in the Algarve. Its historical centre rests between the castle and the palm-lined banks of the Rio Gilão. Until recently, Tavira has made few concessions to tourism, with its long fine sandy beach only being reached by ferry. The castle grounds, filled with a variety of plants such as fig and hibiscus, provides views over terracotta tiled roofs down to the river and the old Roman bridge. Along the river from the bridge are the old market and bandstand, a pleasant area for a promenade or a quiet drink at one of the many pavement cafes.
Vilamoura is the name given to an area rather than to an actual town. It is outstanding in that it is one of the largest single tourist complexes in Europe and covers some 2,000 hectares of land. The main attractions to the area are the six different golf courses and the centrally located Marina, which is a pleasant area to walk around and there are many restaurants and bars to cater for all tastes.