Easily one of Portugal's most popular holiday destinations, the Algarve has a multitude of beautiful beaches. In fact, the area’s sandy stretches are some of the best in Europe. Plus, with over 300 days of sunshine promised every year, it’s no surprise that the Algarve has been attracting travellers in search of sun, sand and sea for many years.
That said, once there, it would be something of a waste not to take some time away from the beach to visit a few of the beautiful towns of the Algarve. Evidence of the Algarve's one-time Moorish rulers still abounds. As well as the old town walls in Lagos and several castles, the narrow streets and unusual chimneys in many of the towns and villages also hark back to the five centuries of Moorish rule.
Silves is a charming and historic town on the banks of the Arade River, littered with beautiful lemon and orange trees. It has a laid back atmosphere and makes a great day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the busy beaches. A visit to the Castelo de Silves is a must. Dating as far back as the 8th century, the castle offers some fantastic panoramic views over the town.
Lagos is a beautiful town steeped in history and culture, with many beautiful churches and monuments to explore. It is also a very vibrant town with a great selection of restaurants and buzzing nightlife. The town is also home to some of the best beaches in the Algarve.
Sagres is a truly tranquil town with beautiful beaches, a picturesque harbour at Baleeira, a pretty town square and impressive views of the rugged landscape. If you are a fan of ocean-fresh fish, there are plenty of great restaurants where you can sample many tasty local dishes. Nearby is Cape St. Vincent, the most south-westerly point of Europe’s mainland and where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean from this jagged cliff top setting. Henry the Navigator, Portugal’s most famous explorer set off from here on his voyages of discovery.
On any trip to the Algarve, it’s likely that you will at least pass through Faro, as it is the region’s capital and home to the international airport. Faro is a city full of history, great shops, restaurants and cafes aplenty, theatres, galleries and, of course, great beaches. The central area is quite compact and easy to explore with everything located within walking distance. For those interested in nature and wildlife, the Ria Formosa lagoon and Natural Park is also right on the doorstep.
Loulè is best known for its colourful markets selling local produce and handicrafts, it’s one of the best places for shopping in the Algarve. One of its main sights is Loulé Castle, which was first built by the Romans, later it became a Moorish fortress, then in the 13th century they were defeated by Christians during the Reconquista by Dom Paio Peres Correia. There are other Moorish elements to be found in the town from when they ruled this part of Portugal, such as São Clemente. The oldest church in Loulè, it was built on the site of a former mosque around the 13th century and the church tower was originally the minaret.
There is so much more to this region than breathtaking beaches and you can uncover so much more when you stay at Villa Cascata. Check out some of the beautiful towns and villages, full of history, culture and atmosphere, that you can visit on a trip to Portugal's popular coast. Although its beaches and deserved reputation for warm weather might suggest that this is a summer destination, holidays to the Algarve can be enjoyed at any time of the year.