When it comes to foreign beach holidays this summer, the Algarve takes the top spot for sun, surf and scenery.

Cocktails to wave riding

You could be sipping cocktails at a seafront bar, soaking up the rays from a secluded cove or riding the waves on its wild west coast.

Great for golfers too, it has 31 A-grade courses — Vilamoura is the king of the swingers with 13 top-class golfing venues — along with its bustling marina and luxury hotels.

Albufeira, meanwhile, is the Algarve’s largest holiday spot, with a buzzing strip of open-air bars and an old town filled with cobbled squares, colourful market stalls and alfresco restaurants.

Luxury villa rentals to resorts

An array of accommodation, from sleek beachfront apartments, to luxury Villa Rentals like Villa Cascata to resort hotels awaits, along with direct flights from many UK airports, so there are plenty of bargain last-minute deals.

It’s also ideal for Britons looking to spend less on holiday, having just been crowned the cheapest destination in the eurozone in this year’s Post Office Holiday Money Report.

For those looking to discover the Algarve for the first time, there are plenty of must-do experiences, from favourite places to visit to off-the-beaten-track locations.

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Must do experiences in the Algarve

The first stop has got to be its stand-out beaches. From child-friendly bays with Blue Flag credentials to rocky inlets and deserted islands, take your pick from its award-winning beaches including Dona Ana, Camilo, Meia, Marinha and Falésia.

The Algarve’s incredible coastline also has more than its fair share of natural beauty spots. Swimming or kayaking inside the Benagil Cave, a stunning sea cave where sunlight streams through natural apertures and openings in the dome, is certainly one to tick off your bucket list.

If you don’t fancy getting wet, hike along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail near Lagoa to view it from above.

Alternatively, towards Lagos, you can see Ponta da Piedade with its rock formations and caves carved by the elements over thousands of years – Portugal’s equivalent to the 12 Apostles in Australia.

Hop on board a boat trip around Ria Formosa Natural Park, a unique coastal lagoon dubbed one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.

Catch a ferry from Olhão to the car-free Armona Island, where you can enjoy peaceful shoreline strolls, serene sea swimming or simply sip cold beers at the beach bars with your feet in the sand.

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Dreaming your dreams

You can also sail from Faro to Deserta Island where there is nothing but boardwalks, birdwatching and a single seafood restaurant on four miles of beautiful white sand.

Sitting on the southwest edge of mainland Europe, Cape St. Vincent is particularly spectacular at sunset.

Heading north from here you can take in the sights on a scenic drive or hike up the Vicentine Coast, considered Portugal’s greatest coastal location. And if you fancy a wander through Portuguese history, the white-washed inland village of Alte or the shore-lined Alvor offer a glimpse into traditional rural and coastal living.

At the Castelo de Silves national monument you can discover the Moorish influence on the region, while the Church of Sao Lourenço in Almancil dazzles with its vibrant interior of blue and white azulejo tiles.

For a true taste of Portugal, order a plate of sardines or fresh seafood in the port city of Portimão or in Olhão, next to Ria Formosa promenade.

For an all-round flavour of local life, try a bike tour along the Ecovia Trail, which takes in the birdwatching haven of the Alvor estuary, the majestic cliffs of Sagres point and the fishing villages of Salema and Burgau.