Sun, December 19th, 2010 - By

Why Albufeira is the perfect sightseeing base

You’ll rarely see me turn down a refreshing glass of Portuguese premium lager; especially after climbing up ‘Cardiac Hill’ on the way back from Albufeira’s Praia da Oura beach. And given the chance, I’d eat freshly-caught char grilled fish for every meal. So Albufeira, with its draught Super Bock and ubiquitous sardines, definitely ticks both of those boxes for me. It also ticks the box for being a perfect base from which to explore the beautiful and diverse Algarve region.

Albufeira is located midway along the Algarve coastline, so you can day trip around in all directions, visiting secluded beaches, castles and ‘the end of the world’ at Cape St Vincent. Here are some more details of the day trips you could take from the most popular resort on the Algarve.

Drive west, to the ends of the earth and back

Cape St. Vincent

The promontory at Cape St Vincent is the southernmost tip of Portugal, where the Romans literally thought the earth came to an end and the sun sank into the Atlantic with a hiss. The Cape is 58 miles west of Albufeira.

Places on the golden sands of Praia do Evaristo, 2.5 miles west of Albufeira, are sought after among discerning beach lovers. It is a secluded bay where you can snorkel and dine on fresh fish and seafood dishes from a popular restaurant called ‘Evaristo’. The beach was named after the restaurant, not vice versa!

Head inland and into the past

Silves church

The peaceful village of Paderne and the ruins of its Moorish castle are just eight miles north of Albufeira. If you are holidaying by the beach over the Christmas period, why not head to Paderne where villagers celebrate New Year with a ‘Medieval Days’ re-enactment festival.

Silves is a picture-perfect town of whitewashed cottages and winding cobbled streets, topped off by an impressive red sandstone castle. It was once the capital of the Algarve and is a great place to explore Portugal’s colourful past. You’ll find it ten miles north of Albufeira.

Or why not explore the Serra de Monchique? This tranquil mountain range is a 45 minute drive inland from Albufeira and is dotted with laid-back villages and stores selling local crafts. Highlights include Monchique town itself, the Roman spa town of Caldas de Monchique and the road from Monchique to Foia which is lined with restaurants. Piri-piri chicken was invented in the Serra, so be sure to sample some of it in its original homeland.

Faro isn’t too far

Faro Markets, Portugal.

Enjoy the buzz of the Algarve’s modern day capital city. Faro has attractive squares, busy markets and a pedestrianised Old Town (the Cidade Velha) complete with pavement cafés and medieval nooks and crannies. If you start to miss the sight of the Mediterranean Sea, you can head to the city’s marina or take a ferry to one of the peaceful ilhas (sand spit beaches) nearby. The Capela d’Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is a spooky highlight of the city and will delight sightseers of a gothic inclination. Faro is 20 miles east of Albufeira.

Image Credits: employtheskinnyboy, zombie, sheilaellen

Kelly Pipes is a writer and editor who has worked in travel and travel publishing for the last ten years, and has enjoyed every single minute of it. Alongside other projects she shares off-beat travel news and authentic travel experiences on her own blog, Sandwagon.

Posted : Sunday, December 19th, 2010 at 13:00
Category : Spotlight
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