The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal. The region has on average 450,000 residents within its sixteen municipalities, and its own administrative centre in the city of Faro. The Algarve’s international airport is also in Faro, providing flights all over Europe. The bulk of the Algarve’s summer economy is made up from tourism and tourism related activities. Also very important is food production, such as fish, seafood, oranges, carob beans, figs, almonds and many other fruits and vegetables. The production of salt, and cork are also very important.
The Algarve covers 4997 km2, extending just south of the Tagus Valley, to the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The highest point is Fóia in the mountains range of Monchique and sits at 902 meters high. The region is the home of the Ria Formosa lagoon, which is a nature reserve of over 170 km2. The Ria Formosa is made up of many islands and is the stopping place for hundreds of different birds. The length of the south-facing coastline is approximately 155 km. Beyond Cape St. Vincent (the westernmost point), it stretches a further 50 km to the north. The coastline is very picturesque with limestone caves and grottoes, some of which are only accessible by boat.
The Algarve boasts an average of 300 dry days per year. Maximum recorded temperatures in the Algarve fluctuate between 25ºc in the winter and 48ºc in the summer, however more realistically the temperatures would fluctuate between 18ºc in the winter and 38ºc in the summer with a few days above or below. The temperature almost never falls below zero.
The Algarve became a very popular tourist destination in the 1960’s, mainly from Britain. It has since become a common destination for Germans, Dutch, French, Scandinavians, and Irish people. Many of these tourists now own their own property in the region. The Algarve has invested in the creation of a network of Golf courses, and boasts plenty of stunning golden sandy beaches. The beaches are one of the primary reasons that the Algarve is such a popular destination, along with the Mediterranean climate, the safety, cuisine, and the relatively low costs.
The Algarve is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal, and one of the most popular in Europe. During the peak holiday season of July and August each year the population triples, thanks to the visiting holiday makers and visitors. It receives an average of seven million foreign tourists, and three million Portuguese visitors, each year.
The Algarve’s mild climate has attracted interest from the Northern Europeans wishing to have a holiday home or residence in the region. Being part of the European Union, any EU citizen has the right to freely buy a property and reside in the Algarve. British expatriates, followed by German, Dutch and Scandinavians, are among the largest groups wishing to own a home in this sunny region of Portugal
The Algarve is home to a variety of fish, and seafood restaurants serving some of the finest quality produce the region has to offer. The fabulous diet and abundance of fresh, high quality produce available on your doorstep is one of the many reasons the Algarve is a truly amazing place to live. Home to a thriving fishing industry, and numerous traditional fishing villages dating back to the Middle Ages, each year the Algarve hosts a number of fish festivals up and down the coast. One of the very popular festivals is in the port town of Olhão. Here you have the chance to experiment with many different types of shell fish, whilst enjoying some live music and the fabulous weather. The festival is one of the largest and most highly anticipated gastronomic events in the Algarve, and is popular with tourists and locals alike. The region also hosts numerous weekly fish markets for you to explore, stocking a wide variety of fresh produce for you to enjoy.
Since the 1960’s the Algarve has been seen a large amount of development to accommodate its visitors. The region has introduced better infrastructures, and better housing. Many hotels, resorts, golf courses (some of the best in Europe), and villas have been constructed, improving the quality of tourism and the quality of life for the locals who previously lived in poorer circumstances. Today the Algarve is amongst the regions in Portugal with the best quality of life and safety.
The 16 Municipalities of the Algarve are: