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Ilhavo Aveiro and Coimbra - On this private tour you will visit the Vista Alegre Ceramic Tile factory Museum. Then in nearby Aviero we will stop for a Panoramic view of the Costa Nova. In Coimbra we visit the University...more

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Featured Algarve Hotels  /  Algarve Self-Catering/Vacation Rentals
Portugal Travel Guide:

The 10 best golf courses in Portugal
Alentejo Region is 'Portugal's Best Kept Secret'
Destination Portugal
Dolphin Magic (Azores)
Golf Holidays Algarve: Great Golfing Experience and Much More
Hidden Wonders Of Portugal's Sunshine Coast
Holiday: A Guide to the Azores
Holidays - Lisbon, an Introduction
Lisbon and Portugal - History and Culture
The tourist islands of Madeira
Why Holiday In The Algarve? 6 Reasons To Visit Portugal's South Coast

Hidden Wonders Of Portugal's Sunshine Coast   by Martin Thompson

Featured Algarve Hotels  /  Algarve Self-Catering/Vacation Rentals

In the far south of Portugal the Algarve offers one of Europe's warmest and most sunny climates with a breathtaking landscape of sandy beaches, forests and hills. In recent decades it has evolved from it's agricultural and fishing background to become a major tourist destination. High rise apartment blocks and miles of villa complexes have spoiled large swathes of the region. Nevertheless with a little insiders knowledge you can still discover certain places where the beaches remain untouched and wild countryside coexists with the warmth and tradition of the local culture.
Beach, Praia Da Rocha, Algarve, Portugal
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Most tourists are shuttled off to the central Algarve leaving the most beautiful and unspoiled areas in the east and the west for independent tourists. In the back country only miles from the tourist destinations many villages and towns remain untouched with little known rural walks in the spring flowers and shady woods.

Most notable in the eastern Algarve is the historic city of Tavira with it's multitude of churches and a central castle. This area is close to the Ria Formosa natural park offering miles of lagoons and barrier islands where flamingos and numerous aquatic birds live and bread. The beach at the ilha de Tavira can be reached in summer using a ferry from the centre of town or alternatively take the 20m minute walk out of town towards the island and hop on a boat that will take you across to the island. 

This stretch of sand is very popular with the Portuguese but continues for miles allowing for solitude even in the busy summer season.

In the west the city of Lagos is a popular destination and with good reason. The city has an important history as it is was from here that the Portuguese began their expeditions along the coast of Africa in the age of discovery. Lagos now has a completely pedestrianised centre within the old town that is surrounded by the castle walls. There are many shops, excellent restaurants serving fish and in the night Lagos is notorious for its bar scene. Don't miss the market on Saturday mornings where you can purchase regional specialities and freshly harvested fruit and vegetables before heading down to the fish market for the days catch. Walk along the cliffs out to the Ponta da Piedade (Mercy Point) with it's lighthouse or go swimming on the little known nudist beach at Praia do Carnavial.

The mountains of Monchique are easily reached by car from anywhere in the western Algarve. The Caldes de Monchique are therapeutic thermal baths and the area is ideal for a stroll in the wooded hills or down by the bubbleing stream. Drive out to the village of Marmallate or climb to the top of the mountain where you can take in views of the whole of the Algarve coastline and enjoy the refreshing cool mountain air. Many local shops offer locally produced hams and varieties of 'Medronho' (a brandy made from the Arbutus fruit that symbolises frienship) as well as hand made craft items. Restaurants either side of the main road offer up freshly grilled chicken, Piri Piri style.

After Lagos the Algarve coastline continues west towards Sages and the region once called "the end of the world" as little was known of what lay beyond the waves. Resort towns such as Praia da Luz with it's arced bay and black rock headland give way to the natural park of Costa Vincentina where many more secret beaches can be discovered especially along dirt tracks west of Vila do Bispo. Atlantic rollers meet a wild landscape of immense natural beauty. Popular with surfers the beaches at low tide have waves that collapse on themselves again and again and sitting on the beach on a sunny afternoon undisturbed by the modern world listening to the roar in the background while looking out into the abyss one can see how sailors were captivated to venture forth to discover what lay beyond.


Featured Algarve Hotels  /  Algarve Self-Catering/Vacation Rentals

About the Author: Martin Thompson is a frequent visitor to the Algarve where he has enjoyed many a sunny day at his families villa in Praia da Luz from where he uncovered many of the best kept secrets revealed in this article. Find out more about villa holidays in the Algarve at:



Search for Albufeira Hotels
Albufeira Jardim Hotel, Albufeira
Albufeira Jardim is a 3-star hotel brilliantly positioned above the charming fisherman's city of Albufeira. All of these lovely apartments are surrounded by the beauty of their own gardens, include a balcony or terrace (most of which enjoy a magnificent sea view), fully equipped and comfortably furnished. Albufeira Jardim features two swimming pools, one children’s swimming pool, three tennis courts, restaurants and bars. Albufeira Jardim Hotel has a restaurant. Additional amenities include shopping on site and a television in the lobby. This property is self-catering.
Bay View Aparthotel, Albufeira
Bay View is a refurbished resort located in the heart of Albufeira, Portugal with picturesque views of the bay and the Old Town.  Area attractions are Zoo Marine Algarve, Dream Wave, San Vicente de Albufeira Statue and Sant'Ana Church. Guests can relax next to the outdoor pool while the kids play in the children's pool or enjoy the modern cool interior of the lobby area. Bay View also has a modern sun terrace overlooking the swimming pool and panoramic views of the old town. The beach is only a short walk away and Bay View is surrounded by a wide range of restaurants and bars.
Belver Hotel Boa Vista & Spa, Albufeira
Belver Boa Vista Hotel & Spa situated in Albufeira in a prime location, with stunning views over the sea and 84 rooms and suites with panoramic balconies and individual decorations. From a light meal to a drink or even a traditional Portuguese meal, everything is possible in the Belver Boa Vista Hotel & Spa. Boa Vista Restaurant & Terrace "Bellevue" - enjoy a variety of traditional and international delicacies. Terrace "Bellevue” by the pool has a magnificent view over the bay of Albufeira and the Atlantic Ocean. Belver Boa Vista Hotel & Spa offers you the Spa and the heated outdoor swimming pool for your leisure times. A full spa awaits you with: Sauna, Turkish bath, Gymnasium, Massage (in the hotel and outdoor), Sea weeds and mud wrappings, Vichy Shower and Hydromassage.
Hotel California, Albufeira
A small, friendly, family-run hotel, the 3-star California stands in a level location in the centre of Albufeira, well situated in a pedestrian street, with shops, restaurants, bars and discos nearby, and the Fisherman’s Beach only 200 yards away. There is a level walk of approximately 820 yards to join the bus for excursions. Buffet breakfast, waiter service dinner with choice of menu, bar, restaurant, television lounge, snack bar, rooftop swimming pool with sun lounges and umbrellas on terrace, heating and air-conditioning throughout, lift to all nine floors. 10 steps to reception. All of this combined with dedicated and professional service, will assure you unforgettable holidays.
Eden Resort, Albufeira
Located in peaceful Albufeira, this 4-star resort offers self-catering rooms with balconies overlooking the pool and gardens. It is near Albufeira's sandy beaches and golf courses. Free parking is available. The rooms at the Eden Resort are elegantly designed with contemporary furnishings and feature a spacious living area, free Wi-Fi and cable TV. Meals can be prepared in the fully-furnished kitchens.  The hotel's Pecado Restaurant offers panoramic views from its terrace. It offers local and international cuisine made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Guests can lounge in the hotel's 5 indoor and outdoor swimming pools or enjoy a massage while relaxing at spa. 
Luna Pérola do Algarve, Albufeira
Luna Pérola do Algarve is a 4-star hotel in Albufeira, a charming beach town located in the Algarve region, one of the prime holiday destinations in Portugal. Albufeira is well-known for its wonderful beaches and its countless leisure facilities, shops, restaurants and, of course, its lively night-life. Hotel Luna Pérola do Algarve features fully equipped serviced apartments and studios in a quiet location at only 0.6 miles from the beaches and the city centre.  Guests can keep in shape and enjoy the ultimate relax during their holidays, as the Luna Pérola do Algarve Hotel features a wellness centre with heated indoor swimming pool, gym, sauna, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath and Scottish bath.
Mar a Vista, Albufeira
The Residencial Mar A Vista Albufeira is located in Cerro da Piedade in Albufeira and is only a ten minute walk away from Albufeira town centre. Located close to the shops, restaurants, bars and nightlife and there is a nearby golf course around 5 km away. The complex is on the beachfront, and guests can enjoy excellent views of the city and the sea. There is also a swimming pool and sun-loungers available for guests’ use. The 2 star hotel has forty-two rooms on five floors. The hotel has a terrace and a garden and a bar area for drinks. The reception desk has staff on hand 24-hours a day and the staff can exchange currency. There is also a safe for any valuables, a television room and a breakfast room for the morning buffet.
Real Bellavista Hotel and Spa, Albufeira
The luxury 4 star Real Bellavista Hotel and Spa combines the atmosphere of a city hotel with all the facilities and luxury of a holiday resort in Albufeira. The Algarve is what makes the big difference; the hotel takes care of the little details. The hotel maintains its customary high standards in the service provided to guests. Versatility and the range of services offered, cater for business needs and also for those in search of holiday, sporting holidays, nightlife or absolute relaxation, satisfying both adults and their children. “Cozinha do Real” Restaurant, the Hotel’s main restaurant, serving the usual meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner, buffet or à la carte, which can include the special diet options chosen by guests).
Rocamar Beach Hotel, Albufeira
Basking in the sunshine of the Algarve, a refurbished hotel, with the beach at your feet, the sea in the background, and all of Albufeira's entertainment on your doorstep. The magnificent view that makes the Rocamar so special will be a constant companion throughout your stay, whether you choose to spend your time in the comfortable indoor areas of the hotel, or in the casual atmosphere outdoors. Don't miss the hotel's panoramic rooftop terrace where you can marvel at the wonderful view while you take a refreshing dip in the pool. Whether your taste runs to typical local cuisine or international dishes, the restaurant at the Rocamar Beach Hotel is perfect for every occasion, from a quick bite before hitting the beach, to a romantic dinner for two.
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Search for Almancil Hotels
Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Resort, Almancil
This hotel is located in Almancil. Vale de Lobo Beach is an area attraction. Another nearby attraction is Quarteira Beach. Dining options at Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Resort include a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a children's pool, a children's club, and tennis courts. Spa amenities include beauty services and a hair salon. This 5.0-star property offers meeting rooms for small groups and audio-visual equipment. Wireless Internet access is available in public areas. Guest parking is complimentary. Additional property amenities include a poolside bar, a coffee shop/café, and a concierge desk. 
Hotel Quinta do Lago Almancil
The Hotel Quinta do Lago, is situated in the Resort of Quinta do Lago in the Algarve, next to the Formosa Estuary (Ria Formosa) and the sea, in the very heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Park. A member of the “Leading Hotels of the World” since 1988, the Hotel Quinta do Lago is considered one of the most prestigious 5-star luxury hotels. The panoramic view can be enjoyed in all its splendour from the rooms, suites, bar, restaurant, terraces and swimming pool. The hotel’s privileged location with pedestrian access to the beach, various golf courses right on the doorstep, the magnificent view over the estuary and the sea, the relaxing walks along nature trails where it can be observed many different types of birds and the splendid lush gardens, offer the tranquillity and natural beauty of the landscape.
Ria Park Garden Hotel, Almancil
The Ria Park Garden Hotel is housed in a four-storey white building, set 900 metres from the golden sands of the Algarve's Vale do Garrão Beach, 5 kilometres south of Almancil and 4 kilometres west of Quinta do Lago. The hotel boasts a pink, marble-floored lobby with cushioned rattan seating and an adjacent solarium featuring a fabric-draped ceiling and a display of Portuguese ceramics. A family pool and a children's pool provide warm-weather outdoor swimming in a floral garden setting, complete with palm and pine trees, potted orange trees and a rock waterfall. The pool complex includes a sundeck and lawn furnished with cushioned lounge chairs. Guests can enjoy the facilities of the health club, which includes fitness equipment, a jetted tub, a hydrotherapy pool and a Turkish bath. 
Ria Park Hotel & Spa, Almancil
This Almancil spa hotel is near Vale de Lobo Beach. Another nearby attraction is Quarteira Beach. Dining options at Ria Park Hotel & Spa include a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a children's pool, a health club, and a spa tub. The property's full-service health spa has massage/treatment rooms. This 5.0-star property offers meeting rooms for small groups, audio-visual equipment, and business services. High-speed Internet access is available in public areas. This Almancil property has event space consisting of banquet facilities and conference rooms.  Additional property amenities include a poolside bar, an arcade/game room, and multilingual staff. 
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Browse more hotels in Faro and surrounding areas
Faro Hotel, Faro
In the heart of the Algarve's capital city, the Hotel Faro in Faro, Portugal is a modern, four storey hotel next to Faro's Marina and seven kilometers from the airport. The 90 air-conditioned guestrooms are furnished in a modern style and all have cable television, clock radios, direct-dial phones, safes, internet access and minibars. Some have their own balcony and separate sitting area.  The Hotel Faro has the Restaurante Ria Formosa which serves Faro regional and international cuisine in a modern setting. The Terrace enjoys panoramic views over the city and out towards the ocean. Guests can also unwind with a drink in the cocktail bar, even whilst surfing the web, thanks to the Hotel's wireless internet service.
Monte da Quinta Suites - Apartment, Faro
Superbly located in the heart of sophisticated Quinta Do Lago the Club has a truly special atmosphere. The project's concept is to take full advantage of this unique location in the very centre of the Portuguese Algarve's most exclusive development and create one of the most elegant resorts in the area. Accommodation is in duplex townhouses and duplex villas with private plunge pools, swimming pools and gardens.
Monte do Casal, Faro
18th century old coach house - high degree of privacy with an emphasis in comfort - personal service and first class food in a very special atmosphere of total relaxation - breakfast served on own private terrace, weather permitting -180 degree panoramic views across the countryside to the ocean -the owner personally meets the guests and will give advice on the best areas to visit.
Ria Plaza Resort, Faro
Located in the heart of the Algarve in Valverde, about 400 meters away from Quinta Do Lago (Vale Do Lobo Road), one of the most prestigious resorts in the region, the Pinus Ria Hotel has excellent accommodation, sports and leisure facilities as well as the only restaurant in that area that specializes in fine Portuguese gastronomy.  This four-star hotel has 77 rooms, all of which are air-conditioned and include direct dial telephone, satellite television, balcony, hair dryer, safe, mini bar and anti-fire doors. The food is spectacular in the hotel's restaurant. If you have the notion, stop by the hotel's bar for a before or after dinner drink.
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Search for more Sagres hotels  /  Pousadas of the Algarve
Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, Sagres
Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel is the finest luxury family resort in Europe. Positioned within a protected natural park near the historic fishing port of Sagres, on Portugal’s unspoiled western Algarve coast, Martinhal is where luxury meets Nature. Martinhal welcomes families and couples, and the greeting is warm, open and generous. Guests feel at home. And it’s memorable. This is where life-long friendships will blossom, and where lasting impressions will be made. Stylish, contemporary architecture complements the organic personality of the resort, which has been shaped to blend effortlessly into the indigenous landscape. This is function and form at its best. This is sustainability. 
Pousada de Sagres Infante
Luxurious accommodation at the Hotel Pousada de Sagres which is on the top of the cliffs overlooking the clear blue waters of the Atlantic in the Algarve, Portugal.   Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Pousada is located in the village of Sagres, in the Algarve region. The discovery of the cultural authenticity of the area and the possibility of walking on desert beaches, allow you to forget about the real world. From the fishing village of Sagres come the excellent fish and seafood that can be quietly savoured at the Pousada, a contrast to the more usual cosmopolitan bustle of the Algarve coast. Only 5 km from the Pousada, you will find the Fortaleza do Beliche, the most south-westerly hotel in Europe with an unforgettable view and a first class restaurant. 
Search for more hotels in Sao Bras de Alportel  /  Pousadas of the Algarve
Pousada de São Brás de Alportel
Located in the Algarve mountain range, only half an hour from the Algarve coast and near the most famous beaches in Portugal, the Pousada Hotel in São Brás de Alportel has and still maintains the most genuine characteristics of the region's Culture. A fantastic view and an excellent Algarve gastronomy, make of this charming pousada hotel an unique place. Here you can be in contact with nature and with the traditional Algarve. You can also enjoy the sights of the typical Algarvian architecture of their houses.  Near this charming hotel in Algarve are some golf courses, such as the Monte Rei golf course, the Benamor golf course and the Quinta da Ria golf course, these are some of the best greens for the practice of golf in Algarve Portugal.
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Hotel Porta Nova Tavira
Hotel located just above the historic town with great views of the sea from its 137 rooms. Within easy walking distance of the centre of Tavira. The Hotel provides the 'Tabira' Restaurant, a snack-bar for the pool area, two bars, and a games room, Two swimming pools - one for children. A Heath Club with sauna, steam, Jacuzzi, massage, and a heated indoor pool. Perched on the highest point overlooking the historic town of Tavira and south towards the nearby sea, it is only 5 minutes walk for a guest to be in the old part of the town. A 10 minute drive will also take guests to the famous sandy beaches to be found on Tavira Island. The Hotel also makes an excellent base for playing golf in the eastern Algarve with several courses within easy reach.
Hotel Vila Gale Tavira
The Hotel Vila Galé, Tavira is housed in a modern, 3-storey hotel set in the city centre, one block from the River Gilão and six kilometres from the nearest golf course. The Vila Gale is constructed around a central courtyard that features a swimming pool and children's pool, surrounded by palm trees, lawns and lounge chairs. Access to the onsite health club is available for a daily fee. The health club includes a heated pool under a domed ceiling, a spa tub, a steam room and a fitness centre equipped with a universal gym, cardio machines and free weights. The Aladino Dining Room serves buffet breakfast and dinner all year round, with lunch buffets in winter. The adjacent Aladino Grill offers an a la carte dinner menu of grilled seafood and meat, with lunch available in summer.
Pousada de Tavira - Convento da Graça
Pousada de Tavira, Convento da Graça is a historic luxury hotel in Tavira, that blends the perfection of classic lines and the warm atmosphere, with modern equipment. This historic hotel in Algarve is near the golf courses Benamor, Monte Rei and Quinta da Ria, allowing those who practice this sport it will be the opportunity to improve their game in some of the best Algarve golf courses. The Pousada Convento da Graça is ready to accommodate from the most demanding business client, to the guest that simply wants to spend an afternoon by the pool or having a delicious meal at the restaurant. This historic pousada hotel in Tavira is ideal for those who want to spend their holidays in Portugal, either summer or a weekend long break.
Tavira Inn - Casa do Rio, Tavira
Located in Tavira, Algarve, Portugal, this private accommodation offers visitors 5 en suite hotel rooms (shower room and one double bed in each room) and a sea water pool surrounded by a terrace overlooking the river and the garden in a very eclectic ambience. Tavira Inn - Casa do Rio, separated only by the road from the river Gilão and 3 minutes walking distance from the centre of the town, awaits you with its casual mix of stylish décor and friendly ambience.  It is a summer home away from home.  Due to the small size and unique décor of the Tavira Inn and, on demand of guests, reservations for guests with children are not accepted.
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Search for more Vilamoura hotels
Dom Pedro Marina Hotel Vilamoura
Located opposite Vilamoura's marina, the Dom Pedro Marina Hotel is a modern property located within 250 metres of the casino and the beach. The hotel has an outdoor pool and children's pool bordered by sunbathing lawns, and a heated indoor spa tub, open all year round. Guests of Dom Pedro Marina Hotel enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast each morning, and the main restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes for lunch and dinner. In warmer weather there is terrace seating and a poolside bar is open until late, whilst in winter guests can enjoy drinks and music in the lobby piano bar. The beach club with restaurant-bar is 200 metres from the hotel. Deck chairs and thatched sun shades can be rented, and the restaurant serves light dishes for lunch and dinner. The hotel also provides a free shuttle service to all 4 Vilamoura golf courses. 
Prado do Golf Hotel, Vilamoura
Prado do Golf is a self catering holiday resort set in attractive tended gardens and ideally located in a peaceful corner of the Vilamoura development, 10 kilometers west of Albufeira. The resort is comprised of 44 white-washed, block-style villas and apartments close to the Old Course fairways. All units lead out onto small private terraces or balconies. Guests can enjoy a mixture of snacks and Portuguese food at O Sino restaurant which features an outside terrace overlooking the swimming pool, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner with vegetarian and children's menus available. Sun worshippers will enjoy the patio areas around the large kidney-shape pool, and there are two beaches and a marina three kilometers away. 
The Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort and Spa Vilamoura
The Hilton Vilamoura as Cascatas Golf Resort and Spa is located in Vilamoura, Portugal, adjacent to the 18-hole Pinhal Golf Course. It is 2 kilometres from its own private beach, and 18 kilometres from the city of Faro. A full range of spa and beauty treatments is available at the Seven Spa, including aromatherapy massage. O Cilantro Restaurant serves traditional Portuguese and Latin American dishes, made using locally farmed ingredients. The Moscada Restaurant serves buffet and à la carte meals, and features show cooking, views over the pool, and a terrace for al fresco dining. Restaurant Aquarela offers Mediterranean specialities, including fresh seafood and salads, and has poolside views.  6 heated outdoor swimming pools with a children's pool. The hotel also has a golf simulator centre, and the 18-hole Pinhal Golf Course is next door to the resort. 
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