Lisbonne Idée takes you to the Algarve
3. Algarve Food
Why Choose the Algarve?
If you are travelling to Portugal soon, know that it is mandatory to visit the Algarve. The south of the country is a holiday and leisure destination par excellence. Here you will find the best beaches in the country, with golden sand to lose sight of and the crystalline Mediterranean sea. The 300 days of sunshine a year make this an ideal destination for outdoor activities. Below you will find some more convincing arguments.
The Algarve covers a total area of 5,412 km² and has a population of 451,005 residents, corresponding to 4.27% of the population of Portugal. Its Mediterranean climate is characterized by mild and short winters and long, hot and dry summers.
The Algarve has a rich historical heritage and there are traces of the passage of ancient people and civilizations. The ruins of Milreu, for example, are the most important evidence of the Roman presence in the Algarve. In this village are still visible the architectural details of the fourth century, such as the manor house, the thermal baths and the oil and wine mills, which revealed a family of high social status has lived there.
In Silves, on the other hand, there is the most important evidence of the Islamic presence in the Algarve, the Castle of Silves. This fortification, more than a thousand years old has red walls due to the red stoneware typical of the area, and it is surrounded by walls with eleven turrets.
Those who visit the Algarve will be delighted by its landscape diversity. This beautiful region has beaches of excellent quality, with a calm sea that invites to baths. In addition to its famous coast, there is also the mountain range, with its beautiful natural landscapes, and the cities, which contain historical vestiges of the region's Arab past.
The Algarve's landscape is made up of contrasts. The hills of Monchique, Espinhaço Cão and Caldeirão are lavish in natural resources and fill the landscape with its green hues.
Monchique is one of the most popular hills in the Algarve, due to the therapeutic quality of the water flowingon the highest hill in the region. Pico da Fóia is the highest point of the Monchique hill, a total of 902 meters high, letting you see from Cabo São Vicente to the Arrábida hill.
The Espinhaço de Cão hill is characterized by the eucalyptus covered slopes and its beautiful valleys. The Caldeirão hill, on the other hand, is the highest hill in the Algarve and has a vast hydrographic system that runs between fields of arbutus and cork oaks. This hill is a must stop for bird lovers.
Who can resist the golden sand and crystal clear waters of the Algarve coast? Every year, both Portuguese and foreign people roam South to enjoy the best that the area has to offer. Stay with us and get to know the best beaches in Algarve.
Senhora da Rocha beach, Lagoa
Senhora da Rocha beach is located between high cliffs and consists of a small sandy beach bathed by clear and calm water, ideal for swimming or boating. The beach is shared with the boats that make, at the request of the tourists, visits to the marine caves of the region, with incredible games of light and colour, as well as the isolated beaches accessible through the sea.
The beach is surrounded by green, with trees such as juniper and wild olive trees growing there. To the west, it is bordered by a rocky bridge that separates it from the New Beach. It’s on this bridge that a charming chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Rocha was built in the 14th century. Next to the chapel is a belvedere from where you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the Algarve coast.
Ilha do Farol beach, Faro
Ilha do Farol beach is located in Ria Formosa, Faro, and it’s named after the lighthouse (farol) of the Cape of St. Maria. You can only access Ilha do Farol by boat. There are connections from Olhão, all year round, and from Faro, from the Porta Nova Pier. During the 40-minute trip, which costs 5€ (roundtrip), you can enjoy the natural beauty of the protected area of Ria Formosa.
The beach has a vast, almost deserted big sand stretch, bathed by the calm and limpid sea whose temperature is of usually 22 degrees. On the island, there's a small village called Farol, in which the inhabitants are mostly engaged in fishing or the production of bivalves.
Odeceixe beach, Aljezur
Odeceixe beach, located in the county of Aljezur, has the particularity of containing a river beach. That is, you can choose to swim in the sea or in the river. This beach was classified as one of the 7 Wonders - Beaches of Portugal and is the northernmost beach in the Algarve with a blue flag, the award that distinguishes the cleanest beaches. During the summer it is protected and the maximum temperature of the water is usually of around 25 degrees.
The peculiarity of this beach is that it pleases all. The strong smell of the sea enchants surfers and the great river that surrounds it, Ribeira de Seixe, is just like a swimming pool, ideal for children who are still learning to swim. The beach of Odeceixe offers a high-quality landscape, providing an incredible view to enjoy at the top of the cliffs.
When someone talks about the Algarve's food it’s inevitable to mention what the sea brings us. Starting with seafood, such as clams, oysters or cockles, lovers of this delicacy will be delighted in the Algarve. The seafood can be served with just a strand of olive oil and garlic, or it may consist of a typical dish of the region, such as “arroz de lingueirão”, “feijoada de búzios”, “xerém de conquilhas” or “açorda de marisco”.
One of the most popular dishes based on seafood is the recipe of clams in the “cataplana”, made in a copper container of Arab origin, which retains the taste of food. In addition to being able to taste these dishes in many restaurants of Algarve, you can also go to the seafood festivals that take place in the area in the summer months.
Besides the seafood, those who go to Algarve have to try the charcoal grilled fish. The grilled sardine is a Portuguese classic, but the one cooked in Portimão is particularly famous. The “carapaus alimados”, left in salt at night to gain flavour, are another delicious way to eat fish in the Algarve. Try the tuna steak in Vila Real de Santo António, the octopus salad and the cuttlefish fried in its own paint.
Meat and sausages
Algarve food is not limited to fish and shellfish, though. It also includes interesting meat dishes such as stews, chicken with cherries, boiled chickpeas or sausages. In the south of Portugal, the influence of foreign gastronomy is hardly felt, so you can expect to find many regional dishes, unlike anything you have ever tasted.
The orange from the Algarve is ideal to eat or to make juice with, but the almonds, figs and carob are used to make the delicious desserts that characterize the south of the country. In the Algarve, you can find sweets such as morgados (egg yolks) and the colourful almond-based marzipan cakes. The supply of desserts in this region inherited a great influence from the Moorish past, hence the use of almonds and honey in many recipes.
Algarve attracts tourists from all over the world, who are dazzled by this beach destination. Besides the beaches that benefit from a warm sea and a great number of hours of sunlight, this region has many other leisure options. Have a look at our suggestions:
Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is a natural site of extraordinary beauty. It is located near the port city of Lagos and offers a fabulous view of the Cape São Vicente and its cliffs, made up of arches and grottos.
This place appears in many postcards of the region and it can be accessed by land or by sea. However, for a full experience, it is recommended to go by boat. To observe the cliffs from the sea, visitors can participate in excursions on small fishing boats.
If you are going to travel with children, do not miss Zoomarine, considered the best family theme park in the Algarve. Built on the tradition that links this region to the ocean, this oceanographic educational entertainment park provides an opportunity to connect with dolphins, seals, sharks, tropical fish and exotic birds.
This is a quiet space where you can uncover the secrets of the oceans and enjoy educational shows with animals. You can also have fun at the new Zoomarine Beach, an area of aquatic fun that features a wave beach, water slides and swimming pools. Have a 4D movie experience and enjoy the Ferris wheel or the pirate ship.
Ria Formosa Natural Park
The Ria Formosa Park is an incredible natural paradise that stretches for over 60 km, from Ancão to Manta Rota. It is separated from the sea by a string of barrier islands and serves as a shelter for migratory birds and very rare species. In this protected area, there are multiple activities, such as bivalve farming, fish farming and saltern.
Why is it worth visiting Ria Formosa Park? Because it’s one of the most beautiful natural areas of Algarve, for the variety of its ecosystems and for its unique location. Take the course of Lagoa de S. Lourenço and observe the birds, visit the Environmental Education Center of Marim, discover Olhão, the cubist village, and spend a day on the beautiful beach of Ilha do Farol.
These are some of the 10 best places in the Algarve.