Top 10 Algarve Attractions
The beaches, the amazing golf courses, the weather and great entertainment parks such as Zoomarine are well known Algarve attractions. However there are a number of regular events happening year round here that are a good reason to visit. Check the events calendar to see the most up-to-date information on festivals, fairs and entertainment in your area. Here are some of the highlights of the annual calendar that you may want to check out.
In mid summer (generally in August) the old Moorish capital of the Algarve, Silves hosts a medieval festival that last for several days. The setting is perfect - narrow cobbled streets that wind way their way around the town rising towards the Cathedral and Castle. The whole town embraces the spirit of the festival, with business owners donning medieval costumes, electric signs and lighting switched off for the duration, knights patrolling the streets, wandering mistrals providing the music and even leprous beggars pleading for alms. Don't miss this one - it is fantastic.
Opening late 2012, this is set to be a fantastic new attraction for the region and is expected to attract divers from all over the world. Four decomissioned navy ships will be sunk at the end of 2012 forming the worlds largest underwater artificial reef, and boosting the biodiversity in the local waters. Just off Portimão the reef will be a huge tourist attraction as well as a valuable study tool for marine biologists. Starting in October 2012, divers are welcome all year round.
Update: 2 decommissioned ships have been sunk and are regularly visited by divers. Check out some of the awesome videos here
Every year the European golf tour makes its way to the Algarve to play for the Portugal Masters cup. This prestigious event draws a large crowd and top international golfers. Usually this event takes place in October at the Oceanico Victoria course in Vilamoura. In 2012, some of the tournaments top golfers, including Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazábal, took to the seas for a very special Ocean Challenge.....Have a look at the video, we think you'll love it. watch it here .
Did you know that the Algarve is the only place in Europe where you can play in a pool with dolphins? At Zoomarine theme park you can take part in the Dolphin Emotions programme - a briefing and education session, one on one time in the pool with the dolphins and great photo and video memories of your experience.
Petrolheads will love watching these motorbikes put through their paces at the world championships held at the Autodromo do Algarve - the region's very own international racing circuit near Portimão. Look out for this event in September.
There are produce markets in every town and village across the Algarve. However one of the biggest and best produce markets is at Loulé. Even the building is one of the most striking around. Resembling a souk, the red and white turretted building houses a typical Algarve scene of busy stalls selling all types of produce and spilling into the streets all around. There is a great variety of fruit and vegetables, a meat section, cheeses and deli produce as well as the fish section where you can find all kinds of strange sea creatures. Saturday morning is the day to go - local small farmers descend upon the town and set up stalls outside the market building, selling their wares. Noisy, pungent and great fun.
Loulé holds one of the largest Carnival processions in the Algarve every February. Packed with colour and satire, it is a way of banishing winter blues and poking fun of authority. It ain't Rio but it is fun and great entertainment for all the family. Kids love it.
It's doens't get any more Algarvian than this - a whole festival celebrating the humble sardine! Live concerts, handcrafts, local wines, cheeses, meats and sweets are all on offer too. The festival is usually held in August and runs for 10 days. In keeping with the theme, a visit to the local Portimão museum, known as the sardine musuem, is recommended.
All across the region, Algarve resorts put on a pretty good party to welcome the New Year. One of the biggest is without doubt at Albufeira with live concerts, street entertainment, a massive fireworks display and late night parties on the beach. Add to the mix, that the weather is frequently a sunny 14 - 18º during the day, and a New Year break in the Algarve becomes a very good idea indeed.
Yes, it does rain in the Algarve - but not much. And yes, it does get cold - but not too cold. The Algarve climate is quite simply one of the very best in Europe. Long, warm summers, but with a cooling ocean breeze. And the winters are generally mild and fairly dry - perfect for golf, walking, bird-watching or just relaxing. Those coming from Northern climes will know the opressiveness of a low barrier of cloud hovering above your head for months at a time. In the Algarve, the horizion is more clear than clouded, and the light is quite unique.