Travel advice for the western Algarve: the coastal strip between Albufeira, Armação de Pêra, Carvoeiro, Praia da Rocha, Alvor and Lagos with fantastic sandy beaches, impressive rock formations, hidden bays and grottos
Sagres in January 2016
An excursion to the south-western tip of Europe in winter time
What to do with visitors from abroad on a rainy winter day in the Algarve? A trip to the south-western corner of the European continent near Sagres to see the spectacular cliffs, steeply rising from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean is always an unforgettable impression. Visiting Cabo de São Vicente in January is offering unexpected views. The parking in front of the famous lighthouse is almost empty, the stand offering the “Letzte Bratwurst vor Amerika” is closed, and the bargainers from North Africa, selling woollen sweaters even in the hottest summer, are missing now – although such a garment would be highly appreciated in the rough and humid wind. At lunch time we go to the Tasca Sagres, overlooking the fishing port of the city. There is no other place in the Algarve were you will find fresher fish or sea food. Today on Monday the selection of fish is limited to Corvina, Cherne and Linguado, and we go for a slice of wreck fish from the grill. As a starter we have oysters, opened by the waiter at the table and regional prawns caught in the nearby waters. Also the octopus cooked in olive oil and garlic and surrounded by slice of sweet potato is excellent. At the end of an eventful day the overcast sky opens, and the Algarvian sun is illuminating the picturesque scene of the bay of Sagres.
Ilha Deserta and Ilha do Farol Tour
Discovering the western islands of the Ria Formosa in January 2016
Our nice from Austria and her Swiss friend went out for a boat tour in the Ria Formosa on a sunny morning in January together with a small group of tourists from all over the world. The excursion was guided by a local well knowing the place giving explanations in multiple languages. First leg was the Ilha da Barreta, also known as Ilha Deserta (deserted island) because it is uninhabited. The southernmost tip of continental Portugal, the Cabo de Santa Maria, is only a short walk to the west from the landing stage where the group went ashore. During this time of the year you can stroll along the seaside beach for miles without meeting people. The next break was on the island to the east, Ilha da Culatra. A huge lighthouse (port. farol) marks the passage between the island and the neighbouring Ilha da Barreta, the only way through for boats to Faro. The light can be seen by afar at night. This part of the island is also called "Ilha do Farol", and the name of the popular beach on the sea side is Praia do Farol. The small settlement nearby is made up of fishermen’s cottages and holiday accommodation, facing the lagoon. After two hours the boat took them back to Faro. Have a look at the photos they brought back from an unforgettable trip.
Linha do Algarve
This railway runs from Lagos in the western Algarve to Vila Real de Santo António in the east on the Portuguese border with Spain.
The 140 km single track railway line between Lagos in the western Algarve and Vila Real de S. António began operating at the beginning of the last century. The 1.688 mm track width of this broad gauge railway can be compared to Spanish railways, which it connects with at 3 border crossings in the North, North-West and East of Portugal. The former ferry connection between Vila Real de S. António and Ayamonte in Spain stopped operating a few years ago. The tracks between Faro and Tunes have been electrified for Inter-City and modern Alfa Pendular trains to operate, thus reducing the time from Faro to Lisbon to just under 3 hours. On the other section between Lagos and Tunes and Faro to Vila Real de S.António only the old 3 three-part railcars can operate, so that travelling from Lagos to Vila Real takes up to 3 hours 45 min. Train timetables and ticket prices can be found on the Portuguese train operator website Comboios de Portugal (CP) below.
Parish: Lagoa e Carvoeiro
Rural town in the hinterland of the western Algarve in the south of Portugal
Lagoa is a town (cidade) and municipality (concelho) in the district of Faro (Algarve), the southernmost region in Portugal. It is one of the agricultural centres of the western Algarve.
Parish: Lagoa e Carvoeiro
Famous holiday location in the rocky western Algarve between Armacão de Pêra and Portimão
Carvoeiro is a village (vila) in the municipality (concelho) of Lagoa in the district of Faro (Algarve), the southernmost region of continental Portugal. The former fishing village has evolved into one of the most popular destinations in the western Algarve, especially with German speaking holiday makers and residents.
Praia da Galé Oeste (Poente)
The western section of the beach of Galé between Albufeira and Armação de Pêra
The western sector of the Galé beach is flat and broad, located next to the beach of Salgados.
Praia do Vale dos Homens
Beach on the western coast of the Algarve, the Costa Vicentina, near Rogil
The beach is located at the western coast close to Rogil between Praia da Carriagem and Praia da Samouqueira. It is less frequented and an ideal place for lovers of nature.
Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina
The natural reserve of the Costa Vicentina - the western coast of the Algarve
The Algarvian western coast between Cabo de São Vicente near Sagres and Odexeice, bordering to the Alentejo. The so-called "Costa Vicentina", the western coast of the Algarve stretches over more than 60 km from Cape St.Vincent, the south-western most corner of the European continent, to Odeceixe on the Algarve-Alentejo border. The rugged rocks of the steep coast are interrupted by small sandy bays. The climate is harsher than other parts of the Algarve and the surging swell from the Atlantic is spectacular, attracting surfers and paragliders in particular. Around Vila do Bispo and Raposeira, neolithic menhires have been found, human footprints which are almost 5000 years old. In historical times this area was already considered sacred as the end of the known world. The landscape is still generally unspoilt by the tourism and rich in flora and fauna species. The Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e da Costa Vicentina with 70.000 ha it is one of Portugal's largest natural reserves. The Reserva Biogenética de Sagres between Cabo de São Vicente and Ponta de Sagres there is a unique ecological system, which attracts ornithologists from all over the world during the Autumn.
Ilha de Faro (Peninsula de Ançao)
Westernmost link in the chain of islands of the Ria Formosa
The Ilha de Faro is the most western island of the Ria Formosa, protecting the lagoon system of this unique natural and cultural landscape against the rough Atlantic Ocean. The Ilha de Faro, whose correct name is Península do Ancão, is located on the western border of the Ria Formosa, stretching from Ancão beach near the world famous Quinta do Lago golf resort to Faro. It is known as Faro Island, despite being a peninsula. A wooden pedestrian bridge leads to the beach of Quinta do Lago and the well known seafood restaurant “Gigi”. Faro International Airport is located opposite Ilha de Faro, separated only by the lagoon. When arriving by plane you can see the unique landscape with its dunes, lagoons and salt marshes. A one lane bridge connects the island to the mainland and traffic is regulated by traffic lights, leading to significant delays in the high season. The road to Ilha de Faro leads from the roundabout opposite the airport to the right in southerly direction, past the edge of the Ria Formosa. The western part of the island is mostly inhabited by fishermen, the eastern side has more modern holiday villas and apartments. The extensive beach Praia da Ilha de Faro on the sea side is very popular, and there are also several restaurants and sports and leisure facilities. The protected shore of the lagoon is ideal for water sports, even for beginners. The next island to the east, separated by a narrow water channel, is lha da Barreta, also known as Ilha Deserta, i.e. desert island because it is uninhabited.