View of Tavira from the Tavira Castle.

The Algarve

by Eve Andersson

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The Algarve refers to the southern, coastal region of Portugal. It's a wonderful area with a dramatic coastline, gorgeous, charming towns, and wide beaches. From west to east, these are the seven spots I visited: Sagres, Alvor (Portimão), Silves, Albufeira, Faro, Tavira, and Monte Gordo.

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Sagres, on the far western corner of the Algarve, has the most dramatic coastline, with towering cliffs, small islands, and large, crashing waves. The town has a large, 16th century fortress, the Fortaleza de Sagres, set on a cliff overlooking the sea.

Cliffs and small islands, Coast near Sagres. A barely visible fisherman fishes from this tall cliff at the Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress). Cliffs, coast near Sagres. Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress) on a cliff. Santa Barbara Bastion, Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress). Cannon, Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress). Nossa Senhora da Gra?(Our Lady of Grace) church, within the Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress). Sentry box, Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress). Small snails on plants in the parking lot of the Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress) sits. Sign reading "Perigo arribas inst?is", which loosely translates as "Come this way for a great photo op."  Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress). Praia da Mareta (Mareta Beach). Praia da Mareta (Mareta Beach). Rocks behind the sandy beach, Praia do Tonel (Tonel Beach).


Alvor is touristy and not that exciting. It's not bad; it is lovely, as is any place on the wondrous Algarve coast, and it does have an old town. But its castle is almost non-existent (the ruins have been turned into a playground), and it doesn't compare in terms of natural or man-made beauty to some of the other spots.

Igreja da Miseric?a (Church of Mercy) behind a pub with umbrellas advertising beer. Playground, built within the ruins of the walls of the old castle. Child looking out to the sea, coastal path, Alvor. Homeless dog with cardboard box, blankets, and food, Rua 25 de Abril. Tourists in front of restaurant, Rua Dr Frederico Ramos Mendes. Sign reading Mourisco Bar (Moorish Bar), Rua Dr Frederico Ramos Mendes. Rua Marqu?de Pombal. Shore, with fishing boats. Sign reading Parque Infantil (playground), Castelo Ruinas (castle ruins), and Taj Mahal Original Indian Cuisine.


What a great place! Silves has a humongous, mauve castle on a hill above the town and old city walls strewn throughout the town.

Female figure, Pra?Al Mouhatamid Ibn Abbad. Silves Castle. Courtyard, Silves Castle. Complexo de Banhos (Complex of Baths), Pal?o Principal (Main Palace), Silves Castle. Pra?Al Mouhatamid Ibn Abbad, with the Silves Castle above it. Rua da Porta do Sol. Stone table and benches, Rua do Castelo. Tiled wall, Largo Conselheiro Magalh? de Barros. Wall tiles at 5 de Outubro 16.


Albufeira has a nice combination of everything: history, architecture, and beaches. The skyline is dominated by an unusual clocktower. The Misericórdia Chapel, built upon the remains of Moorish mosque, still contains Moorish elements.

Clocktower and a nice tree. Moorish detail, Miseric?a Chapel, built upon the remains of a Moorish mosque. Arch, Travessa da Igreja Velha. View of Albufeira from the steps next to T?nel Peneco, the tunnel leading to Praia do Peneco (Peneco's Beach). Main square. T?nel Peneco, the tunnel leading to Praia do Peneco (Peneco's Beach). Praia do Peneco (Peneco's Beach). Praia do Peneco (Peneco's Beach). Coastline, viewed from Rua da Bateria. Miseric?a Chapel, built upon the remains of a Moorish mosque. Man hanging clothes, with a dog, on his balcony. View of Albufeira, including the clocktower, from Igreja Matriz (the Principal Church of Albufeira).


Faro is one of the bigger cities on the Algarve Coast and is a nice place to spend time. In addition to having a breathtaking old town, it is full of good restaurants.

Arco da Vila (Town's Arch), one of the entrances to the old city. Museu Municipal de Faro (Municipal Museum of Faro), formerly the Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assun?(Convent of Our Lady of the Assumption). House painted with a mural of shirtless men, Rua Manuel Belmar? Rua Monsenhor Boto. Windows, Largo de S?Pedro. Pra?do Afonso III, Conquistador da Cidade (Plaza of Afonso III, Conqueror of the City). Sign, Pra?do Afonso III, Conquistador da Cidade (Plaza of Afonso III, Conqueror of the City). Rua Dr. Francisco Gomes. Terroes bizantinas (Byzantine towers), Rua do Castelo. Arco do Repouso (Arch of Rest), one of the entrances to the old city. Courtyard off Rua Monsenhor Boto. Rua Rasquinho, Antiga Rua dos Conegos (the old Street of the Canons). Tribunal do Trabalho (Labor Court). S?Cathedral).


Another excellent town, Tavira has castle remains planted with a fragrant, peaceful garden, and narrow, old streets with lovely, typical Portuguese buildings.

View of Tavira from the Tavira Castle. Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo (Church of St. Mary at the Castle). Balcony with shadow, Rua da Liberdade. Tavira Castle. Flowers, garden, Tavira Castle. Jardim do Coreto (Bandstand Garden). Pra?Dr Ant? Padinha, with statue of Dom Marcelino Franco. Ponte das For? Armadas (Armed Forces Bridge). Ponte Romana (Roman Bridge). Woman on bicycle, Rua da Liberdade. Pink flowers, Rua da Liberdade. Centro Interpretativo do Abastecimento de ?gua a Tavira, Rua dos Pelames. Tiled wall, Rua Palmeira. Tiled walls with windows, Rua Dr. Parreira.

Monte Gordo

Monte Gordo is all about the beaches — very wide and sandy, with large hotels to lodge the beachgoers. The town seems quite modern, without the charm found elsewhere in the Algarve.

Rua Gil Eanes. Avenida de Vasco da Gama. Avenida Infante Dom Henrique. Monte Gordo Casino. Beach and hotels. Kids playing soccer on the beach.

More photos: View all photos in the directory /photos/portugal/.
Eve Andersson (
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