Algarve holiday highlights

Beaches
All of the Algarve’s Blue Flag beaches are family-friendly and offer safe waters and clean sands. The west coast is home to wild beaches and is best for surfing while the vast beaches – often manned by lifeguards – and calm waters on the east coast are perfect for families.

Ria Formosa Natural Park
With a unique coastal location and almost 45000 acres, this wetland park is a paradise for birdwatchers and is also home to one of the world's largest populations of seahorses.

Vilamoura
A buzzing marina
provides the focal point of this elegant resort. Admire sleek yachts moored in the marina and enjoy people-watching while feasting on fresh seafood. This large complex is ideal for anyone in search of excellent golf courses, superb beaches, boutique shopping, fine dining, great nightlife and a lively atmosphere. Praia da Marina, or 'Vilamoura beach' as it is commonly known, is a large stretch of sand that is easily accessible from street level and has great bars, cafés and plenty of watersports.

Albufeira
Renowned for its buzzing nightlife, this popular town also offers the golden sands of Praia d'Oura, a contemporary seafront and an old town with a maze of cobbled streets. Evenings can be low key or upbeat, with lively bars and al fresco dining.

Praia da Falésia
This seemingly never-ending expanse of golden sand stretches from Albufeira to Vilamoura and is one of the Algarve's longest beaches. The coast's distinctive orange sandstone cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop and beautiful contrast against the green pine trees that dot the cliffs and the cobalt ocean. It can be accessed via a series of wooden steps leading down from the cliffs to the beach and there is plenty of space for undisturbed relaxation.

Loulé
This historic town is just a 30-minute drive from Albufeira and well worth exploring. Stroll along charming cobbled alleys, stopping at one of the pavement cafés or browsing the little shops for souvenirs – the Algarve is famous for its hand-painted pottery and cork goods – you'll find everything from jewellery and handbags to caps and umbrellas, all made of cork!

Visit the traditional market to pick up fresh local produce including fish, meat, cheese, honey, figs and punnets of fresh fruit for a euro. Enjoy samples and take home some traditional piri piri sauce, olive oil, port or souvenirs. Discover the remains of the Moorish Castle and enjoy views over the town from the top of the stone towers. Across the courtyard there is a small archaeological museum which houses artefacts including Roman ceramics.

Sagres
Situated on the rugged southwest coast of the Algarve, this tranquil town has a picturesque harbour, fine beaches, a 15th-Century fortress and incredible coastal views. Sagres is the Algarve’s surfing capital and is also a popular destination for diving, hiking and cycling.

Alporchinhos
This seaside oasis and sublime beach retreat is home to luxury resorts, landscaped gardens, beautiful beaches, world-renowned golf courses, tennis courts, gourmet dining and more. It is also close to the medieval fortresses of Silves and Sagres.

Quinta do Lago
This luxurious resort is set at the edge of beautiful Ria Formosa national park in the Algarve's highly sought-after 'Golden Triangle', an exclusive playground for the rich and famous. Luxurious hotels and villas, championship golf courses, high-end shopping malls and gourmet restaruants can all be found here. Quinta do Lago offers an exclusive experience with unparalleled golfing, fantastic dining and spectacular lakes.

Lagos
This charming port town is located between Sagres and Albufeira, and is perfect for a day trip. Discover Portuguese culture and breathtaking beaches including Praia da Dona Ana which offers golden sand, clear, calm waters, and is regarded one of the best beaches in Europe. The Old Town is enclosed in 16th-Century walls and its winding cobbled streets and pretty plazas are a delight to explore. Learn about Portugal's sea-faring history at the Portuguese Discoveries Wax Museum and don't miss a visit to one of Portugal’s most beautiful natural features – the Ponta da Piedade. This series of sandstone cliffs, wind-carved rocks, tunnels and grottos are best viewed during a boat trip but can also be admired from the land.