More than just a sunshine destination, the Algarve offers world-class gastronomy, year-round outdoor adventure and local experiences.
The Algarve’s cuisine is inspired by the sun, the earth and the ocean. Locals insist on using fresh, local ingredients and the region boasts a wealth of gastronomy, including an abundance of fine seafood that takes full advantage of its coastal location. Fresh daily catches often include cockles, clams, oysters and squid, sea bass, sea bream, mackerel or sardines. In many Algarve fish restaurants, the catch of the day is sold by weight. Visitors can try the much celebrated “cataplana”, a local favourite dish made of mussels, clams, chorizo, bacon, garlic, onions and olive oil. Also recommended is the region’s famous fish stew “Caldeirada”.
Inland, poultry and pork, fresh vegetables and dried pulses are the primary ingredients in the majority of local dishes. Traditional dishes include delicious slow-cooked meat stews, served with pulses and fresh vegetables, smoked and cured meats and traditional Algarvian bread, which is often used as a main ingredient in the preparation of certain dishes. Bread baking here is just as important as wine, cheese and pastries to the local culture.
In the summer, fig and orange trees are ready to be harvested and fill the air with a delicate sweet scent. In September, it is time for the almond crop. Unskinned, they are laid out on roof terraces to dry in the sun.
When autumn is in full swing, the chestnuts are ripe. Locals enjoy them most at the traditional magustos festivals with wine and watered grape brandy.
Wine in the Algarve
The Algarve wine-producing region is coming of age. In recent years there has been a steady increase both in the number of producers and in the quality of the wines produced. The majority of Algarve wines are of above-average quality, putting them on a par with the best that is produced in Portugal’s other wine regions.
Due to its geographical location and countryside, the mild climate all year round ensures the grapes ripen sun-kissed to produce high-quality wines throughout the Algarve region. Major towns that lend their names to the region’s four wine DOCs are Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. For these traditional wines, the main white grapes are Arinto, Malvasia Fina, Manteúdo and Síria, and for the reds Castelão and Negra Mole. More recently, new wine estates are making regional Algarve wine from national and international grapes: Syrah, Negra Mole, Aragonez and Cabernet Sauvignon, Alvarinho, Chardonnay and Viognier. The traditional Aguardente de Medronho brandy (traditional fruit brandy) and various types of liqueurs complement the long list of aromatic liquid delights from the region.
Why visit the Algarve during the winter months?
With an average of more than 300 sunny days a year, the Algarve offers its visitors great weather anytime of year. Outside of the summer months, its 88 Blue Flag beaches and 200km of coastline take on a different tone, and elsewhere there’s plenty to experience – from lush national parks to a packed calendar of cultural events.
What your clients can discover:
- The Algarve’s wild side – Nature tourism is on the increase and there’s plenty to do and see here: Via Algarviana, the Costa Vicentina National Park and Ria Formosa Nature Park offer walkers and cyclists a range of routes and rare species that are at their best at this time of year.
- World-class gastronomy – The region is well known for its seafood and “cataplana”, its famous stew. Alternatively, head for the region’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
- Sports tourism – The Algarve has long been associated with gold heritage, but recently there has been a growth in wellness, spa and cycling activities, all of which are well catered for.
- Culture – The towns of Faro, Sagres, Lagos, Loule and Tavira offer the winter-season visitor a wealth of options without the heat, including carnivals, festivals and a range of unique festivals, covering everything from the medieval period to food. They also offer a chance to discover and experience local life.
- The Algarve of the people who live there – Only locals can show you the hidden-away villages, the most unspoilt walking trails, the best restaurants to eat Xarém (maize porridge), the deserted beaches, the places where flamingos take the wing or the perfect course for a round of golf.