Aerial view of luxurious and touristic Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal

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Beyond the beach in the Algarve


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The Algarve, best known for being blessed by stunning sandy shores, beautiful resorts and glamorous golfing facilities make for the perfect destination – whether travelling with family, friends or just you and your chosen one. But credit where credit’s due – Portugal’s southerly region serves for so much more than first meets the eye. Renowned as a melting pot of culture, tradition and history as well as being the poster child for holidays full of family fun – it’d be a shame not to delve deeper into what’s beyond the beach in the Algarve!

Day Trip to Loule

Castle Sao Clemente Loule Algarve. Portugal sat amongst buildings, blue sky background and plush green grass

Loule, one of the most popular towns in the Algarve is just 16km northwest of Faro. An eclectic blend of modern and historical features, many flock to see this market town in all its glory – and rightly so! From its colourful Gypsy market where you can haggle your way to snapping up a bargain, to Loule’s Arabian themed farmer’s market where you can buy local meats, cheese, fresh fruits and aromatic spices. The kaleidoscope of colours and smells is a delight for the sights and senses!

And when there’s this much history all in one place, why not jump into the heart of it? Castelo de Loule (Loule Castle) dates back to the 13th century Moorish origins and forms much of the city’s walls. Only parts of the structure remain including three towers and the old city gate, all of which you can explore for free. An interesting discovery for the whole family!

Make a splash at the water park

Young couple splashing into a orange waterslide at aqua park for summer holiday

With such a stunning climate it’d be a shame not to take advantage of the Algarve’s weather – and where better to make a splash than with a day out at the Aquashow Park? Test your limits and let your inner adrenaline aficionado run wild as you free fall from the highest waterslide in Europe or round the whole family up for a race down the foam slides! There’s sure to be fun, thrills and laughter by the bucket load!

If you’re looking for a calming experience then you’re in luck! Take an adventurous journey along the park’s very own water coaster, feel the ripple of the water in the wave pool or grab your rubber ring and journey down the lazy river… pure bliss!

Dig deep into the Algarve’s history

Roman ruin remains in Algarve, Portugal with the sunlight shining and blue skies

If you’re looking at hitting more historic hotspots on your holiday why not dig a little deeper and visit the awe-inspiring Cerro da Vila? Sat in the coastal town of Vilamoura, the Roman ruins have been preserved to take you on a trip in a (metaphorical) time machine as a snapshot of times past. Featuring a noble house, public baths, and fascinating mosaics which date back as far as 4000 BC, as well as a small museum, home to an array of ancient artefacts, you can take a step back into Portugal’s thriving history.

Watch the sunset at Portugal’s most south-westerly point

View of the lighthouse and cliffs at Cape St. Vincent at sunset. Continental Europe's most South-western point, Sagres, Algarve, Portugal.

Once a sacred ground in Neolithic times, and even at one point a dedicated temple to the Greek God, Hercules, Cape Saint Vincent – Portugal’s (and Europe’s!) most south-westerly point has quite the history. As time’s progressed this interesting little spot went from mythical to magical! Common folk once believed the sun sunk into the ocean, marking the “Edge of the World” as it was once known. The present day may have dismissed the legends but it reigns supreme as one of the most mesmerising sunsets in the Mediterranean.

In the summer season a little market sits at the foot of the towering lighthouse, the mantelpiece of this fiery display, where stalls sell food, clothing and little keepsakes. So, grab any drinks, snacks and souvenirs and pull up a chair for a front row seat. If you’re looking for drama and romance you’re in the right place – it’s almost time for the showing of this sunset saga…

Shop, splurge or splash out!

The main square in Lagos in the Algarve Portugal during sunset

Shopping doesn’t always come to mind when you think of being on holiday but at the height of the day as the sun reaches its hottest – we aren’t adverse to a little (air conditioned!) retail therapy. The best of both worlds! With a mix of high street labels that you know and love in the heart of Portimao to more chic and trendy boutiques that come with the added touch of bohemia, in Quarteira – you’ll be spoilt with choice. Love the glitz and glamour? Take a stroll down San Antonio Street in the Algarve’s capital. Renowned for being a hub for the high end, international fashion houses can be found in Antonio Manuel where you’ll be turning heads in no time!

Cruise your way to coastline and caves

Wonderful view of Benagil Cave in Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal with blue sea, sand and a boat in the far distance

With over 150km of staggering coastline, remarkable caves and serene sands, why not go (quite literally!) beyond the beach and discover more? Become carefree and catamaran-cruise your way along the Algarve coastline as you marvel at all the spectacles with your very own eyes. With stunning rock formations and the world renowned caves at Benagil, this is one to tick off your bucket list. With tours starting in the bustling towns of Albufeira, Vilamoura and along to Portimao you can enjoy from an hour up to half a day of carefree coastal beauty. Don’t forget to pack your swimming costume, as you’ll get the chance to take a cooling dip in the offshore waters!

…it wouldn’t be a ‘fairway’ to see the Algarve without a spot of golf

plush green golf course with sandy bunkers, putting greens and the dark blue sea in the background

Going to the Algarve and not visiting one of their world-class golf facilities is like going to Orlando and not visiting the Magic Kingdom! With over 30 beautifully manicured fairways and sculptured bunkers to choose from, including one of Europe’s top voted, Monte Rei – you’ll be playing like a pro in no time! Wanting to dust off and work on those skills before heading to the main playground? Pitch, putt and drive your way to success with some healthy competition at one of the many practice courses!

Flare ignited and eager to discover all the things you didn’t know about the Algarve? Take a look at our villas in the Algarve and find your base for exploring this fine, fascinating region!

Ben Cameron

Ben Cameron is a at James Villa Holidays.

See all articles by Ben Cameron

See all articles by Ben Cameron


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