Seven Algarve's A to Z Guide

AIRPORT – The nearest International airport is located in Faro, approx 50 minutes drive from our holiday homes on the motorway.

THE ALGARVE - Portugal’s southernmost region, known for its Mediterranean beaches, golf resorts and whitewashed fishing villages lining the rugged coastline. Stretching from Vila Real de Santo Antonio next to the Spanish border in the east to Sagres - the most western point of Europe.

BANKS – Main branches are located in Lagos. Local banks open Monday to Friday 08h30 to 15h00, except on Bank holidays. Visa, MasterCard or any international debit card showing the cirrus emblem in the area are accepted at ATM. Cash machines are at each bank as well as inside Baptista and Spar supermarkets. The maximum withdrawal is 200 Euros per transaction.

BEACHES – The Western Algarve boasts a large variety of beaches, from secluded coves to 4km long stretch of golden sand ideal for the family or water sports enthusiasts. Here is a selection of some of our favorites:

  • PRAIA DA LUZ – a sheltered bay of fine gold sand with a backdrop of the famous the black rock, ‘Rocha Negra’. A great beach for families as there are plenty of water sports activities and a rock pooling area to the western end of the beach. There is a car park to the left of the beach with provides direct access. You are spoilt for choice for beach bars, restaurants and shops. In peak season Luz beach does get busy. 
  • MEIA PRAIA – One of the longest beaches in the Algarve, stretching an impressive 4.5km. Even in the height of peak season there is plenty of room. The beach starts on the eastern side of Lagos. The golden sand runs right over to Alvor beach, with many beach bars and ample parking. The western end of the beach has a varied selection of water sports during the summer, and the eastern end is popular with naturists.
  • CABANAS VELHAS – West of the village Burgau, turn left down a dirt track and you’ll come to the secluded Cabanas Velhas, a hidden beach surrounded by beautiful cliffs. There is parking behind Cabanas Beach Club - the perfect spot for lunch. They also offer parasols and cabanas on the sand for a fee.
  • SALEMA – Paradise to those who are seeking tranquillity and an escape. Ideal for adventure-seekers who like hiking cliff-top trails. Fall in love with seafood restaurants and cafes, which offer the fresh catches with wonderful views of the sea. Does get busy in peak months, parking is limited.
  • PRAIA DA BATATA – Known locally as ‘Town Beach’, this is closest beach to Lagos town centre and sits against the impressive backdrop of the ancient fortress.
  • PRAIA DA DON ANA & PRAIA DO CAMILO – Explore the Algarve’s famous coves, caves and magnificent rock formations.
  • PRAIA DA MARETA – Known locally as the ‘Window to the Atlantic’ near the town Sagres, Mareta is popular not only for its impressive historical attractions but the laid-back surf vibes. Only a 25-minute drive from our holiday homes.
  • PRAIA DO TELHERIO – A wild and remote surfers beach with stunning views to the lighthouse at Cabo de Sao Vicente.
  • ZAVIAL & INGRINA – Near Raposeira, two idyllic coves next to each other, with two excellent bars that overlook the beaches.
  • CASTELEJO, CARRAPATEIRA & CORDOAMA – For breath-taking views along rugged coastline. Watch the big rollers of the Atlantic rush in and surfers take them on.

*** PLEASE NOTE DURING THE PEAK SUMMER MONTHS ALL BEACHES WILL BE VERY BUSY ***

BEER – The best Portuguese beer brands to try on your trip: Sagres and Super Bock are the main beers. While Sovina, Cereja Musa and Dois Corvos offer something for the craft beer enthusiasts.

Useful Phrase’s when ordering beers in Portugal:

  •  - Uma cerveja por favor  –                            a beer please
  •  - Duas cerveja por favour  –                          two beers please
  •  - Uma cerveja grande  –                                a pint of beer
  •  - Uma garrafa de Super Bock/Sagres  –        a bottle of Super Bock/Sagres
  •  - Uma carveza bem fresca por favor  –         a very cold beer please

BIRD WATCHING –The province in the south of Portugal is increasingly attractive to birders with a total of 386 bird species. If you would like to experience bird watching with a local guide, we recommend Simon Wates (Algarve Birdman). For more information on day trips/tours email: birdtrips@gmail.com
 

BOAT TRIPS – Lagos Marina offers many different boat tours from half days to all day adventures. Sail the seas and discover the impressive rock stacks on a traditional Caravel while enjoying a spot of lunch prepared by the crew. Explore the grottos and the famous caves at Ponta da Piedade. Go on an exhilarating wildlife safari on the Atlantic Ocean in search of wild dolphins.

BURGAU – A picturesque former fishing village. Follow the narrow, winding calçada side streets down the hill to the fine golden beach framed by cliffs.

BUS SERVICES – Run every 15 minutes to an hour from Luz and Espiche towards Lagos or Sagres.

CAR HIRE – If you have not already hired a car our preferred supplier is Luzcar of Lagos who offer an excellent service. If you only need a car for part of your holiday Luzcars can drop the car off at our holiday homes for you. For details and bookings, please contact them directly. TEL (+351) 282 761 016 or email@luzcar.com 

*PLEASE NOTE – When completing hire agreements ensure all names of all drivers are noted. The agreement should be kept in the car at all times and the driver MUST carry a copy of your valid passport and driving licence on their person.

CASTLES:

  • The Castle of Lagos known as Castelo dos Governasdores is a medieval castle located in the old town of Lagos, an iconic example of Moorish architecture. There is a plethora of things to do around the castle, including museums, Portuguese architecture and the church of Santa Maria and the 'Golden Church' of St Antony.
  • Castelo de Silves lies on the hillside in the town of Silves. Being the largest castle in the Algarve region it is really a must-see, offering spectacular views over the town and the surrounding countryside. Opening times 9am-5pm (to 8pm in winter) tickets are under 3 Euros. 35 minutes drive from our holiday homes.

CERAMICS – The Portuguese have worked clay since prehistory. The heritage of this craft is easily seen as you travel around the Algarve, through decorative glazed tiles (azulejos) on buildings. Pottery is seen everywhere with a number of artisan shops and handcraft stalls.

CORK – Portugal is the largest and longest producer in the world today, with the Algarve producing the most superior quality. Stop by the Cork shop in Lagos or check out handcraft stalls at the market.

CYCLING – whether you want to tackle the dirt tracks along the coastal routes, climb the hilly terrain or just ride the vast open roads, the Algarve offers all sorts of challenges for riders of all levels. The region also hosts many off and on road events during the year for keen cycling fanatics. The Monchique Mountains offers novices and experienced cyclist a challenge.

DAILING CODES – +351 Portugal, +44 UK,

DIVING – We recommend Dive Time, Armazem 14/15, Doca Pesa, 8600-000 Lagos, Open 9am to 7pm TEL +351 282 099 774

DOCTORSLUZDOCS - International Medical Service (+351) 282 780 700 or (+351) 918 811 988 in case of emergencies, 24-HOUR private medical service, surgery opens daily 9am to 8pm, house calls available.

DRIVING – Read 25 essential tips for driving in Portugal without losing your cool by Julie Dawn Fox 

EMBASSISES – In case of a lost or stolen passport and other mishaps or emergencies, please contact your national consulate in the Algarve or embassy in Lisbon.

British Consulate – (+351) 282 490 750              British Embassy – (+315) 213 924 000

EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS –         EMERGENCY SERVICES 112

                                     FIRE SERVICES 117

ESPICHE – quintessential small Portuguese village in the Western Algarve. The village is skirted by the rolling hills and plush greenery of unspoilt countryside.

EVENTS & FESTIVALS:

  • Traditional Sausage & Ham Fair, Monchique, March taste the renowned black pig and sample produce from this charming mountain town.
  • The Sardine Festival, Portimão, July/ August enjoy the region’s famous grilled sardines.
  • Banho 29, Lagos, August celebrating an old tradition when villagers came down from the hills to celebrate summer, spend the night on the beach enjoying picnics and a dip in the sea.
  • World Super Bike Championships, Portimão, September, Prosecco DOC Portuguese Round (10th round)
  • Portugal Masters, Vilamoura, September; renowned golf tournament
  • Bird watching Festival, Sagres, October; the festival includes workshops, field trips, boat trips and environmental education.

FARMACIA - (Chemist) – Marked with a Green Cross. Open during normal hours but please check displayed opening hours. TEL 282 789 793

FISHING – All expeditions are organised from Lagos Marina. Choose from deep sea, shark and big game fishing to bottom fishing. Cliff fishing is also very popular with the local fishermen.

FLAG – The flag of Portugal is the national flag of the Portuguese Republic. The flag and coat of arms were adopted in 1911; green for hope and red for sacrifice. Centred in this partition is a coat of arms consisting of an armillary sphere charged with the traditional Portuguese shield.

GOLF COURSES – The Algarve is one of the world's leading golfing destinations and it's not hard to see why. Espiche Golf is just a 5-minute drive from our holiday homes. The challenging 18-hole par 72-course, is surrounded by open countryside. Boavista Golf Resort - this impressive 18-hole championship course offers exceptional playing conditions. Santo Antonio at Parque da Floresta Golf Resort, the imaginatively designed, 18-hole par 71 golf course borders the Costa Vicentin Nature Reserve.

HIKING – Stunning cliff top trails. See our websites activates guide on suggested hiking trails.

HORSERIDING – Discover the magical Coasta Vincentina Nature Reserve and the beautiful countryside and coastline on horseback. Stables offer full or half day rides. Tiffany’s Riding Centre located outside the village of Almadena, on the En125. TEL: +351 282 697 395

KAYAKING – Organised via Lagos Marina or online. Paddle through the crystal blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, taking in the regions magnificent rock formations, stunning beaches and grottoes. Trips include sunrise, kayak and snorkel, or sunset trip

LAGOS – a town which amalgamates the old and new traditions of Portugal; brimming with bars, restaurants, and a bustling nightlife, all against the backdrop of cobbled shopping streets and pristine white sands.

LISBON – Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city, 250km north of Lagos, with bus or rail services between Lisbon and Lagos. The bus offers a direct route with numerous stops. The train is more relaxing but you do have to change in the small town of Tunes. Car journeys on the toll roads take under 3hrs.

LUZ – Still retaining much of its old world fisherman village charm, Luz combines modern European lifestyle with traditional Portuguese backstreets and wild coastal aesthetics.

MARKETS: 

  • Lagos: 1st Saturday of each month. The market takes place on the open ground next to the Stadium, opposite the Municipal Leisure centre. Weekly Saturday market in Lagos, next to the bus station, excellent for fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, figs, olives and more! Near to the main entrance to the town centre the Fish market has a wonderful selection of freshly caught seafood. Upstairs there are also fruit, vegetables, freshly baked bread and other local produce. Open mornings only Monday to Saturday.
  • Espiche: Fresh produce market
  • Sagres: Monthly market in front of market hall
  • Monchique: Monthly Gipsy/ Flea market in the square

MONCHIQUE – a mountainous range carpeted in a dense mass of wild foliage and greenery. 

NIGHTLIFE – The Western Algarve offers a surprisingly vibrant nightlife especially during the summer months. Whether you’re looking for something that’s family friendly, jet set beach clubs, elegant lounge bars, pubs or nightclubs there is something for everyone in Lagos and Luz.

PASTEL DE NATA – The humble Portuguese custard tart, A MUST TRY!

PIRI PIRI CHICKEN – Traditional Portuguese dish; chicken, marinated in a hot chile pepper marinade, then grilled. (try the Piri Piri shack)

POLICEGNR POLICE (Crimes) (+351) 282 762 809 or (+351) 282 770 010 – The police station is in Lagos, Rua General Alberto Silveira, opposite The Church of de Santo Antonio. Here you should report any burglaries or stolen items.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS – New Years Day, 22nd January Municipal holiday, February Carnival (Mardi Gras) Good Friday, Easter Weekend, 25th Freedom Day, 1st May Labour Day, 10th June Portugal Day, 15th Corpus Christi, 15th Assumption Day, 5th October Republic Day, 1st November All Saints Day, 1st December Restoration of Independence, 8th Immaculate Conception Day, Christmas EVE, Christmas Day.

RAILWAY STATION – Lagos Station is behind Lagos Marina, the western terminus of the Algarve Line that runs from Lagos via Tunes to Faro Station and Lisbon.

RESTUARANTS – a large selection of different local restaurants are within an easy drive of the area. Here is a selection of some of our favourites, which we hope you will enjoy!

** PLEASE NOTE during peak season we would recommend booking tables for lunch and dinner in advance. **

          LUZ

  • CAFÉ FABRICA – Bristo/café offering an excellent selection of homemade food perfect for a light lunch while at Luz beach. Great gin & tonics.
  • LOOK – Portuguese ‘Steak Café’ they simply grill and season the meat which is cooked perfectly! Booking recommended.
  • PARAISO DA LUZ – Right on the Praia da Luz perfect place for light snacks for lunch or a drink to cool down with, overlooking the beach. Perfect early evening.
  • CHICCA’S – Fresh homemade food served, check the blackboards for daily changes to the menu.
  • YOLO – Varied menu for all tastes, daily specials and set menus available.
  • PIRI PIRI SHACK – If you want simple local food for a very reasonable price then look no further. Located next to Baptista supermarket, eat in or take away.

         ESPICHE

  • THE GRAPE VINE – Serves a range of International dishes in a relaxed and welcoming environment. Great food and service, perfect location from our Espiche houses.
  • ADEGA DE PAPAGAIO – Tucked away in the village of Espiche The Parrot the menu is simple but fun, the whole restaurant revolves around Hot Stones brought to your table where you grill sevenral different meats accompanied with sides all for a great valve in money! Something different to try, booking is advised.
  • RAINBOW BAR – Ideal for a casual drink after a hard day spent sunbathing. Relax in the courtyard and leave the teenagers at the pool table.

          BURGAU

  • THE SPICE COTTAGE – A must go! If you’re a lover of Indian Cuisine, this restaurant has gained a reputation for tailor made dishes. The wide range menu offers something for everyone to experience, with a great atmosphere. Book now!
  • CABANAS BEACH– Ideally placed on the beach, serving great local seafood as well as other classic Portuguese dishes, book to get a table outside as it offers a wonderful panoramic view of the bay. Great place for lunch or evening meals! Now offers a taxi service.

          LAGOS

  • ITALIA – Italian Cuisine with an extremely large menu.  You’re spoilt for choice, steaks, pizzas and pasta are recommended.  Best to book in advance.
  • PALACIO CHINESE – Chinese food with a large and extensive menu.  Our best choice for a Chinese meal in the area.
  • OS LAMBERTOS – Traditional Portuguese, Lambertos is a must for a truly lively Portuguese experience with a variety of fresh local fish, Seafood Sunday is perfect for Seafood lovers, there’s a lot for meat eaters too! Cash only accepted, reservations recommended.
  • O ARTISTA – International-style menu is perfect for special occasions. Food and service is impeccable, we recommend requesting a table in the courtyard.
  • ADEGA DA MARINA – Basic traditional Portuguese, very popular with the locals as well as tourists. Situated on the main Avenida in Lagos opposite the marina. Adega has an electric atmosphere.
  • DON SEBASTIAO– Perfect spot for lunch, we recommend to ask for a table outside on the terrace to watch the world go by. The menu is inspired by traditional Portuguese local fresh food and welcoming friendly service.
  • O CAMILO – This is ‘The’ place to enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning cliff top views overlooking the beach. Popular at lunch, reservations are a must. Opened in summer months.
  • CAFÉ FRESCO – A gem off of the beaten track, a relaxed café with a large menu and reasonable prices. This is a favourite of residents; opened Monday-Friday closes at 6pm.

SAGRES – situated in the extreme South-Westerly tip of Europe. Comprising of towering sea-carved cliffs, vast golden beaches and wild Atlantic Ocean, Sagres was once thought to have marked the edge of the known world.

SAGRES FORT – It was here that Prince Henry the Navigator devised his 15th century expeditions to the uncharted seas to discover the unknown world, which heralded in the golden era of Portugal exploration. The fort offers great panoramic views over the ocean and to Cabo de Vincent, the historical importance of the fort outweighs the tourist experience.

SALMEA – once a thriving fishing community, houses tightly packed whitewashed casa’s with blue trims and latticed chimney pots. A tranquil seaside village, the perfect spot to soak up the sun and relax in bliss.

SHOPPING: 

  • Lagos town centre offers a selection of chain and independent shops, 10 minutes from our houses
  •  AQUA Portimão Shopping Centre, 30 minutes from our houses

SPAS

  • Vivenda Miranda Spa offers the prestigious Neal's Yard Remedies treatments and products, in a unique and amazingly scenic setting overlooking Porto Mos beach near Lagos.
  • Spa Floresta is set within the luxurious resort of Parque da Floresta. Peaceful surroundings, a naturally beautiful landscape, excellent products and treatments are all combined to guarantee you with a pampering session to remember.

STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING - Learn to stand-up paddleboard off the southwest coast of the Algarve and explore secret grottoes, hidden beaches, and huge cliffs. Coastline Algarve (+351) 963 766 611

SUPERMARKETS: 

  • Espiche has a small supermarket in the village.
  • Luz has Baptista supermarket opposite the Commercial Centre, with fresh meat, fish daily, homemade bakery, cheese counter and many British items. Order online and use the local delivery service. There is also a Spur supermarket with the benefit of longer opening hours.
  • Lagos has a selection of larger supermarkets including Modelo, Inter Marche and Pingo Doce all offering a great selection of local and international produce.

SURFING – Facing the Atlantic and its powerful winds creating fabulous weather all year round, the Algarve coastline offers a range of surfing experiences to accommodate all levels of expertise. For the novice surfer there is a generous array of surf schools in the peak seasons. For hard-core surfers an off peak holiday break is ideal as the waves are bigger and the beaches are clearer.

TAXIS – Operate 24 Hours a day and are reasonably priced. (You can not flag down taxis please call the numbers provided to range an pick up point.)

Luz local taxis (+351) 917 210 311 or (+351) 919 533 040

Lagos taxis (+351) 282 763 587 or (+351) 282 763 048

TRANSFERSYellowfish Transfers Faro Airport Private Transport, best value for money.

VINEYARDS – There are several vineyards across the Algarve that are open to visitors for tours and wine tastings. You will normally need to make a reservation.

-Monte da Casteleja Vineyard near Sargacal, Lagos

-Unica (Adega Cooperativa do Algarve) in Lagoa on the main road (EN125). Wine tastings with prior booking. Tel (+351) 282 342 181

Useful phrases when ordering wine:

  • -Um copo de vinho tinto                      – a glass of red wine
  • -Um copo de vinho branco                  – a glass of white wine
  • -Um garrafa de vinho (tinto/branco)   – a bottle of (red/white) wine

WATERPARKSSlide and Splash is near Lagoa in central Algarve (approximately 20 minutes from Lagos) and operates from the beginning of April to the end of October. It opens daily at 10am and closes between 5pm and 6pm depending on the time of year.

WATERSPORTS – Lagos and west coast Algarve offer the best conditions for all water sports including surfing, wakeboarding, kite surfing and windsurfing.

WEATHER –With an annual average of 3000 sunshine hours and over 300 days of sun a year, the Algarve is one of Europe's sunniest places, sunnier even than California. The summer months see 12 hours of sunshine per day on average and almost no rain.

ZOO- Lagos Zoo a great day out for all ages with lots of animals and birds to see.  Visit their website for prices and opening times.