Beach An Alternative Travel Guide To The Algarve

An alternative travel guide to the Algarve

The Algarve is a holiday haven, packed full of character. With almost year-round sunshine, golden beaches and fresh local delicacies, the Algarve is a location which will likely entice you back again and again. 

Each visit to this area of Portugal can be different from the last, as there is so much to see and do and the Algarve is one of the most unique holiday locations in the world. With a coastline stretching almost 100 miles, UNESCO protected parks and nature lands, this region of Portugal offers one of the best tourism experiences in Europe. 

However, if you’re looking for travel experiences which are slightly different from the usual holiday offerings, then the Algarve has plenty to offer. Here is an alternative guide to visiting the Algarve.

Things To Do in the Algarve

Underground Wine Tasting

8 meters underground, the Cave de Vinhos wine cellar is over 150 years old and holds 11,000 bottles of wine, from a number of different regions in Portugal and locations across the world. The Algarve is home to endless vineyards and wine regions, meaning that wine tastings and experiences are plenty. 

If you want a wine tasting experience which is unique and memorable, then a visit to the Cave de Vinhos is a must. As well as wine tasting, the cellar also hosts private dinners for up to 12 guests and cheese and wine tastings throughout the day. 

The Chapel of Bones

Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is in the village of Alcantarilha and is perhaps one of the spookiest, yet most intriguing, buildings you will ever see. At first glance, you might think that the chapel is merely just decorated with bones, but actually the walls are constructed from femurs mixed with mortar. The bones in this chapel are the remains of 1,245 monks, whose bones were displaced during the building of the chapel. 

Oyster An Alternative Travel Guide To The Algarve
Oyster tasting is a must!

Fresh Oyster Tasting

The Algarve is renowned for its seafood dishes and sure you can order oysters at a seafood restaurant, but why not go on a fresh oyster tasting trip? On this excursion, you can eat oysters which have been plucked straight from the ocean and opened right before your eyes. 

There are numerous food tours and oyster tasting experiences which leave from Ilha de Culatra in Ria Formosa, where you will learn all about oysters from a local producer, try fresh oysters and enjoy a crisp, cold glass of white wine, all by the ocean.

Norvacortica Cork Factory Tour 

Something which many people don’t know about the Algarve is that it is famous for quality cork, which is used by global brands such as Rolls Royce, NASA and Moet Chandon. Cork oaks line much of the Algarve countryside and tours around cork farms and factories are a great way to learn more about the history and get an insight into the cork industry and the Norvacortica factory is one of the most popular.  

Places to Stay in the Algarve

Depending on the amenities you want nearby and who you are travelling with, there are plenty of places to stay in the Algarve which are popular with tourists. 

Albufeira

If you are looking for a fun-packed holiday with plenty of family-friendly activities, then Albufeira is the destination for you. Albufeira is perhaps the largest and liveliest town in the Algarve and has something to offer everyone. You’ve got a charming historic centre at the heart of the town, whilst “The Strip” is just a stone’s throw away and is full of late-night clubs and bars. 

Albufeira beach is one of the best in the region and with beautiful water and sand stretching along the length of the town. Albufeira is an extremely popular holiday destination and has almost completely handed over to tourism, so if you are looking for traditional Portuguese culture, other destinations may be best. 

Vilamoura

Vilamoura is a sprawling resort with 4 golf courses, a large marina and beautiful sandy beaches. The town is well known for its luxury and sophistication and is one of the pricier destinations in the Algarve. Vilamoura has a mature atmosphere and is more catered towards older people, golfing enthusiasts or those looking for a little extra luxury. 

Vale do Lobo

Vale do Lobo is a luxurious and self-contained resort and is unique to Portugal. Vale do Lobo was the first major development in the Algarve and today is the largest luxury resort of its kind in Portugal. With endless facilities and services, all located in a unique area, Vale do Lobo is a must-visit if luxury is at the top of your holiday list. There are two highly accredited golf courses – the Royal and the Ocean – in Vale do Lobo, which are perhaps the biggest attractions. 

Loulé

Famous for its markets and laid back atmosphere, Loulé is located in the middle of the Algarve. This historic market town is steeped in history and even has a 13th-century castle. The traditional cobbled streets are lined with bars, restaurants and cafes and there are plenty of charming shops packed with pottery and handcrafted goods all from within the local area. For a true taste of Portuguese culture, a visit to Loule is a must. 

There is also the Loule Carnival, which is one of the biggest highlights of the year in the Algarve’s calendar. This colourful carnival takes place in February over three days, usually starting on the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday, and has been said to rival Brazil’s world-famous Rio Carnival with its dancing and costumes. 

Wherever you’re staying, a visit to Ponta da Piedade in Lagos is a must!

Traditional Dishes to Try in the Algarve

Portuguese food is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cuisines and relies heavily on fresh seafood, which it has in abundance and spices and olive oil. A visit to Portugal, and the Algarve in particular, will bring you a whole host of tasty traditional dishes to try. 

Cataplana de Marisco

Cataplana de Marisco is a dish which originates in the Algarve and is a true seafood feast. This dish gets its name from the copper pan in which it is cooked – a cataplana, which is a dish with rounded sides and is connected by a hinge which opens and closes like a clam would. Onions, tomatoes and garlic are stewed with white wine, chorizo, clams and prawns.

Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido à Portuguesa is a dish which is often referred to as a Portuguese boiled dinner, but is better known as a traditional stew. Whilst the ingredients sometimes change, depending on where in Portugal it is prepared, it is essentially a platter of slow-boiled meats, sausages and vegetables. In the Algarve, you’ll traditionally find it made with a mixture of potato, lamb, chicken and fresh mint. 

Pastel de Nata An Alternative Travel Guide To The Algarve
You can try the Pastéis de Nata at every small “café”

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Natas is perhaps Portugal’s most known, and most loved, dish. These palm-sized desserts are made from puff pastry which is filled with a yellow custard, made by whisking egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and cream which are then baked until golden. Whether you choose yours topped with powdered sugar or cinnamon, they are traditionally eaten for breakfast, as a snack or for an evening dessert.

Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer in the travel niche, and can provide advice on anything from hidden gems to the best Algarve villa accommodation. When not writing, Natalie can be found reading a good book with a cup of tea or planning her next travel destination – the Amalfi Coast is next on the list. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976

Everyting about fishing in the Algarve

The Algarve is the ideal holiday destinations for water sport lovers like fishing, surfing, diving and many others. Fishing in the Algarve is one of the most popular water sports among families and groups of friends. Fishing trips can be done from several locations in the Algarve like Olhão, Tavira, Alvor and Lagos. About the type of fishing, we’ve got fishing for all tastes, from family fishing to jigging to deep sea fishing in the Algarve.

Alvor Fishing Bottom Fishing Shark Big Game Fishing (119)

“Donzela” is our fishing boat in Alvor

Why go fishing in the Algarve

The advantage of recreational fishing is that it can be done with whoever you’d like to take. Usually, for the activities that involve fishing in the Algarve, no previous experience is required. In fact, many bookings we receive for recreational fishing in the Algarve are for fathers and their sons. Such a nice father-sun experience during your holidays in Portugal!

In addition, mums and daughters can also join the fishing tour as the ones who do not aspire to fish can come along as a spectator. This is also why the fishing tours in the Algarve are popular among groups of friends. While the guys have fun fishing, the girls can simply enjoy the sun on the deck and take some nice pictures.

Family fishing tour in Lagos

Dad and sons coming back after a family fishing tour in Lagos

In most cases, the fishing tour does not end when you get back to the marina. That’s when the real party starts as usually you may bring your fish home for a BBQ dinner. Go out fishing with friends and family on the atlantic and then going home to prepare your own fish is the ultimate holiday experience! Of course this does not apply on the shar fishing and and big game fishing tours as on those trips we practice “Catch, Photograph and Release”. This means that  all sharks and fish that we catch will be returned to their natural habitat after been caught (and taken some impressive pictures).

alvor Fishing Portugal

Another successful boat trip with fishing in the Algarve

Happy customers make us happy and we decided to share some feedback from our customers about their boat trips with fishing in the Algarve: Read along if you’re still doubting what to do during your stay in the Algarve!

About fishing in Olhão:

Although we permanently live in the Algarve, we decided to have a tourist day and booked the fishing day experience in Olhão. We have a great time on the water and you really do not need to be an experienced fisher to take part. Ricardo and his colleague help you when needed and take all the time to explain everything. We even got some fish to take home! Next time we are going to take their watertaxi to one of the deserted islands and spend the day.

About fishing in Tavira:

Me and my sun went for a big game fishing in Tavira. Marta is super welcoming and the staff on the boat was extremely friendly and professional. There were two more guys joining on the trip. As the conditions were perfect, we had a great day with some impressive catches. We were happy to sea the sharks were released back into the sea after taking some pictures.

About fishing in Alvor:

If it’s bottom fishing for fun or big game fishing in the Algarve, we couldn’t recommend Miguel (the captain) and his shipmates enough! Friendly, funny and very professional! Would highly recommend for a 4 hour family fishing trip, shark fishing or even sunset drinks and swimming. A ‘must do’ adventure during your stay in Alvor.

About fishing in Lagos:

Thanks a lot for everything! It was a fantastic trip, with a fantastic staff and I have no words to describe the moments of fishing, photos and caves with my family. Really really beautiful! There was no sun, but the weather was good enough to do all the activities we wanted. I really appreciate!

family fishing from Lagos

You’ll aways have the support of friendly and professional staff

And this is just a small sample of all the great feedback we’ve been receiving. At SeaBookings we always want to make sure we work with the best tour operators to guarantee you’ll get the best experience.

Do you have some experience to share or would you like to know more about fishing in the Algarve, let us know!

The best boat trips for your Christmas holidays in Portugal

Our favorite boat trips for your Christmas holidays in Portugal

Are you one of the lucky ones who’s spending the Christmas holidays in Portugal? Well done! The time between Christmas and New Years in Portugal is usually beautiful. It’s not too busy and the weather is often very sunny but of course a bit cold. You can expect temperatures around 20 degrees celsius in the sun during the day but it may get rather chilly in the night and early morning (around 5 to 10 degrees).

Christmas holidays in Portugal

Enjoy your Christmas holidays in Portugal!

To give a special touch to your Christmas holidays in Portugal and make this time of the year even more magical, we suggest you to pick a sunny and quiet day and to book a lovely boat tour. Not all tour operators keep their boat tours running during the winter period, but others do, also during the Christmas holidays in Portugal. We’ve selected our top 5 boat tours to do during your Christmas holidays in Portugal. Enjoy!

Top 5 boat tours to do during your Christmas holidays in Portugal

Kayak trip in Benagil

Boat trip in Benagil

1. Boat tour to the cave of Benagil

This boat tour is surely a best-seller during the Christmas holidays in Portugal. This one hour boat tour to the famous cave of Benagil is the best way to explore the coastline of this region. The cave of Benagil is the most popular among all rock formations in Portugal and maybe even Europe. To visit this cave should be on top of your list of things to do during your Christmas holidays in Portugal! The cave boat trip starts at the typical fishermen beach of Benagil, near Lagoa, in the Algarve. You’ll get on board on one of Ruben’s grotto boats. These boats are specially designed for these tours. They are easy to board and small enough to truly access the caves. When the ocean tide allows, you’ll be able to get into the caves and make impressive pictures!

Dream Wave Albufeira - Insonia Albufeira - Algarve, Portugal

Dolphin and cave tour from Albufeira

2. Caves & dolphin watching from Albufeira

This boat trip from Albufeira is one of our personal favorites. This boat trip takes about two hours and is great to do with friends or family. We invite you to get aboard of Insomnia, a rigid inflatable passenger boat. We’ll take you to enjoy the stunning coastline of the Algarve with a great view from the Atlantic. We’ll first visit some of the most impressive caves around Albufeira, including the famous cave of Benagil. To complete this excursion, we’ll try to find some wild dolphins. The dolphins we search for are wild animals, so we can never guarantee we find them. Fortunately, the experience crew know the secrets to find them and we see dolphins on almost all of our trips. Wouldn’t this boat trip be the right magical moment during your Christmas holidays in Portugal?

Jigging Alvor

Big game fishing in Alvor

3. Bottom fishing from Alvor

If you’d like to go fishing during your Christmas holidays in Portugal, we’d invite you to come aboard on “Donzela”. This fully equipped sport fishing boat belongs to the local fisherman Miguel. Miguel would be happy to take you to the best and most unkown fishing spots, to find great ground fish. Bottom fishing tour starts from Alvor, in the Algarve, a typical fishermen town. Bottom fishing from Alvor is great as there is a broad variety of fish to catch thanks to the warm Gulf Stream that passes by the coast of the Algarve. The main species that we usually catch during the bottom fishing from Alvor are Sea Bass, Stone Bass, Garfisch, Bream, Squid, Cuttlefish and Mackerels.

Sailing tour Lisbon

Sailing tour in Lisbon

4. Sunset Sailing in Lisbon

If you’re spending your Christmas holidays in Portugal in Lisbon, we recommend this sunset sailing cruise in the Tagus River! This trip takes about two hours and during the winter season, it starts at 15h30. In our opinion, this sunset cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy the Tagus River and also Lisbon. This romantic sunset sailing tour is a great way to get the most out of your holidays in Lisbon as you’ll get a great perspective over the city. From the boat, you’ll have a unique view over the city and its most emblematic landmarksAt this time of the year, as the sun sets, you’ll also see some of the many Christmas lights that decorate the city. Don’t forget to bring some warm clothes as it gets rather cold after the sun has set.

vertigem azul - dolphin watching from Setubal

Dolphin watching from Setúbal

5. Dolphin watching in Setúbal

Only half an hour drive from Lisbon you can embark on this magical boat tour to encounter wild dolphins. The three-hour boat tour of dolphin watching in Setúbal takes place on a luxurious catamaran known for its security and comfort. We’ll guarantee you’ll have an unforgettable moment for your whole family: dolphin watching in their natural habitat.

In Setúbal, in the Sado River, lives a resident community of bottlenose dolphins. A team of experts and marine biologists will go with you on the boat tour. They will do all they can to make sure you get to observe the dolphins. Despite the fact that this pod of dolphins is resident, they are wild animals, and we cannot guarantee a 100%. Fortunately, we spot dolphins on 95% of our trips, so the chance is very high. It is a true adventure!

Happy Christmas holidays in Portugal!

Happy Christmas holidays in Portugal!

We’d like to remind you that these boat tours are subject to the ocean and weather conditions. During the winter period, chances of bad conditions are higher and some trips may be cancelled. So, we recommend you to keep an eye on the local weather forecasts and in case of dubious conditions, stay in touch with your tour provider. In case your boat trip is cancelled, we’ll do our best to find you another trip or reschedule. If that’s not possible, we’ll fully refund you.

The good news is that the forecasts for the coming days seem good, so go ahead and book your boat trip during your Christmas holidays in Portugal!

If you’ve got any other suggestions or are looking for a different kind of boat tour or watersport, feel free to contact us by phone or email. Happy Christmas holidays in Portugal!

The best of Algarve boat tours

Are you one of the lucky ones who are visiting the Algarve this summer? Be prepared. Your holidays will be awesome! To enjoy the stunning white sanded beaches and impressive rock formations to the fullest, let us share the best of the Algarve boat tours with you. In fact, the boat trips in the Algarve are a must whilst enjoying your holidays in the South of Portugal.

The best of Algarve boat tours

As you probably already know, the Algarve is the southernmost province of continental Portugal. The Algarve is the southwest point of the European continent too. Its geographical location in the South of Europe and being surrounded by the Atlantic gives the Algarve one of the best climates in Europe. Very mild all year round and with a lot of sunny days per year.

Surrounded by the deep blue Atlantic on its South and West, the Algarve also includes some very pretty islands and islets. The region with most islands is near Faro. It’s called the Ria Formosa lagoon. This nature reserve has over 170 square kilometres and is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The Ria Formosa is a stopping place for hundreds of different birds.

Given its enormous richness in nature, the Ria Formosa Lagoon near Faro is a popular destination for nature lovers. Some people choose the Algarve as their holiday destination for a very particular reason: bird watching. In fact, bird watching is one of the most popular boat tours in the Algarve. The bird watching boat trip in the Algarve allows you to discover the broad diversity of the permanent and migratory birds of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

This Algarve boat trip has a very special skipper. The skipper of this boat tour in the Algarve is a biologist and he will be your guide, teaching you about the species you’ll encounter. The Ria Formosa is an important spot for migrant birds from or to Africa which can be nicely observed from this boat tour in the Algarve. More than 200 bird species can be found on one unique day.

For nature lovers who prefer mammals rather than birds, the dolphin watching boat tours in the Algarve are one of the best things to do in the Algarve. The Atlantic, surrounding the coast of the Algarve, is home to several species of wild dolphins. Common dolphins and Bottlenose dolphins are most frequently spotted on these boat tours in the Algarve. If you’re lucky you may even encounter other species like whales and sea turtles.

The dolphin watching boat tours in the Algarve are very popular among the families. Both the parents and children will surely be amazed about these special encounters with these magical mammals. The dolphins are totally wild and not fed which means that these boat tours in the Algarve are a true adventure as you’ll never know in advance what species you’ll encounter. Dolphins and other mammals are spotted on almost all trips as the skippers of these boat tours in the Algarve are very experienced. Please bear in mind that there’s always a small chance of having tough luck and not finding any. If this happens, the boat trip is worth it anyway as it’s fun itself and the sights are amazing!

The length of the Algarve coastline is approximately 155 kilometres. Beyond the westernmost point of Sagres, more precisely the Cape St. Vincent, it stretches a further 50 kilometres to the north. These 50km of west coast are very popular for watersports like surfing and windsurfing. The southern coastline is notable for picturesque caves and grottoes. The regions around Benagil and Lagos are the most popular for their impressive marine caves and rock formations. These grottoes and caves are best accessible by doing one of the many boat tours in the Algarve.

There are several types of boat tours that go to the Benagil marine cave. Benagil is a beach near Lagoa and it’s famous for its cave which is only accessible by boat. Regarding the Algarve boat tours to Benagil, there are small fishermen boats but also big catamarans. What’s best depends on your own preferences. The typical cave boat tour in the Algarve takes you to over 20 stunning Algarve caves. The boat tour will take you in and out of the most impressive caves. As you get into a grotto, the sun illuminates the ocean water, creating amazing effects of different tones of blue. We’re sure you will love it. In the most famous caves, the skipper will shut down thes engine of the boat. Like that you can admire the cave calmly with no noise and take great pictures!

In the region of Lagos, the caves of Ponta da Piedade are the most popular ones to visit on a boat tour. Ponta da Piedade is a place where high rock cliffs of over 20m reach into the deep blue Atlantic. Ponta da Piedade is a magical setting of light brown rock sculptures that meet the blue waters of the ocean below, being one of the main attractions of Lagos.

By boat tour is the most popular way to visit Ponta da Piedade in Lagos. The grotto boat tours in the Algarve to Ponta da Piedade are the most popular boat tours in Lagos. These Algarve boat tours depart from several beaches and the Marina of Lagos. The grotto boat tours in the Algarve are an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy the colossal rock formations and coastline of Lagos with your family and friends. Prices start at only 10€ per person. On these Algarve boat trips experienced fishermen will maneuver their way through the amazing caves whilst telling their names and secrets. In fact, across time, local fishermen have given names to some of these rock sculptures. The most popular ones are the Chimney and the Grotto of Love.

Bom Dia Boat Trips - Lagos - Boat trips in the algarve- Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Bom Dia Boat Trips – Lagos – Boat trips in the algarve- Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

For those who are in love or curious about the Portuguese cuisine, there are the BBQ boat trips in the Algarve! The BBQ boat trips in the Algarve take between 4 and 6 hours, departing from Lagos, Portimão and Albufeira. These boat tours in the Algarve are ideal for families and groups of friends. On most of the tours, you’ll depart on a big boat, a sailing boat or a catamaran, and cruise along the coast. Once you’ve reached a nice spot, the boat will anchor. Depending on the boat tour, you can either jump onto a smaller boat to explore the caves and then go to a private beach to enjoy a BBQ lunch or simply enjoy your meal on the big boat. On the longer boat tours, there is time for a swim, beach games and snorkeling.

Albufeira Beach BBQ - Beach BBQ abufeira - boat trip from Albufeira- boat trips Albufeira – Albufeira

Albufeira Beach BBQ -Beach BBQ abufeira – boat trip from Albufeira- boat trips Albufeira – Albufeira

The Algarve is a great holiday destination for ocean lovers and there are Algarve boat tours for every taste and preference. If you’ve got any questions or suggestions about the boat trips in the Algarve, feel free to contact us. If you’d like to book some of the Algarve boat tours, we recommend you to book ahead to ensure your spot and avoid fully booked boats.

Enjoy your holidays in the Algarve!