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A Guide To Algarve Beach Bliss
The 60 miles of coastline along the west of Portugal’s Algarve region offer some of the continent's best bathing spots, with an amazing variety of beaches for all kinds of holiday. Algarve’s extensive coastline brings other attractions for the Portugal holiday maker - with all the amazing seafood on offer, it's no surprise the Portuguese eat more fish than anyone else in Europe.
The Brits have been taking cheap Algarve holidays since the 1970s, but some areas have escaped overdevelopment and are perfect for lazy beach holidays and energetic surfing trips alike. Here are some of the best spots to lay out your beach towel and picnic basket on a cheap Algarve holiday.
Alvor beach, Algarve
The town of Alvor was once a small fishing village. These days it is still quieter than most of the cheap Algarve holiday resorts, but offers a delightful getaway for families or couples.
Amongst the area’s attractions are its vast uncrowded beach and great restaurants along the waterfront where freshly caught bream, bass and cuttlefish are fried on enormous barbecues.
A short walk over the dunes from Alvor is Meia Praia, a four-mile crescent of soft white sand curving toward the city of Lagos. Meia Praia becomes a boisterous family beach near the town where locals take a rowboat ferry across the narrow Bensafrim river to reach the sands.
Lagos has something of a swashbuckling air with its river mouth fortress and medieval walls. Its narrow streets fill up with Portugal holiday makers on summer nights and it has a youthful, barhopping crowd who use the city as base camp for surfing trips.
There's also culture to be found in Lagos' art galleries or open-air concerts beneath the city walls. The church of Santo Antonio is lined with intricate woodcarvings coated in gold leaf plundered from Brazil.
Running south from Lagos is the Costa d'Oiro - the golden coast - a string of sandy coves tucked among crumbling sandstone cliffs leading the saltwater caves and weird rock formations at the Ponta da Piedade headland - the ideal place to watch the sun set on a romantic Algarve holiday.
At the restored market hall in Lagos, the array of freshly caught seafood is dazzling, from tiny sardines and baby squid to the great snakelike silver scabbard fish or torpedo-sized tuna.
Head to the west and the coast begins to get wilder. The beach at Algarve’s Martinhal resort, near the town of Sagres, rises to a mountainous sand dune that is exposed to powerful winds, and this makes it a challenging favourite for windsurfers.
North of Sagres, the coast has some of Europe's best spots for surfing. The rugged, wind-swept landscape here seems a world away from the gentle waters and almond and citrus groves that can be found in the centre of the Algarve.
The beaches here are remote and undeveloped, but are great for those hoping to ride the waves, or simply to get away from the crowds to soak up the sun and the sound of the surf on a more remote and empty Algarve beach.
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