The alluring contrast of golden cliffs and Azure waters. Photo by Daniela on Unsplash

Exploring the Algarve: The Local Way

If you travelled in a straight line across the Atlantic Ocean from New York City, you would end up on the vast coastline of Portugal, an almost 1,800-kilometre stretch of golden limestone cliffs and pristine beaches. Amidst the sun-kissed embrace of southern Portugal lies the Algarve Coast, a shimmering stretch of azure waters and hidden coves waiting to be explored. To ensure you get the most out of your time here, we have paired up with our reseller in Faro to bring you local insights on where to visit and what to eat when boating in the Algarve.

Dark cave by a bright beach in Portugal

The Algarve Coast is your’s to explore. Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash

When in Portugal, the warm sun on your face is rivalled only by the warmth of the locals, who, with their rich maritime history, consider the sea not just a playground but an old companion. As the distant laughter of families from sun-soaked beaches fills the air when you pass by in your boat, one cannot help but feel the profound connection between the land, its people, and the infinite sea. This bond existed long before Vasco Da Gama embarked on his historical voyages of discovery, and it continues to this day among fishermen and recreational boat owners.

A fishing boat placed at the beach during low tide with an old man looking after it.

Fishing is still a way of living for many along the coast. Photo av Kris Van SebroeckUnsplash

Discovering Algarve's Treasures - The Local Way

The coastline unfurls with wonders from Sagres to Vila Real Santo Antonio. And popular spots, like the cave in Benagil, are well-known. But the Algarve hold many gems worth exploring; here are six destinations provided by our local adventurer in Faro:

Fuzeta: This small town is known for its natural beauty and tranquil setting. It's part of the Ria Formosa lagoon system, offering stunning views and a peaceful environment. Fuzeta is a hidden gem, perfect for those looking to escape the more crowded tourist spots. Here, you can enjoy local food, stroll by the traditional harbour or partake in a game of boule with the locals in the park.

Ria Formosa in Faro/Olhão: If you ever want to see flamingos in the wild, you should visit Ria Formosa. This national park is a haven for wildlife, especially for bird watching. The area is a unique coastal lagoon in the Algarve, stretching through the municipalities of Faro and Olhão. The area consists of salt pans, marshes, and barrier islands, offering a diverse and picturesque landscape.

Ponta da Piedade in Lagos: This area is famous for its extraordinary rock formations, cliffs, and sea arches. The natural beauty here is simply awe-inspiring. Visiting by boat gives you the best view of the majestic cliffs, and when the sun sets, you can enjoy the view from the boat or the cliffs.

Praia da Luz: This is a popular beach destination in the Algarve region, renowned for its stunning sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. The area is also known for its leisurely atmosphere and is an excellent spot for families and sun-seekers. Praia da Luz combines traditional Portuguese charm with modern tourist amenities.

The Town of Alvor: Alvor is a picturesque town with a rich history. This traditional fishing village has maintained much of its original charm. The town is known for its beautiful beach, cobbled streets, and lively harbour area. It's a great place to experience authentic Portuguese culture and cuisine.

Tavira: Tavira is often considered one of the most charming towns in the Algarve. It's known for its historical architecture, including the old Roman bridge and traditional tiled houses. If you want a break from the beach, it's a perfect day trip.

Each of these destinations stays true to the traditional Portuguese values and lifestyle– even though some have become frequented by tourists over the years. It is safe to say that the Algarve still offers a tranquil escape for explorers who seek an authentic cultural experience. You can reach each destination by boat from marinas scattered across the Algarve, such as Lagos, Portimão, Albufeira, Vilamoura, and Olhão.

Enjoying the views in Ponta Piedade

Enjoying the views in Ponta Piedade. Photo by Artem Zhukov on Unsplash

An experience for all senses

Beyond the sheer beauty, the Algarve also offers a plethora of activities. Whether you prefer hiking with spectacular views, exploring charming villages, discovering new cuisine, or snorkelling, you will find that the region caters to your desires for adventure. Plenty of historical attractions are worth visiting, like the Sagres Fortress– which is a testament to Portugal's famed maritime history.

Sagres Fortress was pivotal during the Age of Discovery

Sagres Fortress was pivotal during the Age of Discovery.

Local cuisine

You're in for a culinary treat when visiting the Algarve in Portugal. Here are traditional dishes served pretty much everywhere that you should try, each offering a unique taste of the region's rich gastronomic culture:

Bacalhau (Salted Codfish): You will find Portugal's national dish, Bacalhau, prepared in various ways. The dish is said to have 365 different variations each year, different for each day. One popular version is "Bacalhau à Brás," made with shredded cod, onions, straw potatoes, and scrambled eggs. It's typically eaten as a main course and pairs well with a crisp, dry white wine. Enjoy it for lunch or dinner at any traditional Portuguese restaurant.

Cataplana de Marisco (Seafood Stew): This is a seafood lover's dream, featuring a mix of shellfish (like clams, shrimp, and mussels) cooked with tomatoes, onions, and herbs in a special copper cookware called a "cataplana." It's a dinner dish, perfect for sharing, and goes well with a refreshing glass of white wine.

Frango Piri-Piri (Spicy Grilled Chicken): This grilled chicken, marinated in spicy Piri-Piri sauce, is a must-try. It's usually served with salad and French fries or Portuguese rice. Frango Piri-Piri makes for a great casual lunch or dinner and pairs wonderfully with a light red wine or a cold beer.

Sardinhas Assadas (Grilled Sardines): Fresh sardines grilled over charcoal are a staple in the Algarve. They're typically eaten in summer, especially during the Sardine Festival in Portimão. Served with boiled potatoes and a salad, they're best enjoyed with a glass of red wine or a cold beer by the seaside.

Arroz de Tamboril (Monkfish Rice): This hearty dish features monkfish cooked with rice in a tomato-based sauce, often with a touch of Piri-Piri for a bit of heat. It's a comforting meal ideal for dinner, especially in the cooler months. It pairs perfectly with a robust white wine.

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (Clams in Garlic Sauce): Named after the poet Bulhão Pato, this simple yet flavorful dish consists of clams cooked in olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and white wine. This dish is typically enjoyed as an appetiser or a light meal. It's often served in the warmer months due to its fresh and light taste. Pairing this dish with a crisp, chilled white wine, preferably a Portuguese variety like Vinho Verde or Alvarinho, is common.

Pair your meal with a non-alcoholic option if you are driving.

Portuguese  Bachalao
Portuguese rice seafood
Portuguese piri piri chicken

A brief escape

We hope you enjoyed this brief escape to the wonders of Portugal and that you find these local tips valuable on your exploration of the Algarve coast. Though we love the cool Norwegian winter, it is easy to dream of warm temperatures and sun-kissed beaches during these dark, starlit months. But the peak boating season is here again before we know it, and in the meantime, if you are passing by the Faro area, be sure to visit our local reseller. They will help you find the right vessel for your next coastal adventure.