the best European beach vacations
(I gave the game away, back there). I do think that the Algarve offers the best beach vacations in Europe (maybe the world), that's why. Let me explain how I am able to make that claim...
By the time I'd enjoyed my first few Algarve holidays, I knew that I'd found the best beach vacation region in Europe. And that was before I bothered to discover anything about Portugal, or
about the Algarve's culture or its history.
It was just laziness on my part, as I'll happily admit -- the mild Algarve weather was a revelation, and I was content enough with life on and around the beaches. I thought that's all there was to
Looking back now, I know that I would have enjoyed my previous Algarve holidays even more if I'd had the tiniest inkling about anything that was harder to
reach than the nearest sandy beach!
These days, more and more people are looking for sunny beach vacations in Europe, as world travel becomes less attractive. There are all those fears about political insecurity in far-flung
countries. Not forgetting the medical conditions you risk with long-distance travel, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
It's all very worrying - and a big upsurge in European beach vacations is expected as a result.
Of course, it's an absolute doddle to reach the Algarve from just about anywhere in Europe, so that's one big plus!
The Algarve region is compact and easy to explore. Let's be frank, the whole of Portugal is not that big, so you could easily 'spread your wings' and explore further. I've done that, but I
always scurry back to the Algarve, because I love it there, the more so since I discovered more about it. So, if you don't want to be a cultural pygmy (like what I was!)...
...you can read here an abbreviated Algarve history - the events that made my favourite spot for beach vacations what it is today. (Go ahead, I'll wait for you right
OK - back from the Algarve history page? Then read on to find out all about...
The Character of Modern Algarve
In the three decades since Portugal changed from a dictatorship to a
fledgeling liberal democracy, tourism has become the major contributor to the regional economy. And the Algarve has become a top spot for beach vacations. But, unlike many other popular holiday
destinations, the region has managed to retain much of its original charm and attraction.
The Algarve is most heavily developed in the areas to the south of the IP1 motorway that runs between Albufeira and the Spanish border in the east. Once you get north of that arterial route, you
can quickly find another Algarve to savour and enjoy...
Once I started to explore, I learned to appreciate the Algarve's contrasts -- rural calm set against busy urban centres, gleaming white plastered buildings with an imposing backdrop of mountains,
lush greenery giving onto sparkling sand dunes - and those breathtaking views over the sea.
Some of the unmistakable effects of Algarve tourism have also helped build a groundswell of determination that the old traditions and ways should be preserved. Thank goodness, say I.
What I always find amazing (not to say quaint) about this hot spot for beach vacations is... the locals go about their cottage-industry fishing enterprises as though they weren't surrounded by
foreign invaders. They really are a nice bunch, the Algarveans.
The chart below shows why the area's popularity is based on the wonderful, mild Algarve climate. (Its sea temperatures are also kindly).
It's immediately obvious why August is the peak month for tourists looking for sunny European beach vacations, but just look at that spread of temperatures during what are freezing cold
months up in northern Europe!
The mountain ranges (serras) to the north separate the Algarve from the Alentejo district, and supply much wonderful scenery once you've left the coastal area.
But, they are also responsible for keeping that horrid cold air from northern Europe out of my lovely Algarve (so, thank you, serras!)
Here are today's conditions in Faro (remember that time of day is local, i.e. GMT):
Since the region measures only about 135 km (90 miles) west to east and between 30 to 50 kilometres (20 to 30 miles) north to south, exploring is easy. You can reach somewhere - and back again -
in a day, with lots of time for activities in between!
Well, there you have it. The Algarve is the best place for beach vacations in Europe, so I hope to see you there (don't forget to wave).
And, if you fancy some exploring during your Algarve holiday, check out my recommended 'starter' tour. I'm sure you'll enjoy it, if you do manage to drag
yourself away from the region's beaches. And there are links to suggestions and itineraries for other, more ambitious day trips and circuits throughout the wonderful Algarve.
You can also watch out for more and newer suggestions for great days out in the Algarve by simply...
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