Hire your campervan in Faro
Faro is only the beginning; here's all you need to know about the city and its surroundings
With a balmy climate, towering cliffs, and sheltered beaches, the Algarve has Europe’s most exotic coastline. It’s no wonder Al-Gharb, or The West, has been a prime holiday destination since the sixties. But that doesn’t mean Algarve has been swamped by resorts. On the contrary, much of the western coastline is as pristine and lush as it’s ever been. The south coast, too, still holds some wonderful secrets; it’s just a matter of where you look.
For an unspoilt experience in East Algarve, hop on a ferry across the sand marshes to get to Culatra Island, where you’ll find wooden walkways and empty beaches. West Algarve starts in Sagres and is rugged untamed coastline, formed by the Atlantic battering against crumbling cliffs. The whole western coastline is a natural park, prohibiting large-scale development!
Like much of Portugal, West Algarve is a surfer’s paradise. Maybe even more so because of the good weather and lush surroundings! This stretch of coast receives the full wrath of the Atlantic, making for superb surf -- especially from fall till spring. South Algarve produces some waves too, but needs SE winds to direct swell to its coasts. In winter, when swells get massive, the South Algarve offers sheltered coves around which monster swells wrap to form waves that are more manageable than on the western shores.
On the west coast, Arrifana might look like a regular crowded beach break. What makes Arrifana stand out, though, is the right point break at the northern end. It needs at least 6ft of swell, when it will start producing heavy barrels and rampy sections. At the end of the west coast, you’ll find great surf spots around Sagres, like Beliche (a hollow wedge) and Ponta Ruiva (a great exposed reef break). Zavial, or Z-Point, is your very best bet on the south coast. Being sheltered, it starts breaking on a big swell, producing a classic barreling right point break.
Kitesurfers and windsurfers get to enjoy the Algarve most during the windy season, from June to August, when the ‘Nortada’ wind blows consistently after lunch. The Ria do Alvor Lagoon is especially loved by kitesurfers, and the adjacent Alvor Beach used to be the stage for the world cup of kiteboarding.
Faro is the capital of the Algarve, and while most tourists arrive at the city’s airport, most immediately start exploring the Algarve and only few stay. It makes the city feel authentic and sometimes even undiscovered, especially with all the cute plazas and pedestrian sideways to be enjoyed alongside the locals.
This fascinating town has a great historical city centre with medieval architecture, interesting museums, and uncrowded beaches. Faro’s lagoon, Ria Formosa, is a natural hotbed for shellfish, making for great local cuisine!