Often overlooked in favour of Spain, its larger neighbour, Portugal is bursting with sites and attractions that escape the scope of many tourists and remain national secrets. As a rule The Algarve sees more foreign visitors than the rest of Portugal but thousands of visitors still fail to visit some of the most amazing parts of the area. Holidays in Algarve can incorporate anything from national parks to deserted beaches and geographical phenomena. Anyone staying in Algarve who does not take the time to see at least one of the wonders of the area has to be a fool. Here is a short list of the most recommended places to visit during holidays in Algarve.
1. Sagres – A rocky outpost of coastline with imposing cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean to three sides. Sacres is the base where Prince Henry the Navigator based his Navigation Academy which led to Portugal’s Age of Navigation and allowed Spain’s little sister to discover and colonise across the globe. Christopher Columbus is one famous Alumni. Although the area was well protected by a sturdy fortress, Sir Francis Drake managed to break through all defences back in 1587.
2. Pera – A typical Portuguese coastal town that booms during summertime and turns itself into a coastal wonder. From May to September Pera hosts the quite unique Sand Sculpture Festival. Artists from around the world flock to the resort and compete to create the most spectacular sculpture from the ample sand. The festival has a different theme each year and a dazzling display awaits visitors at night when each of the sculpture is lit up coloured lights.
3. Castro Marim – Although the town of Castro Marim is pretty unassuming, the wonder of its surroundings is not to be missed. On the out skirts of the town, silver pyramids of salt scatter the landscape of 2000 hectares of salt pans.
Unlike the famous salt flats of Bolivia, visitors are encouraged to explore the Castro Marim salt pans and can take a tour which covers centuries old methods of salt extraction.
4. Olhao – The Algarve’s prime spot for nature lovers. A rarely seen natural phenomenon happens along this stretch of the Algarve’s coastline which has led to the forming of inland lagoons and islands along the cliff tops which rise above the sea.
The fertile land of woodland and marshes around the area has been colonised by native wildlife species and allowed indigenous flora and fauna to flourish.
5. Estoi – Home the Algarve’s most spectacular Palace. The splendid Palace at Estoi earns its status as a wonder due to its remarkable design and as a symbol of defiance. In contrast the conservative architecture of the time, wealthy landowner ordered that a palace be built on neo-roco and neo-baroque style. Even the gardens of the Palace challenged design protocol and were packed with erotic statues. The outbuilding of the palace houses a nativity scene which lies in stark contrast to the flamboyant style of the rest of the complex.