Turismo do AlgarveThe Algarve. Europe's most famous secret
It is likely that you've heard about the Algarve. Maybe a friend has made a description of the magnificent beaches, or perhaps you saw a documentary about the local cuisine or you had a text like this one in front of you. But there is an Algarve you haven't seen, tasted or explored: the Algarve of those who live here. For almost three millenniums the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, North Africans and Mauritanians did the same thing you do nowadays: go across the region. In 1249, the Al-Gharb (the Occident) was finally conquered from the Muslim world by Dom Sancho II that started using the title of king of Portugal and the Algarve. Since then people from the Algarve have gain a sense of pride that impel them to reveal visitors with their own voices, the best hidden secrets of the region, such as their favourite beaches, the hidden villages, the nature trails or the best restaurants to eat cockles. About the beaches, they only tell you (we only tell you) that it could take weeks, months or even years to explore them. There are several and in the 200 kilometres extension you could certainly find the right one for you. One that suits you perfectly: a landscape of protected dunes, coves hidden among rocks, small bays and wide sandy areas, shallow lakes and rivers or the wavy waters of Atlantic Ocean. The Algarve has the perfect weather to complete this impressive waterfront. Spring comes very early, the long and hot summers are refreshed by the cool breezes, Autumn last until the end of the year and even at the end of winter sunny days are frequent and not an exception. Are you with your family? With your soul mate? Alone? In a group? Then this is the right destination for a getaway or for the holiday you deserve. You're going to love it. If you want to take a break of going to the beach, there is also time to discover other things: Monuments, ancestral traditions, religious rituals and craftsmen markets that are living heritages passing from one generation to the next, from the locals to the visitors. And they are all here waiting for you. The blue shades of the sea and the sky, the whites of traditional houses looking over the greens of the landscape. Or even better, looking over the green palette offered by the region's golf courses, that has given this region for the second time the award of best world golf destination by prestigious institutions and specialty magazines. Or the green colours of our Nature. Give the beach and monuments a rest, get your backpack ready and walk along the Algarve on the Via Algarviana, a 300 Km pedestrian path that starts in Alcoutim and finishes at Cape St. Vincent in Vila do Bispo, crossing several villages still living the countryside traditions. Have the pleasure of giving civilization a break and head to the idyllic settings of the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and the Vincentina Coast, at Ponta de Sagres (where the west and south coast are still untouched), the Ria Formosa Natural Park (60 kilometres of islands and channels for bird watching) and the Marshland Natural Reserve of Castro Marim (where you can watch more than two hundred waterbird species). Enjoy the secrets of the local cuisine after a nice walk. It's all about getting the best the sea and the land have to offer: fish and seafood stews locally called 'caldeiradas', Clam 'cataplanas', pastry made of figs and almonds, and wines from the DOC Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. But not everything is traditional. The Algarve is the Portuguese region with more Michelin stars. We are famous for all this. And for everything you still don't know. It's time you come and talk to us; listen (so you can see) to what we have to say about the region.