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Portugal has it all. Warm sunny weather, beautiful scenery, gorgeous coast and bags of culture. The only problem is – everyone else knows this too! Meaning that come summer, places like the Algarve can be extremely overpopulated with tourists. Something that can be extremely off-putting to other travellers.
However, you shouldn’t let a few tourists keep you from experiencing one of Europe’s most treasured holiday destinations. With just a few clever tricks, I promise that you’ll be able to get the most out of your Algarve holiday without getting trampled on by stampedes of holiday-goers.
The Algarve itself is popular due to two main reasons – every year it experiences over 300 days of sunshine and yet it’s still an incredibly affordable destination with numerous budget flights. Then there’s the fact the region is famed for its long, clean beaches that are considered some of the safest in the world. It’s little wonder that couples and families flock to the Algarve every year.
To avoid the crowds, I recommend avoiding the big hotels that occupy the central Algarve. Yes, the amazing hospitality, swimming pools and affordable hotel bills are very tempting. But that means everyone else will book too! For more privacy, I suggest booking your own villa or apartment. Many of these private holiday homes have their own swimming pools meaning you won’t have to share with other tourists, plus you can avoid the hectic morning buffets in favour of exploring the local food markets and attempting to make some Portuguese dishes yourself.
When it comes to beaches, both the south and central Algarve with beaches like Praia da Falesia are particularly busy due to all the facilities they provide. This beach resort has water sports, golf and even tennis for all ages, making it very popular with families.
For a quiet day on the beach opt for an area that has been less developed for tourists such as Praia Verde in the Eastern Algarve. Without a golf course or water park in sight, this lovely beach is surrounded by a dense pine forest and is home to an array of local birds and other wildlife to spot. There’s even a small boutique hotel hidden away in the forest called the Praia Verde Boutique Hotel. With just 40 suites, modern design and a delicious restaurant that offers seasonal dishes, there’s no doubt that this area will give you a taste of authentic Algarve life.
When it comes to eating out, the most popular restaurants are the western ones. Simply because they’ve been built to suit the tastes of the thousands of tourists who visit each year. Instead, beat the crowds and experience some of the delicious Portuguese cuisine. After-all, you can’t visit a country without trying its famous dishes.
For a taste of the best, the Michelin-starred São Gabriel is a must-visit. The chef, accomplished local-born Leonel Pereira, undoubtedly creates some of the Algarve’s greatest dishes. Of course, being Michelin-starred the restaurant can be on the pricey side, however, there’s likely to be a tasting menu that will give the most for your money and offers a great experience.
If you’ve got a sweeter tooth, Restaurant L14, which is tucked away in the Salgados Dunas Suites hotel in Albufeira, won the Best Dessert 2015 award for its almond and fig dish. The restaurant offers a fusion of local and international foods, so it’s a great choice if you’re new to the cuisine.
All-in-all, it’s very possible to avoid the tourists in the Algarve, you just need to venture further afield from the popular resorts. If you do, you’ll quite possibly regard the Algarve as one of your top holiday destinations.