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Europe’s most south-western tip, with its equally Atlantic and Mediterranean influences, the Algarve charms on many levels. Despite ending in the 13th century, its Moorish past can still be felt in the region, in its place names beginning with “Al” – including Algarve itself, or Al-Gharb, meaning “the west” – and in the intricate minaret-style chimneypots featured on many of its traditional houses. Its merits as a holiday and leisure destination supreme are immediately revealed by the praise heaped upon it, most recently ‘Europe’s Leading Beach Destination’ (for the second year running) at the World Travel Awards, and ‘European Golf Destination of the Year’, awarded by golf industry itself, in the form of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators.

Stretching from Spanish Andalusia in the east, across the entire width of Portugal to Cape Saint Vincent in the west, the Algarve boasts an incredible variety of coastal scenery, joined by stunning inland areas, characterised by mountains, rolling hills and verdant valleys. Apart from its popularity as a golf and beach destination, and of course its blessed climate, the region excels as much as place to holiday as a place to live. Many people choose the Algarve because of the relaxed way of life it can offer. Modern facilities and conveniences are joined by a sense of relaxation unachievable in so many other places of the world, and the exceptional affordability of what you would call ‘luxuries’ elsewhere, such as dining out. This makes living costs relatively low in comparison to Northern Europe, especially if you take advantage of the Portugal’s ‘Non-habitual Residency’ scheme. Excellent flight links from Faro International Airport (a low-cost airline hub) to the rest of Europe, great road links across the region and to Lisbon in the north and Seville in the west, can only add to its attraction. And now, it is even proving a popular stop-off for cruise liners, in and out of the Mediterranean.     

For many, the appeal of the Western Algarve is even harder to resist. With its stunning picture-postcard coastline, made of delightful coves and ochre cliffs, or the incredible Meia Praia beach stretching some five kilometres, this part of the Algarve epitomises the charm of the region. The Western Algarve offers the best of both worlds: a more relaxed lifestyle, as one of the region’s more sedate areas, ensuring that ‘getting-away-from-it-all’ feel (despite only being one hour from Faro on the motorway); and the modern amenities and services offered by the historic city of Lagos, one the Algarve’s best loved destinations. Lagos is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, with a bustling marina, rich history, architectural beauty and diverse nightlife. Strolling through the city’s winding, cobbled lanes, with café and restaurant tables spilling out of doors, the sound of live music and the scent of delicious food in the air, a visit to Lagos offers something new every time.

A few kilometres along the coast, we find one of the Western Algarve’s most charming seaside towns, Luz. Luz, and the stunning beach before it (Praia de Luz), has managed to achieve what few other destinations in the region have: maintaining its yesteryear charm of its fishing village past and subtly including the facilities and amenities you expect of a holiday setting. The result is a compact yet surprisingly well served town, perched above its beachfront, with architectural and natural gems joined by a promenade lined with restaurants and cafés, making it popular with holiday makers and residents.