Portugal Algarve Travel Information & Pictures
Holiday or Long Stay ~ Try the Algarve!
Portugal Algarve is a great place for a short holiday or a long stay destination, for the golf, the fishing, the beaches, or touring around the ruins.
From Faro and Albufeira, you can take a day trip to Gibraltar (it's about five hours' driving time from Albufeira each way). Or explore typical Portugal villages in the Algarve, like Vila Do Bispo (with its menhirs), and the lighthouse at Cabo Sao Vicente, all within a few hours' drive from Faro or Albufeira.
Portuguese: is the official language. Order a Berlitz Portugal Phrasebook and Dictionary(Anazon US) to especially if you will be touring away from the main cities, or on a long stay holiday.
Day trips go to Sevilla (Seville, Spain, about 2-3 hours drive each way from Albufeira or Faro) and Lisbon (north from Faro, Albufeira, about 4-5 hours each way) as well as Gibraltar (see my Gibraltar travel story). Day trips are easy to arrange at your hotel or condo.
The Algarve south western Portugal has good local produce (in season), a Mediterranean climate, local olives, and good, inexpensive wines. Bottled water is well priced and seafood, fish and espresso are excellent!. And remember Portugal is the home of Port wines . I think it's a great holiday or long stay! I hope you will, too!
Portugal Travel Information & Tips about the Algarve
Travel Health Is it safe to travel in Portugal? Portugal is generally considered safe, but check with your travel health clinic as you should before any trip, and make sure that your usual vaccinations are up to date. For OTC meds to pack for travel, see travel packing medications page. For general government travel advisories, see the links on the Disclaimer page.
What language do they speak in Portugal? In Portugal, the official language is Portuguese, which is sort of like Spanish in the way that French is like Spanish -- similar but way different! English and German are commonly spoken in the main tourism areas, but if you will be traveling around, or staying for a long time, get a Portuguese phrasebook with dictionary like Berlitz Portugal Phrasebook AND Dictionary.
Currency - what money do they use in Portugal? Portugal uses the Euro (EUR). Exchange rates may change : 1EUR=$1.27USD ($1USD=.78 EUR) See travel currency tips
Do I need a Visa for Portugal? Generally, most visitors can enter without a visa for up to 90 days. See Schengen visa info and Do I need a Visa?Usually, once you are in any EU country, you can travel between all of them without a visa.
What to pack for a trip to Algarve Portugal See travel wardrobe Algarve Portugal page.
How to get to the Algarve Most visitors arrive in Algarve Portugal by air in the south coast capital, Faro, with its airport at the end of a long strip of land. Albufeira is about 45 minutes west from Faro by road. Tour companies offer day trips to Lisbon, Seville Spain, and Gibraltar (take your passport to Gibraltar - not EU).
Local Algarve Portugal Bus companies travel between many of the seaside towns. If you are not renting a car to get yourself around, then ask for bus information at your hotel.
Portugal travel guides, travel maps Get the Lonely Planet Portugal (will have basic maps included). There's a new Berlitz Portugal Phrasebook AND Dictionary. For a Portugal map try Michelin Portugal and Madeira map. (TIP There's usually a special shipping offer when you order multiple items)
What are the Roads in Portugal Algarve like? Village roads, even near the coast where you'd think it would be flatter, can be very steep and cobbled. As well, there are traffic circles that may not be well signed. On the freeway that goes through the Algarve to the border with Spain, local drivers often exceed the posted 120 kph (74 mph) limit. If renting a car, keep your rental papers etc with you in the vehicle in case you are stopped by the police for a 'routine' check. the highway from Algarve north to Lisbon is good, too.
Driving into Spain from Portugal requires extra insurance, though the freeway to Seville is new, and an easy drive. Check with your car rental company, if renting a car. EU residents with their own car should check their policy. Your rental car may come with a road map, or get the Michelin Portugal and Madeira map.
Can I drink the water in Portugal's Algarve? Is it safe? Yes and no: Generally, the water is potable (safe to drink) BUT its high mineral content may not agree with you. Buy bottled water which costs about $1 for 5 liters (1 gallon) at the supermarket.
What's the food like in Portugal? At one small restaurant on the ocean, near the border with Spain, diners were loving the baby squid in tomatoes and garlic (squid's not my thing but they raved about it!). You should really try some Portuguese barbecue -- look for 'Churrasquiera' on the menu or in the restaurant name. Also look for entrees labelled 'cataplana'. Cataplana is the name of the traditional copper cooking pot with a hinged lid that's used to cook shellfish, meat, chicken, fish, etc., though some also use that term for foods cooked in that pot.
Generally fish dishes are tasty, not too spicy. Snails are offered, too, and tiny black olives to nibble on with drinks. Long stays can choose their own fresh produce, fruits and cheeses, chicken breasts, fish, etc at any of the local markets and cook their own. Watch out for piri piri sauce -- it heralds from west Africa and is super hot! When someone warns you that a food is spicy -- Believe them! You can get a book about traditional Portuguese Cooking, too, and try cooking some Portuguese foods at home.
How long should I stay? As long as you can! One week is lovely for some golf and beach time; Two weeks is better, with time to explore the many little villages and small towns, and take a few day trips to Lisbon, Gibraltar, etc. The more time you are there, the less rushed you wil be to fit in all you want to see, and still have plenty of time just chillin'.
What's the weather like in Portugal? December and January can be quite cool, so it's a good idea to make sure your condo or hotel has heating. (If not, pack an electric blanket and a voltage adaptor.) In the summer, it's often very hot, sending the locals heading for their summer homes on the barrier islands south of Faro.
How far is it the beach? How wheelchair accessible are Algarve towns and beaches? Many hotels will say they are on the beach, or give a distance, such as 'a kilometer' or 'half a kilometer' (1/4 to 1/2 a mile) from the beach.
BUT (that's a big But) some beaches are accessed across a very busy road with no signal lights, and some are down many steps and / or a cliff path, which would not suit children's strollers, wheelchairs, or scooters. or anyone who can't climb a long flight of stairs.
The streets in many villages and town centers, including Albufeira, are very steep and cobbled. If wheelchair access is a factor for you to travel, please have your travel agent (or email the hotel or long stay) to ensure that you will be able to navigate easily.