In the Algarve holidays generally involve sun, sea and sand, but this does not mean that other aspects such as culture, history and the arts are necessarily excluded from your itinerary. Indeed, you would be hard pushed to spend a holiday in the Algarve without subconsciously taking in the local sights of interest, including azulejo tiling (hand painted tiles) in various churches, Moorish and Roman artefacts, and lots of stunning architecture.
The coastline, of course, plays a major role in any holiday in the Algarve because there is simply such a lot of it. There are sandy beaches and secluded coves with interesting rock formations along most of the southern coast of Portugal. These days quite a large proportion of the coast has been subject to development for tourists, especially the stretch between Faro and Portimão, but you can still find relatively untouched spots where fishing is the mainstay of the economy rather than souvenir shops.
Tourist development since the 1960s means that dedicated resorts have cropped up along the coast of the Algarve. Places such as Albufeira and Vilamoura are more or less reliant on the tourist trade these days, even if they started out life as quiet fishing villages. Towns further towards Spain, like Tavira, have not succumbed to tourism in quite the same way as the main resorts. They still retain their local charm whilst managing to cater for the needs of the influx of holidaymakers during the summer months. Here, small resorts combine with less crowded beaches to create a superb Algarve holiday destination.
When planning your holiday in the Algarve remember to factor in such costs as transportation within the region as well as the initial travel costs. There are good bus services connecting the main towns in the Algarve, but it is quite useful to have your own transport, even if it is just a hire car, if you intend to explore the region without the constraints of a bus timetable. The main point of entry into the Algarve is via a flight to Faro, but you could also fly into the other main airports and take overland transport to continue your journey into Portugal.
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