The Algarve

Portugal's southernmost province has enough sandy beaches to toast every sunbather in Europe: beautiful secluded coves and great golden strands stretch into infinity. The ocean is the Atlantic but it feels more like the Mediterranean.

In villages of squat white houses, gnarled old women wearing felt hats hide from the sun under black umbrellas. Fishermen repaint their boats in colours nearly as bright as the flowers on the cliffs above the beach. Donkey carts cause traffic chaos in the narrow cobbled streets. Here even the most stressed business man soon unwinds.

The south coast - about 150 km of beaches - is neatly divided . The Western half, it's beaches framed by cliffs and surreal rock formations, the Eastern portion, a harmonious marriage of coast and ocean; gentle sands sloping up into forests of pine, mimosa and eucalyptus up to an altitude of 2,000 metres. 

The climate is the best in Portugal with over 3,000 hours of sunshine in a year (you can do the maths!) more than nearly any other international resort. In winter the sun and the moderating effect of the Gulf Stream maintain conditions that would qualify as spring anywhere else.

Read more ...