Best Algarve, Portgual Hotspots off the Beach
The beaches of southern Portugal are certainly some of the most striking on the planet. But did you know there’s a whole other world up in the hills? Algarve, the southern region of Portugal, boasts and incredible array of vibrant villages, activities and delicious cuisine a couple hours from the shore. It is well worth rounding out a holiday in the Algarve with a visit to the central part that holds tight to tradition and protecting its natural beauty.
This beautiful town can be the ideal base off the beach for your Algarve adventure. Seemingly untouched by modern design, the charm and grace of Loulé blends together old and new seamlessly. Stay in a central place, such as the Jardim Loulé Hotel to begin exploring. Sample some local delicacies while walking through the indoor market that is open Monday through Saturday. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some salted fish, or ‘bacalhau’. Over the weekends it gets even more exciting, as you may be able to spot the local troupe performing a ‘Corridinho’ dance. Those who like to be hands-on travellers can jump into the circle and try out a few moves, or sign up for the other workshops in town as well that teach traditional skills. Learn about classic printmaking, storytelling and jewellery, to name a few options.
Head up into the hills ever further to be rewarded with some gorgeous green views of the rolling landscape below. A few villages lie along this region of the Algarve, including Alte. Just standing in the centre of town gazing at the whitewashed church can be a tranquil experience. It was built in the 13th century and has been lovingly maintained by the locals. Outside the village is the Morgado de Alte – a pretty waterfall that can be access by going up a steep slope in the rainier seasons. Take a break at the Agua Mel café for a Pastéis de Lorvão – a wonderfully creamy egg custard tart that’s an iconic Portuguese sweet.
Close to Alte, this is a super tiny village that offers a lasting impression. One of the best things to experience is a visit or stay at the Cerro da Janela Hostel. This oasis in the hills has a few cosy rooms, a pretty pool surrounded by pomegranate trees and a lovely communal dining room. Owners and their neighbours offer classes and workshops in everything from traditional basket weaving to cooking at the accommodations. You can try your hand at creating fig stars with bleached almonds or simply tucking into a few slices of homemade honey cake.
Hikers and nature lovers will enjoy time spent in and around the village of Querença. They boast some scenic walking trails through cork tree groves that can be done in an afternoon. The Benemola route leads you out of the town along rivers and a few picnic spots. If there’s time, stop into Ana Silva’s workshop located in São Bartolomeu de Messines, as she offers classes on working with the local cork to make kitchen supplies, toys and more. You can have a lunch on top of a hill nearby at Tasquinha do Lagar. They serve hearty fish stews, fresh breads and refreshing shandys (beer and lemonade) to help beat the heat.