Since most visitors arrive in the Central Algarve via Faro Airport, this is probably the place to start our brief tour. The Centre is most commercialised part of the Algarve, the first area to be developed and probably has most things that tourists want. It stretches from Faro in the East to Portimão in the West, not much more than 60 km across, and has the largest concentration of hotels and apartments in the country plus a selection of sporting and leisure activities to suit everyone – Golf, Beaches, Restaurants, something for all the family.
Most visitors to the Algarve on holiday will simply fly into Faro then head off somewhere and miss out on all the history and architecture that this vibrant town has to offer. Since pre-Roman times this has always been an important settlement and served as the Capital of the Algarve immediately after the Earthquake of 1755. It suffered less damage than the rest of the region, being protected by the sandbanks of the Ria Formosa lagoon.
A short distance North-West of Faro is Almancil which is something of a focal point for the resorts found along the coastal stretch. This is the heart of the Algarve’s ‘Golden Triangle’ formed by Quinta do Lago, Vilamoura and Loulé, where you will find some of the best golf courses in Europe. Between Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo are the smaller luxury developments of Dunas Douradas and Vale do Garrão and at the centre of everything lies the most popular resort in the Central Algarve, Albufeira
Travelling further West you’ll find the resorts of Armação de Pera and the quiet village of Porches, famed for it’s pottery. Further West again is Carvoeiro, a pretty little resort that retains the charms of the fishing village that it once was. Venture inland about 13km and you will find the historic town of Silves, once the capital of the Algarve, lying on the banks of the River Arade.
On the other side of the Arade estuary, and strictly in West Algarve is Portimao, a busy fishing port and an important commercial centre in the Algarve and its off-shoot the lively Praia da Rocha. Just down the road is the quieter fishing village of Alvor.
But wherever you go, don’t go there without your Lonely Planet Guide to the Algarve.