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Is Algarve like Costa del Sol???

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Jul 17th, 2008, 12:44 AM
  #1
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Is Algarve like Costa del Sol???

Hi,

I have a question to all those that have been to Algarve, Portugal and Costa del Sol, Spain.

Are they alike?

We stopped by Costa del Sol when we went to Spain and did not like it at all...condos, crowds, etc. We love Barcelona and Seville...

We're now planning a trip to Portugal and really wonder if it's worth going to Algarve.

The pictures look awesome...

So, should we spend a few days in Algarve? Is it worth the 3.5hr drive from Lisbon? Or are we better off seeing other parts of Portugal?

Thank you for your insights!

L
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Jul 17th, 2008, 04:56 AM
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I visited the Algarve in 1988 on my honeymoon and then again in 2003. It's changed quite drastically over the years. I still find the rugged charm of the Algarve a little more alluring but the building boom has spoiled it IMO.

The other option you have which is much closer to Lisbon is perhaps Sintra, Sesimbra or another town on the Atlantic side. There are some nice beaches and lovely rugged coast line..fishing villages and historic ports.

This website might be helpful

http://www.portugalvirtual.pt/_tourism/
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Jul 17th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Hi, L,

I've spent a lot of time in Portugal, and I'm not a "lie on the beach" type of beach person but more of a "walk on the beach" person. The pictures are accurate, there are some unbelievable beaches and coastal walks. As far as the Algarve goes, I think the time of year is key. I've been several times in December, once in March, and those were all lovely -- the condos are still there of course, but they're all empty!

I also think that crazyfortravel has made a good suggestion. The Atlantic coast has a lot of untouristy parts. Just this past March I spent a few days on the coast south of Lisbon (Vila Nova de Milfontes to be exact) and there are lots of really nice beaches and places to walk in the vicinity. I assume the water is colder than in the Algarve, but the Algarve is Atlantic Ocean too, so I think the waters are always colder than Spain's Mediterranean beaches.

LR
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Jul 17th, 2008, 04:10 PM
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Crazyfortravel:
thanks for your reply! We will definitely be going to Sintra but were wondering about Algarve.

Thanks for the website. I really like that it shows the town in each region along with the map. It's really helpful.

I will check out Sesimbra. Thanks again!

Lreynold1:
I'm not a "lie on the beach" type of person either!

I saw the Algarve photos and the scenery is unbelievable. Gorgeous! I was seduced....The rock formations are stunning.

We're actually going to Portugal end of Nov so it's not peak season...no plans to swim either. I know it's the rainy season but c'est la vie.

Since you've been to the Algarve several times, can you recommend the better towns to stay in? I've seen Lagos, Luz, Albufeira, Faro, Salerma mentioned in some trip reports.

I will look into Vila Nova de Milfontes as well. Thanks again!
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Jul 17th, 2008, 04:19 PM
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I do think that the Algarve and Costa del Sol are very much alike although I do prefer the Algarve for its beaches. If you did not enjoy Costa del Sol you should stay in other parts of Protugal such as Lisbon and Porto and I do agree with Crazyfortravel regarding the Atlantic coast.
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Jul 17th, 2008, 04:53 PM
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Hi travelcraze,

We just returned from the Algarve a couple of days ago. Our family spent a week in Salema in the western Algarve at a new development called the View. It has been a long time-but we have also been to the Costa Del Sol and found it very over-developed.

We enjoyed our time in the western Algarve with the following caveats: the ocean in the western Algarve- at least where we were was very cold even though the beach was lovely. The area is also very windy. The many wind turbines on the nearby hills offer further evidence of this. The area largely caters to tourists from the UK and other parts of Europe. For north Americans, I think there is better value in other destinations for both golf and beaches. I understand why this is a popular destination for those in the UK-there are many very inexpensive flights to Faro and it is only 2 1/2 hours from London. We ventured beyond Salema and the closer we moved to the Central Algarve old memories of the Costa del Sol re-emerged. We stayed in our location for the beach and the golf and I have no illusions that we in any way saw the real Portugal. We got a very good rate on a brand new three bedroom village house by booking directly with the resort developer. It was half the price of the Meridien Penina where we had originally intended to stay. Though we enjoyed our week, we are unlikely to return to the Algarve in the foreseable future. The food was good, the prices reasonable and the people very friendly-we just prefer warmer water, (the electricity to heat the pool was not yet operational either.)and a better standard of sports faclities and equipment than offered by our resort. If you travel with realistic expectations you will no doubt enjoy yourselves as the scenery is beautiful and there is lots of history to the area.
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Jul 17th, 2008, 06:19 PM
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Micheline:

Thanks for your reply! That was what I was afraid of..."Algarve and Costa del Sol are very much alike". From the pictures though Algarve looks different.

We will be going to Lisbon and Porto. We're planning to drive from Lisbon to Porto and maybe stop at a few sights along the way. But I saw some Algarve photos and was distracted

Will look into the Atlantic coast for inspiration

pirouette:
Thanks for your very current insight!

Yeah, Costa del Sol felt like it was "owned" by the UK...I guess that was the problem. We did wander into old town Malaga and that was quite charming.
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Jul 18th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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You'll see some of those interesting rock formations along the Atlantic coast as well.

The area around Coimbra is worth exploring. There are some Roman ruins just south of there as well.
Here is some info:

http://www.portugal-info.net/costaprata/coimbra.htm

Albufeira has been over developed IMO and there is little charm to be found there. Lagos looked like it was well on its way to doing the same.

I think the Algarve still has more appeal than the Costa del Sol though and better value for money. Since it is mostly newer builds, the quality of accommodation is also better overall. I brought 15 travel agents around to see various properties in both locations and found the Costa del Sol properties a little run down in comparison.

I'm not sure I'd drive 3.5 hours out of my way to go there since there are many interesting places to see closer to Lisbon and Oporto.
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Jul 18th, 2008, 09:23 AM
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dmlove
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Praia de Rocha is really pretty. When we were there (nearly 30 years ago, it was just a beach with great rocks. I just googled images of it, and it looks like its more developed now, but still really pretty.
 
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Jul 18th, 2008, 05:22 PM
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If you are interested in the Algarve, I recommend the eastern side. Tavira is still rather undeveloped compared to the western side. I'm sorry I can't compare it to Costa del Sol because I have never been, but just wanted to share.
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Jul 20th, 2008, 03:49 AM
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I just returned recently from a Spain-Portugal trip and had the chance to visit Tavira. It is a very pretty village with beautiful beaches and definitely that old world feeling gone from the overdeveloped Costa del Sol and most of the Algarve Region. The "icing on the cake" are cheaper prices for everything; lodging, food, etc... Another gorgeous coastal area in Portugal? go North of Sintra, specifically around Viana Do Castelo.
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Jul 23rd, 2008, 12:17 AM
  #12
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crazyfortravel, dmlove, seetheworld, Viajero2:

Thank you so much for your replies!

Based on all your insights, I think we'll pass on the Algarve...sounds like we'll see gorgeous scenary along the Atlantic coast as well.

We have no itinerary yet (besides Lisbon, Sintra and Porto) but will check out those suggested here: Coimbra, Sesimbra, Viana Do Castelo.

Thanks again!

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Aug 21st, 2008, 02:19 AM
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Hate to disillusion you, dmlove, but don't go back to Praia da Rocha - the beach is still superb but the town is now a sprawling, over-developed mess. You'd hate it. To find the real Algarve, go west past Lagos, or east to Tavira.
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Mar 9th, 2016, 02:28 PM
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The Algarve can be superb in April. If you catch the right weather its one of the most beautiful times of year. The place is in full bloom, lush and if you visit the right parts its simply breathtaking.

In Portugal there is a saying "Abril aguas mil" which means "April a thousand showers". So watch out. The trick is to stay for long enough to get at least a bit of good with the bad. When its good its heaven.

People who tell you the Algarve is overbuilt have simply not travelled it. There are a few large resorts which like in a lot of places reflect the visitors more than the local culture, and most of the coastal towns have developed, but there are still smaller and more relaxed spots to enjoy if you move out of the central Algarve.

The inland Algarve is a must at that time of year please don't stay stuck on the coast. There is so much colour, bird life, nature worth seeing if you drive inland. Not to mention good cheap food. Stop for lunch anywhere you see a lot of vans and trucks pulled up.

A calm day in April is the perfect time to see the Algarve sea caves or take a river trip check out ferragudoboattrips.com to combine a visit to one of the Algarves cutest fishing villages with a beautiful excursion.
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