An enchanting combination of spectacular scenery, historical heritage and vibrant local communities has made the Western Algarve one of the most sought-after spots on Portugal’s southern coast. From the sun-drenched beaches to the cooler hills, the bustling towns to the end-of-the-world-esque south-west tip, the West continues to charm all who make the trip to this delightful corner of the Algarve.
Fifteen minutes further down the coast lies Lagos, one of the most attractive and historically important towns on the Algarve. Within imposing 14th century walls, the centre is a maze of winding cobbled streets that are home to over 350 bars and restaurants. The two main squares are a hub of activity, especially during the summer months when street performers and local musicians are on hand to entertain, making it a lovely spot to sit and watch the world go by.
Meanwhile, down the palm-lined avenida and across the bridge lies the modern marina, where a wealth of bars and cafes provide a popular meeting point for the town's well-established expat community to come together for a coffee and a catch up or to enjoy a sunset beer.
It was from Lagos that many Portugal's famed explorers set off for the New World, including Henry the Navigator and local boy Gil Eanes. Nowadays it's the perfect starting point the exploring the dramatic coastline - complete with coves, caves and rocks stacks - that sprawls westward out of the town, from the handful of beautiful beaches located no more than five minutes drive away, all the way down to secluded Sagres where you can gaze out to sea at the most south-westerly point of continental Europe.
Several low-key towns are dotted along this stunning stretch of coastline that are home to small but tightly-knit communities. Praia de Luz has a friendly village feel that makes it popular with young families, whilst in Burgau and Vila do Bispo, yogis, surfers and creative-types live side by side with the local Portuguese population, bringing a gentle bohemian vibe to these typically sleepy towns.
If you can tear yourself away from the awe-inspiring coastline Monchique is a haven for nature-lovers who prefer the sound of the breeze rustling through leaves to the roar of the ocean. Nestled in the hills high above the coast (and thus a few refreshing degrees cooler), this charming town is perfectly placed to explore the plentiful hiking, biking and nature trails to be found in the surrounding mountain range's lush, green folds. Further afield still, the remote town of Aljezur feels a magical world away from the buzz of the coastal towns.
Whatever it is that first brings people to the Western Algarve - be it the scenery, history, culture or otherwise - they stay for the alluring way of life that the area offers.