Vibrant & Refined
This is a place where all five senses can be well and truly invigorated, whether sampling the area’s local dishes and world-class cuisine, indulging in some relaxation on the links or in the spa, taking in the award-winning beaches and incredible vistas, or simply enjoying an open-air performance surrounded by the scent of the region’s distinctive stone pine trees.
No more than 30 minutes out of Faro, the famed Golden Triangle - comprising the exclusive resorts of Vale do Lobo
, Quinta do Lago
- offers luxury living in some of the Algarve's most prestigious postal codes. Here you'll find impressive homes built around the standard-setting golf courses that make these resorts so desirable. And that's not the only draw: between them, the resorts are also home to tennis clubs, nature trails, resident-only beaches, Portugal's largest marina (with moorings for over 1000 vessels), riding schools, private medical centres, and even a casino, meaning every possible desire is more than catered for.
If retail therapy is more your thing, there's plenty to satisfy your inner shopaholic. The Quinta Shopping mall located between Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago houses luxury fashion, home and sporting labels, whilst the Designer Outlet Algarve (set to open in 2017 in nearby Loulé) will see hundreds of fashion's biggest names set up shop in the area.
In the Golden Triangle and beyond, foodies can feast to their heart's (or, rather, their stomach's) content at the Central region's haute cuisine restaurants. The Algarve boasts six Michelin-starred restaurants, all of which are found in this area. Of these six, two have gone one better and achived two-star status: Ocean in Armaçao de Pêra
, led by Austrian Executive Chef Hans Neuner, and boutique resort Vila Joya's restaurant in Albufeira, where Chef Dieter Koschina combines local produce with northern European cooking techniques. Elsewhere you'll find all manner of international flavours in the area's other exclusive restaurants, from brunch spots and steakhouses to sushi and champagne bars.
Sun worshipers will find themselves spoiled for choice, too. The central region boasts the Algarve's highest concentration of beaches bestowed with a Blue Flag Award (43 in total), an international mark of quality recognising the finest beaches in the world. From long, cliff-lined beaches that bustle with activity during the summer months to more secluded coves, the only difficulty is choosing which stretch of sand to spend the day on.
If making the most of precious family time is top of your Algarve checklist, then you'll be well served by towns such as vibrant Albufeira
. Located further west from the Golden Triangle, the city's old town is a particularly family-friendly area. It has a picturesque central square featuring a variety of welcoming bars, cafes and restaurants, serving everything from Italian and Chinese to good old English fish & chips, as well as traditional Portuguese dishes such as piri piri chicken and fresh fish. The city is also served by two beautiful, lifeguard-manned beaches, whilst the marina - lined with fun, candy-coloured buildings that delight old and young alike - is the starting point for boat trips and diving excursions.
There's plenty more in the way of activities for a fun family day out, too. Indoor karting centre Hot Wheels Raceway can be found in the underground carpark of Albufeira's marina, whilst the Family Golf Park, the annual FIESA sand sculpture festival at Pêra, and the Algarve's four waterparks - Slide & Splash Zoomarine, Aqualand and Aquashow - are all no more than a half hour drive away.
Further west still, a quieter way of life waiting in the sleepy former fishing towns of Carvoeiro
. Or, for a culture fix, head inland to the historic town of Silves
, which sits in the shadow of its impressively maintained castle, where an annual medieval festival transports the town back to its Moorish origins as the Algarve's former capital.
Wherever you find yourself on the Central Algarve, one thing's for sure: you're guaranteed to enjoy the best that life - and this beautiful area - has to offer.