From its long coastline to its mountainous hinterland, the Algarve offers visitors a rich and varied landscape where bright greens contrast with the white sand of the beaches, and the blue of the ocean sets off the yellow and brown tones of the countryside…
The Algarve is, without a doubt, synonymous with quality tourism. Its excellent microclimate guarantees more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, with temperatures averaging 15ºC in winter and 30ºC in summer. It is a region like no other, perfect for relaxing and revitalizing holidays.
Voted for the second time "Established Golf Destination of the Year" in 2006, the Algarve is considered an elite and favoured destination amongst golfers. The climate allows the game to be played year round, and the high-quality infrastructure attracts golfers from all over the world. The geography of the region also means that all kinds of sports can be practised, with water sports being particularly popular.
The region has more than 200km of coastline with clear, warm waters and a vast range of beaches from the most lively to those whose long stretches of sand are almost deserted, the silence only interrupted by the gentle sound of breaking waves. Most beaches have gained the Blue Flag award and many provide easy access for the disabled. Indeed all the essentials are here for a peaceful and carefree stay.
Yet besides its wonderful beaches and climate, the Algarve has more to offer. Its rich and colourful history bears witness to the many peoples who have settled in the region throughout time. From the Visigoths to the Moors, not forgetting the Roman occupation, the legacy is immense and is visible in the architecture, gastronomy, customs and traditions. The building heritage is fascinating and unique with the remains of Roman villas, the Cubist houses with Islamic features, the traditional embellished chimneys, windmills and the many churches and religious monuments giving an unequalled charm and a variety to the landscape.
As far as gastronomy is concerned, the influences of the sea and mountains are evident in the varied and traditional fare on offer. One thing is certain, whether you prefer fresh fish and seafood or hearty stews and vegetable soups, you will find something to your taste in the regional cuisine.
If you appreciate handicrafts, you will love the old pottery workshops and admire the skill of the Algarvian craftsmen whose wicker basket weaving is an ancient tradition here.
Not far away from the main European capitals, the Algarve is well known for its lively nightlife, in the marinas, discotheques, casinos and spirited bars and restaurants. Those seeking culture will enjoy the many theatres, live music venues and museums in and around the area. For something different, the musical traditions of folksongs and dances, particularly the rhythm and speed of the ‘corridinho’, are infectious.
To complete the picture of the Algarve, there are also areas of great ecological interest where you can experience truly idyllic scenes. For nature lovers the gem of the Algarve is the Ria Formosa Nature Park, whose biodiversity makes it a sacred place for the preservation of protected species.
From the coast to the hinterland, from tradition to the latest trends in fashion, the Algarve is simply incomparable…..
With a population of around 6500, spread across four parishes, Castro Marim mirrors the Algarve in that it is divided between the sea and the mountains. The town is on the west bank of the Guadiana River, in idyllic countryside, and is marked by the white of the houses set against the green of the hills. Guarding the town on opposite hills, stand the Castle and the São Sebastião Fortress. These ancient monuments bear witness to the importance of the town as a border settlement in Medieval Portugal.
The magnificent view from the Castle reveals a municipality that begins at the sea and extends into the mountains. It is a place that combines leisure with nature in its wildest state.
The gastronomy is as varied as the landscape. From the sea comes a harvest of fish and seafood all year round with the river providing the renowned specialities of lamprey and eel. From the mountains come succulent recipes of pork and stews. The deserts appeal to even the least sweet-toothed: fig sweets, almond cheesecakes, cinnamon and aniseed cakes and the typical filhó pastries. Finish your meal with the magnificent medronho firewater liqueur that is still locally distilled by craftsmen.
Local folk are justifiably proud of their ancient handicraft crafts and traditions that continue to thrive in Castro Marim. The women still make lace as well as traditional brooms and brushes made from palm leaves, while the men perpetuate the art of basket weaving. Love of tradition is also visible in the fêtes and festivals of the town. In 1998, the first annual Castro Marim Medieval Festival took place, and every August this is now an eagerly anticipated event with around 40,000 visitors.
Next to the mouth of the Guadiana River is a valuable area of environmental heritage, the Castro Marim Marshes, which are now a Natural Reserve. This Reserve is one of the main wetland areas of Portugal and is mostly made up of salt marshes, constituting a real sanctuary for many species of wildlife. Due to its excellent nesting conditions, more than 150 species of water birds, of which the flamingoes are the best known, seek out this Reserve as a permanent