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12 Ways to Soak up Culture in the Algarve, Portugal

12 Ways to Soak up Culture in the Algarve, Portugal | CosmosMariners.com

Since the Algarve is Portugal's most visited summer vacation spot, you expect to find gorgeous water, sandy beaches, and plenty of warm weather. The Algarve has all of these in spades, but this region of Portugal (which draws its name from the Arabic word for "west") has plenty more to offer visitors when they tire of the sun, sands, and crowds.

From incredible meals to Roman ruins to the weird chapel you've ever visited, here's how to experience culture in the Algarve on your next visit to Portugal.


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1. Stroll along the Via Algarviana, a walking trail that bisects the region. If you want to see more of the Algarve by foot, you'll be spoiled for choice as it offers 30 different walking trails.

12 Ways to Soak up Culture in the Algarve, Portugal | CosmosMariners.com
Castle of Silves
{photo via flickr | used under creative commons license}
2. Explore one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the country at the Castle of Silves.

3. Try windsurfing off the coast of Sagres. For the true beginner, there are surfing schools to help you get comfortable on the waves in no time.

4. Wander inside the walls of Cidade Velha, and get lost in the winding cobblestone streets.

12 Ways to Soak up Culture in the Algarve, Portugal | CosmosMariners.com
Cape St. Vincent
{photo via flickr | used under creative commons license}
5. Follow in Henry the Navigator's steps at Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de Sao Vicente), where the 15th century explorer set off on his quest to expand Portuguese trade routes. Henry's school for navigators was located in nearby Sagres.

6. Discover what life was like here during the Roman occupation at the Milreu Ruins. When the site was first discovered, archeologists and historians believed it to be the remains of an entire town since it was so large. However, new research has shown that the ruins actually are from one family's residence!

7. Watch eagles and storks in their natural habitat in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicente Coast Natural Park.

8. Sample the best food that the Algarve has to offer at Restaurante O Barradas (which uses locally sourced ingredients) and A Eira do Mel (which offers dishes combining traditional regional influences and more modern cooking techniques).

12 Ways to Soak up Culture in the Algarve, Portugal | CosmosMariners.com
Piri piri chicken
{photo via flickr | used under creative common license}

9. Explore the old town of Lagos (on foot as only the bravest of drivers should enter the tiny streets!) to shop and eat at the many restaurants. Don't forget to try the piri-piri chicken, a spicy grilled chicken that's a speciality of Portuguese cuisine.

  

10. Attend the Loule Carnival, a festival held just before Easter. Come prepared to dance with the locals in this colorful, raucous parade--but beware, as you might just get hit with an egg or water balloon during the festivities.

12 Ways to Soak up Culture in the Algarve, Portugal | CosmosMariners.com
Capela dos Ossos
{photo via flickr | used under creative commons license}
11. Get creeped out at the fascinating Capela dos Ossos. Back in the 1500s, the monks decided to teach the locals a lesson about their mortality. What better way to do so than air out all of those skeletons (literally)? The chapel is composed of over 5,000 bones and includes 2 complete skeletons hanging from the ceiling. You certainly won't get any home decorating tips, but the chapel will make you contemplate how fleeting life is.

12. Be amazed by the artists' talents at the International Sand Art Festival. The largest of its kind in the world, the festival (known as FIESA) uses over 40,000 tons of sand each year.


Have you been to the Algarve? Would you be interested in learning more about the history and culture of the Algarve?


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