Grab your wetsuit: The southernmost region of Portugal is loaded with active adventure.

By By the editors of
December 18, 2017

Ready for your next badass trip? Head to Portugal's southernmost region, the Algarve, which is filled with opportunities for active adventure, including shipwreck diving, stand-up paddleboarding, and just about every watersport you can imagine. (Related: The Benefits of Stand-Up Paddleboarding)

The region has 16 cities, like Faro, Portimão, Sagres, Lagos, and Albufeira. These stunning seaside towns are mixtures of sleepy villages, old towns, and dramatic landscapes. The Algarve's Atlantic coastline is 93 miles long, offering tons of places to sail, swim, and kayak. If you prefer to stay on land, the dense agricultural areas, where cork forests grow, are popular for hiking. Let us plan your trip.

Treat Yourself to a Luxe Stay

The Conrad Algarve is planted in the exclusive Quinta do Lago area, home to sprawling villas and three championship golf resorts. The hotel built in 18th-Century Portuguese style, features 154 spacious guest rooms with private balconies. Book the property's outdoor sports court, which can be used for a game of tennis, football, or basketball. The concierge can arrange other excursions like chartering a boat for big-game fishing or scuba diving. The hotel also offers free shuttles to their private beach, a five-minute transfer from the hotel.

Eat with a View

Casa dos Presuntos is a 70-year-old family business and a favorite among locals. The rustic restaurant serves healthy items like salmon, dogfish stew, and green salads.

In the small port of Sagres, you can find healthy food at O Terraço, located on the first floor of 5-star Hotel Martinhal. The fruits and vegetables come from the local farmer "Horta do Padrão" and seafood from the Sagres fishing harbor. Order the Turbot fillet chickpea purée and organic roasted vegetables or the smoked seitan "Wellington" with pea purée and green apple brunoise.

Conquer Coastal Cliffs

The city of Sagres has beautiful cliffs, along with caves and intricate grottos. The Coastline Algarve tour company offers fully equipped coastal tours where you can test your balance on stand-up paddleboards, swim alongside Atlantic fish birds, and top it off with a cliff jump.

Hike the Mountains

Explore the varied landscape of the Algarve by leaving the seaside for a while for the hiking trails around Monchique in Algarve's highest mountain range, the Serra de Monchique. Viator offers a 7.5-mile trek to view lush forest and float in warm thermal pools.

Swim with Dogs

You may remember the Obama family's loveable "Bo" from the White House lawn photos. This beautiful black canine is a Portuguese water dog and in the Algarve, Carla Peralta-a local who breeds these dogs-arranges private tours to swim with these gentle animals. Portuguese water dogs were taught by the Romans to be companions and also workers: They herded fish, retrieved nets, and passed messages between boats using their powerful webbed feet to swim through the water. Perlata takes people out to a local beach to swim with the breed.

Dive Through Shipwrecks

Don't miss the chance to dive in the Algarve. The initial cold jump into the water is worth it (bring your wetsuit). You can take photos of some of the 150 different species of sea slugs that find their home on the coast. The Torvore, the Vilhelm Krag, and the Nordsøen are a few ships that were sunk by the German SM U-35 submarine during the World War I. There are also more recent shipwrecks that occurred in 2012 and 2013 to explore beneath the surface. Book with Subnauta, the largest dive company in Portugal.


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