≥ 20 kilometers from the Golden Triangle
If you’re a bit of a foodie then the market in the local town of Loulé is a must-see! The market runs from Monday to Saturday each week during peak season but Saturday is definitely the best day to go. The market streams out of the Market Hall on to the surrounding streets. Stroll right through the town where there is always a great buzz and even some live music! For the best Pasteis de Nata go to the little café on the corner of Rua 5 de Outobro. Continue along this street and pick up some typical holiday trinkets in the shops or go right the end of the street and enjoy the atmosphere of the square. Explore the narrow, winding streets and you’ll find lots of hidden treasures including a beautiful little chapel, the ruins of the castle and traditional pottery shops.
Vilamoura is a nearby resort famous for its stunning marina. Take a stroll around the marina and pick up some ice-cream along the way! There are also lots of nice restaurants and bars from Thai food to traditional Irish bars. For more family-friendly fun, head to the mini golf course just off the marina. Prefer to try your hand at watersports? Vilamoura marina is the main hub for boat trips and watersports in Central Algarve. From Vilamoura marina you can enjoy family fun fishing to reef fishing, BBQ on the beach trips or even a romantic sunset cruise along the coast!
Just on the edge of the Golden Triangle you will find Karting Almancil. Why not make a trip there for an afternoon and let your competitive streak out zooming around the track. You can even book your tickets through us at SandyBlue. Simply contact us for more information and to book your trip! If you’re in the mood for more serious racing then check out the Racing School at the Algarve Race Track.
Firm favourite, Aquashow, is the ideal family destination for a day out. As well as lots of fun slides, there are two swimming pools so make sure to bring along your swimming togs and towels for hanging out on your sun lounger. Aquashow has some great water rides for all ages and for smaller children there is play area with lots of fun water activities. There is also a theme park with a fun rollercoaster and an opportunity to meet the sea lions. Get your picture taken or even swim with them!
Go east and enjoy the Old Town in Faro where there are lots of quaint, cobbled, streets to explore. Head for the centre and you’ll find the old cathedral where you can climb the tower for fabulous views of the city. Take a boat trip from just outside the Old Town to Ilha Deserta. The name, meaning deserted island, gives you an idea of exactly what to expect! There are no inhabitants on the Ilha Deserta, just an abundance of wildlife. During the festive season, head to the shopping centre in Faro where you can ice-skate to your hearts content. You’ll also find a good variety of shops here plus a food court and cinemas.
≥ 50 kilometers from the Golden Triangle
The town along the coast just after Faro is called Olhao. From here you can do some more island exploring with a trip to Armona. Take a ferry or water taxi from the harbour in Olhao and enjoy the tranquillity of Armona Island. There are no cars allowed on the island so you will have to explore on foot. That said, the island itself is not so large that this is impossible. Take a picnic and spend the day at the beach here. There is also a little café if you don’t fancy lugging the picnic basket across.
Further on again from Olhao is Fuseta where you can also set out from to explore the neighbouring island that runs right along the coast. The ferry trip is short and again, it’s the ideal place to take the whole gang to the beach for the day.
Tavira town is one of our favourite places to go on a day trip. Don’t leave without trying some fish in one of the many great restaurants! As they say, never judge a book by its cover… this is true of the restaurants in Tavira. They often don’t look like they have much to offer but at 8pm each evening in July and August you’ll see the queues of people waiting to get some finger-licking good food! Our absolute favourite restaurant in Tavira is Aquasul. Try the fish baked in paper for a taste of the local culture! Cross the famous Ponte Romana bridge in the centre of town heading away from the main square and stroll through the meandering streets. Turn left and walk through the pedestrian tunnel-like arch way where you’ll find a really great Irish pub where there’s live music most nights. Enjoy the view of the river and the town that stretches along the far side. Back in the main square, there are often live events and markets during the summer. If you’re here during the day, grab a taxi boat to the beach which is on an island.
Let’s face it, most of us can’t go on holidays without a spot of shopping thrown in somewhere along the way. Algarve Shopping in Guia is a good spot for retail therapy! With all the usual high street stores, a large food court and cinema, it’s the perfect place for a family day out.
Next door to the shopping centre in Guia, you will find Adega de Cantor meaning winery of the singer. This is Sir Cliff Richards winery where you can take tours and do some wine tasting. Visit the website for more information on visiting hours and prices.
Just north of Guia you will find Krazy World, a zoo where you can even interact with the animals. There is also a swimming pool so make sure to come equipped to do some swimming!
Another favourite for most families is Zoomarine, which is located just west of Guia. The main attraction is of course the dolphins! The dolphin show is a must-see and if you’re interested, book your chance to not only swim with the dolphins but have the opportunity to learn all about them with the trained specialists who work with them every day. There is also a sea lion show and a bird show. Head to the fun fair or laze by the swimming pool.
In the lovely Algarve countryside, north of Albufeira is the small village of Paderne, mostly famous for the castle remains that perch above the village. Paderne is also home to the Corte Real Art Gallery - a small gallery that exhibits and sells contemporary art. With a picturesque setting, a lovely ambience, cafe and shop onsite, it has been considered by Vogue to be one of the hidden gems to visit.
Porches is a small village made famous by the pottery that is created there. Check out the traditional pottery which is on sale in the shop or head to the café which is well known for its good food!
Just beyond Porches, along the coast, you will find the famous Benagil Beach! You've probably seen the amazing pictures of the caves at the beach there which are definitely worth a visit. It's an ideal place for a day at the beach and you can take a boat trip from there to the caves.... make sure to bring a camera!!! You will want to take pictures.
≥ 120 kilometres from the Golden Triangle
Monchique is just over an hour’s journey from the Golden Triangle. If you’re interested in seeing a more typically Portuguese village then this is a good place to visit. For more active holidaymakers, try the Monchique Challenge which includes trekking up to the peak of the Serra de Monchique, a thickly wooded mountain range after which the village is named.
Lagos is a beautiful little coastal town west of the Golden Triangle. It is home to the famous port where Henry the Navigator set sail to explore foreign lands, in particular Africa. Again, the seafood here is definitely worth tasting! Stoll around the town itself and down to the ocean. Check out the marina or head into the town to one of the praças and wander around the little streets. On Saturday, visit the local market or simply gaze at the historic city walls or take a trip to the Lagos Zoo. For a romantic meal on the cliffs of Lagos, try Restaurante O Camilo. For casual daytime dining, there are lots of spots along the beach where you can get excellent food. Restaurante Sao Roque and Campimar Restaurante Bar are just two more that get our thumbs up!
For a full day’s adventure why not drive west along the coast and make time to stop at Lagos, Porches and Sagres. You can even drive right to the most westerly point in Europe at Cape St. Vincent. The views are just stunning and if you’re feeling over-heated then the breeze along the coast here is sure to cool you down. The cape is part of the natural park that runs all the way up along the west coast and the lighthouse within this is the largest warning light air and sea in Europe. If you don’t feel like driving all the way to land’s end, then the fortress on the cliffs at Sagres also provides amazing views of the sea and the coastline. There are a couple of beach shacks along the beach that are great for lunch. Make sure to bring your camera because there will be lots of good photo opportunities all the way along the drive. The motorway can shorter your trip but beware of the tolls and make sure that if you have hired a car that you have checked the terms and conditions relating to tolls with your car hire company. In any case, the older coastal road is where you’re going to get the views so it is definitely worth making one leg of the trip along it.
On the contrary, you could head east right along the coast and spend the day in Spain! The drive only takes about one hour and the quaint town of Ayamonte is the idyllic place to stop for lunch as it’s just across the border. As with most towns along the Portuguese coast, there is a great marina which is a good central spot for parking up the car and exploring the rest of the town on foot. If you would prefer to keep indulging in views of the ocean, head a little further south to the smaller village of Isla Canela.