SW PortugalA land of contrasts

It’s strategic location in the SW corner of Europe, defines Western Algarve’s identity in many ways. Inhabited since pre-historic times, here lived communities of hunter-gatherers, Phoenicians, Greeks, Celts, Carthaginians and Romans. It was under Arabic occupation for 5 centuries, and was finally conquered by the expanding kingdom of Portugal in the XIII century. In the following years, the coastal areas were regularly sacked by pirates, witnessed the first ships departing for Africa in the Portuguese Discoveries period, and were largely destroyed by a massive earthquake. Meanwhile, once prosper cities fell into silence with the silting of their rivers, and consequente decay of commercial activity powered by navigation. Western Algarve was the stage for many lives and battles, and its present cultural heritage mirrors the richness of this diversity throughout the ages.

Nowadays the area is known by most as a Summer holiday destination. It’s beautiful beaches surrounded by tall cliffs attract thousands of tourists in the hottest months of the year. However, along the last decades, while in July and August most local towns multiplied their population, Western Algarve largely slept into long oblivion period when September came.

But this magical land has much more to offer all year round, and in the last few years, Nature Tourism is having a role in mitigating tourism seasonality in the area. Its’ fine weather, good people, low population density, delicious traditional food, rich natural and cultural heritage and protect areas, make it a paradise for those hopping to encounter a rich, preserved and quiet territory. The West coast and the South coast to Burgau are protected by the Sudoeste Alentejano and Costa Vicentina Natural Park, and constitute one of the last largely undisturbed stretches of coastline in Southern Europe.

It’s geographical position and large diversity of habitats – ranging from Mediterranean Scrub in coastal valleys, Cork and Pine woodlands, and abandon Fig, Carob and Almond orchards, to barren peaks, temporary ponds, coastal lagoons and rugged cliffs – make Western Algarve a paradise for birds, wild flowers, butterflies and other wildlife.
Along the year, more than 200 species of birds either live, visit, or pass through the area, both in land and sea. More than 700 known plant species can be found in Western Algarve, including more than 15 species of wild orchids. Some of these plant species are endemic or threatened, as some present in the coastal plateau. It is also a great place for butterflies, with more than 60 species that can occur in the area. Not to mention the diversity of the marine habitats, of which you can take a glimpse in tidal pools along rocky coast line.
We invite you to take a short break and breathe in the natural wonders of this unique and protected corner of Europe, a land where the sea and the seasons are still in charge.

SW Portugal

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