NOW is the time to visit Portugal’s beautiful south facing Algarve coastline which stretches for just around 100 miles from Sagres, the most westerly point of Europe, to Vila Real de Santo António at the border with Spain.
Within that distance lie some of the most beautiful beaches and coves in the world – at a rate of almost one a mile – blessed by possibly the best climate in Europe.
The tourist industry in this part of the world is having a rough time with the effects of the recession and the controversial introduction of electronic tolls on autoroutes.
This is reducing the usual influx of Spanish visitors and Germans and other European tourists. Bars and restaurants are cutting prices to win trade and it’s not too difficult for a couple to dine out for 20 to 30 euros all in.
So there has probably never been a better time for visitors to take their traditional route to the Algarve via its gateway of Faro airport.
Travel west or east from here and you are spoilt or choice with pleasant towns like Alvor, Carvoeiro, Monchique, Portimão, Quarteira, Sagres, Silves, Tavira, Vilamoura, and Vila Real de Santo António all waiting to welcome you.
The Algarve boasts possibly the most unpolluted climate in the European continent and its sea temperature can be often be surprisingly warm even in some of the winter months.
It is an easy destination for Brits to feel at home as English is taught from an early age in schools, maybe something to do with the fact that Portugal is England’s oldest ally – an international friendship which goes back to the Treaty of Windsor, signed in 1386..
Everyone on the way to your hotel room – the taxi driver, the train station staff, the hotel workers – seem to be able to speak English. The clocks go back and forward seasonally at the same time in both countries.
Forget all the gloomy things you read and hear about Portugal and its debt problems. It may not be the wealthiest country you will visit but its people are fun-loving, have a great way of life, and know how to have a good time.
From Faro you can head east or west for fun in the sun and, outside of peak season, you can easily find decent hotels on the internet from around 40 euros a night per room.
If you hire a car and head east you can also visit Spain. A small ferryboat runs between Vila Real de Santo António and Ayamonte on the Spanish side.
Head west from Faro and you are likely to meet more Brits, Albufeira being the hotspot for nightlife and stag and hen parties. Maybe not the best spot for families.
Go further for classy venues like Alvor where you can sit out under the stars and wine and dine very inexpensively.
So get browsing the budget flights and head for the Algarve.