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We have been renting villas in this area since 1965, so have a lot of accumulated experience in looking after visitors to the Algarve. Here's some general info for you, you may see that these are a personal view of the area and Algarve..with comments...

Salgados/Vale de Parra Area.
some general chit chat---

We are about 4kms to the West of Albufeira, and this is generally a much quieter valley than the town and Praia de Oura to the East side of town, which is really the 18-30's party area!
Albufeira itself has been the target of a massive renewal by the council. Some works still continue ( as at July 2006) and have modernised ( yeccch!) the town centre and beachside areas. They have ripped up all the cobbles, and replaced them with concrete and modern lights. Personally speaking, they have destroyed the traditional feel, and replaced it with modernistic pavements, surrounded by traditional houses.. completely out of balance. ( Sorry, that is the 'Prince Charles' coming out in me.)

We have a mixture of beaches, ranging from the 5 km long Gale beach, to some 100m rocky coves...and everything inbetween. The white sand beaches, caves and cliffs, make this a beautiful area to go to the beach, snorkel, or take a boat trip. Every beach has a bar on it, and for the kids there are lots of rockpools and sandy areas inbetween. The coast has no strong currents, and is safe for swimming. It also has some of the densest collection of 'blue flag' beaches ( ie biologically clean) in Europe.
The sea is still Atlantic, and so can be a bit chilly at times, and occasionally there may be a storm and big ( body-surfing!) waves.

The area has many ( about 30!) restaurants, and cafes and bars.. but not in a bunch...so there is always somewhere close by to walk to for a meal and a drink. We also have one of the best restaurants in Portugal, Michelin 2 star, nominated also for the best 'boutique' hotel in Europe, and in the top 100 hotels in the world, on Gale beach. Lunch ( if you can get in) will cost from 75 euros per person, dinner, upwards of 100 euros per person...book months in advance! Invite me there if you go!
But the other local restaurants are more economical, and have some great food also!
These range from local snack, seafood specials, international menus, meat specialists, curry, chinese, and lots more.

We have the local golf course..with water on 17 holes...the only real 'links' course on the Algarve, and great fun, and actually, not too difficult if you hit a straight ball...hooks and slices are consigned to a watery grave, but look at the bright side, at least you don't waste time looking for lost balls!

Other Algarve areas and towns

Albufeira is in the central of the Algarve. We are about a 45 minute drive from either end of the coast. A trip across to Spain is a nice drive for the day, and Seville is only 2 hrs by car straight along the motorway...beautiful town, the tapas, the old part of town and the Cathedral are the high points. Getting lost in the incredible narrow one way system, is the low point... park the car and take a cab or walk!
Lagos has a great Marina and river walk, Portimão has the river, Marina and Praia da Rocha beach..oh yes, and shopping!

Faro is the local capital, the central area is shopping and cafes..very traditional.
Tavira is , as yet, undeveloped and feels like stepping back a couple of decades, lunch by the river is pleasant.

Carvoeiro is very developed, with a small centre area and beach, but some nice bars and restaurants of an evening..but parking in the season is horrible.

Lagos is a town split by a river also, marina on one side and walkway across to the original town centre, worth a visit.

Foia is the highest (990mts) point in the Algarve, not much actually at the top, but a nice drive up there and lots of pottery shops on the way with some interesting variations on a theme.

Silves is the original moorish capital, with its river and castle, the cafes are good, with shopping just behind them. The castle is a bit of a ruin, but scenic, and there are some really nice old streets around its walls.

Just behind our valley, 4 kms inland , is the town of Guia, capital of the piri piri (chilli) chicken . Great value familly dinner with wine and salads will set you back about 15 euros a head.. many othe restaurants scattered in this town.
Along the road is Makro ( card needed) good for a major stock up if you have a large group, and the price of wines and sprits is very good for UK shoppers.

opposite Makro ( gentlemen stop reading now..) is the Algarve Shopping, our biggest 'mall' with loads of clothes shops, shoe shops, food hall, cinemas etc...worth a visit ladies!.. send the lads to play golf while you have a browse.

Excursions and services

Zoomarine is just inland from us, a great family day out and not expensive to get in, the 'swim with dolphins' at 135 euros, is not cheap, but every child who has done it, has had one of the experiences of a lifetime.


The water parks are also good fun, Aqualand ( Big One) and Slide and Splash are good value and easy to get to.

There are day trips everywhere, from bus tours, jeep tours, boat trips,dolphin watching, kids zoos etc etc. All the brochures are in shops and receptions, help yourself.

If you are a little adventurous, spend a day ( or two) in Lisbon, the trains are cheap and take you right into the town centre.

You can get day trips to Seville, Gibralter and Lisbon on buses also. Prices are very reasonable.

There is bird watching around Salgados Lake locally , flamingos often in residence, and a wealth of migratory birdlife.

Walking on the beach or dunes is local and easy.

Send the teenagers to the 'strip' where they will meet like minded youth groups... ( read silly drinking parties..) and still be able to get a cab home safely.

Boat trips galore out of Vilamoura and other marinas. Saling, cruising, evening tours, and many others.

Golf lessons at any course.. locally on Salgados, John Woods, an english pro, will give group, and family, lessons for a very reasonable fee.