Car hire is not essential but will enable you to see the “west coast” (miles of white sand beaches, pounded by Atlantic rollers, set in dunes abundant with wild flowers, themselves set in nature reserves abundant with wildlife).
It will also allow you to visit local historic towns like Silves (Arab fortress), barragens (reservoirs), Monchique (mountainous, forested region of great silence and beauty) and it will give you access to inland towns and villages and more “remote” uncrowded restaurants.
Car hire will also enable you to get to and from the airport at “considerably cheaper than taxi” rates.
Some of the best golf courses in the world are situated in the Algarve. Try your hand at flying. The municipal aerodrome in Lagos offers very reasonably priced trips by microlight locally, and to the west coast.
What else to do:
Horse riding – many centres locally
Water world – there are 2 water fun slide parks
Zoo marine – shows with dolphins, sea lions, and parrots. Playground, pools, and much more.
Train trip – A lovely way to see the Algarve and very cheap
Shopping – Lisbon of course, but also Faro and (closer still) Algarve shopping centre at Guia has a very large range of national and international shops, food courts, cinemas and bowling.
Things to buy:
Traditional marzipan sweets (doce regional)
Bed linen, bed spreads, throws – exceptional value
Cigarettes + Tobacco
Regional Liquors (almond, bitter orange)
Wines and spirits
Silver, brass and copper
Climate and Seasons
The Algarve enjoys 3000 hours of sun per year. Even in hottest day, the evenings are pleasant and at time can be cool. The winter climate is mild and sunny. Average temperature in summer is 24º to 29º and in winter 15º ti 19º.
The beginning of the spring is marked by the almond blossom (in February), which covers fields of beautiful rose coloured flowers, followed in the next mounths to come by multicoloured wild flowers and the beatiful yellow mimosas, spread along the contryside.
In May the incomparable smell of the orange blossom…lemons are produced all year around. In the summer months, it’s the seasons for fruit, such as: fresh figs, plums, grapes, apricots, peaches and many more.
Beginning of autums is marked by the scent of roasted chestnuts being sold in towns and markets, and on the hills, the blossom of the “medronheiro” tree, whose fruit is responsible for the famous “medronho drink” (firewater).