The Central Algarve is undoubtedly the most popular and the most widely visited area in the whole of the Algarve. Within the central Algarve there are the traditional and historical towns and villages such as Loulé, Santa Barbara de Nexe and Estoi and also exclusive resorts such as Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. Whether you are looking for a Michelin star restaurant or a quaint and inexpensive Portuguese restaurant, the Central Algarve will be able to offer it to you. There are numerous activities and amenities including golf on the dozens of fabulous golf courses, several shopping centres, nature walks, bird watching, water skiing, diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, tennis, water and amusement parks, cruising and sailing, wine tasting, etc. The list is endless. One of the biggest attractions in the Central Algarve are the miles and miles of uninterrupted and magnificent golden beaches which all have many entry points accessible on foot.
Just 15 mins drive West of the main airport in Faro, the small town of Almancil is perfectly pleasant and typical of the Algarve. The neighbouring village of São Lourenço boasts a beautiful church dating back to the 1730´s and decorated with characteristic blue tiles telling the life story of its patron saint. A stone’s throw from the church is the local cultural centre, which for many years has hosted a range of art exhibitions and musical performances. Local pottery production is also widely renowned. However, Almancil probably owes its position on the tourist trail mainly to the two exclusive resorts located within 10km of the town. Both Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo are well-established developments which offer luxury accommodation, top notch food and excellent golf and have long been the holiday destination for the rich and famous. The influence of their proximity is notable in the quantity and quality of restaurants and stylish stores which adorn this seemingly simple market town.
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Estoi is a village of just over 3,000 inhabitants set in the foothills of the hilly Serra do Caldeirão area, close to Faro and its international airport. The town, with its quaint cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and town square is home to a cosmopolitan mix of residents from locals to retired expats and young families. Property in Estoi is predominantly of the traditional kind with more cottages and villas for sale than apartments. Centrally, the hive of activity is the main square which was refurbished in 2008 and which sits at the base of Estói's church. The square is surrounded by a number of cosy bars and restaurants. Every second Sunday of the month, people flock from miles around to shop at the town's famous farmers' and gypsy market with food, household goods and even horses and poultry for sale.
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Santa Barbara de Nexe
Santa Barbara de Nexe is an attractive and busy little town with a community of about 4,150 inhabitants located in the county of Faro. The locality is situated on the Southern hills of the Serra de Monte Figo, roughly 12 km North of Faro. There are many viewpoints from where you can catch a spectacular glimpse onto Faro and the coast. Santa Barbara offers the opportunity to recover from the hectic beach lifestyle with diverse gastronomic establishments that are plentiful and are popular with locals as well as holiday makers. Modern housing complexes in the Northern part of the town have arisen during the last years combining with the detached villas set on the hills boasting breath taking coastal views. The church in Santa Barbara de Nexe was built in the 15th century but has renovated. In the summer months the church can be visited from 9:00 to 12:00 h and from 14:00 to 17:00 h. Out of the season appointments can be made.
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The county of Loulé with its approximately 70,000 inhabitants is the largest municipality in the Algarve and includes the nine communities of Loulé, Almancil, Alte, Ameixial, Boliqueime, Quarteira, Querença, Tôr & Benafim and Salir. Further more the actual town of Loulé is the Algarve´s largest inland town. As you would expect with such an important town, Loulé has an abundance of restaurants, shops and architecture particularly around the old castle at the Southern end of the town. Loulé is famous throughout the region for its covered market as well as its gypsy markets. Throughout the year the council supports the town by offering events such as Carnival, Med Fest, The White Night Party and the Christmas fair ensuring the continued popularity of Loule and the surrounding areas. The construction of the ring road means that many additional properties and areas around Loulé are now much easy to access.
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Located a short drive from Vilamoura is the pretty Portuguese market village of Boliqueime. With a population just under 5,000, the village has not been spoilt by over development in the immediate area. The village offers restaurants, a pharmacy, coffee shops, banks, various supermarkets and a few bars. There are many pedestrian walks through the landscapes of the parish, from where you can glimpse the sea, old windmills, water wells, viewpoints, streams of crystal clear water and the most varied of vegetation.
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Vilamoura is in the municipality of Loulé and belongs to the parish of Quarteira. The multi-cultural coastal resort offers several championship golf courses, mini golf, a casino, several discos, a tennis club, shops and restaurants, roman ruins, a diving club, many other leisure facilities, an extensive beach, dozens of 4 and 5 star hotels and an array of property to buy. The residential projects are developed around the marina and the golf courses and includes hundreds of villas, apartments and townhouses dedicated almost exclusively to tourism. The centre piece of Vilamoura is the Marina with just under 1,000 berths and an array of bars, restaurants and shops to while away the hours.
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Vila Sol is a golf and leisure resort, located close to Quarteira and Vilamoura and offers an array of sports including 27 golf holes, a golf academy, tennis facilities and swimming pools along with a 5 star hotel and a commercial centre offering an assortment of restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Vila Sol has a number of quality villas, townhouses and apartments within the complex.
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Vila Sol golf course