The Algarve is one of the most popular areas of Portugal and people travel there from all over the world to soak up the sun – which shines around 12 hours a day in summer – on its inviting beaches. However, the allure of luxury resorts and laidback lifestyle means much of the Algarve can be rather touristy. Here are some ways to enjoy a memorable holiday in Portugal without falling into the trap of spending all your time on the beach or by the hotel pool.

Learn the history

Find out more about your surroundings by putting on a pair of walking shoes and exploring the Milreu ruins. Set in the countryside, this Roman villa is a window to the past, with intact mosaics, bathing room remains and a courtyard. You can then take a wander to the Old Town, which treats you to the sight of orange groves and gardens. You can also stroll down the Calćadinha de Sào Brás de Alportel, a cobbled road used by the Romans. Keep on discovering the area’s history by visiting the Castelo Castle and Fortaleza de Sagres fortress.

Algarve historical places

Catch a festival

Time your stay to coincide with one of the Algarve’s vibrant festivals, where locals and tourists get together to have fun times. The Carnival in Loulé takes place every February and has been celebrated for over 100 years. Parades include colourful floats, dancers and samba music. If you’re there in August, partake in the White Night, where the Algarve waves goodbye to summer by asking everyone to wear white. Expect fire eaters and street musicians until the early hours. Foodies will enjoy the Shellfish Festival that also takes place in August.

Get sporty

If you’re a sports fan, you can get competitive with the locals. The F1 Powerboat Grand Prix takes place every May and supporters go along to see international competitors challenge each other on the waters. Golfers will enjoy the Portugal Masters Golf Tournament in October at the Victoria Golf Club. For something a bit different, the Mundialito Beach Soccer Tournament is put on every August, taking the beloved game of football onto sandy pitches.

sport Algarve

After a day of culture soaking, make like a local and finish the day perfectly by eating at a recommended restaurant. Taverna do Guedes serves up traditional seafood dishes in a rustic setting and Casinha do Petisco is a tucked away treasure in Lagos that does extremely tasty steamed clams.

Of course, you should definitely put some time aside to hit the beach as well – it would be rude not to.

Images by Pedro Ribeiro SimõesCarole Raddato and Secretaria de Esporte , used under the Creative Commons license.