The South of Portugal is very diverse. It usually evokes images of sun, heat and the beaches of the Algarve. However, even though there is no official divide between the rest of the country and the south, the Alentejo coast and the lower Alentejo regions are also part of it.
Landscapes of the south of Portugal
The south of Portugal starts in Alentejo. The Alentejo is known for its endless plains and almost wild beaches, on the coast, many of which are hidden by imposing cliffs. The Algarve, on the other hand, is better known for its beachfronts, but there are also mountains further inland.
South of Sines, along the Atlantic, the Southeast Alentejo Natural Park and the Vicentine Coast offer beautiful landscapes that stretch out over 100 kilometres, between Porto Covo, in the Alentejo and Burgau in the Algarve. This is a part of the country where nature prevails over human intervention. The variety of beaches is enormous, from those that boast vast expanses of sand to the smaller ones, lying below cliff faces and only accessible to the more adventurous.
The Algarve is better known for the long sandy beaches by the sea. Further inland the Monchique and Caldeirão mountains give the region a diversity that many, unfortunately, never get to see.
Meat, fish, seafood, wine and olive oil. The South of Portugal has a rich culinary tradition. All along the coast, be it Alentejo or Algarve, you will find the best fresh fish. In the Alentejo you can also feast on traditional dishes such as scrambled eggs with asparagus or the famous migas.
If you want to get a taste of the cuisine of the south of Portugal you must also try the açorda alentejana, made from water, olive oil, garlic, poached egg, bread and coriander. Another option is the alentejo style pork (meat, potatoes and clams) or the lamb stew (ensopado de borrego).
Head further south to the Algarve and enjoy some brined mackerel, seafood açorda or the traditional caldeirada algarvia (Algarve style fish stew). The Arabian influence can be detected in the name of this region that also uses the traditional cataplana pot to cook clams. The traditional sweets are made with local produce, such as figs, locust bean and almonds. Another great dish in the south of Portugal is dogfish soup.
What to do
There is plenty to do in the south of Portugal. There are the natural parks, such as the Southeast Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park (Alentejo Coast), the Guadiana Valley Natural Park (Lower Alentejo) or the Ria Formosa Natural Park (Algarve).
Golf is also one of the Algarve’s strengths, the region has often been chosen as one of the best in the world for practising this sport.
The South of Portugal is also very rich in culture. The Alentejo is known for its traditional cante alentejano singing that has been classified as Intangible Cultural World Heritage by UNESCO since 2014. With its roots in agricultural work, men and women sing together, without any instruments. It can take place spontaneously, during work out in the fields, or during periods of relaxation in the local taverns. Nowadays the tradition is mostly kept alive through especially created choral groups.
And, of course, you can’t escape the beaches in the south of Portugal. Don’t let this region, and its diversity, remain a mystery to you and take advantage of the Alentejo coast and the 200 kilometres, give or take, of the Algarve coast. But don’t neglect the interior of the Algarve, a great place to get away from the bustle, especially in the summer, and which has its own charm.
Living in the South of Portugal
Average housing prices in the South of Portugal are inflated by the Algarve, but the Alentejo is still home to cheaper houses and to estates where relaxation is the rule.
Price, per square meter, of family homes:
> Lower Alentejo: €505
> Alentejo Coast: €960
> Algarve: €1.606
> Larger Lisbon Area: €1.383
> Lisbon (city): €3.154
(Average prices. Source: INE, 2nd quarter 2019)
> Beja: €672
> Odemira: €1.012
> Faro: €1.532
> Albufeira: €1.821
> Loulé: €2.018
> Portimão: €1.468
> Lagos: €1.8751
(Average prices. Source: INE, 2nd quarter 2019)
Your best choice to travel to southern Portugal is Faro airport. However, Lisbon airport is also handy to reach some of the areas of the Alentejo, such as Beja, which is only a few kilometres closer to Faro than to Lisbon.
The following is a list of the main cities in France, United Kingdom and Germany that have flights to Faro.
Some of the cities in the United Kingdom:
Some of the cities in Germany
There are no direct flights from Brazil to Faro airport. That makes Lisbon the closest airport to southern Portugal. There are flights to Lisbon from Belém, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo.