The plains that extend as far as the eye can see start close to the Tagus. While to the north, the pace is set by the green of the flatlands, further south the landscape changes dramatically to combine with the sun and the heat to create a slower pace of life. To the north, the pastures of the marshlands; in the vast interior, unending flatness, and fields of wheat waving in the wind; at the coast, wild, beautiful beaches waiting to be discovered. The vastness of the landscape is dotted with cork oaks and olive trees that withstand time.
Here and there, you find a walled town, such as Marvão or Monsaraz, or an ancient dolmen to recall the magic of the place. Around the hills castles evoke battles and conquests and the yards and gardens are witness to the Arab influences which shaped the people and nature. The flat land makes hiking and cycling easy, though horses are also part of the landscape. You can combine these rides with birdwatching and, in dams such as Alqueva, with the tranquillity of the waters or wind down your day with a delicious meal and spend some time stargazing.
ALCACER DO SAL
Graciously laid out over the right bank of the Sado River and rising up a gentle slope, Alcácer do Sal has been settled since the earliest of times. Archaeological remains have been found that date back to the Neolithic period not to mention evidence of Greek, Phoenician and other Mediterranean peoples having passed through. Alcácer do Sal breathes enviable beauty. From the castle, looking south, there is a sharp bend in the river Sado, irrigating the smooth green plain that pre-empts the great Alentejan plain. From here, laid out below, around the four points of the compass, are magnificent panoramic views over the rivers and fields, ideal for reminiscing over the heavy and varied traffic that used to pass by below.
In the Algarve the climate is mild and sunny all year round, the beaches are of high quality with sandy stretches as far as you can see and framed by golden cliffs. The ocean, in every shade of blue and mostly calm and warm, invites you for long swims and to indulge in water sports.
Then there are the mountains and the bustling towns by night and day. Numerous spas and thalassotherapy centres and in the Monchique Thermal Baths invite you to take some time out to relax. If that’s too slow for you there are many internationally acclaimed golf courses, cycle trails and boat rides where you can see the best there is to see. Fresh produce served simply on a beach terrace or in Michelin-starred restaurants are experiences not to be missed on a visit to the region.