For many of us, holidays mean spending long days on the beach enjoying the warm sunshine. For beach lovers, Portugal’s Algarve is home to some of the best in the world. From tiny coves to miles and miles of golden stretches, and charming little sandy inlets to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice for things to do in the Algarve.
But, the Algarve isn’t just the place for sun worshippers, it is a thriving spa and wellness destination that is perfect for getting away from it all.
If you want lazy days in the spa, or want to work up a sweat cycling, or hiking with the family, the Algarve should be your next holiday destination.
Here are some of the best wellness activities to enjoy in the Algarve.
For sun worshippers: the best beaches in the Algarve
If I was going to list all of the best beaches in the Algarve, I would be here all day. You could spend your entire holiday exploring the beaches, but there are some standout shores that should be on your list.
Praia da Marinha is one of those iconic beaches that you will see splashed across postcards in little souvenir shops across Portugal. Known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it would be a waste if you didn’t experience it. The rocks jutting out of the sea, the caves, the rugged coastline – all make for a great photo opportunity and, of course, enjoying a day at the beach.
Take a boat trip out to see the many different grottoes and caves dotted near the coastline as well, which come highly recommended. The beach is a little out of the way and there is a steep set of stairs to navigate down to the sand, but the effort will be well worth it.
Praia da Falesia is, at more than five miles long, one of Algarve longest beaches – stretching all the way from Vilamoura in the west to Olhos de Água in the east. The powder-white sand contrasts beautifully against the dramatic fiery orange cliffs and green pines, making it one of the most striking coastal landscapes in Europe. Add the inky blue skies and sparkling seas, it is a great place to spend the day or makes for an enchanting backdrop on an evening walk.
For nature lovers
The mountainous region of Monchique in the Algarve, with its lush greenery, unrivalled views and wildlife galore, makes a great base for those looking to get close to nature. Hiking here is a must.
With its location close to the hills of Picota and Fóia, the area offers visitors many options for leisurely strolls around town, through to exploratory hikes through the pines. Fóia is also the highest point in the Algarve, showing off panoramic views of the area. There are lots of well-marked trails that are easy to follow, so it is a great activity for all the family to enjoy together. High above the coast, it is comfortably cooler, giving the opportunity to really get active, without melting in the blazing sun.
The mountainous terrain is also perfect for cycling – another popular activity to do in this destination. Road, mountain and downhill cycling are all easily doable, so for those who prefer exploring on two wheels, you’re in luck. You can join in on an arranged cycling tour that will take you on specific routes, or you can head off on your own and see where you end up. The views are spectacular, so you won’t be disappointed.
For wellness fanatics
The Algarve might not be your first thought for a spa holiday destination, but it really has it all. The picturesque village, Caldas de Monchique, is the source of Monchique’s famous mineral water which dates back to Roman times.
It is renowned for its natural healing properties for those with muscular, bone, and digestive ailments, so make the most of its magical properties while you’re there. When you combine that, with all the fresh air, outdoor activities and beautiful weather, what more could you want?
Where to stay in the Algarve
Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa, nestled between the gorgeous Serra de Monchique Mountains, is perfectly situated for an idyllic wellness retreat.
Located in the mountains, with plenty of fresh air and healing spring waters, it really is the place to get away from the daily grind. Health and fitness are the order of the day, with a well-equipped gym, fitness classes and personal training sessions available.
You can also get out into the mountains and explore the surrounding countryside, either on foot or on a bike, nature is right on your doorstep.
The on-site Sensorial Spa offers lots of luxurious treatments and holistic therapies, as well as a sauna with a Himalayan rock salt wall, a steam room and a hydrotherapy pool, so it is a must-visit to relax any aching muscles. Other treatments available, including the likes of Breathwork and Sound Journey, offer a more spiritual way to relax, and definitely worth a try.
The children can also have their own fun in the children’s’ club, where there are lots of activities to keep them entertained. Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa does tick all the boxes when it comes to relaxation and wellness.
Vale da Ribeira Residences – comprising of 42 villas all designed in minimalist and modern décor – are suitable for couples, families and groups of friends holidaying together. They are great for those who prefer self-catering holidays as the villas come complete with all you’ll ever need for a home from home holiday.
Surrounded by pine, citrus and cork trees, nature lovers will find this resort a real haven, with the opportunity to explore the scenic countryside, wildlife, historic towns and charming fishing villages.
On the resort, there is an infinity pool with spectacular views across the rolling hills, and a children’s pool that the little ones can splash around in too. If you want a break from cooking, head to the pool bar for a snack, or a refreshing cocktail.
Just a 10-minute drive from Meia Praia Beach – the largest in Lagos at over two miles long – the resort is perfectly placed for those who want to combine relaxing downtime with beach fun. Vale da Ribeira is also close to several of the 40 world-class golf courses in the region – good for those who want to perfect their swing. A great choice for holidaying at your own pace.
Things to do in the Algarve for wellness
This November the resort high up in the hills of Monchique will transform itself into an Algarve hub of ‘all things wellness’.
During the entire month, they will be hosting specialist workshops and activities focused on enhancing your mind and body wellbeing, increasing energy, focused attention and everyday performance.
Starting from mindfulness and meditation work or steps for improving the quality of your sleep, finishing with healthy local food preparation, you will find a wide selection of things to learn and do.
Additionally, you can combine all this with a two-hour visit to the award-winning Thermal Circuit at the Sensorial SPA, this is sure to leave you feeling relaxed, re-charged and ready to face challenges ahead.
All with an aim to overcome daily stress by adapting the way we think and focusing on re-connecting with our inner self.
There is something for everyone: transformational sessions such as Breathwork or Japanese art of touch, mindful meditation with Sound Journey or Yoga Nidra or indulging but healthy organic wine tasting or carob pastry making classes – there is an astonishing array of things to do in the Algarve.
Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa and the Vale da Ribeira Residences are both affiliated with the RCI Holiday Exchange programme.
Map of Algarve
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