The Algarve is one of the most important tourist regions of Portugal and Europe. Its temperate Mediterranean climate, characterized by short mild winters and long Summers hot and dry. Warm and calm waters that bathe its southern coast, its natural landscapes, historic and etnographic and delicious and healthy cuisine are attributes that attract millions of tourists from home and abroad every year, and this makes the Algarve one of the more developed regions of the country.
Currently, tourism is the economic engine of the Algarve. The old traditional province has some of the best beaches in the South of Europe and offers exceptional conditions for outdoor sports and other activities.
The Algarve is the third richest region of the country, with a per capita GDP of 87% (EU average). It occupies an area of 5.412 km2 and it resides 434 023 inhabitants (2009).
The Algarve is bordered by Alentejo to the North, South and West by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the East by the Guadiana river marking border with Spain. The highest point is situated in the Serra de Monchique, with a maximum altitude of 902 meters (Pico da Foia).
Tourism is the main economic activity of the Algarve region, giving remarkable economic growth. Thanks to the appeal of the weather and improved living conditions the Algarve is the only area of the country, outside of Lisbon and Oporto, registering a growth in population.
Faro International Airport, is located in the capital of the region and opened in 1965. This was a great boost for the Algarve as a seaside resort at international level. The Algarve has beautiful beaches and natural landscapes, which coupled with the temperate Mediterranean climate makes the most visited province in Portugal.
Today, the road links make the Algarve less than an hour’s journey from the airport. Currently the airport is the second busiest in Portugal, having transported 5.5 million passengers is 2007.
Most tourists come from Portugal, Spain; United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland, but there is also a strong presence of French and Scandinavians.
Although the great tourist demand is due primarily to vacations, sporting events of recent years, have contributed to a serious increase in visitors.
During the Summer the Algarve triples its population, 2.2 million in 2010 visited the Algarve.
A set of basic features summarize the climate of the region: hot Summers, mild Winters and short rainfall, concentrated in the Autumn and the Winter.
Rainfall is mainly concentrated between October and February, and is often torrential in character. Annual averages are less than 600 mm in much of the coastline and the Guadiana Valley, and surpass 800 mm in the Serra do Caldeirão and 1000 mm in the Serra de Monchique. In the coastal region there are 5 dry months, and between June and September rain is very infrequent.
March and April have occasional rain, but mainly sunny, warm days 18-20º with cool evenings. From mid-May rain is unusual, and long sunny days and light warm evenings are the norm.
June is a dry month, with rainfall averages less than 10mm and average temperatures ranging between 16ºC and 26º.
July and August are the hottest two months and dry year. Rain is an infrequent event. Average temperatures vary between 17/19ºC and 28/30ºC.
September is still Summer. Temperatures oscillate between 16/18ºC and 26/29ºC. Sometimes the first rains of Autumn may occur at the end of September, for this reason, this month’s average rainfall is around 15mm. In
October temperatures vary between 13/16ºC and 23/25ºC. The rains that fall for this month are often torrential in character: during just one day can be rolled up a substantial part of the total rainfall of the month, following several days of sunshine and clear skies. October average rainfall is around 45/70 mm.
November is the second wettest month of the year, with an average rainfall of around 75/90mm, concentrated mostly in a few days. Temperatures fall slightly during this month, varying betwen 10/12ºC – 18/21ºC.
January is the month with less high temperatures in the year: as a general rule these vary between 6/8ºC – 15/17ºC. Average rainfall is around 70/80mm.
In February temperatures range from 7/9ºC and 16/18ºC and average rainfall is around 45 to 70mm. Wild flowers and almond blossom are beautiful at this time of year.