Helpful Tips for Travel in the Algarve

So your thinking about a trip to the Algarve. Great idea! Below are some tips to keep in mind when planning your trip that will hopefully make it as smooth and pleasant as possible.


Eating is the no. 1 priority of all Portuguese families. They would no more skip a meal than walk outside in their pyjamas. Most Portuguese women are excellent cooks, not just for main courses but also for a huge variety of local deserts. If they can't eat at home they will happily go out to coffee shops, snack bars and restaurants.

 Helpful Tips for Travel in the Algarve

Opening Hours Coffee Shops will be open all day and evening. Restaurants however will serve food only between 12-2:30 and 6:30 or 7pm and 10ish. In summer some restaurants stay open later. You can always get a light meal in a coffee shop. If the restaurant is popular it is a very good idea to book. You will find most numbers on the FREEMAPS.


Most restaurants will automatically bring you the 'covert', which usually includes bread, butter, sardine or tuna pate, olives etc. You are charged anywhere from 1.5 euros to 5 euros per person for this depending on how elaborate it is. If you do not want the cover just say 'No, Thank you, 'obrigado/ obrigada'' before they leave it on the table. The Portuguese will usually have the covert. They like eating well and everything that goes along with it.

Money Exchange

You can change your money immediately at the 'CAMBIO' (exchange) at the airport on arrival. The rate of change is virtually the same everywhere, except usually not quite as good in the Hotels and Apart/hotels. Many restaurants and bars will change money for you if you are eating or drinking there, just ask.

Seasonal Clothing, Winter

Remember to dress in Layers, the temperature difference is as much as 20 degrees Bring slippers, scarf and gloves, it you don't have to use them great, but if you do you'll be happy you have them. ALWAYS bring a warmsweater or jacket for you and the kids even in the summer. It usually gets cooler in the evenings. The temperature change can be drastic at times. You will also need a jacket if you go on a boat trip, as it can get a bit windy in the afternoon, even in August.


No matter how glamorous you want to be on your holiday, walking in most parts of the Algarve is on uneven cobblestone sidewalks and roads. High heels are not only very tippy but can be dangerous. Bring at least one very comfortable pair of flats that you can actually walk in comfortably. If your smart you will leave the heels at home and bring various pretty flats and sandals.

Portuguese Coffee

Helpful Tips for Travel in the Algarve

Portuguese coffee ismarvelous their tea, however leaves something to be desired. Bring your own tea bags and make itin your room or apartment if you really want a good cuppa'. Portuguese tea bags appear tobe made from a lesser quality of tea. Also always use bottled water to make your tea as the tap water is very high in calcium, which makes for an unpleasant taste. If you go to a coffee shop or anywhere for that matter, if you just say coffee, you will get an expresso. If you want a coffee with milk be sure to say 'caf com laite' .


There are literally dozens and dozens of different local/Portuguese types of bottled water, either natural or with gas. These are wonderful and you should try to become a connoisseur. The Portuguese can tell the type of water just by the taste, something I found hard to believe until I learned to do this also.


Alcohol is also much cheaper here. Don't wait for the duty free, as it is not open for early morning or late arrival flights.Remember all alcohol has to be in your checked luggage. The shops in the town sell wine & good quality Port that comes in boxes for easy packing. The prices are actually better than at the airport for many varieties, as the airportmostly carries the better higher quality, thus higher priced wines and ports. Wine from all over Portugal is available in the wine shops and supermarkets. Apolonia, a supermarket in Gale and Almancil has an astonishing collection not only of Portuguese wines but also imported wines. However, you can get good wine in many of the wine shops across the Algarve as well.


Some bars allow smoking some don't but remember cigarettes are much cheaper here so wait to stock up till you get here!

Discos & Clubs

Opening Hours Most discos don't even open until eleven or midnight and in the summer season stay open to 6am. This is just the way it is here. Drinks are considerably more expensive in Discos than in normal bars. 


Taxis are all on meters. Almost all taxi drivers speak some English. If you are taking a long trip you may be able to negotiate an 'off meter rate', but do so before entering the taxi. They charge 20% more on weekends and after 8pm. Also a small fee for putting things in the trunk. The metered rates are very reasonable.

Shop & Bank Business Hours

Some shops shut between 1pm and 3 pm, however during the summer season more and more are staying open. Most banks open at 10am and close at 3pm, although some stay open until 5pm. Taxis operate all day and night. Mass is said every day in the Catholic churches, for the times look for notices on the church.

Local Culture Sensitivity

Most of the Portuguese are Catholics. They would never walk without a shirt in the towns or shopping centres no matter how hot.They would also not walk in bikini or bathing suit anywhere in the town or even in the beach resorts. Bathing suits are strictly for the beach/pool. Respect their and your dignity in this matter.