The Algarve has always been a veni, vedi, vici kind of place. In addition to the Roman occupiers (who loved it to pieces for six centuries), there were also bands of Phoenicians, Celts, Visigoths and Moors who spotted the Iberian Peninsula’s 100 miles of beaches and just had to conquer and stay a century or two. It’s no wonder then, that today’s first-time visitors find a one- or two-week holiday here just isn’t long enough. Most rapidly conclude: Why not do as the Romans did, and stay a bit longer?
In fact, long-stay getaways of 21 days – or longer – are one of the hot new trends in travel worldwide, particularly among retirees aged 55-plus. But Portugal is a particularly good choice for a long-stay because the Portuguese have managed to escape the jaded attitude that, unfortunately, many Europeans harbour toward mass tourism.
The warm and welcoming locals are equalled only by Portugal’s balmy winter climate – and particularly so in the Algarve, where the sun shines for 3,000 hours a year and the sea remains surprisingly warm thanks to African-born currents warmed on a lengthy maritime shelf. As for accommodation, while some long-stayers opt for a seaside home, most find that renting an apartment, stocked with all the amenities desirable in a home-away-from-home, suits them just fine.