A new mini boulevard separates the beach and the village. The village, where mass tourism, doesn’t have a change has a range of different restaurants and cafés with nice terraces. There’s an Internet café, pizzerias and several supermarkets and shops that provide the inhabitants and holiday guests of their daily groceries.
In winter Salema remains a cosy and quiet fisherman’s village. It’s not a desolate holiday destination because Salema never indulged in mass tourism that overtook other parts of the Algarve coast.
Salema can also be used as a base for visits to smaller or bigger nearby towns. Faro is only 105 km away from Salema and can be easily reached via the E22 motorway. The nearest Algarve coastal places are; Portimao (31 km) or Lagos (18 km).
The most Southwest point of Europe, Sagres (40 km), and the mountain village and spa of Monchique (60 km) are more than worth the visit.
Some kilometres from the furthest Southwest point of Europe there’s Sagres with it’s rich history.
It was here where Prince Hendrik the Navigator based this Navigation School of Sagres in the 1500’s. The knowledge of this school was the base for many discoveries.
In 1415 Prince Hendrik gathered renowned Arabic astronomers, cartographers and sailors to test theories on ever-longer sea expeditions.
Former navigational instruments like the sextant were improved and he introduced navigating by using the stars. Cartography was improved dramatically and this resulted in Portugal having absolute supreme knowledge in this field in those days.
Other significant landmarks in and around Sagres are:
· Ponta de Sagres – On this hill there are the remains of the 16th century fortress (fortaleza).
· Forte de Beliche – This is a little fortress with a nice chapel. The fortress now serves as a hotel / restaurant.
· Cabo de São Vicente – The most southwestern tip of Europe has soaring cliffs (75 m high) that offer a fantastic view, especially at dusk. The fortress that stood here has been rebuild as a lighthouse.
· The caves of Monte Frances are 2 km north of Sagres.
In medieval times Lagos was an important port where Portuguese explorers started their trips to explore the African continent.
Around the old citry centre of this former capital city of the Algarve (1576 till 1756) there are still the intact city walls with at the beginning of the harbour the old fortress da Ponta da Bandeira.
Lagos still has a fisherman’s harbour but also a big yaught harbour. Several international regattas are organised here.
Lagos is a well-known tourist place with a historical city centre and beautiful beaches. The partly walled city has car free and cosy centre with its narrow streets and white houses. Beach lovers can visit the little beaches with the famous rock formations. The Porto de Mós-beach lies at the higher tourist districht Torralthina. The impressive rock formations of Ponta de Piedade are more than worth the visit. Ponta de Piedade can be visited by boat leaving from the harbour at Forte da Ponta da Bandeira.
Other significant landmarks in and around Lagos are:
Lagos Zoo – A special zoo, especially because of the monkey islands that are interconnected by climbing materials. The monkeys can hop from one island to the other.
The city wall – The current city wall was built on top of the old one between the 1400 and 1600’s
Praça Infante Dom Henrique – In the middle of this square there’s a statue of Hendrik the Navigator
Mercado de Escravos – On the right side of the above-mentioned square there’s a building where Europe’s first slave market was held in the 1500’s. Nowadays the purpose of the building is more humane: exhibits are held here.
Forte da Ponta de Bandeira – This is a 17th century fortress. Via a suspended bridge you can reach the inner square. The chapel has been decorated with 17th century azulejos (blue tiling).
Ponta da Piedade – 3 km away. From this vantage point Cabo São Vicente in the west and Cabo Carvoeiro in the east can be seen. There are boat trips to the caves. The beach Praia da Donna Ana can be found here.
Musea Regional – This regional museum at the Igreja de Santo António has an interesting archaeological collection and an ethnographic department.
Situated in the green backlands of the city of Lagos.
The name originates from Arabic and was originally written as Benassaharim. Its origin is agricultural. Until the late 1950’s the main form of transportation was donkey and ox. Nowadays it’s mainly a sleepy city inhabited by people that work in Lagos.
During the Morian rule Silves was the capital of the Algarve and it was said that its beauty surpassed Lisbon’s. On top off of the white town that lays on a slope you can see the sandstone walls of the castle. Down in Silves the Arade river runs where the Romans built a bridge.
Other significant landmarks in and around Silves are:
The Castle – On top of the castle you have a beautiful view over the Monchique mountains, the Arade valley and in the distance, the Algarve coast. In the inner square there’s a garden where there are concerts on regular bases.
The Cathedral – This 13th century cathedral was built on on top of a mosque. The many tombs that lay here are said to belong to crusaders that helped reconquering the city on the Mores. You can also find Cruz de Portugal here – the cross of Portugal.
Museu Arqueológico – A new archaeological museum that has been built against the old city walls around a 13th century well.
Fábrica do Inglês – An entertainment and culture park. There’s also a cork museum.
Portimão is after Faro the second city of the Algarve. Portimão is more of a commercial and industrial centre than a touristic centre and very well known for its shops and fish restaurants. Local industry is mainly ship construction and canning of sardine and tuna.
Tourist activity happens mainly in the adjacent Praia da Rocha. Praia da Rocha became known when a group of English writers and intellectuals established themselves there between 1930 and 1950. Since then the little place expanded into one of the biggest and well-known vacation places of Portugal.
The old bridge of Portimão has been built of leftover material from the Eiffel tower.
Other significant landmarks in and around Portimão are:
· Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição – This is a 15th century church
· Colégio dos Jesuítas – The Jesuits College, 1660-1707
· Convento de São Francisco - This is a 16th century monastery
· Capela de São José – Beautiful chapel
· Museu Diego Conçalves (in the city centre) – Exhibitions of regional artists