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The western Algarve is certainly one of Portugal's least developed areas and is a beautifully unspoilt place to take a holiday. It boasts rugged cliffs, wonderful nature reserves and award-winning beaches and is far quieter than the main Algarve resorts on the southern coast. The coastline is characterful and craggy and is ideal terrain for keen walkers.

The village of Sagres is a fantastic spot in which to base yourself if you are looking for some great beaches and the opportunity to try some of the many water sports on offer in this part of the world. Here you will find a lovely safe clean expanse of sand - Martinhal Beach - which is absolutely ideal for families with children.

Conditions are perfect for water sports such as paragliding, surfing and windsurfing because of the strong winds that come from the Atlantic. There are a number of good surf schools dotted along the coast which are open all year round.

Head west from Sagres and you will reach Cape St. Vincent, which was referred to as the 'End of the World' by mariners in ancient times because of its towering cliffs and jutting peninsulas that made navigating the waters so terribly dangerous. This part of Portugal has a history that stretches back through the mists of time to the Neolithic period. It was also the location from which the famous 15th-century explorer Henry the Navigator set sail on his ambitious expeditions.

Cape St Vincent is famed for its iconic lighthouse, which keeps watch over the seas from the most south-westerly point in Portugal. This is Europe’s most powerful lighthouse, with a huge range of 95km.

Peeping over the jagged cliffs that form the harbour is the small but perfectly formed town of Sagres. This pretty, out-of-the-way place is a charming location in which to experience the ‘real’ Portugal. Sample some freshly caught local seafood, explore the ancient winding streets and drink in the history of this part of the world, which is still palpable today in the guise of architecture and traditions that are many centuries old. While increasingly popular with holidaymakers, Sagres is still a working town and has a thriving shellfish and fresh-fish industry.

This region's location on the Atlantic Ocean means that the temperatures are generally far milder than on the southern Algarve. At the height of summer this can be a real relief, as temperatures in the south can soar well above 30 degrees.

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