While Portugal doesn’t always get the same level of attention as some of its European counterparts do when it comes to sporting culture, there is plenty to do for the athletically inclined. That includes both playing sports and watching professional contests, and even within the Algarve region there’s plenty to do on both fronts. So, for those who like a bit of activity when they travel – both personally and from a spectator perspective – these are a few notes to keep in mind.
We’ve referenced the outstanding compilation of golf courses in the Algarve region before, so it doesn’t require too much attention here. But just to reiterate, this is an area with a strong history of golf and with several incredible courses that can be enjoyed by visitors. Clearly this is more of a recreational idea than a spectator one, but it’s still worth keeping in mind if you’re interested in the sport of the area.
As with golf, there is a strong history of horse riding throughout the Algarve region. There are guided tours of some of the region’s most beautiful areas on horseback, and there are also equestrian centres where you can get riding lessons or ride trails that have been set up over time. If your’e more interested in spectating, there are also occasional equestrian events at the Vilamoura Equestrian Centre, though you might want to look at a calendar in advance if this is important to you, so you can make sure your visit will coincide with a competition.
As you may well know, Portugal takes its football quite seriously. The national team for the country just recently advanced to the round of 16 at the World Cup, where it was given a good chance to defeat a Uruguay team many saw as a contender. That result wasn’t to be, but Portugal yet again proved it’s among the world’s best football nations. And while you probably won’t see the national team in Algarve, there is some great local football to watch. Clubs like Portiomonense Sporting Club (in the Primeira Liga) and Sporting Club Farense (in the Segunda Liga) play regularly in this area.
It’s almost hard to go to Algarve and not see sailboats. This is a region with a lot of coastline, and the conditions tend to be wonderful (and beautiful) for sailing. It can actually be fairly lovely just to sit and watch the sailors if you find a comfortable vantage point or even a seaside restaurant or bar. However, you can also rent your own sailboat from a local club, or learn the activity for the first time at one of several local sailing schools.
One article that touched on numerous activities in the Algarve region (and mentioned both horse riding and sailing, for that matter) noted that this is a very popular spot for windsurfing. Specifically, the Meia Praia bay is known for high speeds if you know what you’re doing, and if you’re just starting the area in general is one of the best places for practice because of how the winds come in off the Atlantic. Golf, football, and equestrian activity are all great in this region, but nothing really beats the watersports!