The Algarve is as well known for its vibrant nightlife as it is the acres of golden sand and glistening seas. The Albufeira strip, for example, is famous the world over and is alone responsible for bringing thousands of tourists into the area every year.
That said, there is much more to the Algarve's nightlife than the popular strips, such as those in Albufeira. In fact, there's something to suit all tastes and budgets across the region...
Before going any further, it is worth addressing the famed night spots, as these are by far the most popular attraction for revellers in the Algarve who only really get going once the sun goes down.
For anyone that's more nightclub than nightcap, the aforementioned Albufeira strip can do no wrong, offering late-opening clubs, bars and restaurants that are popular all year round.
At around a mile and a half in length, 'The Strip' is where most of the Albufeira nightlife is centred. It runs in a straight line from Montechoro in the north to Praia da Oura, just 200 or so metres from the sea. Over the course of this mile and a half lie bright lights, neon signs, loud music and plenty to drink.
The most common way of tackling the strip is going from north to south, as the clubs get much livelier the closer you get to the coast. As such, it's possible to start at some of the quieter bars near Montechoro before following the crowds over the zebra crossing (which acts as a rather unobtrusive dividing line) and down into party territory. For most, the night ends at one of the strip's two more popular nightclubs, Kiss or Club Heaven, which welcome some world famous DJs, especially during high season.
Be warned, though, the place is rife with promo men and women prowling the street trying to drum up business for their institution, so be prepared for a chat!
For anyone fancying a couple of drinks without the hustle and bustle of the Albufeira strip, there are plenty of more genteel establishments dotted around the Algarve. For this, the capital - Faro - should provide just the tonic.
In being the capital and also a university town, Faro has a vast array of different nightlife options, without quite so many neon-clad nightclubs as Albufeira. It is also much more popular with the locals, so should provide a more authentic experience than the other tourist bubbles.
One area where Faro excels is its live music. Gone are the superstar DJs and pounding baselines of the Albufeira strip, replaced instead with live music from all imaginable genres. The Taberna da Se is just one of the more popular options, as it really does offer something for everyone.
A relatively quiet eatery by day, the Taberna comes alive at night, thanks to its hip young punters heading in for regular live music. Even if a quiet spot of people watching is on the cards, Taberna da Se has outdoor tables overlooking the quaint square, where drinks and company can be enjoyed a little more leisurely.
If neither of the above appeal, then maybe some of the Algarve's more cultural activities will provide an ideal option. Among the most well-loved of these is a night-time walk around the old Moorish castle in the Algarve's historic capital, Silves.
What Silves lacks in beaches and seas, it certainly makes up for in culture - with the castle at its very core. Many tourists make their way around Silves Castle by day, taking in its stunning Moorish architecture and views over the historic town, but few return at night. In doing so, however, they do Silves Castle a real disservice, as its when bathed in sulphuric amber streetlights that it really comes to life.
A gentle stroll around the castle walls brings to life the area's rich history and can really can make it feel as though the bright lights of Albufeira aren't just of another place but another time altogether.
Elsewhere, the Algarve also has a rich theatre scene and a number of playhouses dotted across the region. Among the most popular are Portimao's Tempo Theatre, the Municipal Auditorium of Albufeira, Faro's Teatro Lethes, Garth Henriques in Silves and the Teatro Municipal de Faro.
The above may make it seem as though there's little for families to do in the Algarve after sundown, but thankfully this is far from the truth. In fact, there are any number of child-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained even after the water parks and zoos have long closed their doors.
The FIESA Sand Sculpture Festival is one such event, which is not only family-friendly but also an attraction that is much improved once the daytime sun has set. Running from the peak summer time of May to October means that wandering around the sand sculptures in the middle of the day is a recipe for disaster, especially for those with younger children. In running through the evening, though, it's possible to check out the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into creating these huge sculptures without feeling like you're on the cusp of burning to a crisp.
So whilst Algarve nightlife may be synonymous around the world for the bright lights and loud music of the renowned Albufeira strip, this most certainly isn't all that's on offer.
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014