Why Algarve, Portugal should be your top travel destination post-Covid 19
The Coronavirus pandemic has laid waste to many of our plans. The impact on the global economy and our local communities is massive and heart-breaking. The Algarve, a region whose economy is driven by tourism, has suffered hugely from the economic impact of the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus, while having relatively low case numbers. The local community has made sacrifices in their daily routines and work lives, adhering to the restrictions on their movement and the closure of their businesses, to halt the spread of the virus, hopeful that the discipline shown to date will be rewarded with a return to normality and an opportunity to welcome visitors to this beautiful corner of the world again.
Portugal will emerge from lockdown with its reputation as one of the safest and most stable countries in the world undamaged. High testing rates and early lockdown have been important in the fight and as the economy moves to re-open, measures are being put in place to ensure local businesses follow best practice hygiene protocols, to bolster customer confidence. Portugal was the first European country to be receive the Safe Travels certification from the World Travel & Tourism Council. As it seems that the coronavirus is not going to just disappear, those who wish to travel should choose their destination wisely.
All the things that make the Algarve such a popular destination apply even more so as restrictions ease: The climate delivering daily doses of vitamin D and sunlight to lift our spirits; healthy, locally sourced food to enjoy; small villages and open spaces to explore and clean air to breath; amazing caves to discover, ancient castles and pretty churches to explore. We gave you 19 reasons to visit the Algarve in 2019, and in 2020, they still hold true.
See below reasons why the Algarve is an excellent destination, specifically in the post-Covid 19 lockdown scenario.
Vast beaches mean plenty of space for everyone
Will people want to travel in 2020?
Surveys indicate that yes, people want to travel. Our friends at Portugalist carried out a survey in April 2020 in which almost half (48.3%) of people who had planned to visit Portugal in 2020 would still do so if travel restrictions were lifted, with the majority (52.7%) hoping to visit Portugal in the autumn or winter. Of those who have followed Portugal’s response to the Coronavirus situation 78.9% said Portugal has done a good job, confirming the positive opinion many international travellers hold about Portugal. See Portugalist survey results.
Why the Algarve is an excellent post-Covid 19 lockdown destination
Beaches – the Algarve is justly famous for its magnificent beaches. They are beautiful and varied, from long expanses of fine sand to picturesque and secluded cove beaches. Some are only accessible from the sea which ensures they are less frequented, others are so vast that social distancing is not an issue - check out these Algarve beaches to escape the crowds. And there are so many beaches in the Algarve that even during the busiest season, it is possible to find a quiet, sparsely populated beach. For 2020, measures will be in place to define the “load capacity” for each beach to ensure safe social distancing for beach-goers.
Fly and Drive – with so many different experiences to enjoy across the region, from the rugged Costa Vicentina to the calm lagoons of the Ria Formosa, a fly drive holiday makes sense in the Algarve. By hiring a car you can avoid the use of public transport and explore at will. Check out these scenic drives in the Algarve. And if you want to keep your carbon footprint down, Kwako will launch its 100% electric car hire service in 2020 at selected resorts. These small cars are perfect for local exploring.
Private transfers – there are many companies offering airport transfers in the Algarve. A private transfer ensures that you travel only with your family or travel group, limiting points of contact with others. Transfer companies will follow guidelines from the Portuguese authorities regarding coronavirus with limited capacity in each vehicle and passengers can travel only in the rear seats, not next to the driver. Yellowfish Transfers, for example, guarantees the cleaning of each vehicle before and after each service. They supply masks and hand sanitizers on board and their drivers are monitored for symptoms before working.
Villa holidays – holidaying in a private villa is a very popular option for many visitors to the Algarve. A home from home, you share your holiday villa only with your travel companions, with days spent by the pool and evenings spent enjoying relaxing al fresco meals. Some villa rental companies such as Blue Sky Villas offer concierge services, taking care of the details of your stay so you don’t have to leave the villa anymore than you want to. They offer a shopping service and bring your shopping to you. They also ensure impeccable cleaning of the villa before you arrive and during your stay and there are masks supplied at their properties for your use. You can opt for independent villas or stand alone villas within low-density resorts such as Quinta do Lago or Vale do Lobo. The VILA VITA Collection offers some amazing ocean-front villas near Albufeira and at the small and tranquil fishing village of Salema.
VILA VITA Collection, Salema
Boutique hotels offer a low density accommodation option and, along with larger hotels that can accommodate more guests, will have procedures in place to ensure the wellness and safety of their guests and staff. See the Clean & Safe stamp below.
Open air activities – many of the activities that people enjoy in the Algarve are open air activities. With clean air to breathe and plenty of vitamin D to absorb, being outdoors in the Algarve is good for you.
Boat trips and kayak tours are especially popular in the region. The amazing coastline, such as the wonderous grottoes of Ponta da Piedade and the amazing Benagil cave, is best enjoyed from the sea. There are many companies offering wonderful boat trips to explore the coast and there are private yachts available for charter too. Businesses offering such activities will follow protocols issued by the authorities to ensure the safety of participants and boat capacity has been reduced to ensure more space for everyone.
Walking and biking - There are some superb trails to explore the countryside and coastal routes on foot or by bike. Population density is low in the Algarve, particularly inland, so keeping your distance is not an issue. Check out these best walks and some scenic drives to enjoy.
Off-road adventures – the very nature of off-roading means you’re not in a crowded, urban area. Join a fun jeep safari with Alsafari or Portitours and explore the countryside in guided 4-wheel drive jeeps. Or opt for a Buggy Safari where you travel alone or in a buggy for two, following the guide along the off-road routes. All these activities have to follow the guideline issued by the health authorities regarding capacity for vehicles and use of masks.
And don't forget, that outside dining is the norm at Algarve restaurants for much of the year. You can enjoy delicious fresh food in the open air, with tables spaced apart, enjoying the lovely views.
It is obligatory to use masks in Portugal inside public spaces - eg. supermarkets, public transport. You should use a mask when entering a restaurant if you are dining inside, but can remove it once seated at your table.
Clean & Safe stamp – Turismo de Portugal has launched a voluntary Clean & Safe stamp that businesses display upon declaring adherence to cleaning and hygiene requirements set out by the Portuguese authorities for the prevention of coronavirus, giving customers confidence that there are health and safety measures in place for their protection.
Health Services – the Algarve offers both public and private health services. There are some small private clinics such as Orange Medical Centre in Albufeira or larger private health care companies such as HPA (Hospital Particular do Algarve). The national health service (SNS – Serviço Nacional de Sáude) has its issues as do all national health services, but it is widely considered to offer good service. Euro Health Consumer Index ranked Portuguese healthcare as the 13th best in Europe in 2018, up from 20th place in 2015, ranking higher than the UK, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.
Flights – travel will continue to be minimal while flights are restricted. However, low cost carrier Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer has indicated that, when restrictions are lifted, travellers can expect massive seat sales with single digit fares for flights to Faro airport from major European airports.
See you soon, we hope.