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Things to do in the Algarve as a solo traveler

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A man cycling solo through the Algarve, Portugal
Post-pandemic solo travel has risen by 761%.

Google Trends data shows that post-pandemic solo travel has risen by 761%.

And solo travel isn’t just for singles. According to the online travel agent Opodo.com, 2023 travel trends show 41% prefer to travel alone with many wanting to be in control of decision-making, a chance to linger for hours in a museum or a hike to the top of a mountain; giving people time for personal reflection and growth.

In addition, new research from Kipling, the leading luggage company, has found that Faro is the fourth safest city in the world for women to travel solo to.

Value-for-money is also high on holiday makers’ priorities this year. Luckily for solo travellers, the Algarve has been consistently named in the top three best value holiday destinations in the annual Post Office’s Holiday Money Survey.

The Algarve region of Portugal boasts a rich and vibrant culture that has been shaped by its geography, history, and people. It is also a food lover’s paradise, boasting a rich culinary heritage which has been influenced by its long Atlantic coastline, Moorish ancestry and sunny climate. For solo travellers wanting an authentic and local experience, they can try their hand at a cooking class, or one of a myriad of interesting tours, with plenty of free activities – from action packed ones to history tours – led by passionate locals and small enterprising companies, who are keen on sharing unique and unforgettable experiences with visitors.

Prepare yourself for a solo journey of a lifetime around the Algarve.

Culinary:

Oyster experience – This unique tour starts in the vibrant town of Olhão with a chance to explore the local market packed with a diverse range of fish and fresh vegetables. Stroll through the narrow, cobbled streets to admire the traditional paintings on buildings that depict the history of the fishing community. Then embark on a scenic boat tour of the stunning Ria Formosa Natural Park, where you meet the fishermen and observe them picking oysters. The tour continues to Culatra Island to learn the art of oyster picking. The tour includes a fresh oyster tasting and lunch.

Duration: 4-6 hours / Price per person starts from €130/£114 approx. www.pt4u.pt/

Experience a wine tour – Reconnect with nature during a guided tour of Morgado do Quintao, a family owned vineyard and farm stay experience.uncover the secrets of wine making and explore the secrets of the estate, while you savour cheese and charcuterie from local producers under the 2000-year-old olive tree that overlooks the old Negramole vines. This trip at the family-run estate, is perfect for those who are looking to make some new friends on their solo trip.

Farmers Table: Duration: Approximately 2.5 hrs / Prices from €60.00/£51.00 per person. https://www.morgadodoquintao.pt/en/wine-experiences

Note: Tours are operated by appointment only.

Cataplana for all – The Algarve region is famous for its unique cuisine and its renown Cataplana, a traditional Portuguese stew made with a base of onion, garlic, red and green peppers with the addition of seafood or pork with clams. In this culinary experience, participants will have the chance to learn and prepare a delicious fish and shellfish cataplana. This hands-on experience offers an opportunity to discover the secrets of Algarve gastronomy and indulge in a feast for the senses.

Duration: From 3 hours / Prices start from €128/£112 per person approx. www.tertulia-algarvia.pt/

Adventure:

Surfs up – Surfing can feed the mind, body, and soul, and makes for the perfect solo trip activity.
Algarve is renowned for its surf spots, like Praia do Amado and Praia do Zavial. Even if you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools where you can learn. The Freeride Surf School is no ordinary surf camp as their dedicated surf coaches are equipped with the best knowledge and skills to give you all the instruction and confidence you need to take to the waves.

Alternatively, the surf camp also offers personalised private lessons for those that want to surf the waves in peace.

Duration: You can choose from 1, 3 or 6 days of group lessons. / Prices start from €65/£55 for 1 day to €325/£280 for 6 days between March to December. https://frsurf.com/surf-school/

A bike tour like no other – Experience the beauty of the Algarve like never before with Trails of the Authentic Algarve, a seven-night self-guided bike tour. Cycle along a scenic route that takes you over mountains, past rivers, and through charming old villages. Immerse yourself in local culture and sample delicious regional produce at local cafes and restaurants and visit the traditional market building. This tour offers an ideal opportunity to experience the authentic countryside life at your own pace, and to meet friendly locals who will share their stories and traditions with you.

Duration: 7 nights / Prices start from €785.00/£691 per person based on two people sharing a room with breakfast included. www.algarvebikeholidays.com

Hiking / group walk:

Be one with nature- Discover Monchique, the highest mountain in the Algarve, on a guided hiking tour. Immerse yourself in the natural surroundings and rich culture of the region, while learning about the streams and abundant water resources influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. After the hike, you’ll be able to mingle some more and enjoy a delicious lunch featuring typical regional products from the Algarve hills. In the afternoon, engage in interactive activities with the local community such as pottery workshops, olive oil mill visits with tasting, or a soap olive oil workshop. This tour offers a unique and unforgettable experience to fully appreciate the local culture and traditions.

Duration: Full day / Prices range from €35 – €150/£30 – £132 depending on extra activities. www.algarvianroots.pt/

Get your hiking shoes on – Nothing says immersing yourself into the solo trip like taking a good old walk. The Seven Hanging Valleys trail is a costal clifftop walk, and offers stunning views of the coastline near the Praia de Marinha and Benagil. Whether you’re up for breathing in the fresh air and doing the walk by yourself, or chit chatting with people you meet, the day walk will leave you wanting to come back to the Algarve year after year. And don’t forget to pack your camera as the Seven Hanging Valleys trail guides you through some of the most striking natural gems in the Algarve.

The Seven Hanging Valleys officially starts in Praia da Marinha in the East, and goes towards Praia Vale de Centeanes in the West. But, you can start at either end.

Duration: Takes an average of 3h 30 min to complete. 

History, Art & Culture:

Deep rooted history – From monumental cathedrals to haunting church ruins, Portugal boasts some of the most stunning churches in Europe. And to really understand a city’s history, visiting a church should be high on the list. Churches such as the Cathedral of Faro (Sé de Faro), Church of São Lourenço in Almancil (famous for its blue and white azulejos), Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception) in Loulé and the medieval Hermitage of São Sebastião in Lagos, all provide an incredible insight into the region’s religious history and art.

And while you’re in Lagos, why not visit the birthplace of Portugal’s 16th-century epic poet, Luís Vaz de Camões. This region’s history and culture, in particular, have always been a rich source of inspiration for various authors.

Get your hands dirty – If you’re up for doing something peaceful that’ll get the creative juices flowing, then a Portuguese tile painting class is just the activity for you. Portugal’s beautiful Azulejo tiles are a dominant feature in every Portuguese city and can be seen in the villages as well. In this class, you’ll get to meet a local artist who will share their knowledge about the tile painting and ceramics technique.

Duration: 3 hours / Prices range from €50/£43https://algarvianroots.com/courses/workshop-portuguese-tile-painting 

Fitness, Mindfulness & Wellness:

Getting in touch with your inner self – There’s nothing better than getting in touch with your inner self – and what better way to do it than on a solo trip? Whether you’re a beginner at yoga or have some flow to your movements, yoga is the best way to wind down and let all the troubles in your mind flow away. And if you want to experience a session Casa Fuzetta is the place to go. From early morning yoga on the rooftop terrace to meditation in the sanctuary, there are a range of options to suit.

Duration: 2023/2024 prices vary according to the time of year and number of guests participating. https://www.casafuzetta.com/wellness

Relax and unwind – What better way to really treat yourself than one of the wellness retreats at Vilalara Resort, an upscale resort overlooking the cliffs of Praia das Gaivotas along the North Atlantic Ocean. This resort is a lakeside haven of style, comfort and exclusivity, so allow yourself to take a break with a day spa, or a two-day retreat as you disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself.

From massage treatments, thalassa treatments or body exfoliation to reflexology or medical consultation, the resort caters for everyone’s needs.Duration: Dependant on the treatments / Prices differ, depending on treatment. A 2-day retreat is priced at €405/£348. Note that this price does not include the accommodation.https://www.vilalararesort.com/pt/thalassa-e-medical-spa/

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Travel

Baros Maldives appoints new PR agency in the UK

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR Agency in the UK
Maldives is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year

Global independent marketing and communications agency, FINN Partners, has been appointed by Baros Maldives and Milaidhoo Maldives to lead on PR and digital services, in the United Kingdom.

FINN Partners communications strategy will focus on tactics that will generate coverage and awareness to showcase the independent, locally and family-owned properties, highlighting what sets them apart from other resorts in the Maldives. 

“With the UK being an important market for us, we look forward to working with FINN Partners to help build brand awareness in the UK for both Baros and Milaidhoo Maldives, by bringing to life the uniqueness of each property and what sets both resorts apart from other luxury resorts in the Maldives,” says Visha Mahir, Chief Operating Officer at Universal Resorts Management.

Maldives is home to 176 resorts and over 800 guesthouses. According to  the Ministry of Tourism, the country is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year.

“Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s an honour to be representing Baros Maldives, ‘The Maldives Icon’. We very much look forward to communicating the private island resorts truly authentic Maldivian offerings to media. We are also excited to showcase how Milaidhoo Maldives, set in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, embraces a contemporary way of living the Maldivian heritage and culture complemented by a wide range of curated meaningful experiences on offer to guests in addition to exceptional cuisine, personalised service, and attention to detail,” says Debbie Flynn, Managing Partner and Global Travel Practice Leader, FINN Partners.

The FINN Partners UK Travel portfolio also includes destinations such as Italy, Greater Palm Springs, The Bahamas and brands including Travelzoo, Intrepid and Accor. 

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Searches for ‘quiet life’ soars by 530%

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a female solo traveler in a mountain trip
The quest for a more serene lifestyle is on the rise, a recent report by Pinterest reveals | Photo: Artur Voznenko

Searches for enigmatic destinations are rising as travellers crave places promising a blend of wonder, adventure and the unexplored, according to a recent Pinterest Summer 2024 Travel Report.

With over one billion travel-related searches and over 10 billion travel saves in one year, the platform has become a source of inspiration for those planning a future trip.

8 out of 10 weekly Pinterest users turn to Pinterest when planning their summer escapades. Since last year, searches for ‘travel vision board’ and ‘packing guide’ have skyrocketed by 210% and 480% respectively as travellers curate their bucket lists and gear up for unforgettable journeys. 

However travellers are not looking only for adventurous things to do while on vacation.

The quest for a quieter, more serene lifestyle is on the rise, with searches for ‘quiet life’ soaring by 530% according to a report by Pinterest. As the longing for simplicity has extended to travel, since 2023, searches for ‘quiet places’ and ‘calm places’ have increased by 50% and 42% respectively. Pinners are searching for digital detox travel: many sought-after nature destinations offer a respite from the constant buzz of connectivity and digital distractions, providing a much-needed break. Solo travel emerges as a liberating choice, granting individuals the freedom to craft their itinerary, pace and priorities without compromise. Whether basking in the tranquillity of a secluded beach or meandering through serene countryside landscapes, these experiences contribute to self-care and overall well-being. Increase in specific searches include solo travel (up +35%), glamping aesthetic (+260%), Cabin in the mountains (+180%), Village vibes (+145%), Island life (+30%), and searches for national parks, which increased +250% since last year.

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Britons holidaying abroad are getting more value for money

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A elderly British couple holidaying abroad.
Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 popular currencies over the past 12 months | Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Strong currency performance puts more cash in pockets of Britons holidaying abroad

Rising rates for sterling mean holidaymakers can look forward to getting more for their money in the vast majority of holiday destinations this year, according to new exchange rate analysis by Post Office Travel Money for its regular Holiday Money Index survey of currency rates and sales trends.

Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 of Post Office Travel Money’s 25 bestselling holiday currencies over the past 12 months but the amount by which Britons can hope to benefit varies quite significantly from one destination to another. While Britons can expect to receive 3.8 per cent more than a year ago when changing their pounds into euros and 5.5 per cent more US dollars, they will get far more for their money when visiting Turkey, Kenya and Japan.

The Exchange Rate Monitor, published as part of the Holiday Money Index, reveals that Britons visiting Turkey will currently get around 73 per cent more liras for the pounds than a year ago – the equivalent of almost £211 extra on a £500 currency purchase. This rises to 113.5 per cent – or £266 extra – over two years.

Sterling has also gained almost 21 per cent in value against the Kenyan shilling and 15.7 per cent against the Japanese yen compared with a year ago. Although the dramatic fall in value of the Egyptian pound reported in last year’s Holiday Money Index has bottomed out, it is still 6.3 per cent weaker than last March. Cumulatively, this means visitors will receive around £234 (88 per cent) more on a £500 currency transaction now than two years ago.

There have also been sizeable sterling gains against the currencies for a trio of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers – Prague (Czech Republic: +12.7 per cent), Thailand (Thai baht: +9.9 per cent) and South Africa (South African rand: +9.2 per cent), while Britons visiting friends and family in Australia will get 8.5 per cent more holiday cash for their pounds.

Only four currencies – the Polish zloty, Mexican peso, Costa Rican colon and Swiss franc – have gained ground against sterling. The pound’s biggest fall of 4.3 per cent year-on-year has been against the Polish zloty, although this is eclipsed by two year losses of over 20 per cent against the Costa Rican colon and Mexican peso.

Sterling’s current buoyancy against most leading holiday currencies – including the euro and US dollar – provides a great incentive for Britons considering trips abroad in the coming months. Most currencies have weakened against the pound in the past year, and many of these are for destinations that traditionally offer the cheapest prices for meals, drinks and other tourist staples. Good examples of this range from Turkey and the Czech Republic in Europe to Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam further afield,” says Laura Plunkett, Head of Travel Money at Post Office.

The latest analysis of currency sales by Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK foreign exchange transactions, reveals that sales of 16 of its 20 bestselling currencies have risen over the past 12 months (February 2023-January 2024). It also observes that many of these currencies are continuing to show marked growth in 2024 to date.

Reviewing sales for January 2024, Post Office Travel Money reports that Caribbean currencies have seen the most dramatic year-on-year growth among its 20 bestselling currencies. In particular, it found that East Caribbean and Barbados dollar purchases rocketed by 103 per cent and 64 per cent respectively in January – outperforming growth levels by rival destinations in the Far East.

However, taking at the year as whole, seven Far Eastern currencies dominate the top 10 chart of Post Office Travel Money’s currencies showing the greatest levels of growth. The biggest percentage sales increase was for the Chinese yuan, which recorded a spectacular 573 per cent year-on-year rise, albeit against very low sales the previous year when visits to China were off limits.

The euro and US dollar remain by far the most popular holiday currencies, topping the chart for the past year as they have consistently done – and a sales increase of nine per cent in January made the euro the 10th fastest growing currency for that month.

Demand for aspirational destinations is also particularly strong. Both the Australian dollar, third in the Post Office bestsellers top 10, and New Zealand dollar, ninth in the table, have built on the exceptional currency growth seen a year ago when Australia and New Zealand re-opened to international visitors.

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