Speeding in the Algarve – Autódromo Internacional

If you want an adrenaline rush and some noise, then look no further than the Autódromo Internacional, located about 20 minutes drive east from Lagos. This is both a racing track hosting international world class events and a Karting centre for affordable family fun. The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve opened in late 2008. It is fully approved for all forms of two and four wheel motorsports up to and including Formula One. The inaugural event was the final round of World Superbikes. Since then the circuit has hosted a wide range of national and international events:- the FIA GT, Le Mans Series, GP2, World Touring Cars, Formula Two, Formula Three, and local championships.

In late October 2009 the circuit held its first Historic Festival, featuring race cars of all shapes and sizes from pre war right up to the 1980´s. Sir Stirling Moss raced in the first festival and this now annual event is not to be missed.

Unlike many other modern circuits the layout has many twists and turns which undulate up and down over the local landscape and represents one of the best challenges of any circuit for professional drivers. The circuit facility also includes the largest kart track in Europe. Challenging for drivers, the Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve is open most days for the hire of karts or to bring your own kart. You can get an excellent quality CD of photographs taken by the centres professional, after your drive.

There is also an off road course for 4×4 and rally cars. For more information see www.autodromodoalgarve.com.

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Surf’s up!

Surfing in Portugal is globally renowned for its quality waves. Located on Europe’s western edge, the Atlantic Ocean provides almost constant swells on the many reefs and beach breaks of Portugal. The growing Portuguese passion and reputation for quality surf brings surfers all year round from many countries to surf on Portugal’s popular and unique coastline.

The exceptional coastline & climate allow pro surfers to practice and train all year round ready for the summer months surf competitions. Each year international pro surfers convene at Ericeira, Portugal to take part in the major “Quick Silver Pro Portugal” competition which runs over 6 days from the 19th to the 24th of October and consists of 14 heats and the chance to win $145 000. If you want to watch some spectacular talent then hire a car, explore the west coast, stop for a day or two in Lisbon, then head up a little further to Ericeira for this event.

The surfing culture has also influenced many festivals to be held during the summer period in the Algarve and Lisbon. One of the most popular is “Optimus Alive!” which is a music and arts festival held in the height of summer in Lisbon. In the Algarve is the Super Bock Surf Fest usually a little later in the summer.

Portugal fame for surf has inspired the younger generation to get involved with the sport. Portugal has many surf schools and camps for beginners usually based on local beaches. Some of the bigger surf schools are located in Sagres, Lagos, Amado, Arrifana, Peniche and Ericeira. Contacts in Lagos area are www.surfexperience.com, http://www.facebook.com/FilSurf, http://www.extremealgarve.com/

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Algarve Golf

The Algarve is synonymous with world class golf courses. There are around 30 clubs across the Algarve offering a range in challenge, length and landscape, as well as price. When choosing a gold course, to make the most out of any golfing trip the best way to start is by being realistic about ones abilities. Novice golfers selecting challenging, championship courses are unlikely to enjoy themselves. Equally, expert golfers get frustrated by being slowed down by beginners.

For the golfing novice a sound investment at the start of any trip is an hour or two instructions with a resident professional. Just one session with an expert can radically improve performance and will typically shave a few shots off your next round, and maybe – just maybe – lead to winning a few euros. It will surely result in a more rewarding and far less frustrating golfing experience. Ask at any course about lessons. With a full round costing anything from 35€ to 150€ before one even considers buggy hire, getting it wrong can prove very expensive and frustrating. Some courses have computer simulated analysis of your golf swing, so can be a great boost to seasoned golfers as well as the complete novice.

There are some great choices of play at, for example, Parque da Floresta, Boavista, Amondoeira, Pestana, Penina, Alto, Gramacho and Pinta, Vale do Milho, and the Vilamoura couses. Most courses have well stocked shops, club hire and usually good quality eateries. Some have extra sports facilities and Spas for that après-golf treat. Golfing in the Algarve is undoubtedly up there with the best in the world. The standard of the courses, the views and the fabulous weather conditions all contributing towards that unforgettable experience that every golfer should have at least once. For course info see www.algarvegolf.net

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Extreme Fishing

Extreme Fishing


Portugal, with a 525-mile-long coastline, has depended on seafaring to survive for centuries. Its pioneering navigators began charting the Atlantic before Christopher Columbus was born. The sea, its conquest and the harvesting of its fish have become cornerstones of Portugal’s traditions and fishing has long formed an integral part of Portuguese culture and diet for centuries. Today, the Portuguese eat more fish than anyone else in Europe. In days gone by, fishermen would vie with each other to set records: who could stay at sea longest, who could bring home the most Bacalhão-dried, salted codfish. Bacalhão is Portugal’s national dish, is eaten for Christmas dinner and lately an expensive import.

Commercial fishing as a major economic activity in Portugal has declined almost 10% in the past 10 years. Much of Portugal’s ocean-going fishing fleet has been deprived of its traditional fishing grounds by treaties and regulations. Working with outdated equipment closer to home, coastal fishermen here are threatened by neighboring Spain’s armada, the largest in the European Union. New EU regulations and cheaper, frozen fish from elsewhere mean many once-proud Portuguese fishermen are mothballing their boats and retiring from the sea. Yet with fishing in their blood, a living to be made and families to be fed, many Portuguese take to dangerous methods to get their bait into deep waters – Cliff fishing.

Cliff fishing is both precarious and common. It is perhaps Portugal’s deadliest sport and in the photo (Dick Keely – www.PhotoKeely.com) you can see why. At the spectacular Cape St. Vincent in Sagres, the most southwesterly point in europe, fishermen risk their lives to catch a meal and a buck. Anglers balance on a cliff many meters above sea level, sometimes getting there by dangling from ropes tied to their cars parked at the top. They carry cumbersome loads of tackle and bait and like mountain goats scamper to their preferred spot. This is a dramatic spectacle but don’t get too close! Almost every year across Portugal rock fishermen are killed by unexpected large waves, cliff falls and drowning.

The highly skilled local fishermen are after gropers, jewfish, turbot, moray eels, conger eels, sea bream, gilthead bream, bass, mackerel, garfish, and mullet and make it look easy. Prawns, sardines, worms and mackerel pieces make effective bait. The fishermen do this out of passion and functionality. Some days they go home with nothing. Other days they catch enough to feed the family and then some. Inquisitive tourists can also often fall victim to the fragile rocks and hungry sea. The cliff tops in Portugal are rarely marked with safety rails, so be extremely careful if you visit these areas. Stand well back and keep a hold of children. Obviously, even if you are a keen experienced angler, you should never try this without a very experienced local guide!

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