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This Is The Cheapest Summer Destination In Europe For Budget Travelers

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July is right around the corner, and if you're a culture buff like us, who also happens to be looking for a bit of sun in your life, Europe and its ancient cities dating back literal millennia, balmy climate, and delectable cuisine are probably sounding like a no-brainer at this point.

Panoramic View Of Carvoeiro, Bounded By The Atlantic Sea, The Algarve, Southern Portugal, Southern Europe

We're not sure about you, but as much as we love summers across the pond, we're not exactly planning on burning through savings on another overpriced vacation, especially when Mallorca, Santorini, Venice, and the like are expecting the biggest crowds—and price surge—yet.

Fortunately, now we know which European destination offers the best value for money this upcoming season, and we're here to let you in on the secret:

The Algarve Is The Cheapest Summer Destination In Europe

Tourists Bathing In A Sandy Beach Near A Medieval Castle In Ferragudo, Algarve, Southern Portugal, Southern Europe

According to the latest Holiday Money Report published by the U.K. Post Office, one of the most reliable sources for assessing vacation costs, Portugal's Algarve is the cheapest and only European destination to chart inside the top five for ‘Holiday Money Value' this year.

It beats Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, Paphos in Cyprus, Costa del Sol in Spain (where Malaga is located), and even long-time winner Marmaris in Turkey, with travelers expected to spend around $75 per day, excluding accommodation.

A Person Taking Out Euro Notes From A Wallet, Europe Travel Concept

The Algarve is at odds with all of Europe's most popular summer hotspots: overnights in beachside hotels start from as cheap as $79, and local consumer prices are among the lowest among its European peers: you'll spend on average $16 in a standard Portuguese mid-range restaurant.

On top of that, it is the southernmost and sunniest region of Portugal—the sun shines 300 days per year—and not only is it incredibly affordable by Southern European standards, but it has, time and again, been named the most beautiful coastline in the Old Continent.

Woman looking at landscape with caves, grottoes and sea arches in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Contrary to popular belief, Portugal is not a Mediterranean country, facing the Atlantic instead, though it is just as warm, if not warmer, than neighboring Spain, and in the Algarve specifically, the south-facing coast runs along 96 miles of majestic cliffs and paradisaical beaches.

The Most Gorgeous Coastline In Europe

Unlike Mediterranean countries like Croatia or Italy, pebbles are not at all a common sight in the Algarve or Portugal as a whole: its 100 beaches are all sandy, bounded by the shiniest of waters, and from resort-lined oceanfronts to secret coves, you'll find it all here.

Wooden Staircase Leading Down To A Sandy Atlantic Beach Near Portimao, The Algarve, Southern Portugal, Southern Europe

The most popular destination is Lagos, in the Western end of the Algarve, famous for its imposing castle, honey-colored sands, and laid-back atmosphere: it's not not crowded, but life unfolds at a much slower pace here, and no one's in a rush to be anywhere.

Elsewhere in Albufeira, tourists will find a charming city traversed by cobbled streets, with casual bars and beach clubs drawing a big international crowd, while Faro is best known for its walled Old Town, Baroque monuments and seafood.

Belmarco Mansion in the city center of Faro, Algarve, Portugal. Morning scene from the Faro old town, South Portugal

These are only three of the Algarve's most popular towns, but then again, this is a rather extensive coastline, and if you're looking to beat the crowds, there's no shortage of quaint seaside villages with their own selection of boutique hotels to pick from.

There is Carvoeiro, a Santorini dupe with whitewashed houses overlooking the azure sea, Olhão, a historic municipality with a maze-like historic center, celebrated for its heritage fisheries, and the quaint Ferragudo, with bougainvillea-adorned streets and colorful front porches.

Whitewashed Houses With Colorful Door Frames And An Overhanging Bougainvillea Arching Over The Cobbled Street In Ferragudo, Algarve, Southern Portugal, Southern Europe

The Algarve's greatest asset, however, is its breathtaking nature:

Can We Talk About Algarvian Nature?

Picture wooden stairways leading down to secret beaches flanked by towering cliffs, tourist-friendly hiking paths culminating in crystal-clear lagoons, verdant hills as far as the eyes can see, dotted with vineyards, protected wildlife reserves and sea caves.

The most famous of them, Benagil, has an iconic nature-made hole at the top to let the light in: an icon of the Algarve, it can only be visited on boat tours departing from the modern resort city of Portimão, or Lagos further down the coast.

Benagil Cave In The Algarve, Southern Portugal, Southern Europe

Outside the main cities, the Algarve never feels exactly busy, either, and it probably helps that this is a year-round destination boasting warmer temperatures irrespective of season, so the millions of visitors flocking there are not doing so exclusively between July and August.

You Can Fly Nonstop To The Algarve From The U.S.

Americans can fly nonstop to the Algarve this summer with United, departing from from New York's secondary Newark Airport, and landing in Faro Airport, the only commercial aviation hub in Southern Portugal.

Travel Off Path readers are also encouraged to check out this historic luxury villa nestled in the Algarvian hills, from only $250 per night, within short driving distance of Faro, nature preserves, and the picturesque medieval town of Loulé.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Josie McLaughlin

Sunday 9th of June 2024

Love reading the interesting info on the Algarve Coast. Beautiful Pictures. TY