Let the Algarve unleash your inner dare-devil
If you thought the Algarve was all about tranquil activities like golf, lazing by the pool and sunning on the beach, you would be very wrong! With its widely varying terrain, from verdant mountains to dramatic coastal cliffs, and exceptional weather, the Algarve is a natural home to a vast array of radical adventure sports that will tickle the fancy of even the most hardcore adrenalin junkie. From the world’s only cross-border (and time zone) zipline, to skydiving and all-terrain buggy safaris, bungee jumping and fly-boarding, if you want to get your pulse racing, the Algarve is a great place to set it off. Take a look at these thrilling activities, run by experienced local companies and English-speaking guides, to enjoy a different side of the Algarve.
The Algarve is home to (well, at the receiving end of) the only zip-line in the world that crosses a country border and a time zone. Spanning 720 metres across the Guadiana River, the Limite Zero zipline stretches from Sanlúcar de Guadiana (Huelva, Spain) to Alcoutim in Portugal’s eastern Algarve. Fly across the river at speeds of up to 80km per hour, and fly back in time as you gain an hour when you land in Portugal thanks to the time-change (Portugal is one hour behind Spain). This unique zip-line has become one of the eastern Algarve’s most popular attractions, and makes for a memorable day out. While in the eastern Algarve, spend a couple of hours in nearby Vila Real de Santo António, the Algarve’s easternmost town, to admire its unique architectural grid layout and enjoy its famous locally-caught seafood.
A number of established companies now operate skydives in the Algarve, with jumps for everyone from novices to accomplished jumpers. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the Algarve is a fantastic place to skydive, and can generally guarantee great visibility and stunning views, spanning mountain ranges to the coast. The Algarve’s foremost skydiving companies operate from the Alvor Airdrome, in Portimão. Prices for tandem skydives start from around €120. After enjoying an exhilarating jump, head to the lively nearby Alvor fishing village for a seafood lunch, or an evening dinner and drinks at one of its many excellent bars.
Get your motor running and head out to the hills on an all-terrain buggy adventure. You’ll have to excuse some dirt and dust as you explore the Algarve’s rugged countryside in one of these fantastic little karts. An off-road buggy safari with an experienced guide is an excellent way to really see the hidden gems of the real rural Algarve, driving the buggy yourself. A variety of trips are available, from one-hour excursions to full-day explorations.
One of the newest additions to the Algarve extreme sport scene is the Bungy Portugal bungee jump in Albufeira. Located on the Albufeira marina dock-side, the 40-meter high bungee is the first water-touch bungee jump in Portugal and has proven a hit since setting up in 2016. It was brought to Portugal by Portuguese-born, world-record-holding bungee jump master Carlos Mosca Dionisio, who also holds the extraordinary record for a condom bungee jump, after jumping 30-metres using 18,500 condoms knotted together. Albufeira marina is also the setting for a wide range of other water-sports, from Jet Ski rentals to banana boats and fly-boarding.
If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to fly like a bird then head to your nearest beach or marina and strap yourself onto a fly-board. Feel the thrill of lift-off as you soar high into the air propelled by the sheer force of a water-thrust jet pack, shooting into the sky like a rocket. Flyboarding is one of the coolest new activities to hit the Algarve. The futuristic equipment is like something out of Back to the Future, and gives participants an experience that could be the closest thing to flying. Flyboarding is available from various locations including Armação de Pêra and Albufeira.
The Algarve’s distinctly dramatic coastline lends itself perfectly to coasteering, a modern and physically intensive activity that has taken the Algarve by storm. Taking advantage of southern Portugal’s rocky cliffs and clean waters, remarkable grottoes and unique rock formations, coasteering excursions involve hiking, swimming, rock climbing and jumping off cliffs into the sea. Feel your adrenalin levels rise as you scale sheer cliffs overhanging turquoise waters. The western end of the Algarve, more specifically the stretch of the Vicentine Coast National Park between Lagos and Sagres as well as the central Algarve region are prime areas for coasteering, which also involves snorkelling and exploring the caves and grottoes. A certain degree of physical aptitude and being at ease in the water are main requirements to enjoy what can be a fantastic way to spend the day having fun with the family. Companies such as Coasteering Algarve and Coasteering Albufeira are experts in this up-and-coming adventure sport.
Race track days
If you’ve always wanted to race around a track in a high-speed sports car like they do on Top Gear, then here is your chance. Head to the Portimão Race Track, put on your seat belt and press pedal to metal. From single car lap experiences in slinky sports cars like the CLA 45 AMG or the Porsche Cayman, to full packages and advanced driving courses, not forgetting its karting track, the International Autódromo in Portimão offers adrenalin-packed track experiences for all ages. Motorbike Hot Laps, courses and excursions also available.
An array of other radical activities are available throughout the Algarve, including downhill off-road mountain-biking, Tree Top High Rope Adventures, paintballing and paragliding. For a full list of the Algarve’s best adrenalin sports, or to organise transport to and from the activities, see Algarve Fun’s website.