Who can say where Central Algarve finishes and West Algarve begins, but for most of us, it is at Portimao. After Faro, Portimao is the second largest town in the Algarve and an important commercial and fishing centre. Further west is the more traditional seaside resort of Praia da Rocha where there are great beaches, plenty of bars and restaurants and cheap accommodation.
A few kilometres east is the fishing village of Alvor where the shallow waters of the lagoon are great for swimming. Further west is the historic town of Lagos, probably the best known of the West Algarve holiday resorts. It is a walled town with a natural harbour, has some great beaches and is rich with the history of Henry the Navigator.
Further west by about 10 km is the resort of Praia da Luz, with a great beach and plenty of watersports plus opportunities to explore the wild and rugged countryside of the West Algarve.
At the most south west point of the Algarve is the village of Sagres and Cape St. Vincent, where the landscape and coastline become more rugged. Sagres is much less commercialised with fewer hotels and restaurants.
To escape from the summer head, simply head 22km inland from Portimao nestling in the pine-clad foothills of the Serra de Monchique mountains you will come across little town Monchique. Famous for its curative waters at the Thermal Spa just a few kilometres to the south at Caldas de Monchique.
And don't forget to bring your Lonely Planet Guide with you!