Home Lifestyle Europe’s cheapest holiday spot with best beaches now has tourist tax

Europe’s cheapest holiday spot with best beaches now has tourist tax

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Millions of tourists head to the Algarve each year (Picture: Getty Images)

Less than a three-hour flight from London, the stunning beaches of the Algarve in Portugal attract millions of tourists each year.

Named the best-value destination in Europe for 2024 by Post Office Travel Money, you’ll get more bang for your buck in the summer hotspot than anywhere else on the continent.

But this could be about to change, because the Algarve is introducing a tourist tax which could ‘raise millions’ for the area, at the expense of holidaymakers’ budget trips.

If you’re visiting the southern Portuguese region, you’ll have to cough up £1.70 per person, per night, for up to a week between the months of March and September.

While it may sound like a small amount, this could add up to nearly £50 tacked on to the cost of a group of four’s one-week beach holiday.

The silver lining is that children under 13 years old are exempt from the charge. Plus, if you’re visiting during off-season, the fee drops to 85p per person between October and February.

A tourist tax has been introduced in the Algarve which could get expensive (Picture: Getty Images)

The tourist tax applies specifically to the city of Portimão on Portugal’s Algarve coast.

It’s the largest city in the western Algarve and is popular with tourists due to its extensive shopping offerings. Traditionally it was a centre for ship-building and fishing, but its docks have been transformed into stunning promenades.

It’s also home to a number of stunning restaurants and cafes, offering delicious fresh seafood, and there’s a go-kart track at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve to keep the kids entertained.

According to Portimão’s Mayor Isilda Gomes, the tourist tax could raise ‘a few million euros’ for the city.

She said: ‘The rates are extremely fair. The funds will boost the city’s tourism development.’

So, is paying the tourist tax worth it? We’d say, absolutely – especially if you make time in your break to explore the wider Algarve too.

The Algarve tourist tax is more expensive in the summer months and cheaper in the winter months (Picture: Getty Images)

The region was named Europe’s Leading Beach Destination at the 2023 World Travel Awards (WTA).

The Algarve was also named ‘Europe’s best beach destination’ in 2023 for the tenth time in a row, thanks to its 200km of stunning coastline.

Its 88 Blue Flag beaches, ranging from stretches of golden sand to secluded rocky bays, are a major draw for tourists, but there’s plenty more to do if you want a packed itinerary.

Popular spots here, apart from Portimão, include Albufeira, Lagos and Faro, with dolphin-spotting tours and sunset cruises departing from each throughout the busy season.

Faro’s Old Town is a must-see for history buffs, while families can enjoy theme parks like Zoomarine and Slide & Splash. There are also a number of nearby vineyards, where you can sample the local wines and find out how it’s produced.

According the Met Office, you can expect average maximum temperatures of 29.1°C in July, with hardly any rain and up 12 hours of sunshine each day during the summer. January is the coldest month, seeing peaks of 16.2°C and 60mm rainfall.

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