When we think of a museum, many of us envisage a large old building, a musty smell and uninviting exhibits.
But oh, how wrong we can be. Check out just a few of the Algarve’s museums, some of which are even outside!
Algarve’s western peninsula
And so, we begin our journey at the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe, Cape St Vincent.
A small museum, open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm, is set within the walls of the lighthouse. The lighthouse is open to visitors on Wednesdays from 2pm to 4pm.
About 5kms to the east, the fortress of Sagres offers a glimpse into the life of those who lived and trained there, see here for more details.
Perhaps the next museum of note is that in Lagos. The municipal museum, Museu Municipal Doutor José Formosinho, reopened in October after four years of renovation works.
This museum houses exhibits that date back to before 1460, the year of Prince Henry the Navigator’s death and that explains local cottage industries, shows naturalist paintings. A new wing will open, in the old police station opposite, to house the museum’s archeological exhibits.
Lagos’ renowned Santo António church is attached to the museum and has also received some well-needed refurbishment including lighting that enhances its gilded wood carvings and paintings.
Within Silves’ old city walls the archeological museum, although small, features a cistern well that visitors can walk down in to.
Exhibits date from the Paleolithic Period to the Middle Ages, encompassing eight thousand years of human settlement in the area.
The municipal museum in Portimão is far from stuffy and houses wonderful permanent exhibits including one showing the life and challenges of the sea. Click here for more information on the permanent exhibits.
Visitors will also learn of other local points of interest such as the prehistoric communities at Alcalar and the Roman presence in the area.
Milreu, Vilamoura and São Brás de Alportel
The Romans have left their mark in the region and visitors are able to see in both Milreu and Vilamoura different aspects of their life.
Both outside, the ruins at Milreu show a great mosaic in the baths whilst Cerro da Vila in Vilamoura is bigger showing a village. The latter has a small museum attached to it also.
In Saõ Brás de Alportel the Museu do Traje do Algarve is in fact a museum dedicated to the region’s costumes with a small exhibit on the local cork industry.
Faro has quite a few museums however two of note include the town’s archeological municipal museum that is housed in a convent built in the 16th century and also the Algarve’s regional museum that looks at the regions ethnography.
More of interest
There are many other museums such as ones in Albufeira, Olhão and Alcoutim showing how life has touched those towns and villages.
Of particular interest is the museum in Alcoutim that houses a varied collection of Islamic-era board games found at a single archaeological site together with the only-known examples of Mancala III in Portugal.
And don’t forget to check out any of the Ciência Viva you come across. These usually show, allowing you to interact, local arts and crafts plus much more that may be of interest.
If you are interested in the Romans in Algarve, click here to read a little on where you can see more. You can even tread the path they trod.