IT may be best known as a golfer’s paradise but there is so much more to see and do in the Algarve in Portugal. A stunning coastline with golden beaches as well as vibrant towns and attractions, there really is something for everyone.

Breakfasts on the balcony of an apartment in Carvoeiro is a most enjoyable way to start the day.

From the villa, it was about a 30-minute walk to Carvoeiro town centre but for those who like to take it easy, hire cars are readily available.

But walking was a great opportunity to take in views of true European life with stunning white villas dotted along the sun-drenched coast.

Flanked by restaurants and shops and with very useful shower and toilet facilities, Carvoeiro beach seemed to be the top spot for sun worshippers, which is spacious but often crowded.

If you are looking for something a bit more secluded, Paraiso beach is close by enclosed by a huge looming cliffside and only accessible via 115 steps.

This beach is ideal for a quiet moment in the sun or a dip in the sparkling water and while we were there we even saw a scuba diver bearing a harpoon gun.

Above the beach, there is also a restaurant where you can refresh yourself while soaking in the spectacular views.

Prior to our arrival we bought a phrase book and practised our Portuguese but the truth of the matter is, like much of Europe, everyone tended to speak English and apart from a grumpy bus driver we had no trouble.

As quite a fussy pair, we also wondered what we would eat but with restaurants of all flavours including a large number of pizzerias and steak houses, we had nothing to worry about.

One of the best was Maxime, which offers everything from succulent steaks to well thought out vegetarian dishes in an intimate setting.

That said, we were self catering and initially struggled to find meals to have at the villa. The supermarkets all had lovely fresh bread but beyond that, there was little more than basic provisions.

However, a quick taxi to Inter Marche (the equivalent of, say, Tesco) solved our problems.

Carvoeiro was also a useful connection point for buses further afield.

The most memorable day out was to the port town of Portimao where a great number of boat trips are available throughout the day.

We opted for a cruise on the ‘pirate boat’ Santa Bernarda, which took us on a four-hour trip along the Algarvian coastline.

From photos, we learnt that the Santa Bernarda was originally a traditional metal vessel and was lovingly converted into a wooden, two-masted sailing boat as a unique tourist attraction.

During the tour, crew members also took groups out on small boats to get a closer look in and around the intricate caves – one of which had its own tiny beach submerged in the darkness.

With the fresh sea air and a very different view of the Portuguese landscape, it was a wonderful trip and one really worth forking out for. It was also interesting to see the beaches that we had spent time on from the perspective of the water.

One such beach was Carvalho beach that we had visited just the day before.

This quaint beach is instantly recognisable for the gigantic rock in the middle of the sea, not far from the shore, and is accessible through an ancient tunnel – although some people choose to get there by jumping off the cliff edge into the water below.

Relaxing on this beach felt like being a visitor from a bygone era and sitting on the beach there was also a rickety old boat.

Whether this boat washed up on shore after countless voyages on the ocean wave or was simply placed there to add to the aesthetic appeal of the secluded spot, who knows, but many people hope it is the former.

To soak up a greater sense of history while we were there, we visited the market town of Silves to explore its Moorish Castle on the top of the hill.

The castle, which dates back to the eighth century, was heavily restored in the 1940s and now offers superb views in every direction if you clamber up to the top.

When we visited, a new series of improvements were underway which will see a new cafe and garden added to the central grounds.

The historical town also boasts a museum of archaeology, a beautiful white cathedral and various craft shops.

If you are looking for a fun family day out while you are there, you cannot beat the Slide and Splash waterpark.