The foundation of a good and healthy breakfast? A fresh, homemade orange juice is often the right answer - and every Portuguese is happy to agree. The reason for this joy is because in the very south of the country we find a not-so-hidden secret - the Algarve orange - brought home by Portuguese navigators in the 16th century and grown in the green Algarve hills. Even though orange production is spread all around the country, these sweet and juicy gems have a special taste for being from the Algarve region. Due to the “just-right” characteristics of the ground, solar exposition and almost absence of frost, 83% of the Portuguese orange groves are located here, turning Algarve Oranges into a brand recognized nationally and abroad.
After apples, oranges are the most produced fruit in Portugal. The legacy behind it means that some countries named this fruit after Portugal, such as Romania (“portocálâ”), Bulgaria and Turkey (“portukal”) and Greece (“portukáli”). In the Arabic and Persian languages the name of the country “Portugal” literally means “orange.” So yes, we can consider it a major landmark of Lusitanian culture.
Since the orange groves are so important for the Algarve’s economy, Silves - where 60% of the region’s production takes place - was declared the Capital of the Orange and decided to organize a Silves’ Orange Route so visitors can get to know more about this remarkably sweet fruit - and appreciate the Algarve’s countryside landscapes - from the orange groves and juice production, to tasting the rich dishes of our cuisine, to finally relaxing in one of the accommodations around Silves.
And the good news for the more tech-friendly visitors is that the Route has its own app - Silves RA – Rota da Laranja - to allow you, through augmented and virtual reality, to visit the eight key points on the tour with the help of historic characters - such as the Arabian king Al-Mutamid, the poet João de Deus or the king Dom Sebastião of Portugal - or to make 360-degree panoramic visits to check out the entire length of a citrus grove while flying over it.
Oranges don’t grow in August, so this month is not the best for you to go on this tour, but fortunately, there are still 11 months left in the year for you to drive to the beautiful Algarve’s groves and start a unique itinerary around orange country.
The richness of this fruit doesn’t rely only on its delicious taste but also on its versatility - not just the breakfast orange juice can be served but cakes, tarts, jam, ice cream, beer, and liquor are also good examples of how to make the most out of this citrin. Algarve Oranges are not hard to find, no matter where you go in the country, so even if you don’t have the chance to head south during your next trip to Portugal, just remember to put the Algarve Orange on your to-try list.