Who hasn’t heard of those paradise beaches in Algarve?! All shades of blue, stunning rock cliffs, bracing air, delicious seafood, furious waves & surfing fun … This place was on my travel bucket list for a while and now it´s finally getting crossed out. Even though our visit was short – in two days we managed to make the most of our time in Portugal! Heading to Algarve?! Let´s talk about places you can´t miss…
To start with, our brief visit to Algarve was a part of our trip to Andalusia, the Southern Province of Spain. And if I am completely honest with you here, I was waiting for the Portuguese part of the trip and had high expectations for Algarve. Of course, two days is not enough to see everything in the area. However, it was a great start for creating my first impression of the Algarve coast. Did I like it?! – Yes, no doubts here.
Although Algarve ended up being way more touristic than I’d ever expected.
I mean, everyone knows that Portugal is one of the most popular travel destination in Europe all year round. But I´ve barely heard a word in Portuguese during my 2 days there (at times it even felt like an English speaking country). Can´t imagine summers in Algarve… although of course, if you´re looking for parties&events, as well as hanging out with friends – it´s definitely the place to be.
As I´m an offseason fan, visiting in April was definitely a good idea. Sunbathing was perfect, while water temperature was a bit cold for my taste (there were people swimming, just not me lol). Check the best time to visit Portugal for you, depending on your budget and preferred activities.
Let´s talk about our express Algarve road trip and the best places not to miss!
Algarve in 2 Days: What to See?
Carvoeiro was our first stop on the road after crossing the Spanish/Portuguese border. It´s a lovely small village with a nice coastal area. Plus there are some gorgeous places to visit nearby, like Benagil Caves, Marinha Beach, Algar Seco… After having lunch in Carvoeiro (p.s.what a seafood they have…), we headed to Sagres.
The Carvoeiro Beach
2. Sagres / Cape St. Vincent
Cape St.Vincent has the most amazing views of the Atlantic. Some people also visit the Sagres Fortress nearby, but as we had no time for both: we opted for the Cape St.Vincent. There was no entrance fee, plus you could simply stop at any moment on the road and walk your way towards the cliffs – the landscapes were stunning everywhere. If we would have had more time – hiking would be a must. You could see cars parked every 100 m. And by the way, if you love artisan pottery (you know I´m obsessed with Portuguese and Spanish Ceramic) there are several cute shops on the road near Sagres. All these ceramic decoration pieces and tiles reminded me of my recent trips to Lisbon and Sintra. These should be on the top of each art lover´s travel bucket list!
Walls of an artisan pottery shop on the road / That´s how the real marketing works!
3.Lagos/ Doña Ana Beach /Ponta da Piedade
We quickly drove through the city of Lagos and made stops at Dona Ana Beach and Ponta da Piedade. Both places were really nice, however, there were many hotels near Doña Ana Beach – it was quite crowded and didn’t look like this paradise beach from the internet I saw.
Portimao was the last stop at the end of our first day in Portugal. What could possibly feel better than a hotel with lovely views after a day on the road? We enjoyed a nice walk on the beach and had a great dinner at one of the local seafood restaurants. To my surprise, I’ve discovered that seafood in Portugal is much cheaper than it is in Spain. So, I get it why many people consider Algarve a perfect vacation spot. The price quality ratio is really good, in general.
Enjoying the views with my little one
5. Marinha Beach/ Benagil Caves
First thing in the morning on our second day, we headed to the famous Marinha Beach. Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and often listed in between the best beach holiday destinations in Europe, this place has fully met my expectations. Ok…visiting on an early April morning might have had smth to do. But I loved the Marinha Beach. While we were leaving more and more tourists kept arriving – so it should get crowded after 11 a.m. However, in the morning we still enjoyed those white sands and ocean sounds for ourselves… Please, take me back!
Here, we would have visited Benagil Caves, as well. But this place could only be accessed by boat and we were on the road with our 8-month-old baby. So, the most famous site in Algarve is still on our travel bucket list for the next visit.
6. Faro/ Ria Formosa
The next stop on the road was Faro. Such a pretty village, often overlooked by tourists. From the cathedral, you could get magical views to Ria Formosa National Park (which is another place for boat trips and hikes we´d love to visit once our baby girl grows up a bit).
7. Tavira / Octopus in Santa Luzia
Our last stop on the way back to Spain was Tavira. Foodies might guess what happened next: Santa Luzia, a village famous for its octopus dishes. Here you could try an endless list of octopus recipes, from modern to traditional, grilled, in tomato sauce or salad… We often order Octopus when dining out in Spain, but they mostly prepare it in a similar way, while in Santa Luzia you just can´t get enough of different tastes and flavors…Yum!
On our way back to Castellon, we made several off-the-beaten-track stops in Andalusia. Have you ever thought of channeling your inner Cristopher Columbus?! We, travel-lovers, are all explorers deep inside… Aren´t we?!