Who hasn’t heard of those paradise beaches in Algarve? All shades of blue, stunning rock cliffs, bracing air, furious waves & surfing fun, delicious seafood… 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! So here’s what you can´t miss…
Our brief visit to Algarve, was a part of our trip to Andalusia, the Southern Province of Spain. And I should say I’ve had really high expectations for the Portuguese cost. Two days we spent in Algarve was definitely not enough to see everything in the area. However, most of the tourists see Algarve as a “beach destination” anyway and don’t do much siteseeing in the area.
Nevertheless, in my case – two days were enough to create a first impression of the Algarve coast. And first of all, it´s way more touristic than I’ve ever expected. I haven’t heard a word in Portuguese – felt like it was an English speaking country. 90% of hotels were fully booked months before our trip (the first week of April). And even though it was mostly sunny – it´s still not quite this perfect “beach weather”, especially by the ocean. Can’t imagine the summer months there…
On the other hand, even if you’re not a beach lover – the views of ocean waves crushing against crumbling cliffs are absolutely worth seeing. However, I should admit – it impressed me less than similar landscapes in Iceland . I guess traveling across the globe and visiting so many wonderful places on this planet made me picky. [lol]
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. There are some gorgeous places to visit nearby, like Benagil Caves, Marinha Beach, Algar Seco, but we decided to stop there on our way back to Spain… Therefore, after having a lunch in Carvoeiro, we headed to Sagres.
The Carvoeiro Beach
2. Sagres / Cape St. Vincent
Cape St.Vincent has the most amazing views of the ocean. Some people also visit the Sagres Fortress nearby, but we had no time for both: we opted for the Cape St.Vincent. There was no entrance fee, but you could simply stop at any moment on the road and walk your way towards the cliffs – the landscapes would be stunning everywhere. If we had more time – we´d probably hike around the area. You could see cars parked every 100 m. And by the way, if you love artisan pottery – there are several cute shops on the road near Sagres. All these ceramic decoration pieces and tiles reminded me of my trip to Lisbon.
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. Our hotel had lovely views. We enjoyed a nice walk on the beach and had a great dinner in 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 Marinha Beach. It is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and this place has met my expectations. 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 the white sands and the sounds of ocean…
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 an 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. It´s a really nice small village, often overlooked by tourists. From the cathedral you could get some really great 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. We had an amazing lunch in Santa Luzia, a village famous for the octopus dishes. Afterwards, we headed to the Spanish city of Huelva, which was never on my bucket list and had surprised me a lot – but all the details in the next week´s post…