The Algarve, Portugal

I’ve always wanted to visit The Algarve and it did not disappoint. We travelled between Christmas and New Year! It was lovely to leave a cold and raining London Gatwick and to arrive in Faro where the sunshine greeted us warmly!

We arrived in Faro airport, it was fabulous flying over the Atlantic Ocean and seeing the glorious sandy beaches of The Algarve and seeing the marina at Villamoura.

We had a private transfer to our hotel which was about 60km west of Faro to outside Portimao. We stayed at the Penina Hotel and Golf resort, Penina Hotel & Golf Resort | Luxury Golf Resort Algarve. It was fabulous, we had a wonderful balcony looking over the pool and the championship golf courses and gardens. There are tennis courts and a driving range. The hotel was a 5* hotel and the staff were lovely and helpful, the rooms were airy, clean and the breakfasts were amazing! Our balcony was fabulous to sit out on and take in the sunshine and watch the golfers teeing off. We had amazing breakfasts which included plentiful fresh fruit, continental, cooked breakfasts, omelettes cooked to order, freshly made Portuguese custard tarts called patelnatas, pastries, local bread etc. We had asked about the local buses which were non existent perhaps due to the seasonal time so we used Uber to get around. It was great using Uber to get to nearby places and we saved time waiting for buses.

We were only a few miles from Alvor which is a fabulous town, there is a harbour there with lovely cafes and bars where you can watch the world go and take in the scenery. There is a wonderful nature reserve with ample information about the local flora and fauna. There is a boardwalk which is a 4km walk , it’s good for all ages, buggies and wheelchairs which takes you to the beach Praia Alvor,

The beach is out of this world and the sand is so soft, it was wonderful walking along barefoot along the beach and dipping the feet into the Atlantic Ocean, it was rather cold due to the time of year. The beach was wonderful and the lapping of the ocean was so relaxing. You can do activities such as parasailing and kites from a nearby airfield and you can land on the beach. When we were walking along, I counted three jellyfish on the beach! There are some restaurants off the boardwalk which we found, they are open all year round.

We visited Restaurante 5 Quinas which is a family owned restaurant, the staff are so lovely. The menu is extensive and the seabass is amazing. They have fish of the day and the Portuguese wine list is extensive. We sat outside which was lovely and we enjoyed it so much we went back again! We had spaghetti with the best prawns and clams I’ve ever had. We had a mozzarella, tomato salad to share and the almond cake we had for pudding was out of this world!

There are some small shops in Alvor, a good wine shop called Soares and the intermarche supermarket is great to for supplies . I could imagine it is a packed resort in the Summer time and there are a few Irish pubs too. We visited the church in Alvor which has some interesting tiles too!

We went to Lagos by Uber and explored the town, there were cobbled streets which reminded me of Dubrovnik, plenty of shops selling souvenirs, cafes and restaurants. There is the old town. Lagos has some history from the slave trade and I found a piece of street art which was by the Fort. It was a great reference to it’s history and was moving too.

We went to the beach where we were surrounded by huge yellow boulders and explored the view. There were boat trips going to the caves if you are inclined, it is wise to buy tickets from the Lagos marina where there are ample firms with stands. The people are friendly and not intruding . We walked along the promenade and took in the sights in the sunshine and then went to marina for lunch. We stopped at Lazy Jacks and shared fresh mussels in a garlic sauce, it was absolutely divine and we had garlic breads to absorb the sauce, the mussels were the best I’ve ever had. We had a lovely view opposite the marina and had some Portuguese wine.

We visited Praia de Rocha, which is a popular tourist resort. You’ll note the photograph below with the red rock, that is where Rocha gets it’s name. Praia de Rocha is vast and it is very built up there with blocks of flats and is ideal for families with young children and for young people. It is a tourist destination.

We walked to the top of the hill and took in the vista and then walked to Praia Dos TrĂªs Castelos. I preferred this beach more.This beach was beautiful, lovely boulders, soft sand and we had the beach to ourselves. I dipped my toes in and got drenched as the tide came in too quickly, luckily I could dry off in the sunshine!. You could tell Praia de Rocha is a tourist destination and is geared up for it but I wasn’t keen on the feel of it and preferred Alvor!

We went to a fishing village called Ferragudo which was disappointing, it was rather grim, we didn’t stay there long. In days go by I am sure it was charming but there wasn’t a great feel and we ordered our Uber quick.

It was sad as just over the bridge is bustling Portimao!

Portimao where there is a huge marina with yachts and charters. My cousin’s friends own a business there and you can charter a yacht, check them out! Sailing Yacht Charters – Portiate. When I get more time, I hope to go back and charter a yacht with my friends.

We spent five days there and we had the best time, lots to do and see and this wasn’t peak time. I would imagine it is very busy in peak season, that’s why it’s good to visit off-peak. We were so lucky with the weather too!

I definitely recommend you visit The Algarve, there is so much to do. The Algarve has extensive places to visit with it’s own charm. The seafood is out of this world as are the Portuguese wines. There are lots of things to do, you can get boat trips, you can fish, parasail, play golf, sunbathe and got o the beach. The people are lovely and warm and I can’t wait to go back and explore some more. It is laidback and inexpensive, it depends where you go!

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