5th March, 2018
Post our mini vacation at London & Oxford, our much awaited trip to Portugal commenced !
Sequence of Cities
After a lot of research, we figured that Lisbon being the main hub for international flights, it was easier to take a departure flight from there. Thus we suggest, start with Lagos / Porto and end at Lisbon as you will be most likely will be taking the exit flight from Lisbon.
The Algarve has several cities, towns and villages: the region’s capital is the city of Faro, while other cities include Albufeira, Lagos, Tavira, Vila Real de Santo António, etc. in addition to various summer retreats such as Vilamoura, Praia da Rocha, Sagres, etc
Algarve is Portugal’s most popular tourist destination with breathtaking cliffs, sandy islands and delicious food. Its golden beaches with awe-inspiring rock formations and scalloped bays made it a coveted destination among ocean lovers, water-sport fans and even foodies.
MIRINDA suggests ! – We would say don’t do more than 3 days in Algarve. You will cover everything easily. And don’t stay on a Sunday in Lagos, apparently everything is closed in Lagos on Sunday.
We decided on going to two main tourist spots – Lagos, Albufeira & Sunset trip to Sagres.
MIRINDA Suggests ! – I would recommend 1-2 days in Lagos and 1-2 days in Albufeira; Lagos and Albufeira are both very small towns in Southern Portugal. However, Lagos is quite laid back and flushed with middle aged tourists, Albufeira is noisy and loud, full of young people from UK.
Deciding on what are the Top Things To Do in Algarve, Portugal might be quite an overwhelming task, thus we have prepared for you a brief list of our favourites here…
Boat trip from Lagos to Praia da Marinha
Often referred to as one of the top beaches in Portugal, it is certainly the best beach in Algarve.
MIRINDA suggests ! – A boat trip here is a must, you won’t be disappointed. While cruising the waters you’ll discover some impressive caves that are great for a bit of adventurous exploration and diving.
Having said that, it is definitely something that you don’t want to miss when visiting. Despite being a top recommendation of things to do in Algarve, Praia da Marinha is surprisingly quieter than most of the other beaches in Algarve. This makes the experience of visiting this gem even better as you snorkel through it’s clear waters.
The cliffs surrounding the beach also present an outstanding walking trail and opportunities for countless breath-taking views of crystal clear turquoise water and magnificent landscape views.
Sunset @ St. Vincent’s Lighthouse, Sagres
Being the southwestern most point in Portugal, it’s a natural magnet for tourists. Allegedly the point from which Columbus set sail but at sunset it doesn’t matter!
MIRINDA suggests ! – We would not suggest doing a full day trip here – While the view across the cliffs is rewarding (which for sure you must not miss at Sunset), the place itself doesn’t have a great deal to offer.
MIRINDA suggests ! – Wear sturdy shoes. And be aware that the cliffs are high and there are no guard rails if you plan on taking children or grandchildren. Pack a picnic (and a bottle of wine) and enjoy the show.
Praia do Camilo, Lagos
Praia do Camilo is a little off the beaten path as it is located Southwest of Lagos and in contrary to most beaches in the Algarve Praia do Camilo is facing East.
Therefore this place is the ultimate sunrise beach.
MIRINDA fun facts ! – Unfortunately it is not allowed to camp here or stay in your camper-van on the parking lot, but there are loads of opportunities within just a couple minutes drive, so you are perfectly in time for the sunrise.
Mornings are obviously best at this little tourist spot. You can only reach the sand if you take the almost 200 steps down the huge staircase, which is totally worth it !
MIRINDA fun facts ! – The beach itself is only about 80 meters long but there is a tunnel carved out in the rocks that will lead you to another hidden beach.
Albufeira is the largest, liveliest and most energetic of all of the resort towns in the Algarve. Within the charming and historic streets of the “Old Town” there are over one hundred different restaurants and bars, while the nightlife scene is vibrant and social, and continues late into the night. “The Strip”, a street crammed with bars and clubs is the place to be for drinking and partying.
MIRINDA fun facts ! – Lagos has great beaches and is know for its cheap water sports, great food and some very nice pubs. Albufeira is known for its “Strip”, which is the party street filled with all kinds of pubs/discs. You will most likely find a lot of bachelor and hen parties.
MIRINDA suggests ! – Albufeira is just one hour from Lagos by car. So even if you feel like going there for few drinks and coming back, it is very much possible. Just order and Uber and enjoy the journey.
Where to Stay ?
After a lot of research and options to stay either at Lagos , Albufeira , Faro – We decided on staying at Lagos. The main reason being, most of the attractions are at Lagos and if you have rented a car (which we would strong suggest you to) all the other places are at a drive able distance.
MIRINDA fun facts ! – Uber is also easily available at Lagos – which does not making drinking and driving at night a big problem.
Airbnb across Portugal is very reliable and has plenty of options. It is quite cheap too. Just book a nice apartment with good reviews and you will be set.
Some people prefer hostels too. There are some good ones which offer a good deal for money. Check the reviews on trip advisor.
Eating out at the Algarve
Algarve being a highly dense tourist place, you will find all kind of food here. From Indian, Italian , Mexican, etc. But we would strongly recommend you try the local Portuguese delicacies & the yummy gelatos here.
Chicken (“frango”) dishes are also popular in Algarve restaurants and you will frequently see chicken piri-piri (“frango piri-piri”) on a menu. Other Algarve specialties include “Feijoada”, a thick bean stew with pork, bacon and sausage which originally came from Brazil and “Cataplana”, a dish of Moorish influence which uses a clam shaped copper pan to cook clams, or a mix of fish and seafood, with spicy sausage, tomatoes, wine, garlic and herbs.
MIRINDA fun facts ! – As the locals say it : Starters – “Entradas” , Main Courses – ” Pratos” , Desserts – “Sobremesas”
A few of our favourite places in the Algarve for food were :
- Casa De Prego, Lagos – This place had amazing reviews thus we decided to go check it out ! I must say please do visit if you are in Lagos even for half a day !!! Order some tapas, sit on the terrace and sip some wine while listening to some great music and fun card games with your friends and family.
O’Neils Irish Bar, Lagos – Football is big in Portugal and this is the place to be in Lagos to catch some football action with fans all over the world.
- Café Gil Eanes, Lagos (For Breakfast) – This place is located on one of the squares. Its open to air and serves some good hearty breakfast options with free street music ! We recommend going to this place more for the ambience than the food.
Senhor Frogs, Albufeira – Known for its pizzas (do not confuse with the other touristic clip joint by the same name), we would strongly recommend to try the lasagna here as well along with some mouth watering pizzas – without a doubt this was by far the best pizza in Algarve.
- Iguana Cafe, Albufeira – This place has an amazing terrace patio view overlooking the ocean. We enjoyed the cheese platter, salads, burgers and a large jug of Sangria 🙂 Loved the view and ambience.
- Restaurante dos Artistas, Lagos – This restaurant was very expensive as compared to other places in the Algarve. The presentation of food, etc was pretty good but there are many more good restaurants in Lagos. If you are looking for a fine dine experience then you should check out this place.
Drinks at the Algarve
Alcohol in general tends to be very reasonably priced in the Algarve (in fact, probably considered cheap compared to most countries), with bottles of wine from as little as 1€ in the supermarkets! The prices of drinks in bars and restaurants can be very reasonable, a glass of wine €1.20 to €2, spirits (normally good sized measures) about €3 and small draft beers from €1 to €1.50, however they can also be a bit extortionate, especially in popular bars in tourist season, up to €6 for a spirit and mixer.
MIRINDA fun facts ! – As the locals say it : Wine – “Vinho” , Beer – “Cerveja” , Port – “Aguardente” & Spirits – “Medronho”
- Wine “Vinho” – The ‘house’ wine (“vinho da casa”) in white (“branco”) and red (“tinto”) is nearly always a local Portuguese wine and good value. You can also opt for “vinho verde” which is a young ‘green’ wine, slightly sparkling, light and refreshing and goes very well with fish and chicken dishes, or rosé – Mateus rosé being the best known.
- Beer “Cerveja” – If you prefer to drink beer, there are really just three national brands that you will become familiar with: “Sagres” (named after the Algarve’s Sagres, but it isn’t produced there), “Super Bock” and “Cristal”. You will also find, a number of imported beers and lagers that you are used to drinking at home, but these may be a little more expensive. If you are ordering draft beer, then ask for “um imperial” if you would like a regular glass and “uma caneca” if you would like half a litre.
- Port “Aguardente” & Spirits “Medronho” – The Algarve is also famous for its spirits – there are two main ones to look out for when you come, “Aguardente” and “Medronho”, but be warned, for both you need to have a very sturdy palette! Aguardente is a rough Portuguese brandy, which is guaranteed to warm your cockles, with a throat-burning sensation turning to warmth in your stomach. Medronho (or ‘fire water’ as it is perhaps better known) is made from the strawberry like fruit of the arbutus and can literally bring tears to your eyes as you sip it. It is said that this potent spirit can knock grown men off their legs after one too many!
MIRINDA suggests ! – After your meal you should try a glass of port, Portugal’s best known drink. Produced from a blend of wines, port is available in ‘ruby’ (a young and full-bodied sweet port), ‘tawny’ (a lighter port, best served chilled) and ‘white’ (which is dry and better served over ice as an aperitif).
Post two days full of adventure & crazy parties… we continued our road trip to Porto.. 6 hours drive
Coming up next… Road trip to Porto, Portugal !
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