You know you are with the right travel companions when after a trip, no only you still talk to one another, your friendship strengthens.
To be honest our week-long trip to the Algarve and Alentejo wasn’t entirely incident free – First, on the day of the departure, our Airbnb host cancelled our accommondation; Then we smoked the clutch on our manual rental car at one of the longest bridges in Europe; Thirdly we encountered a wildfire outburst, as soon as we reached the Algarve, near Monchique, it burned all night long, even spread to Portimão; Finally, just as we thought it wouldn’t get any worse, we scratched the side of our car making a tight turn in the medieval street of Estremoz Castle – Thank you American Express Platnium card!
All of these aside, we had a BLAST!
This is my second time in the Algarve, instead of hopping from one beach to another, we “sunbathed” at some of our favourite beaches in the region, walked the coastal trails, had fantastic seafood, and simply spent time doing practically nothing.
Praia do Pinhão
This beach can be reached via a stone staircase from the clifftop. Although not far from Lagos, it is relatively quiet and peaceful.
It is worth mentioning that the water on this side of the Algarve is cold even at this time of the year. Keep in mind that this is the Atlantic, the same water all around Ireland, not the Mediterranean Sea. But that doesn’t prevent someone from having a refreshing swim, after a little cold shock of course.
While not in the water, I spent my time under our beach umbrella – which tended to fly away and hit other sunbathers, listening to an audiobook called You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and finding Lapas (limpets) off the nearby rocks – they make for a delicious meal when grilled or steamed.
For Lunch, we had fresh seafood at Adega da Marina, with fantastic clams in white wine, garlic prawns and grilled fish. It was here I had the best sangria and came face to face with an Algarvean dessert called Torta de Amendoa – its soft eggy center is perfectly balanced by the sweet nutty taste from the fresh local almonds. We also tried another regional dessert called Dom Rodrigo (bottom right picture), a conventual sweet named after captain general D. Rodrigo de Menezes of the Algarve. It is made of ground almond, sugar, water, cinnamon, egg yolks and egg strands, and almost always wrapped in aluminum foil.
Ponta da Piedade
In the afternoon, we walked the coastal trails around Ponta da Piedade
passing the Farol (Lighthouse)
to see the beautiful rock formations along the coast. Although the trail is mostly exposed, there’s a good amount of sea breeze to make the walk enjoyable.
Note: The steep stairs down to the water is absolutely worth the climb!
Praia da Marinha
The next day on our way to Tavira, we stopped at Praia da Marinha, voted one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe by Michelin Guide.
The trail on the top is part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, that goes 11 kilometers west to Praia da Val de Centeanes.
There’s a footpath to access the beach level.
Be careful on those calçadas – the Portuguese cobbled pavements, they are slippery even when dry.
As well as a restaurant and washroom facilities at the beach.
Our next airbnb stay is near Tavira so we drove on and arrvied at Olhão by early afternoon. We had delicious oysters, xarém – a flavoursome porridge made with corn flour, clams and bacon, cataplana and of course Torta de Amendoa at Tá Pronto.
After saying hi to our airbnb host
We went for a late afternoon swim and had DIY “algea spa” at Praia da Fuseta Ria,
before ordering the last fishes off a street-side charcoal grill at Cafe dos Mestres.
These are some of the freshest grilled fishes I’ve ever had – I feel like every time I say this, I will be presented with a better one just to prove me wrong. So I’ll keep saying 🙂 Oh that carob, fig and almond cake (bottom right) is absolutely delish. I’m not a fan of carob, but I would try figuring out how to make this cake.
These concludes our short sojourn in the sunny Algarve.
Praia do Camillo
In a previous trip, I’ve also visited Praia do Camillio, which I very much enjoyed
especially before sunset, when the lights keep changing.
Praia de Benagil
Near the above-mentioned Praia da Marinha, a short boat ride from Praia de Benagil to see the cave is also worth checking out.
And speaking of grilled fish, I recall a pleasant meal at Restaurante O Lourenço in the village of Salema while chatting with a lovely Brit couple, who’s retired and owns a B&B down the road.
That’s all I have from Algarve, Portugual.
Coming up next: Há Caracóis!