The Astonishing Algarve, Portugal

Wannabe surfers

Before moving to Spain, I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to make a point to visit Portugal and Morocco.

Well, we still haven’t made it to Morocco, but we were able to make it to our neighbor to the west a handful of times including Lisbon, Porto, and most recently The Astonishing Algarve coastline.

tl;dr

The Algarve

Let me just get this out of the way:  Portugal is awesome.  I’ve had nothing but great experiences in this country.

For this particular trip, we decided on a couple week tour of The Algarve – the southernmost tip.  This part of the country is best known for its cliffs overlooking endless coves that shelter sandy beaches.

In an attempt to be able to visit just about every nook and cranny of this area, we chose to setup two different home bases.  One on the south coast.  Another on the western coast where friends would visit.

1.  Carvoeiro

Our first stay was based in this typical white-washed beach town.  We chose to discover most of the area west of the capital in this region, Faro (which has the nearest international airport).

One of hundreds of coves you can stumble upon in this area

Frankly, I really didn’t take any photos of the towns which were all perfectly quaint and nice.  But let’s face it, the main reason to visit this area is to see the coastline.

This location put us within day-trip distance from a bunch of awesome coves and a few of the other cities like Lagos and Sagres.  The latter being the gateway to the most westerly point of mainland Europe.

English is really prevalent – maybe even more so than in Spain – so it makes getting around even easier if you don’t know the local language.

One of our hosts suggested this was the case because there just aren’t as many Hollywood movies dubbed in Portuguese when compared to Spanish so they are accustomed to picking up English via TV shows and movies that way.  I don’t know if this is the case, but it kind of makes sense when most things are simply subtitled on top of the original language.

Sunsets on this side of the continent remind me of those in California or the west coast of Florida – always out over the ocean horizon.

First class sunsets are found in the Algarve

2.  Aljezur

Our second home base was a country house just outside the small town of Aljezur along the west coast.  This location gave us access to some more amazing coves, beaches, and areas to take some surfing lessons.

Wind sports and surfing rule the waves.

Protecting the western coastline of The Algarve is a Natural (National?) Park so it is very underdeveloped and quite wild.

It makes for some dramatic landscapes.

A steep street leads down to the beach

We stumbled upon one town that billed itself a good place for beginner surfers so we had to give ita try.  Being my first time, I have a new appreciation for the sport.  Real surfers make it look so easy.  I found it to be difficult and exhausting.  It takes a feel of balance and timing that I just seemed to lack.

The instructors had their hands full with this group of beginners.

We liked it so much, however, we went back the next day for more punishment.  I’ll let you judge from the embedded video above how we did.

The food in this region is delicious.  Lots of seafood, as you can imagine, but also grilled meats and fresh tropical fruits and vegetables.

Cataplana (Portuguese fish stew)

Summary

I’d highly recommend a visit to this area if you’re ever craving wild, industry-free beaches.  We visited at high time in July and it didn’t feel overwhelming at all.  There are just so many little coves to choose from that it makes it difficult to run into large hordes of people.

I have no idea what this area is like in the dead of winter, but outside of December through February, I’d imagine it be to pretty comfortable temperature wise.

Where are the hordes?

What more could you ask for?  Unspoiled beaches with fine buttery sand, vivid sunsets, fresh food, and good macro-brewed beer – the most popular options being Super Bock and Sagres.  The biggest downside (or upside depending on your perspective) is that some of the un-sheltered coastline can get really windy and make for a raucous day at the beach. 

4 thoughts on “The Astonishing Algarve, Portugal”

  1. I never really had the urge to visit Portugal, but maybe Spain.. However, your pictures have changed my mind. There’s something about the coastlines that just grab me. I must spend some time in Portugal, admiring the coastal beauty….. 😀

    1. Well if coastlines is what you are looking for, you can’t go wrong on the Iberian peninsula! I prefer the coasts along the Atlantic better than much of what I’ve seen along the Med – with the area around Cabo de Gata (east of Almería) being an exception.

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