travel

Portugal Holiday Destination: Algarve

A mini guide to the Algarve, one of the best holiday destinations in Portugal. Read about Praia da Rocha, the best places to eat in Portimao and day trips across the Algarve coastline (Alvor and Carvoeiro).

The Algarve – Best Places to Stay

I love the Algarve in Portugal, it’s truly mesmerizing. The views of the coast line are second to none. But it’s not just the landscape that’ll be imprinted in your mind. The Algarve has a warm soul, and you’ll find that in the local people you interact with and in the Portuguese culture.

If you’re wondering where to stay in the Algarve, you should know you’re spoilt for choice! This is my second time over for a summer holiday, and there’s still plenty more to discover. I’ve travelled to Lagos, Albufeira and most recently Portimão, Alvor and Carvoeiro. All are accessible from Faro airport, the Algarve airport. This time round we flew with British Airways and opted for a beach hotel, located just a few minutes walk from the best beach in Portimão, Praia da Rocha.

Portimao Beach Hotel – Hotel da Rocha

Hotel da Rocha is one of the best beach hotels in Portimão. The staff were incredibly hospitable and the rooms, impeccable. The inclusive breakfast buffet catered for all tastes – fresh fruits and vegetables, cereal and granola, eggs 3 ways, bacon and sausages, hams and cheeses, tea and coffee, pastries and a lot of bread options! Hotel facilities included a gym, which mainly consisted of treadmills and weights, enough to get a good workout in. The location was perfect, more or less on the Rocha beach front with scenic views! It’s sat on a street lined with shops, cafes and restaurants and is also walking distance to the marina.

Portimão Marina

Places to Eat in Portimão

In Portimao you’ll find a lot of typical Algarve food in the form of local cuisine (sardines are the speciality) and some alternatives. I have two favourite food spots in Portimao which I found to be exceptional. If you’re vegetarian or vegan you will absolutely love Natural Mente café for an amazing brunch or lunch. It’s run by two lovely women who serve delicious food, from acai bowls and vegan burgers, to fresh salads and juices. Alternatively, for fresh seafood sourced locally, I highly recommend restaurant Squash. It has the feel of a family-run restaurant and a relaxed atmosphere, making for a highly enjoyable evening.

Natural Mente
Natural Mente
Natural Mente

Portimão Attractions – Praia da Rocha and Portimao Shopping

One of the best beaches in the Algarve is Praia da Rocha. It features a beautiful sandy beach and stunning rock formations, which the Algarve is famous for. For a true Algarve experience, join an excursion where you’ll get to explore the caves and witness the coastline’s true beauty. Alternatively, if you’re happier on land and in need of some retail therapy, be sure to visit the Aqua Portimão Shopping Centre. You’ll find H&M, Sephora, Intimissi, Mango, Tezenis, Stradivarius, Parfois and many more stores and restaurants.

Algarve Day Trips – On the Road

Alvor, Must-see Old Town – Alvor is a small fishing village just a 10-minute drive from Portimao. Despite being so close, it’s a completely different spot to experience in the Algarve. It has so much character with much of the old town remaining, leaving you with a feeling of being transported into a different time. I loved walking through the cobbled streets, admiring the enchanting walled tiles and small shops with local goods. It is rather touristic, however, it has a calm ambience about it, especially when compared to fellow Algarve town Albufeira. The area is charming and of course, also has plenty of delightful restaurants to choose from.

Carvoeiro, Best Restaurant – Carvoeiro is located on the other side of the Arade River (Rio Arade) to Portimao, about 25 minutes by car. We headed over for dinner at Villa Medici Restaurante. I had been looking for an authentic Italian restaurant and read great reviews about Villa Medici. It’s a quaint Italian restaurant with charismatic interiors. They provided great service and our pizza and pasta dishes were incredible, like true Italian food.

 

The Algarve Experience

Despite having already seen so much of the Algarve, I’ll definitely be going back. It’s a great location in the Mediterranean to embrace a slower pace, be at one with nature, appreciate the simple things, and be around good, remarkable people who treat you as their own.

 

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