The Algarve, Portugal

It was time to take a vacation from our vacation. We wanted to stay near a beach so we chose the Algarve, which is in southern Portugal on the Atlantic Ocean.

Transportation: We took a 2 hour bus ride from Seville to Faro Airport, which is a short distance across the border in Portugal. From the airport we rented a little VW Polo and drove the remaining 45 minutes west to arrive at our resort.

The bus station in Seville

Accommodation:

We wanted to treat ourselves to something nice, so after quite a bit of research and with a focus on a 5 star, ocean front resort we settled on 4 nights at the Blue & Green Vilalara Thalassa in the Algarve. We got a junior suite, which has a king size bed, a desk, a couch seating area and a nicely sized garden level balcony. We lucked into the end unit so no one walked past, we were far from the pool area and it had a very quiet and private atmosphere. The resort has 2 restaurants, 2 bar cafes, 6 pools and has sun beds and beach access below to Praia da Cova Redonda. Overall we were very happy with our little Algarve oasis.

Our patio with a table and a built-in couch. We sat out here often, enjoying the breeze and a glass (or two) of wine
View of the garden from our patio. We bought some wine at the grocery store to have during our stay and benefited from the verrrry low priced but darn good Portuguese wine. We’re talking 2-3 euro for a good red from the Duoro valley!
Andrew and I at dinner our second night at the Terrace Grill restaurant at the resort.
We ate at the Terrace Grill for the first three nights. Our first night was a theme night, which was a BBQ buffet. The other two nights it was off a menu and we got grilled fresh fish and vegetables.Overall the food at the resort was quite good and fresh.
The cliffside pool and the restaurants above the beach where we ate dinner and breakfast every day. Behind us is an ocean view!
View of the beach below the resort pool pictured above.
View of the beach from the pool.
The beach access path from our resort. That little shack on the left is a bar and cafe that is slow as molasses and we gave up on it despite its prime location!
View of our beach


Activities:

There truly isn’t much to do in this region besides sit on the beach, go to the resort gym, catch up on reading and relax. Which was fiiiiine for us 🙂

Interesting side note: Not much to see of historic significance because a lot was destroyed in the big 1755 earthquake off the coast of Portugal  (see link to learn more) that caused a massive tsunami and ruined a lot of their historical buildings 😦

On our second day we drove to the town of Lagos, about 35 minutes west, and scheduled to take a 4 hour cruise on a catamaran of the coastline past the cliffs and sea caves. We anchored at a remote beach for a while and then went farther out into the ocean to see dolphins, which swam right along with the boat for a bit. It was a nice way to get to see the cliffs and sea caves while relaxing on the boat.

A shot of the catamaran from our cruise trip
The famous Algarve cliffs and sea caves. Since our boat is so big we stayed farther out, but many people on little motorboats, SUP and kayaks were going into the caves. 

Andrew and I on the catamaran tour

Monday August 1 was Andrew’s 27th birthday. We woke up early at sunrise (that crazy birthday boy’s choice) to have coffee on the beach.

Birthday boy on the beach
Sunrise on the beach
Before dinner on Andrew’s birthday. We couldn’t find someone to take our picture so had to take one ourselves!
I managed to surprise Andrew by arranging ahead of time to get him a birthday cake and to have them bring it out with candles. There was a singer that night and the servers got them to sing Happy Birthday in Portuguese!

1st Impressions of Portugal:

Upon driving into the South of Portugal, the terrain was still very arid. There were plenty of olive groves and that is about the only thing we saw growing. The weather when we drove into the resort was cloudy and cooler (in comparison to 100 in Spain!) but for the other days it was 100% sunny. It was very nice and comfortable in the 80s our first two full days with a nice breeze off the coast and on Andrew’s birthday it heated up into the 90s. Couldn’t ask for better! Most of the people we encountered were from the UK, Spain or Portugal. I don’t think we heard any Americans.

The roads were okay but not that well-kept especially when off the freeways. It was also notably poorer with lots of unfinished construction, some ramshackle looking housing and several stores had some very serious fencing that were clearly to prevent theft. Of course once we got on the resort it was fine but interesting to see what the surrounding area is like. So far I cannot say we know too much about the Portuguese people or food since we were on a resort, but but we’ll get more into the culture and history with the rest of our trip once we head north to Lisbon.

Overall, we had an awesome time hanging on the beaches in Portugal and I totally understand why it is so popular to visit the Algarve. The beach, the weather, the relaxed approach that everyone is taking to their time there made it a memorable stop on our 4 week trip. Next up: LISBON!

 

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