After spending a few days in Alentejo, we drove to the southernmost region of Portugal called, Algarve, known for its beaches. Algarve was majestic yet mystical – perfect for those who want to spend their travel days along the ocean. Portugal has been “trending” in the past few years and we’ve all seen the images of the beaches and rocky cliffs on social media but if there’s one thing I know for sure, is that those images don’t do it justice. When we arrived, I seriously couldn’t decide what beach was more beautiful because just when we thought we’ve seen it all – we continued finding even more stunning pockets of hidden sand.
Our days felt so easy – and if it makes any sense, the region connects you to the natural elements and makes for the most perfect chill vacation. You’ll spend your day’s beach hopping from one insanely beautiful beach to the next, eating fresh seafood, and sailing. Even though the coast is lined with resorts popping up everywhere, the region still feels genuine and calm – and I think that’s what I loved the most about this area. In Europe, you have so many glamorous coastal towns but Algarve maintains its roots in the authentic Portuguese way of life.
Pine Cliffs Resort – This is where we stayed and we loved our experience! This Starwood luxury collection hotel on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean had it all – a ton of dining options, a golf course, unspoiled beaches and an entire calendar filled with activities for children and teens. Thomas and I kept joking that this is where we would come for family trips because it was upscale yet was catered for families. I want to be clear that the property is so large that you always felt like you had it all to yourself which is pretty unique for a resort that draws in families. Oh and some rates included breakfast – don’t miss out on that because the breakfast options are endless and totally worth the few extra dollars!
Casa Mae – A low key boutique hotel in Lagos – think beach chic! This property is super cute and thoughtfully decorated with Portuguese craftsmanship.
Vila Monte – Another beautiful property we heard great things about. The hotel does not sit on a beach but seems like they make it very easy for you to get to one!
Eat / Drink
Casa do Polvo Tasquinha – Octopus is a big deal in the coast – Thomas and I practically ate Octopus every single day – this spot was voted the best octopus in all of Algarve – go try it and report back, folks!
Restaurante a Barrigada – Super casual restaurant near the port in Lagos but oh so good! We went here after our boat ride because our boat “captain” suggested it! Everything was super fresh and the wine selection was awesome – all at a very low price.
Mare @ Pine Cliffs – Even if you’re not staying on the property, I’d say check it out anyway because the food was great. The walk alone is worth the meal – talk about crazy views! This is also where Thomas and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! 🙂
Mar d’Estórias – Did anyone say rooftop drinks? A local fave for casual drinks and views.
Adega Vila Lisa – An adorable local restaurant with a story. The founder of this restaurant started making meals for friends and became so popular that it turned into a restaurant! He now serves dinner daily during the summer months – he’s also a painter so if you’re lucky, you can purchase the paintings right from the restaurant. Note: No menu – be sure to make reservations.
Rei Das Praias – Picturesque and sits on a small beach – order the catch of the day at this beachside restaurant – and be ready to take in the views.
Gigi Praia – We didn’t go here but boy am I adding it to my list for our next trip! Gigi’s is a hidden gem, but for those in the know, it is the ultimate lunch experience. Apparently, the restaurant lies between the sea and the Ria Formosa reserve; the only way to reach it is via one of Europe’s longest wooden footbridges. This super local restaurant is only available for lunch and reservations are a must – click the link for more info.
Beach, Beach and more Beach – I mean why else would you go to Algarve if it wasn’t for the epic beaches?! I have to tell you that you can’t really go wrong with any of them but here were our favorites: Praia de Marinha, Praia de Falesia, and Praia de Camilo.
Most of the beaches were accessible by foot but be warned that after you park the car, you then have to go down steep staircases – we saw plenty of families with young children so it’s def. doable.
Sailing – One of our favorite days in Algarve was when we rented a private sailboat with a few friends! We spent the day sailing from Lagos, drinking wine and taking in the beautiful scenery. I think this is especially a good idea when you don’t have that many days to hop around by foot so sailing could give you the opportunity to see more areas that you wouldn’t otherwise. Click here for sailing options.
Cave Tour – This is definitely a must – the only way you can explore all the caves – especially, the Benagil caves (pictured, below)! 🙂
When to go? This area of Portugal is known for the best climate – If you want to avoid the crowds than May or September might be the best time but for the perfect beach weather, June, July or August are ideal.
Looking for a quieter undiscovered area? Explore Sagres or Ria Formosa for unspoiled beaches and quaint towns!