PORTUGAL TRAVEL GUIDE PART 1: ALGARVE

Hey guys!! I’m so excited to share all about our trip to Portugal with you! I had Portugal on my bucket list for a long time & last fall we were lucky enough to find flights for $480 round trip (TRULY!). I had been tracking them via the Hopper app for months & we just knew we had to jump on the opportunity. I was even more excited because we were going over my 28th birthday (April 9th). I figured going during off-season would be great because it would be cooler & way less crowded. We decided to spend the first half of the trip in the Algarve then the last few days in Lisbon. I had so many photos of the beautiful rocky cliffs & pristine beaches of the Algarve saved & couldn’t wait to see them in real life! I spent a lot of time planning our trip - researching the best places to stay (towns, neighborhoods, hotels, airbnbs, etc), things to do & see, & of course restaurants!

We flew from Charlotte to Dulles then direct to Lisbon. We took an overnight flight & got in around 10:30am, which due to being such a short flight (6 hrs 45 min) wasn’t the best situation, but we made the most of it. We rented a car from Sixt Rental Car at the Lisbon airport & drove down to the Algarve, a 2 hour drive. Before checking into our airbnb, we stopped at Docaria Almeixar for lunch. It was mainly a dessert/pastry shop, but had pretty good pizza & sandwiches. Then we checked into an airbnb in Albufeira, right on the edge of Old Town & The Strip. The airbnb was inside of a nice condo building & had the most incredible, breath-taking view. I chose Albufeira because it was central to all of the Algarve cities we wanted to check out. We were so tired from barely sleeping on the plane that we napped until dinner time & then headed out to Restaurant O Lusitano, one of the top places in Albufeira. It was nice & had good seafood. Not far away was Pozzetti Gelato so we stopped by after & it was really yummy!

Sunday morning we drove to Carvoeira & ate lunch at Earth Shop & Cafe, the cutest little restaurant & shop. We had the BEST breakfast burritos & cappuccinos. It was pouring rain which was a huge bummer because we were headed to Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful & well-known beaches in the area after lunch. We got out & started walking along the beach side trail & the rain stopped & the sun came out… it was magical. We drove back to Albufeira & walked around Old Town, through the tunnel on Rue 5 October (‘main street’) to “tunnel beach.” We stopped for coffee & apple pie at Downtown then walked to the Archaeological Museum but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. We walked down to Praia dos Pescadores then down through The Strip, a super loud, crazy area reminiscent of the Vegas Strip. Overall Albufeira is a super cute town with a lot of character. Sunday night we walked across the street to Dom Carlos Restaurante & had a 5 course set dinner. It was the CUTEST restaurant both on the outside & inside & every single course was delicious! I would highly recommend it & definitely make a reservation or show up right when they open (that’s what we did).

Monday morning we drove to Lagos (45 minutes from Albufeira) & stopped at Santo Amaro Cafe for croissants & cappuccinos. We drove down to Ponta da Piedade, the most beautiful sea cliffs. We walked along the pathway but didn’t stay long because of how windy & chilly it was. We drove up to Praia do Camilo & walked 150 steps down to the beach. The sun came out then & it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been on! After that, we decided to walk around the center of Lagos, stopped for lunch at Maharaja Tasty Indian (so good!), & grabbed gelato at Crema di Gelato (also SO yum). We drove back to Albufeira & walked around Old Town & The Strip again & stopped for tapas at Gran Via Tapas Bar. We had the best mini burgers & smoked salmon on toast + wine… I would definitely recommend this place for tapas! We grabbed a few bottles of Portugese wine at the cutest wine store, Baco. We went for a late dinner that night at Il Brigante, an Italian restaurant in Old Town, & I had the most delicious lasagna.

Tuesday morning (my birthday!) we drove to Portimao & had breakfast at Pasteiria Amande. I had purchased tickets in advance for a Benagil Sea Caves Boat Tour. It was 2 hour tour that was honestly one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Little did I know when I booked it, that the boat would be a hard bottom inflatable that only fit 10 people (8 of us + the guide & driver). The sea was SO rough & you honestly had to hold on for dear life to stay on the boat. They took us along the coast, going in & out of sea caves & checking out beautiful beaches & rocky cliffs. It really was beautiful & a great way to see the caves, but I would only recommend it if A) you enjoy roller coasters & B) you aren’t afraid of the ocean. After that experience, we stumbled upon the absolute cutest outdoor beach restaurant, No Solo Agua, in nearby Praia da Rocha. We had the most delicious chicken satay (we ordered another after finishing the first, it was so good), plus sushi & cocktails. After that we headed to Aqua Portimao, a huge shopping mall in the area. They had all of my favorite stores - Zara, H&M, Primark, Bershka, Pull&Bear, etc. So fun! We drove back to Albufeira & freshened up for dinner. We walked up to the top of the escalators that were a block from our airbnb, such a great view. We tried a dinner place that unfortunately didn’t have any availability so then we stumbled upon Restaurante Cais Velho, right on the beach. They had amazing paello (huge dish that we shared), mussels, & dessert (brownie & chocolate cake).

The next day we checked out of our airbnb & headed to Sintra & Lisbon, which I will continue with in the next post! I wanted to end this one with a list of must see/do/eat in the Algarve.

  • Albufeira:

    • Old Town

    • Miradouro do Pau da Bandeira (beautiful view of the beach/town)

    • Dom Carlos Restaurante (fancy dinner)

    • Il Brigante (dinner)

    • Gran Via Tapas Bar (snacks or dinner)

    • Restaurante Cais Velho (dinner)

  • CARVOEIRA:

    • Praia da Marinha

    • Earth Shop & Cafe

  • LAGOS:

    • Ponta da Piedade

    • Praia do Camilo

    • Old Town Square

    • Crema di Gelato

  • praia da rocha (near portimao):

    • No Solo Agua (brunch/lunch)

Hope you’ve enjoyed the trip recap so far & stay tuned for Part 2 (Sintra/Lisbon)!

P.S. In case you are interested, I also shared Everything I Packed for Portugal, where you can shop all of my outfits!

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