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3 DAYS IN THE ALGARVE

Exploring the beauty of the Portugal coastline across 3 days

Algarve coast


Why the Algarve?


The Algarve is well-known for it's mix of clear blue waters, vibrant resorts, quiet towns and seafaring history. It's natural beauty and great climate are what attract most as the contrast of the orangey rocks against the blue water is a sight to behold. There is something for everyone whether you prefer an all-inclusive resort where you can bake in the sun, have a party atmosphere or visit a tranquil town steeped in history.


We flew from Newcastle to Faro with Jet2 which took just over 3 hours. We then rented a car from Faro airport for the remainder of the trip. Note that although some rental companies will say 'in terminal' pick up, it isn't and you may still have a 5 minute walk to reach the outdoor kiosks of the rental companies.


Sagres


It was a 1 hour and 20 minute drive to Sagres. Sagres is one of the most remote regions in Portugal found on the Western tip. It is particularly popular with surfers due to the high winds but there is also a lot of history to learn about with a fortress and lighthouse a walkable distance from the centre. Despite the laid-back vibe and feeling as though you have the place to yourselves, this little town comes alive at night with a number of modern, trendy bars and restaurants to enjoy.



What to do in Sagres


  • Foraleza Sagres - the main attraction in Sagres

  • Ponta de Sagres lighthouse

  • Walk along the coast

  • Take a surfing lesson or rent a board

  • Take a boat trip to see dolphins or the many caves only accessible by boat

  • Cabo de São Vicente - the end of the world, 10 minute drive from Sagres


Where to eat in Sagres


There are a number of modern and trendy bars and restaurants in Sagres but also some tradition restaurants serving fresh seafood depending on your preferences. Here are a few of our recommendations for your stay:


  • Vila Vehla - traditional Portuguese food

  • Three Little Birds - a trendy burger restaurant

  • A Tasca - a fish restaurant overlooking the coast

  • Chiringuito Praia de Mareta - a beautiful beach bar

  • Laundry lounge - an actual launderette serving asian-style food

  • Arte Bianca - pizzeria serving Italian pizza

Where to stay - Memmo Baleeira


We stayed at Memmo Baleeira which is a 4-star hotel in Sagres located oon the coast boasting beautiful views of the beaches below. This hotel offers a relaxing place to return to after your busy day exploring Sagres and the Algarve. It truly feels like a retreat with a high-quality restaurant and bar on site, spa facilities and an indoor and outdoor pool, it's own yoga room where you can indulge in classes most days of the week, a kids room and outdoor play area and much more. There are 145 rooms including family-friendly suites with views over the sea and harbour. In your room you will have all the amenities you require and the housekeeping staff will ensure your room is spic and span everyday.



The breakfast offering is vast including yogurts, cereals, fruit, cooked options on the buffet including Portuguese delicacies such as cheese bread balls, pastries (even Pastel de Natas!) and hot dishes you can request such as fried eggs and omelettes. You could spend a good hour at breakfast sampling everything on offer and relaxing in the vast dining hall.


We travelled with our baby girl who was 9 months old and Sophie's parents. We took advantage of the kids room where our daughter could play with different toys and crawl around. Each night we used the lounge area where we got a glass of wine from the bar and played cards in the comfortable seating area. You can also have dinner at the hotel in the Fornaria restaurant offers Mediterranean dishes.



We particularly loved the memory wall which you will find the left of the notice board in the lobby. Here are pictures of previous guests which the hotel have displayed on canvas and it just shows how much Memmo appreciate each and every guest and strive to enjoy they have a fabulous holiday. In this room there is also a microwave which is available to all guests for heating up baby food or milk.


Sophie took advantage of the yoga class on offer and attending one which cost a very reasonable 12 euros. It was a class available to all but also adaptations available for those who are slightly more familiar with the yoga practice. The yoga room looks out to sea and a yoga class with the beautiful coastal view is the perfect way to start your morning.


Yoga room and view

We would 100% recommend staying in this hotel during your trip to the Algarve and even looking after a baby, we still felt refreshed and replenished after staying in this tranquil, relaxing hotel.


Cabrita wines


Cabrita winery is located a 1 hour drive from Memmo Baleeira and a 15 minute drive from the start of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (which is an Algarve must and one we will get onto next!). This family run winery has been in operation for half a century. They use traditional grape varieties from the Algarve and in 2007 the first wine with the Cabrita brand was born. The popularity of the wine quickly grew and the demand meant that the owner had to acquire two more vineyards, this is when he also set up the tasting room and invited the public to come and taste the wines.


The wine tasting experience starts in the vineyard where you can see where the grapes grow and learn about how they are kept and preserved to create the wines. Your guide then takes you inside to see the wooden barrels where the wine is stored and how the wine is aged.



Now onto the best bit, tasting the wines. The tasting room is vast and beautifully decorated with views over the vineyards. You will receive a selection of meats, cheese and other snacks to compliment the wines including houmous, olives and breads. You will then taste a white, rose and red wine and have the opportunity to purchase any you like at a very reasonable price. We loved the white wine so took a bottle away for 10 euros. The tasting experience is 25 euros per person and is very good value for money.


The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail


The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is the must trail to complete when visiting the Algarve. It is famous for the rocks which change colour as the sun hit them from bright orange to dark copper and points of interest along the way such as Alfanzina lighthouse, and at the Benagil and Carvalho beaches.


Coast view

The trail runs from Praia da Marinha in the east to Praia de Vale Centeanes in the west. You can start the trail from either end but it is not a circular route. The trail takes around 3 hours in total but what we did (and many others do) is walk one way and then get a taxi back to where you started. It is only around 8 euros in a taxi and this will save your legs and mean you can have a few more drink stops on your hike at the panoramic bars.


Coast view algarve

The trail is not pram or wheelchair friendly so if you are travelling with a child then use a carrier. There were a few scrambling sections but nothing too strenuous or dangerous. If you are a competent hiker and have hiked with a child before then you should be fine but please take care.


Enjoy the incredible views of the coast as you meander your way from one beach to another.


On our way back we also stopped at Algar Seco which are fascinating rock formations in the town of Carvoeiro and definitely worth a visit.


Algar seco

Lagos - what to do and where to eat


Lagos is one of the, if not the most popular town in the Algarve for a multitude of reasons. It has the perfect combination of history, stunning beaches and great nightlife. You can spend your days visiting the old town and learning about the historic buildings such as Santo Antonio church and the Bandeira Fort and then spend your evenings along the lively strip of bars and restaurants. There are numerous beaches where you can pitch up and enjoy a day of sunbathing or walk along the coast.


We loved the Ponta de Piedade walk which is a boardwalk stretching the Lagos coastline. It is pram-friendly (with just a few steps to navigate) but the boardwalk makes it easy to manueovre the pram around and it is flat making for an easy stroll. You will see beautiful cliffs and natural formations along the way including the sea-arch which is a must-see photo spot. You can then walk all the back into Lagos old town to have lunch.



Lagos also has a zoo as well as plenty of boat trips to join such as the caves and grotto tour or the dolphin watching tour.


A few suggestions of places to eat are:


  • Tasca do Kiko - tapas and good steak

  • Padina Bakery

  • Quay Lagos - more English style dishes (pie and fish and chips)

  • Chico Ze - fish, spare ribs, chicken


We only touched on the Algarve over 3 days and there is so much more that we could have explored. We would recommend staying in Sagres if you are looking for a relaxing holiday and if you rent a car it is close enough to other main attractions where you can get a real taste of what the Algarve has to offer.





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