What to see in the Algarve? – part 1
Hi there! Weeks have passed by, and I noticed I haven’t written any posts during February. My initial plan was to write on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis, but honestly I have had very busy times at work, staring the laptop screen around 9 hours a day, and as you might guess, I wanted to enjoy the rest of my hours of the day offline and outside, especially now when I am here in Portugal. This month has gone by very fast, much faster than January, but I still feel very grateful to be able to spend one more month in here before heading back to Finland.
Before going into the topic of this post, I want to say something about the current situation in Ukraine. During the past two days I have been reading a lot in order to understand deeply, what actually is going on and why. I still have many questions and I have no words to explain how I feel towards all this. What I want to say is that please help if you can; donating is an easy and fast way to help people in the middle of the crisis. I know it isn’t much and it isn’t easy to have a big impact on this crazy situation, but if I can help even with a donation, I for sure want to do it; I donated to Unicef and it took me less than 1 minute. Also, what I see very essential during these times is to take care of ourselves and people around us. What we need in the middle of this situation is as much care and love as possible. Also, I personally noticed that once constantly reading the new updates regarding the crisis, it made me even more anxious and angry, and the hours I spent reading those news were directly cut off from my wellbeing. Of course, when processing a big thing like this, we are allowed to have strong and negative feelings, but at the same time it is important to take care of ourselves in the middle of all this. It is not selfish, but it is a necessity. That is why to me it feels even more meaningful to write a post right now; if I can even slightly make your day better with sharing some positive things, I am happy. Also, writing is a form of therapy for myself and this makes me feel better. I really encourage you to take some time for yourself and do whatever makes you feel better. And I really hope this post with its multiple pictures will bring at least a piece of positivity into your day.
That said, now I’m back and after these past weeks I have even more to write about, as I’ve seen many more places that I can recommend to you guys when visiting Algarve and Portugal. In this post, I am going to go through some of my favorite places to visit. I have divided this post into three parts. In this first part I will introduce Sagres & Lagos, Portimao, Rocha da Pena and Praia da Falesia.
Sagres & Lagos
Let’s start from the west, also known as the “end of the world”, as it is the most southeastern place in the mainland Europe. From Faro to Sagres, we talk about around 1,5hour drive, a bit more than 115 km distance. One thing that is very convenient in the Algarve, are the short distances between the different cities, so traveling by car is easy and convenient. We drove the road N125 in order to avoid the tollroad payments which need to be taken into consideration if you want to drive the A22 motorway. I recommend to use the N125 whenever possible, as the road is good and does not take much longer than taking the motorway. Plus when driving N125, you can see all those small villages between the bigger towns and stop for example to buy some fresh oranges by the road.
I would say Sagres is one of the “must see” places in the Algarve, mostly because of the beautiful views to the sea with its cliffs and waves. And not to mention it feels a bit special being at “the end of the world”. Also, it is a great place to stay for surfers. We visited Sagres on January, and even then we could see many surfers out there. The “Fortaleza de Sagres” where you can explore and see the fort of Sagres, is open every day (low season from 9:30 until 17:39, high season from 9:30 until 20) and you can park your car just in front of it. The entrance fee to the fort is 3€ but you can explore the surroundings for free, which is what we did when visiting. After enjoying the views, the sound of the waves and the sunny weather, we headed back and drove by the town of Sagres. We didn’t stop at the town, as our next destination was Lagos, where we planned to have lunch. When visiting Sagres I recommend to visit also Lagos during the same day, as they are located only 33km from each other. In Lagos, we stopped only to eat and saw a little bit of the center of the town and the walking boulevard by the port, where we stopped for lunch. As our visit in Lagos was relatively fast, I don’t have much more to recommend to see in Lagos, but it is definitely a place to go and explore!
Portimao & Praia da Rocha
Next, let’s go to Portimao. This is a place which has a feel of a “real” city with its modern, tall buildings and long walking promenade by Praia da Rocha, one of the biggest beaches in the western Algarve. Portimao is located 30minute drive from Lagos, and 50minutes drive from Faro; in the westerns side of the Algarve. We have visited the city twice, the first time was during the same day we visited Sagres and Lagos on our way back home to Quarteira. It was a beautiful day, and we parked our car near Praia da Rocha and walked by this long walking promenade with many cafés and restaurant with amazing sea views. We walked all the way to the beach, Praida da Rocha, and I could fast tell why this place is a great holiday destination; if you want to have a perfect beach holiday with multiple restaurants and activities, this is a good option. Also, during weekend in January the place was alive with many people enjoying the weather at the terraces. However, to my taste Portimao is not as authentic as some other cities in the Algarve, therefore I might not choose this city as my first option for a stay. But what I really recommend is to visit and spend a full day or weekend enjoying what this place has to offer!
Rocha da Pena
Next let’s go for a completely different destination, Rocha da Pena. This is a natural park located 40km northwest from Faro. If you want to do some hiking, this is a place worth visiting. We drove to Rocha da Pena on a Saturday, again on a beautiful and sunny but windy day. The hiking trail is around 2 hours, on top of the rocks with great views. It felt good to be in the middle of the nature and just enjoy the views peacefully. This place is perfect for taking some snacks with you and stay for a picnic during the hike and just be; without your phone, without focusing on anything else than breathing and enjoying the nature. We saw two other groups when in Rocha da Pena in January, but still we were able to enjoy the silence and peace of the place. Overall, I really recommend to go for a hike once visiting the Algarve, it is a refreshing little getaway from the endless beach views.
Praia da Falesia
Last but not least, let’s talk about one of my favorite beaches in the Algarve; Praia da Falesia. Falesia stole my heart; the second we parked the car next to the cliffs, I couldn’t wait to see it all. Falesia is located around 30 km from Faro to the west. We have visited Falesia during golden hour, just before the sunset and I can recommend to see it at that time, it’s magical. Also, in Falesia beach you can see surfers and also try surfing. I still need to figure out is it already open, because one thing I really want to try is surfing, and I would love to do it in Falesia! I will keep you updated about that once I know more. What I also recommend, is to take some snacks, book and towel and just go and enjoy the day at Falesia. We went for a quick swim in Falesia once my sister was visiting Algarve two weeks ago. This was one of the most beautiful places I have seen, and will for sure visit many more times during our stay in the Algarve. I let the photos speak for themselves.
This was it for the first part, but this was definitely not it for all of my recommendations! In the next post I am going to introduce Loulé, Olhao, Vale de Lobo and some other great places, so stay tuned! 🙂
x Mari Susanna