I have just got back from an incredible 10 day holiday to Algarve in Portugal! Our accommodation was owned by Villa Plus and was situated just outside Guia (the home of Piri Piri chicken…). The nearest town to the villa was Albufeira which is one of the most popular and lively resorts in Algarve. It was my first time in Portugal and it definitely did not disappoint. Aside from the postcard perfect coastline Algarve was home to friendly locals, an extensive choice of cuisines, lively bars and very unique clothing shops.
To ensure that this blog post doesn’t take up too much of your time to check out I will highlight my favourite places and experiences of my time in Portugal. I hope you enjoy reading!
During our first couple of days we explored the stunning Algarve coastline and found our favourite cove, that we became frequent inhabitants of during our time there. We drove to Galé beach and enjoyed the beach side restaurant for lunch. The location could not be more perfect, overlooking the waves and allowing customers to admire the unusual rock formations that makes the Algarve so unique. In particular the salads and toasties were firm favourites here…as well as the milkshakes! After lunch we continued onto the beach and further along to the next cove along as it was even more secluded.
Our villa was situated just outside Guia so it was an ideal place to go for a bite to eat without driving too far. As well as being the home of Piri Piri chicken, Guia is also home to Sir Cliff Richards vineyard – Adega do Cantor.
Adega do Cantor
We went on a pre-booked vineyard tour (10 euros per person) in the second week of the holiday. It lasted around 2 hours and went into enough detail without making people want to crack open the wine bottles early…
Dining in Guia
This was a very traditional Portuguese restaurant that was clearly very popular with local families. If you dine here you will definitely get a...unique dining experience. We loved it – best Piri Piri chicken we had ever tasted… sorry Nando’s! The waiter emphasised how much we wanted to order the chicken (that always came with a tomato salad and chips) by saying how long the steak took to cook. So…yeah..order the chicken.
This is where I had my second favourite meal of the holiday. From start to finish it was flawless. From the outside the restaurant looked empty but when we went inside they just managed to fit us in (definitely one to book) . This family run restaurant had the friendliest staff and amazing food. If you are a fish lover go for the monk fish medallions, they are served in a orange and ginger sauce – you’ll love it. Also if you have the second stomach for dessert like myself you must try the crepe drizzled with orange and Cointreau sauce served with your choice of ice cream.
We also did a lot of exploring of the Old Town in Albufeira, this was my favourite place. During the day it was a relaxing place to wonder in and out of the shops and restaurants. Also if you fancied a post-cocktail swim there is a lovely beach in the Old Town that you accessed through a beautiful tunnel carved into the rocks. There were also a good amount of sunbeds you could hire at the beach (10 euros per day) or you could bring your own towels and pick a spot. At night the Old Town came alive, it’s buzzing with energy and loaded with atmosphere! There are so many restaurants and bars to choose from here and by the time the clock strikes 9pm they are pretty much all full.
Dining in the Old Town
As I mentioned previously you are spoilt for choice in terms of wining and dining in the Old Town. I’m a major foodie and I have to say every single meal we had in Portugal was amazing…but of course I had my favourites.
The Beach Basket
This was the restaurant that I knew I wanted to dine in before the end of the holiday. It was situated in the most perfect location upon the high rocks overlooking the beach. The meal did not disappoint , the food, staff, view and atmosphere were all incredible. We booked the table closest to the window (that was wide open during our meal) for 8:30pm to ensure that we get to enjoy the sunset over the sea. The restaurant was busy with locals as well as some tourists and had a quirky interior. Every person loved their meal, especially the people who ordered the Portuguese steak (the sauce itself was amazing). All in all it was a great find!
Downtown is a chain of restaurants and there were 3 different Downtowns in the Old Town. There was the Sunset Beach Club which was great for a pre-meal drink as it offers a fantastic view of the sea as well as being furnished with probably the most comfortable chairs on the island! We also dined at the largest Downtown right in the centre square of The Old Town. It had a very extensive and varied menu from pasta dishes to steaks and fish. I would highly recommend the gnocchi to any pasta lover, it was very good…only made better by me totally intentionally spilling my glass of white wine over it half way through…
The New Town
This is the liveliest part of the resort which is also called “The Strip”. Like all “Strips” it is home to an extensive range of bars and nightclubs. Top tip… if you want to enjoy the biggest clubs such as Kiss and Libertos don’t go out until at least midnight or you will be in for a very expensive night. The clubs don’t get busy until 4am…. Also if you want to dodge the drunken Brits doing karaoke avoid the bars at the very start of the strip…we made that mistake once!
Albufeira Riding Centre
If anyone visiting Algarve is as addicted to riding as I am this riding school is well worth a visit. They cater for all riding abilities and have longer and shorter rides on offer. I went for an advanced ride for 2 hours (50 euros) and it was one of my favourite riding experiences. There were lots of places to canter as well as take in the beautiful Portuguese countryside. I fell in love with a horse called Sam…
The marina in Albufeira was a great place to go for a drink and admire your dream yachts of course. It was also a good place to book excursions around Algarve.
Dolphins and Caves Tour
This was definitely the highlight of the holiday for everyone, it exceeded everyone’s already high expectations. The tour was 2.5 hours and was in a fast rib boat that took us into the middle of the ocean in hopes of spotting some dolphins. The staff made it clear at the start that obviously the dolphins are wild so we may not see any…but we were very lucky. The rib had a tracking device that tracks fisherman’s boats because apparently the dolphins follow these boats in hopes of getting easy food. They were not wrong, we found 2 very playful dolphins that I just about managed to capture on camera!
After our time watching the dolphins the rib took us towards the shore again to look at the famous Benagil Caves, they were stunning.
In conclusion, visit Algarve. It will offer something that even the fussiest family member or friend will enjoy!