Hear about travel to the Algarve region of Southern Portugal as the Amateur Traveler talks to Eileen Cotter Wright from purewander.com.
Eileen says of the Algarve, “it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I have been very fortunate to go to a lot of places. I think that there is something really special about this sleepy but also lively place down in southern Portugal.”
There are over a hundred beaches in the Algarve and that is definitely the big draw to the region. Eileen shares with us her four favorite beaches including Praia Dona Ana, Farol da Ponta da Piedade, Praia do Cavalo, and Praia de Benagil. The beaches have golden sand. Some of the beaches have sea caves. Some are good for surfing or horseback riding. Many of them are at the base of cliffs.
Eileen starts us in Faro with its beautiful harbor area. Faro is the capital of the Algarve region. You can see the typical whitewashed Portuguese buildings with painted details. She also recommends a stop at a local sweet shop for a star-shaped fig and almond confection called an estreia (star) or a pastel de nata (custard tart).
From there we move on to the ancient town of Logos with its maritime traditions. There is a maritime museum on the harbor as well as a museum that remembers Portugal’s connection with the slave trade. From Lagos, you can hike down to some of the beaches like the Praia Dona Ana and Ponta da Piedade. Lagos also has a robust coed scene which is how Eileen first discovered the city when she studied abroad in Seville in Spain which is less than a 3-hour drive from the Algarve. You can take surf lessons or ride horses on the beach in the area.
From Lagos, it is about an hour to Sagres and Cape St. Vincent (The End of the World). “The winds can get so strong in the area that they can almost hold you up”. A lot of people will go to this southeastern tip of Europe to watch the sunset. There is a fort in the area built by Henry the Navigator during the age of discovery. Cape St. Vincent is part of the Vicentine Coast Natural Park, also known as the Costa Vicentina.
Eileen then recommends we head inland 45 minutes to Loulé which has a growing hands-on crafts program where you can stay and learn local crafts. Loulé is the biggest town in the Algarve with around 75,000 people. It is historically a town centered around agriculture but is trying to attract more tourism. The programs there with Loulé Criativo were a highlight of her trip. You can see cork harvested, make baskets, or take cooking classes.
Come to the Algarve for the beaches, sure, but learn about the history, the people, and the crafts of this beautiful part of Portugal.
Petiscos. Not Tapas.
Praia Dona Ana (beach)
Farol da Ponta da Piedade (beach)
Cape St. Vincent (The End of the World)
Sagres (Vila do Bispo)
Prince Henry the Navigator
Slave Market Museum, Lagos
Vale D’oliveiras Quinta Resort And Spa
Hands On Crafts in Loulé, Portugal
Cerro da Janela Guesthouse
Tasquinha Do Lagar Loulé
Praia do Cavalo (beach)
Praia de Benagil (beach)
10 Days in Spain and Portugal Itinerary
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