Our trip to the southern most region of Portugal was slated for after we had an amazing time in the charming city of Porto. Read about our trip to Porto here.
One of the most popular regions in Portugal, Algarve can be divided in three regions- west, central and east. Most parts of the year, the central part is brimming with crowds; we mainly concentrated on the west, also because we had limited time to explore the region. Algarve is blessed with beautiful clear water beaches, colorful coastlines and when we were there in March, we were blessed with absolutely amazing weather- sunny and warm!
We were staying in a lovely guesthouse, Villa Encosta da Praia, in the small town of Ferragudo. The guesthouse is owned by an even lovelier couple, Luis and Isabella. Isabelle adds the much needed personal touch with her delicious breakfast and Luis made us try a famous Portuguese liquor, Medronho which is made from local Algarve berries. The guesthouse is a perfect retreat along the busy coastline of Algarve.
Cabo de São Vicente
Ironically, we started our day at the lands end! With its rocky cliffs and azure blue sea, Cabo de São Vicente is the most south westerly point in continental Europe. A bright red capped lighthouse, sits on top of the steep cliffs. On this barren headland all you hear is the sound of the sea lapping on the rocks and the sea gulls calling. Plus you can only see the sea as far as you can see. What a bliss!
Ponta da Piedade
After having an early lunch at the rugged headland of Cabo de São Vicente, we drove towards Ponta da Piedade. Next to Ponta da Piedade also lies the beach of Praia do Camilo. Enough parking is available around all these places. Ponta da Piedade is a group of rocky cliff formations, which have been chopped and changed into a series of pinnacles, crevasses and caves. The region is a hidden treasure. The vibrant and the layered sandstone towers contrast amicably with the calm turquoise waters. A narrow, long staircase leads all the way down to the eager fishermen who are experienced and ready to take you on a boat trip to the surrounding caves, grottoes and arches. We sailed through the caves, some of which the fishermen have nicknamed. You will see the elephant, a chimney, a wedding cake, a submarine and even a pirate ;) Can you spot any of these in our pictures?
Praia da Rocha beach
Don’t be disappointed by the commercialization near this beach. Although you land in the hustle and bustle of shops and restaurants, this golden beach is absolutely beautiful and extremely clean. As you walk along the coast you will come across some incredible caves. At this point, you just need to wait for the tides to recede and make path for you to walk through these caves. Please take caution though as the tides can get rough and this section could get cut off in a high tide. You eventually get to the other side which is even more mesmerizing. We were here during the sunset hours and took some great pictures of the sun setting against the rocky cliffs. We spent hours walking along the beach. We completely got lost in the tranquillity of sea and the tweeting of hundreds of egrets.
Praia de Marinha beach
Next day, we headed straight to Praia de Benagil in Lagos. We had seen some unbelievable images of the caves and grottoes. You can take a boat ride to a nearby beach which is covered by rock formations with a circular oculus on the top. Unfortunately, the tides were really high on the day we went and all the boat tours were closed. If you’re in this region, please go to this beach for us!
Instead of Praia de Benagil, we visited Praia de Marinha, one of the most beautiful beach surrounded by steep cliffs in the region of Lagos. From the parking lot, there are two paths- the steps on the left lead to the beach and the right one to a 5-6 km hiking trail on the top of the orangey-brown limestone rocks. You can get some breathtaking views of the brilliant coastline from this track. The colorful blue water, orangey-red cliffs make for a picturesque strolling. We had a small picnic with this amazing view as we brought some lunch along with us.
Later that day, we drove towards our last but not the least destination in Portugal, the majestic city of Lisbon. All in all, the western Algarve region is a true wonder. The feel is almost mediterranean. With some of the most finest and spectacular beaches in Europe, rugged headlands of Cabo da São Vicente, breathtaking cliffs, alluring blue water, there is something for everyone. Be it beach lounging, water activities, even hiking or soul searching on a stroll along the beach, the region doesn’t let you down. We had a great time and hope you do too. Do try the famous Medronho! It is commonly available in Algarve.
Have you been to any of these places in Algarve? Where did you go? Do share your story with us! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below.