Journal: 29 June 2017
Following our return home from Lisbon in April, the conversation quickly arrived at where we’d go for our summer holiday. We were torn between Santorini, Ibiza and the Italian Lakes and I’d found accommodation for each. Another couple of weeks passed and much to my disappointment all of my earmarked favourites were booked up. Back to Google – my criteria was that it was to be a beach holiday and that it was to be in beautiful surrounds.
I learned that Praia da Marinha in the Algarve, Portgual, is considered by the Michelin Guide to be one of the 10 best beaches in Europe and in the top 100 in the world.
Well that was good enough for me! After some more holiday-home-hunting I quickly discovered our casa in Silves and we didn’t delay – we snapped it up.
We flew from Stansted to Faro with Ryan Air and hired a car for the duration of the trip.
I quickly gleaned from my research that there’s west, central and eastern Algarve. We were located more centrally, so we were well placed for exploring the region…
Silves is a city steeped in history and is the former capital of the Algarve. It’s situated inland and about 25 minutes from the coast.
We quickly observed how quiet the roads were in comparison to the UK, so getting around was very easy and enjoyable.
Our home was a 3 bed/3 bathroom secluded casa on a vineyard, which was located a couple of miles up a private road. We overlooked Silves itself, with a view of the river and castle.
We made ourselves at home and Bobby ‘the barbecue King’ served us up a feast on the first night. Casa do Planalto has only recently been renovated in the last year or so. The colour palette was a tranquil selection of blue hues. Inside, the interiors were traditional but relaxed. I’d had a bit of a bad back before going away, so the firm mattress helped and the beds reminded us of camp beds, so evoked special childhood memories.
Our hosts, Manuel and Joana were on hand with recommendations and were very friendly – we are huge fans of Airbnb.
Praia Da Marinha
Easily signposted, you arrive at a car park and take the steps down to the beach – there are quite a few so be aware if you’re carrying a lot or have small children. Once at the bottom, there is a beachside cafe with views over the bay. I can imagine that the beach will be very busy in the height of summer, so I would recommend getting there early to see it in all its glory. Nearby Benagil, Praia do Carvalho & Praia da Rocha all looked equally stunning although we didn’t have time to explore.
Praia da Marinha is considered by the Michelin Guide as one of the 10 best beaches in Europe.
Praia Dos Tres Irmaos, Alvor
Praia Dos Tres Irmaos came recommended by an Instagram penfriend (and local) and, oh boy, were we grateful. We arrived into the main tourist car park which was more geared towards the tradional package holiday but soon headed down the beach to the left behind the rocks and entered what felt like a secret lagoon. Parts were only accessible by caves which made the entire experience more exciting.
The beach was used by lots of locals which only highlighted how privileged we felt to be joining them!
My dad said I must visit Carvoeiro which is a small town with a laid back vibe (he’d been many years ago). We didn’t go for a boat ride but they looked great fun. Stanley’s highlight was a wander into the caves with Bobby.
The view of the pretty houses from up on the hill was picture-postcard-perfect.
Pego Do Inferno
If you Google this, it gets mixed reviews and it was VERY hard to find. I understand there was a fire and the council has removed it as a ‘tourist attraction’. But if you’re up for the challenge, then there is something quite exciting/naughty about an exploration. Please note, there’s some very steep inclines – we struggled with Stanley at times but it was pretty awesome when we got to the bottom and swam with the fishes.
Quite possibly my favourite place of the trip, the Ria Formosa lagoon was breathtaking. The weather was high twenties to early thirties (celsius) the entire holiday so the breeze was very welcome out on the lagoon. Sadly we only got to enjoy the bay at the end of the day when the tide was coming in so we were tucked up in between the trees. We all managed to get thorns in our feet so I would really recommend walking along the spit opposite and enjoying the sand at low tide. The photos I took really don’t do that spectacular view justice.
Eating out in Silves
We ate at home a bit but also highly recommend several local restaurants in Silves. For seafood the Marisqueira Rui was great value and the staff were so friendly (in particular with Stanley). Down by the river and the main road, there are two restaurants who cook traditional Piri Chicken – Bobby’s favourite. Our absolute favourite was Café Inglês near the castle. We liked it so much we had breakfast, lunch and tea there (although not on the same day)! It’s nicely elevated above the city and, by day, we heard jazz and at night the trees were beautifully lit. The patrons and staff were so friendly, it really was everything you could wish for.
We only went for four days and five nights but we did pack in a lot. I’ve got another two journal posts coming up from our trip over the next week.
Whilst we hadn’t initially planned to visit the Algarve, I think serendipity fortuitously played its part.
Whether you’re a family, couple or group of friends, there is definitely something for everyone…
We stayed at Casa do Planalto.
We flew Ryan Air, Stansted to Faro.
Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.