Road Trip to Algarve | Portugal Trip Part II

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If you've read my previous blog post (catch up here if you haven't), you'll know I went to Portugal a few weeks ago with one of my besties, and our stop #1 was Lisbon. I have been drooling over photos of Algarve beaches for years now, so I knew we had to rent a car, make a nice playlist and head on a little roadtrip. It takes about 2 - 3 hours, depending on your car really - we opted for the cheapest smallest option so the hilly roads were a bit of a challenge :) but it made parking super easy. Let me start off by saying:

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I promise you won't be disappointed, the trip down is sooo worth it. I would definitely recommend having a car because some of the best beaches are located outside of populated areas, and it just makes everything easier if you want to see quite a few of them and you don't have that much time. I don't think we could have done the trip any other way! We were in Algarve for 2 and a half days, and the car allowed us to make the most of it.

One of the most popular destinations down South is Faro, but we decided to stay in a smaller town called Lagos. It was so beautiful and so wonderfully empty. I assume it gets more crowded during summertime (we went late May) but we enjoyed our morning pastries and coffee on the colourful cobblestone streets with just a few locals around. We stayed in a nice little AirBnb  right next to the Old Town where we'd pick up breakfast and eat dinner, and during the day we drove around exploring the coast. I'm gonna keep this nice and short so scroll down for tons of photos and the most important things - food & beach recommendations! x

  bucket list destination + hot weather + no people + travelling with a bestie = KAT HAPPY

bucket list destination + hot weather + no people + travelling with a bestie = KAT HAPPY

  the colourful streets of Lagos Old Town

the colourful streets of Lagos Old Town

  how pretty is this!

how pretty is this!

  my favourite ever holiday outfit

my favourite ever holiday outfit

Ahh, soooo many to choose from. And most beaches will be fine with topless tanning so make sure to take advantage of that ;) (though be careful and don't sunburn your most sensitive bits like I did). I should say that what I look for in a beach is how wild and beautiful it is - I don't care for sand or pebbles; the more untouched it is, the better. I still can't make up my mind on which one is my favourite, but here is a list of all of them:

  • Praia Da Marinha - the most popular and probably the most impressive of Algarve beaches just because of the sheer vastness of this place. You can first take in the view from the top and do a hike from one side of the cliffs to the other, and then go down the steps to discover an incredibly humbling view when you look around. I felt like I had travelled back in time! This is a must-do when in South of Portugal - I recommend going a few hours before sunset so you can still enjoy beach time and then watch the golden sun rays slowly hide behind the cliffs.
  Praia da Marinha from the top - this picture only shows one tiny corner of it!

Praia da Marinha from the top - this picture only shows one tiny corner of it!

  looking down from the edge of the cliffs - make sure to go on a little hike

looking down from the edge of the cliffs - make sure to go on a little hike

  me tryna act cool

me tryna act cool

  (this was followed by a very uncool happy dance)

(this was followed by a very uncool happy dance)

  our chosen corner of the beach in the evening light

our chosen corner of the beach in the evening light

  • Praia Do Camilo - a small beach at the bottom of some steep steps, but one of the most beautiful. Do as we did - pack a little breakfast picnic and come in the morning to get a good spot. The colour of the water here was incredible, and if you're feeling adventurous you can climb through the rocks and walk to more secluded parts of the beach.
  the view from the top

the view from the top

  around the 'corner' from the main sandy beach

around the 'corner' from the main sandy beach

  out of all the beaches, this spot was probably my favourite for swimming - it felt safe and sort of enclosed? is that a good word to describe a beach?

out of all the beaches, this spot was probably my favourite for swimming - it felt safe and sort of enclosed? is that a good word to describe a beach?

  • Praia De Jaoa De Arens - this one was a fun one to navigate on Google Maps. I have to say we didn't actually get to the beach but to the viewpoint above it. We drove our little car on a road that didn't really look like a road, left it at a point beyond which we could no longer drive, and went for a hike. When we got to the edge of the cliffs, we were greeted by a breathtaking view and golden sunset rays.
  the road we took to reach the viewpoint

the road we took to reach the viewpoint

  Praia De Jaoa De Arens

Praia De Jaoa De Arens

  this view made me feel so emotional! the photos don't even do it justice

this view made me feel so emotional! the photos don't even do it justice

  • Praia Dos Tres Irmaos - another great beach, but go in the evening - beautiful at sunset and way less people. The most beautiful views are hidden behind some rocks so make sure to walk around and explore!
  Praia Dos Tres Irmaos - explore around the rocks for some amazing views

Praia Dos Tres Irmaos - explore around the rocks for some amazing views

  • Meia Praia - the main and biggest beach in Lagos. Not one for the views, but a very wide open beach with lots of space for everyone. There's cute sunloungers to hire but you might as well just bring a towel and lay on the very fine soft golden sand! 
  crazy Ance went for a swim in the ocean every day. i wasn't as brave

crazy Ance went for a swim in the ocean every day. i wasn't as brave

  plenty of sun loungers at Meia Praia to hire for the day

plenty of sun loungers at Meia Praia to hire for the day

  • Praia do Canavial - a massive wild beach and the most secluded one as it can only be accessed through a very old stairway that's very well hidden and took us a while to find! We went here because of a recommendation from a local and it was well worth it as we only had to share the beach with about 6 other people - when we first got there, there was just a single (but very naked) man and his dog. Beware - everyone will probably be wearing their birthday suit here.
  these are the sketchy steps you should be looking for if you wanna indulge in some private nude sunbathing!

these are the sketchy steps you should be looking for if you wanna indulge in some private nude sunbathing!

  tanning with an epic backdrop at Praia do Canavial

tanning with an epic backdrop at Praia do Canavial

  us and the 2 other beachgoers that morning. can you find the naked bum in this picture?

us and the 2 other beachgoers that morning. can you find the naked bum in this picture?

  • Saibos - best restaurant we found in Lagos. We went back 3 times! Tapas style bites, lots of seafood, some veggie options, homemade deserts, lovely service and nice atmosphere. The prices were really good too.
  • O Pescador Benagil - gorgeous interior, great food.
  • Find a local bakery - wherever you stay, there's definitely gonna be a cute little place serving coffee and pastries for breakfast. An essential part of the trip!
  Outside terrace at O Pescador Benagil

Outside terrace at O Pescador Benagil

The time we had in Algarve was way too short but I figured it's better to keep some things undiscovered so I can go back. And hopefully soon :) So here's what I'm keeping for next time:

  • A boat tour at Ponta da Piedade - seeing the rock formations and the coastline from the water and doing a boat tour to see some awesome caves in the cliffs. 
  • See the town of Faro - if only we had an extra few hours.
  • See the big cave with the hole at Benagil - sounds cool, right?
  • Sunset at Cape Saint-Vincent - I would love to have had the time to drive to this scenic spot and watch the sun setting in the Atlantic.

I'm sure there's countless more amazing places that I haven't even heard about in the South of Portugal, so if you know of any - please share with the rest of us in comments!  

I'm also cooking up a video about this trip - stay tuned :) x