Exploring the Algarve

Driving to the Algarve

A scenic and virtually traffic-free, two-hour drive takes us from Seville to the little town of Luz in the western Algarve. Our route skirts the large resorts in the mid-Algarve, for which we are grateful. After over a month away, we are in the mood for untrammeled.

We don’t exactly find it in the western Algarve which has been thoroughly discovered by northern Europeans. At every turn, we hear English, Dutch, and German. We are in Portugal for several days before we hear anyone speaking Portuguese.

I confess myself a bit disappointed in the fabled Algarve, probably because it is so full of holidaymakers. Of course, we are on holiday too, but any feeling of authenticity is long gone thanks to British pubs in the center of the town and pastel vacation homes blanketing the countryside. On the other hand, the beauty of the coastline cannot be beat. Here are a few shots of the area very near to our hotel — Aparthotel Villa Luz*. It’s a spacious, breezy holiday apartment complex with a bar, pool, and good breakfasts. Recommended, particularly for its location, about a ten-minute walk along the cliff top to Luz.

Boating on the Algarve

On one of our days, we drive into nearby Lagos and take a boat trip to see the incredible cliffs that have made the Algarve famous. Gregg is not a boat person, but he gamely clambers into a small, open runabout along with me and a family of three from San Diego—the first Americans we’ve met in five weeks. Our guide is full of jokes and good humor as he steers the small boat out of Lagos Harbor and hangs a right to the cliffs. The area buzzes with tour boats but it doesn’t feel too crowded. Because we are in a small boat, we’re able to enter many of the caves carved into the porous red rocks. The water is jade green inside the caves and very clear. It’s darn near heavenly.

To the Tip of Portugal

On our second day, we drive west to Sagres on the southwest tip of Portugal. The next stop from here is North America. We find a windswept beach swarming with surfers all kitted out in black wetsuits. When we dip our toes in the waves, we find out why. The water here is freezing—colder even than the waters off Bowen Island on a late July day–not much colder, but colder. We don’t stay in long. But the waves crashing and the red cliffs are breathtaking.

Our trip is entering its last week. We say farewell to the Algarve and head north to end our journey with style.

*This blog post contains affiliate links from booking.com to hotels we actually stayed in and recommend. If you click one of the links, I could be rewarded credit or a commission of a booking. You don’t pay any extra. Please know I have my readers’ best interests at heart and only list places I’d recommend to my best friend.

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