Spend 5 days in The Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve along Portugal’s mainland southern coast, boasts an impressive 205km coastline. Which is most famed for its notable limestone caves, grottoes by the sea, cliffs and beaches. The Algarve coastline is one of the most famous stretches of coastlines on mainland Europe and is one of the most popular areas of Portugal to visit, behind Lisbon.
The Algarve is separated into 16 municipalities each with a large town or city, you may have heard of Portimão, Albufeira, Lagos or Faro just to name a few. The City of Faro is the administrative centre of the Algarve and has the regions only airport. Faro International Airport serves a huge array of flights from all over Europe on a daily basis. Faro is also the largest city in the Algarve. Home to approx. 64,000 people, but in summer this can triple with tourists.
The Algarve as a region is one of the warmest places in Southern Europe, with a Mediterranean Climate it has wet mild winters and long hot dry summers. It is also the second most visited place in Portugal and remains Portugal’s top economic provider in terms of tourism.
Faro would be our base for our time in The Algarve. We would spend 5 nights in this beautiful part of the world. We would stay in a city centre hotel, venture out along the coast on some day trips and explore one of the longest stretches of beaches in Europe.
Check out 5 days in The Algarve and start planning your trip right now.
We finally managed to get a nice sleep in today. We woke up without the alarm at 0830am and went down for breakfast. It was a muggy morning already at 21C. For our first breakfast in the Faro Beach Club we opted for some fruit/yogurt and cup of tea.
We headed out the hotel at 1130am for our first look at what the Algarve had in store for us. On the way out I asked the hotel front desk about getting to the beach. There is a free transport shuttle service that the hotel offers but it was full today. Faro has one of the longest uninterrupted beaches in the Algarve, you cannot access the beach directly from Faro by foot. Well, you can but you will need to walk around the nature reserve which can take 2hrs. So, there are much easier ways of getting to beach.
One of them is using the hotel shuttle, but as I said, it was full. So, we opted for the Faro ferry. Although it costs just 3.75 euros return per adult, which was cheaper than the bus. We didn’t have to worry about times as we were not being picked up. The ferry left at 1220 and it took about 20mins to get to the beach. We grabbed a drink at a local bar on the beach front and then started our stroll along the beach of Faro or Praia de Faro as it’s known.
It was a beautiful sunny day, it was a breezy day but ended up being a lovely walk along the beach. The Beach is one of the longest in Europe at 90KM. We stopped at a local restaurant on the beachfront, we had a Tosta Mista with some drinks. Tosta Mista is a highly recommended dish, a real treat. It is one of Portugal’s most popular sandwiches and it really is not hard to see why. We sat right on the beach next to the waves eating our food and enjoying the views. It was brilliant.
We finished lunch about 1330 and we headed up the coast a little more. After we finally turned around and headed back the way we came. We got on the 1610 ferry back to Faro. Once we got back, I grabbed an ice cream in town. I had banana/chocolate and Nathan had Candy Floss flavours. We walked to Faro train station to see where it was, then we walked back to the hotel.
We chilled for around an hour in the room then headed out for dinner. I had a tropical pizza in what would become our favourite place to eat, La Forchetta. The food was wonderful, the staff were excellent and the ambiance was great. We ended up eating here a few times during our stay in Faro. Right after our food we popped to the mini mart to collect some stuff for tomorrow, then went back to the room. We chilled in the room after a lovely day. It was a relaxing day today which is just what we needed, we both went to bed around 2300pm.
It was a lovely sleep in this morning, although we should have been on a tour today. It got cancelled due to bad weather and rough seas, so we were forced to change our plans. These things happen so we were able to wake up at 0900 and went for breakfast. (we had the same as always) We got back to the room, got dressed and left the hotel. We got some drinks by the marina.
Faro Marina is a lovely place to just sit, relax and watch the world go by. Most days they have live music in the marina with bands, solo artists and even street performers one of the days. The Marina is also the home of the famous Faro sign, so we had to take a few tourist photos of that. While we were drinking our drinks, which by the way had to be a Sagres or Super Bock we were talking about what to do today since our tour was cancelled. We decided to head into Faro Old Town.
It is a stunning part of the city, cobbled streets, small buildings and a big market square. We spotted Faro Cathedral and went inside (5 euros per adult to enter). The Cathedral is lovely, the surroundings, the area, the square and the tower was beautiful. Stunning views out across Faro and Ria Formosa National Park. We got some lunch at our favourite restaurant, I opted for a chicken salad today while Nathan had a Pizza.
Faro Old Town
After lunch we continued to walk about the Old Town and then walked through to the other side of town. We found a lovely park full of locals and children, the park also had massive peacocks roaming around freely! We headed back to the hotel and for the first time we tried the hotel bar, I of course opted for a cup of tea! My first one since being in Portugal while Nathan opted for the more traditional Super Bock.
We headed back to the room to chill for a little bit. It was a muggy warm day now at 22C and not a cloud in the sky. We left the room at 1850 and headed for something to eat. This time we choose one of the restaurants in the Old Town that we had seen today, we both opted for the Golden Bream W/ new potatoes and salad. It was so tasty and another great choice for food if you are in the area.
We left the restaurant at 2000 and on the way back to the room there was a street disco going on not far from the hotel. As it was an Easter Weekend the party was in the street, we stayed for a little while taking in the atmosphere and then went up to the room. We got back to the room about 2040 and chilled for the rest of the evening. I caught up on some emails and the boring stuff. I finally went to bed about 2300hrs.
We woke up to our alarms today at 0900. It was a muggy/warm morning, we headed straight up for breakfast. We left the room at 1050 and headed for our favourite spot at the marina for a coffee. It was already around 21C at 1100 and we knew today was going to be a warm day. It is also worth mentioning that today is Easter Sunday therefore many places around the city were closed. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was a beautiful morning in Faro. We took a walk to the Minimart to grab some supplies for our day but it was closed as it was Easter Sunday. I then tried the Faro Ferry but that was also closed.
We just thought it was because of it being Easter Sunday. We headed to the local restaurant and grabbed some food as we were getting hungry, it was now about 1240pm and really hot. After lunch we did manage to get our ferry tickets to the beach.
Praia de Faro
We got onto the ferry with seconds to spare, it was also full, the busiest by far we had seen it up to this point. The Ferry set off 1420 and headed for the Praia de Faro. We got to the beach at 1450 and headed straight for the sea, we walked a little along the beach to find a nice spot. We got changed and headed into the sea. It was chilly but some light relief from the warm sunshine. The temp was now 26C and the sea was refreshing for sure. I stayed in the water for about 20mins before I started to get cold and so I got out.
We both sat on the beach, drying off, having a little drink and some snacks we had brought. After a little rest we headed for a walk along the beach, but this time in the other direction to hopefully dry off a little more. I think we walked for around 40mins before heading back toward the ferry back to Faro. Once we got the 1820 ferry back it was straight back to the room to shower and change.
We then headed for the restaurant for some dinner. We Opted for O’Castello which had amazing views out over the national park and the pending sunset. It was a lovely place to sit and eat, it was right on the water’s edge. We both had Bacalhau and some drinks as the sun set over the marina.
Bacalhau is Portugal’s national dish, the country eats approx. 1 million Kilos every year. You will find it in most restaurants as we did. However, there are slight differences between the different dishes and ways to cook Bacalhau. Maybe the most traditional way is “Bacalhau a Bras” which is salt cod, eggs and potatoes all mixed. It was certainly my favourite while I was in Faro. Another very popular and delicious variation is “Bacalhau com Natas” which is salt cod, eggs and potatoes all mixed with cream. I certainly recommend having a try. The meal was a lovely end to an amazing day, we then walked over to the harbour and watched the sun set.
We then headed back to the room and chilled with some TV. We got our stuff together for our last full day tomorrow and fingers crossed the cancelled tour will take place! Finally getting to sleep at 2300hrs.
It was a fairly early start today with a 0700am wake up call. We got up, it was muggy this morning when we went for breakfast. I had NO messages overnight from the tour operator of the tour being cancelled. We were excited for the day. Popped in to the Minimart on the way out to grab some supplies for the day like water and snakes. We then headed to Faro Train station to meet our guide.
Sabastian was already there waiting for us to arrive. We set off from the station at 0930 as planned. My anticipation levels growing by the minute as this was one of the places I really wanted to visit, buck list place for me. It took 50mins to get to our destination today. We were finally going to see the Benagil Cave. Which is one of the most famous beaches in Europe.
Benagil Cave is perhaps the most famous spot on the entire Algarve coast. The cave and beach are visited by thousands of tourists each year and it remains one of Portugal’s 7 Natural Wonders and most photographed spot. The Benagil Cave is 20 million years old and made from Limestone. What sets this cave apart from the rest in the area is the famous natural sky light that has formed in the roof of the cave. The cave and its beach, only accessible from the ocean has been voted one of the most beautiful places in Europe. This place really was a place I wanted to see. I would always recommend booking a guided tour, as it’s the safest and one of the best ways to see this incredible natural wonder.
Benagil Cave Day Trip
We got to the caves car park which was already getting extremely full. The ride was really pleasant and enjoyable. Once we arrived at the car park we all changed into our gear, our guide handed out the body boards and gave us a great little demonstration on how best to enter and exit the water. We headed down toward the beach, it was a short walk down.
Once there we got our flippers on and headed into the water, it was cold but nice. We swam with body boards to the Benagil Cave and I loved it. There are a number of ways to visit the cave, but as I mentioned it can only be accessed by the sea. So kayaking, Paddle boarding and even tourists’ boats offer great viewing activities. It was amazing to be able to swim into the cave, stand on the beach and see this incredible natural wonder first hand. We had some time to spend inside the cave on the beach and Sebastian even showed us some amazing sights within the cave.
After about 40mins inside the cave it was time to head back to dry land. We left, got back into the sea and swam back the way we came to Benagil Beach. It was a real highlight of the trip so far to be able to confirm that I have now stood inside the Benagil Cave. After the cave, we changed then it was time to head to the next top attraction of the day. The Seven Hanging Valleys.
Seven Hanging Valleys
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is a beautiful hiking trail taking people right along this amazing coastline. At 7.4 miles long it features, beaches, waterfalls, caves and amazing cliffs. The trail starts at the world famous Marinha Beach and takes you right along the coast which also includes the world famous Benagil Cave Skylight. The trail is classed as “moderate” but most of the time it is easy. I am currently working on a blog post all about the Benagil Cave and Seven Hanging Valleys which I will link here as soon it is finished.
We continued our hike across this extremely impressive landscape, taking in all the amazing views. The coastline is stunning and like nothing I have seen before. We also got to see the Benagil Cave from the famous skylight in the roof, another brilliant highlight.
The final stop on today’s trip was Marinha Beach. A very famous beach in the area, where we were able to have lunch, swim and snorkel. We didn’t opt for the snorkel, but we were given an umbrella for the beach which was a great added touch. We grabbed a hotdog and some drinks from the local vender at the beach. Our guide told us we had 1hr 30mins at the beach which was more than long enough, and we headed back to the bus for 1615hrs.
We left the area back on the bus and headed back to Faro. What a brilliant day and thank you so much for allowing us to spend it with you. Once we got back to Faro, it was back to the hotel to shower/change and we headed straight out for dinner. As this was our last night in Portugal, we opted to have our last dinner in our favourite restaurant, and we had some amazing food as always. We headed for the Marina and watched our last sunset. After a stunning sunset it was back to the hotel to start packing our cases and getting the room sorted. We finally went to bed at 2320hrs.
It was an 0800am start for us today and we went straight for breakfast. It was a chilled morning, breakfast was not rushed. We finished off our breakfast with a cup of tea and coffee on the terrace of the restaurant looking out over Faro. Knowing we would be leaving in a few hours we could not help but reflect on our first time in Portugal.
Faro International Airport
We went back to the room, showered/changed and finished packing he cases. We checked out at 1010am and waited in the lobby for our driver to collect us. At 1027am our driver arrived and collected us and took us the short distance to the airport. The hotel offers a shuttle service direct to and from the airport. It only cost 21 euros for both of us. Our driver dropped us off right outside the airport terminal and we went in to check the flight boards. Our flight was not open yet so we grabbed a coffee at Costa Coffee. YES, they have a costa coffee in Faro International Airport.
We did not have any time and we needed to get directly to the gate as our flight was boarding. Our seats were 15C/15D and at 1330 we took off as planned.
It was a great flight, as always. It was very relaxing, I even dozed off a little. We had some tea and snacks onboard, arriving at LGW at 1610, 15 minutes early. Passport control all OK and no issues, certintly one of the eaisest I have ever been through. Once we collected our bags and were only in the airport for 45mins! It was pouring with rain the entire time on the drive home! It was also cold only 11C. We finally got home at 1950 and it was still raining!! Although it was nice to be home, I already miss Portugal.
ed waiting for our flight to open. At 1130hrs the info was posted and check in was open. We checked in, all OK and headed through security. I must also say the entire airport process in Portugal was super easy, chilled out and very quick.
The Portuguese Algarve is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. It has absolutely everything you need for a great holiday, brilliant climate, stunning beaches, delicious food and plenty of things to do. As I have mentioned above, Faro is the place we stayed and had the best time but there are many other options to stay along the Algarve so make sure you do some homework on what is best for you.
The one thing that did surprise me the most in Faro is the laidback nature of the city. It was a vibe we felt through-out our trip to Portugal including Lisbon. It is a great place to unwind and forget about the stress of life. Do not expect a lunch break to be done in 30 minutes, it takes a little longer but isn’t that the point? Should we not take a breath, slow down and enjoy the time we have a little more with each other and with ourselves?
Our hotel was incredible. It was in the heart of Faro directly opposite the marina. We choose to stay at the Hotel Faro Beach Club and it had everything to ensure our stay was the best. Brilliant staff, great rooms, gorgeous food and amazing views on the roof terrace.
The Algarve is famous for its beaches, and although Praia de Faro was an extremely impressive beach the Algarve is much more than that. Portugal is certainly on the tourist radar and getting it’s time in the spotlight as a go to destination and that makes me extremely happy. Portugal should be a destination that is loved, it was certainly loved be me. I intend to make my way back to Portugal sometime soon, I want to visit the north, maybe Porto next time around.
In any event, Portugal has certainly made me a believer. You do not need to spend thousands of pounds heading to Bali or the Caribbean (if you don’t have it) when Europe has something as special as this place. The Algarve should be somewhere that is celebrated. I promise, once you visit The Algarve once, you will be coming back for more.
Until Next Time…