We went for the sun in the shoulder season and were rewarded with more than lazy days on the sandy beaches of Algarve, in the south of Portugal.
A stay in Albufeira
This was my first trip to mainland Portugal after visiting the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of West Africa five years earlier. The family had no particular motivation other than to explore a new place within easy reach.
We stayed in the resort town of Albufeira, in a white chalked hotel with a pool. The beach not far down the road. Albufeira had a reasonable mix of laziness and active night scene, and a few interesting streets to walk. It had not much more to it, no history or historical architecture to boast of, and not even a contemporary local market to spend an hour or two in.
Albufeira had simply no ambitions except to cater for the tourists who came for a week or two with the equally low ambition of returning home with a tanned body filled with cheap drinks and international junk food.
Excursions to other parts on the coastline
We aimed at getting value added and found that in Silves, Cape St. Vincent, Loulé and Faro, and along the roads connecting these places.
When the Moors ruled large parts of Spain and Portugal Silves was the capital of Algarve. Their red fortress towers over the present-day city.
We opened the windows driving from Silves to our next destination and let the car be filled with the lovely smell from all the Eucalyptus trees along the road. The rolling landscape was quite nice as well.
Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) is the south-western corner of the European continent. As such it is fascinating and so is the cliff with its lighthouse.
Faro, the “Venice of Portugal”, is perhaps the most pleasant city on the Algarve coast and also the region’s administrative centre. The old city has more Moorish architecture than the other cities.