Three Days in the Algarve
One of my best friends and I took what we’re deciding to call a “homie-moon,” and headed off to Portugal for a quick trip. We had the most amazing three days exploring southern Portugal and I think we’re both already itching to get back.
How to Get There
You can fly directly into Faro to start your trip in the Algarve, but we opted to fly into Lisbon and rented a car there. The drive to our hotel was a few hours but very easy and well worth it! We loved having the car to drive around and explore on our own terms.
Where We Stayed
Our hotel selection was one of the best decisions we made on this trip. Anantara Vilamoura was gorgeous. We arrived to dried figs and fresh orange juice that was unreal and immediately hit the pool. The rooms were clean and really nicely sized, and we had a private patio that was lovely in the afternoon. The hotel had a few restaurants, two pools, a gym, and probably a ton of other amenities we didn’t use. We did take advantage of the pool though and lounged around most afternoons.
Where We Ate
We did not eat at the hotel once, so I can’t speak to the restaurants there, but we did try quite a few amazing restaurants in and around Vilamoura.
Our first evening we went to Rocha Baixinha which is a shack on the beach with fresh seafood. I got the mussels (which were huge!!) and Lily got a sea bass. Both were amazing, but nothing could beat the sunset views while we ate. It’s a little tricky to find but worth the confusion! You can park in the lot nearby and walk along a dirt road to get there.
For our second evening we headed back to the Marina downtown and went to O’Cesteiro per the hotel’s recommendation. Fair warning: there is no menu. When you walk in there’s a case of fish and when you’re ready to eat you go up to the counter and pick your fish. Lily and I both got sea bass and ordered it grilled. I’m going to run out of adjectives to describe the food because it was all so good. It was a little pricey compared to Rocha Baixinha but we loved sitting outside overlooking the yachts and the food was definitely worth it.
On our last evening, we went to Willie’s, Villamoura’s only Michelin-starred restaurant. They brought out a few small bites for us to taste and we both ordered prosecco to celebrate our first Michelin star restaurant. I started with lobster ravioli and had scallop risotto for my main course. Both dishes were amazing, but I think we had a better experience overall at the local places! Everything is so fresh there that we felt like we were eating Michelin meals every single night. All that to say you can’t go wrong, no matter what or where you eat.
What We Did
If you take a single recommendation from this entire blog, book sunrise stand-up paddle boarding with Nowhere2Far. This was by far the most amazing experience I have ever had. We left our hotel by 5 AM to make it to the beach and after a quick lesson we were up on the boards, watching the sun rise from our spots on the water. There were 9 in our group and one other group of 5, but other than that it was silent. There were no boats on the water making it easy to paddle. As the sun rose it got warmer and the waves got a little bigger, making the physical activity a little more strenuous, but my mind has never been more at peace than it was on the water. We navigated in and out of caves and rock formations as we headed around the coast. Our guide, David, was so helpful, and if I had actually followed his directions my legs probably would not have been nearly as sore as they were afterwards. He’ll even take you to a great breakfast spot in Lagos afterwards, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to meet his adorable daughter. It was an experience I’ll cherish forever.
Whether or not you start the day with stand-up paddle boarding, make sure you head to Ponta da Piedade to check out the caves from above. If it wasn’t so hot I could’ve sat there looking down from above for hours. Definitely bring your camera for this one!
Praia da Falésia is the other great beach we went to! This one was only about 10 minutes from our hotel in Villamoura, so if you’re looking for cliffs outside of Lagos this is a great option. We took some amazing pictures, Lily got some experience flying her drone, and we enjoyed watching the sunbathers from way up.
Last but not least; enjoy the hotel! The sun was out from 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM so we had a very long three days in the Algarve. You’ll want to be able to go back to your hotel and relax after a morning of exploring, so definitely pick a hotel with a nice pool!