Unwritten rule in this household is that birthday presents are trips. And we rarely make exceptions. When it was my turn to organize one, my decision was made based on the cheapest flight price. That happened to be Faro. Bonus points for me, because the birthday boy, was never in Portugal before. And he found out where he was going 2 hours before take off. More bonus points for me, because I did all the packing.
Traveling in summer months from the airports in Berlin, means one thing, be prepared for delays, especially if the days are hotter than usual. We were not prepared, but we had to spend 3 hours inside the plane, not knowing when we are about to leave. This usually happens, because the airpots are lacking employees.
The plan was not to use rent – a – car and have chiller trip than usual. So we took the train from Faro to Lagos. It was long, hot and sunny ride. By the time we reached Lagos it was already night. Luckily in country like Portugal, the food places are working longer. We decided to try the dishes in the restaurant right next to our hotel, and I was that day years old when I learned that squids have bones. Don’t ask me why this was an important lesson.
The town of Lagos is beautiful, and every house, corner and tile makes you stick to your camera, 101 restaurant, street musicians, people with surfboards, sea, sea, sea.
Hotel: Lagosmar Hotel
Recommendation: Older hotel, very central, offering breakfast and rooftop views
Breakfast included: Continental Breakfast Included
Price: 35eur per person/per night
There are many beaches on walking distance from the city center, but the ones that are bit further, are very cheap Uber ride away.
For our first day we chose Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo, and Ponta da Piedade. Lunch spot was very nice restaurant on the top of Praia do Camilo, named Camilo Restaurante. Fish, fish salads, olives and wine, the last one is one of the reasons why we decided not to rent a car. Beach hopping was possible, as the sea is not very swim friendly, we went in 60 seconds each, and that was it. The night was reserved for the city festival and cocktails at Ol’ Bastards.
Day two was for bakery, coffee shop hopping, and we tried every single pastry in Padaria Central and enjoyed filter coffee in a surf cafe called Surf & Wave. We continued to the city beaches Praia de Batata and Praia dos Estudantes, and after being on fire, we decided to go back to Praia de Dona Ana and opted for boat ride around the Sea Caves. I am usually against this kind of touristic things, but I do not regret it at all. Here I saw the most crystal clear blue water, that 700 filters can’t compete. As the day was even more chill then the first one we decided to end it with cheap tostadas and gin tonics on the beach. I mean it is a birthday trip after all.
In Lagos it is very hard to pick the right spot for food or drinks, because at times you get “attacked” by all the promotors that want you to go in their cafe, so you either need to come prepared, or if you happen to be partially prepared, look for the queue 🙂 There aren’t that many queues but on our day one we spot one small restaurant, and we wanted to try it out, without reservation our waiting time was around 30 minutes but our timing was right, because we were the second last to enter before closing. And the food didn’t disappoint, the portion was so tasty, yet so huge that the meal should be split among bigger group of people. Ladies and gentlemen: Cataplana in Casinha do Petisco.
Cataplana – round dish used for making stew, signature for the Algarve region
As I am a very early bird when it comes to waking up, I never miss the opportunity to visit the local market and that was the case here as well. Repeating Padaria Central was second thing on my to do list, and as we had a night in Faro booked, looking at our options, and changing plans last minute, we opted out for renting a car, and exploring the coast from Lagos to Faro. First stop on this Journey was Praia dos Tres Irmaos, very long beach, unlike the ones we saw previously, and the first one where you could actually swim. We decided to have an orange juice stop and read few pages before our next stop, which was Praia da Rocha at Portimao. I have never been to Copacabana but this was the closest. I did not like the town of Portimao, as it was pure concrete and just hotel next to a hotel, next to even bigger hotel. The boardwalk of the beach was very nice. There were few restaurants, and the one that we chose had excellent Tuna steak. For the curious ones the name was Spot3. The waiter was older cheerful person that made our experience even more memorable. Few more rays of sunshine and we were on the way to Faro.
As for me Faro was city of contrasts, there were streets with graffiti, and there were perfectly shiny houses. There were broken pavements, and the whitest tiles in some parts, party in the housing region, and emptier streets in the old town. The contrast was amazing, the parties in the bars even better, and here as a difference from Lagos, you could not choose where you would like to be. Here the option was where you would find available spot. Ours was at Aperitivo Bar. And it is how we ended our night and trip in Algarve.
Hotel: The Tiles House Faro
Recommendation: Older hotel, with very tiny rooms, centrally located
Breakfast included: Not included
Price: 25eur per person/per night
It was actually how we ended the night, because due to another delay on our way back, we had to serve our souls some eclairs.
Short or long trip the coast offers a lot, especially if you want to devote your time surfing or exploring the end of the European world. Having a car rented would be handy, but you could also live without it, but at a slower pace.