Snapshots from the western Algarve

For years we read about travel destinations that appealed to us. The places we ignored were often overrun with tourists. For that reason, the Algarve region of Portugal ended up in our reject pile. How many times had we read that the scenic Southern coast was filled (to overflowing) with Brits, Irish, French and German tourists?

However, we had read many glowing reports over the years about other destinations in Portugal so we started our visits – first to Madeira, then to Porto, now Cascais. After this we agreed: Portugal is a great travel destination! It was time to test out the Algarve.

In the western Algarve, Lagos was our base. The bastions are about all that is left of the castle in Lagos. Still, it was enough for us to use our imaginations to fill in the rest.

Anita and Dick, our Lagos blogging friends, drove us out to Sagres, the place that was the “end of the known world.” The southwestern tip of Portugal marked the point furthest west for southern Europe exploration.

We passed a ceramics store on that trip and had to stop. We stood in front of the store, looked up, and snapped a photo of their impressive plates and bowls affixed all the way up to the roof on the front of the store.

Lagos seemed to have an abundant supply of fish wherever and whenever we looked.

Anita and Dick said we wouldn’t want to miss the Hippie Market in a nearby town which takes place on the 4th Sunday of the month. The highlight for us was the vegetable pakoras, fried before us and served piping hot. Anita might have said her highlight was the sundress she bought for 1 euro.

We had a little time in nearby Alvor before catching a bus, so we headed for what turned out to be one of the most stunning churches we’ve ever seen. It was built in the 1520’s and is decorated in tile and Manueline (Gothic)-style architecture.

We think the photos do acknowledge that, despite what we thought, the Algarve is a lovely vacation destination. What about all those tourists? We mostly side-stepped them. They reclined on the beach; we walked in the surf. They dined in the restaurants while we cooked our own meals. Somehow, it worked.

Our favorite destinations in Portugal remain Porto and Cascais, but the Algarve is worthy of consideration. Next stop: the eastern Algarve town of Tavira. How will that compare?


October 2017

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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13 Responses to Snapshots from the western Algarve

  1. I was never a big fan of Algarve until I hiked the Via Algarviana, which runs through the hills, further from the coast. What an experience! Breathtaking landscapes and no one in sight. Highly recommend it when you go back to visit Tavira.

    – Verne

  2. BeckyB says:

    Sorry you didn’t get to see the storks as most do stay around all winter. have you been up into the hills yet, as the Algarve there is quite different. We love it for walking.

    • We heard reports of the storks also in Lagos, but never saw any there either. However, we did see some earlier in our trip outside Lisbon. We have seen white storks also in Turkey and Morocco on previous trips but another sighting is always nice!

      • BeckyB says:

        Most odd! Glad you have seen them though, and hopefully you’ll come across them again soon. We frequently see them in Olhão.

  3. Such fun. We stayed in Tavira and really enjoyed it. Look for the storks (if you haven’t already) and the flamingos out in the salt flats. Happy and safe travels – Susan

    • The storks were nowhere to be seen. Most have probably have flown on to Africa for the winter but we did see the flamingos! All the exciting birds to see (coming from North America) were too far away to get good photos. Still, that didn’t stop us from getting pretty excited.

      The temperature has been warm-to-hot here but nothing like the sizzling heat where you are! Stay cool…

      • We were so surprised by the flamingos. Glad you got a look.
        We hit 101 degrees F a few days ago (along the beach!) but now I am looking out at blissful drizzly fog.
        Hope you are enjoying Espana:)

  4. We find the crowds are usually concentrated in the ‘ must be’ ‘must see’ areas. The short-stay holiday makers are in these destinations to relax and enjoy an environment they don’t get for the other 48-50 weeks of the year, the cruise or tour crowds are in the ‘must see’ because they only have a few hours in the place – the rest is usually pretty much the domain of locals and the few who are happy to explore.

  5. Annette Davey says:

    Great story once again. To a mosaicer those plates would be amazing to use in artwork.

    • We agree. We so like the ceramic colors that when we went by a construction dumpster the other day Beth saw a piece of sky blue ceramic tile and swooped it up as a “souvenir.” Not sure yet where it will go but it’ll be a great (and colorful) memory of the Iberian Peninsula.

  6. We went to the hippie market Sunday and missed your company. Alas, no great buys but the people watching, music and pakora were great. I love your photo with its vertical perspective of the plates affixed to the store walls. So glad you enjoyed Lagos but your favorite destinations, Porto and Cascais have piqued our curiosity. We need to travel north for a look-see! Anita

  7. I’m pleased you had a look at this area as I have read about it on other blogs and it sounds beautiful. Sometimes having tourists around can’t be avoided but you’re right. Often they’re in cafes or on the beach, and we’d rather be out walking and looking. Are you going to show us more of that church?

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