A Beach Trip to Algarve, Portugal

A Dream Beach Trip to the Algarve in Portugal

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After our year living in Europe together was up a decade ago, SVV and I took what I thought would be our final vacation as a pair: a beach trip to the Algarve. I don’t know if it was the exhilaration of our last days as a pair or Portugal’s natural intoxication, but whatever the case may have been, it was one of our most cherished vacations to date.

I had been finishing up a guidebook in Spain, so after completing a project in Azerbaijan—I know, right?? who goes there?—SVV flew to Bilbao, where I was bed-ridden for a week with a nasty flu. From there, we took a train, which seemed to take days—and in actuality, when it was all said and done, it took us nearly 24 hours and a minimum of three train connections, those suckas in those parts are slooooow—to reach the Algarve at the southern tip of Portugal.

We didn’t really plan anything in advance—just consulted our Lonely Planet (back in the days when I still believed in LP) and knocked on doors of women who ran pensiones in each city in which we arrived. We paid something like $20 a night—total—for a room and bath. It was awesome.

Our days were spent searching for Portugal’s most perfect beach (while sipping boat drinks oceanfront, of course). We were there just before high season began, but oftentimes, it seemed as if we had the whole coast to ourselves.

All the beachside rock formations and grottos made for a lot of fun and opportunities to explore, especially for the monkey here. And long stretches of beach with no surf in sight gave the occasional impression that we were in the desert.

(See SVV’s red legs? That’s because he didn’t listen to me and neglected to put a single drop of sunscreen on his cracka skin. As a result, he fried like an egg on the sidewalk on a hot summer day at the Equator. Serves him right. Sorry, but I have to say it: Told ya so.)

And the sunsets, well, they definitely didn’t suck.

We took the train back up to Lisbon for the last couple days so I could write a brief assignment for Newsweek before we flew out of Porto and back to Denmark to pack up our home. I loved the ubiquitous red-roof buildings and the overall architecture of this city. If any travel editor out there wants to send me back, I’d be more than happy to oblige :-p

Have you ever gone on a beach trip to the Algarve?

  • May 15, 2009


  • May 15, 2009

    Beautiful, have not been to that part of Portugal, will have to add it to my list. Thanks for sharing, the pics are pretty good!

  • May 15, 2009

    Funny, I never would have thought of Portugal as a great beach destination, but looks like it’s just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • May 15, 2009

    I must go there now. Just wow.

  • May 15, 2009

    Based on the sunset picture, I see you visited the end of the world back when everyone thought the earth was flat. That’s my favorite sunset spot.

  • May 15, 2009

    Great pics! Jealous of your travels. ;-p

  • May 15, 2009

    WOW. That is just gorgeous! You might have only taken 10 pics, but you got ALL spectacular ones!

  • May 15, 2009

    It always makes me laugh when you apologize for the quality of the pictures. I was just scrolling down thinking “Wow these pictures are so amazing. I wish I could take pictures like that.” And then you apologize. Haha.

  • May 15, 2009

    OH.. Breathtaking!! The pictures are all amazing even without new technology to touch up. I love that much better. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like a really really wonderful trip.

  • May 15, 2009

    Gorgeous! New place to add to my list!

  • May 15, 2009

    Portugal’s been at the top of my list for awhile now. One of these days will find me there…taking pictures with my phone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • May 15, 2009

    Stunning and colorful. I especially like the solitary shot on the beach.

  • May 15, 2009

    I would definitely say, your sunsets didn’t suck at all!! I am actually quite surprised how gorgeous and romantic Portugal’s beaches are. However, I have to plea ignorance to that part of the world. I don’t know much about southern Europe. It just means I need to get my butt over there soon!!!

    Photo Friday – Costa Rica Independence Day

  • May 15, 2009

    Beautiful blog and memory!!! You know if Scott had seen how burnt we got in Cuba he might also say “I told ya so.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • May 15, 2009

    These ARE just amazing photos. Thanks for sharing about an area I was that familiar with.

  • May 15, 2009

    Those photos are gorgeous! untouched. Sounds like an amazing trip. That desert-like shot is CRAZY. Crazy awesome.

  • May 15, 2009

    Nice tour. Love the sunset, red roofs and legs.

  • May 16, 2009


  • May 17, 2009

    Those beaches just make me want to get on a plane right now and escape the damp English spring – my ambition is to drive right along the west coast of Spain and Portugal from Galacia down to the Algarve and beyond.

  • May 17, 2009

    Yep, yep…another place added to my bucket list ๐Ÿ™‚

  • May 17, 2009


    I want to go to there.

  • May 17, 2009

    What an amazing trip.

  • May 19, 2009

    I love Lisboa! By the way, which part of the Algarve did you stay at / were those photos taken? the sandy beaches are so…golden! I want to go to the Algarve!!! Arg! Instead, I am back at work at my hospital desk!

  • May 19, 2009

    i’m not too good at it myself – but i do believe in putting the camera down for a bit to live in the moment.

  • May 19, 2009

    that is remarkable. it makes me sigh and think that good things are possible for all of us.

  • May 21, 2009

    These photos just reminded me of something….I NEED A VACATION!

  • May 22, 2009

    I’ve been wanting to go to Portugal and this just makes me want to go more!
    Looking over your pictures and reading about your travels brings me to a question though- how many languages do you speak? I just got back from Mexico and I know that knowing some Spanish made the trip a great deal more enjoyable for me. What has your experience been like with languages?

  • October 6, 2012

    I always like to come back to Algarve, though not in August or Easter. Simply gets too crowded. September and May are very nice months to return.

  • April 17, 2013

    Hello There. I found your blog the use of msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  • June 15, 2013

    Algarve , too much concrete , foreigners and tourists , like the whole of the coast from france to Portugal .
    Lisbon , another historical city , like many in Europe.
    Try the real Portugal , outside cities and tourist spots

  • October 7, 2013
    Lucinda jones

    Hi there!
    As someone who is going to start their travelling adventures next year with an interrailing trip around Europe (what else would you expect from a student!), I am hooked on this website! I’m currently reading through your posts on Europe, but I was going to consult some Lonely Planet guides. I was just wondering if you could recommend any other guides since you don’t seem to like LP anymore hahah

    • October 8, 2013

      It sort of depends on what you want–Rough Guides are hit or miss. I find them very informative but sometimes outdated. I like Frommer’s, Fodor’s and Moon all because I think they have a lot of detail about each place vs. LP, which is often just a quick two-line write-up. I’d recommend going to a book store (a novel concept, I know) and flipping through all the guides for the country or region you’re traveling through and find which one has the most relevant content to what you’ll be doing (e.g. adventure sports, eating, museums, etc.).

  • October 2, 2016

    Thank you for promoting my beautiful Algarve =)

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