If you’re looking to get out and explore this area of Portugal’s western Algarve, here are 3 quick and easy road trips you can tick off without spending hours in the car…
Carvoeiro was made for family breaks. A former fishing village on Portugal’s Algarve coast, it’s got a neat sandy beach complete with child-friendly rock pools, plenty of shops and restaurants next door, and more in the way of beaches close by – we ticked off Praia da Marinha and Carvalho beach when we visited in June.
Beaches aside, Carvoeiro also puts you in a great spot to explore lots of local highlights. We stayed in a property from Thomson’s Villas With Pools collection, which meant car hire was included. Not wanting to stray too far from the pool – and with fidgety toddlers in the car – we stuck to places within around half-an-hour’s drive of our base. Here are 3 trips I’d recommend if you’re staying in the area…
If seafood is your thing, you’re going to want to pay a visit to this pretty fishing village north-west of Carvoeiro. We went in the early evening to scope out places for dinner and, after a few laps of the quayside – checking out the menus and sidestepping the washed-up fishing boats en route – we settled on juicy prawns and fresh fish cooked on the barbecue at A Ria. While you’re in the village, climb the steep cobbled alleys that lead up to the church, and if you need a beach fix head for Praia Grande – this sandy sweep is as popular with sunbathers as it is with windsurfers.
Photograph © Steve Quayle.
The biggest town in the area, Portimao sits on the bank of the Arade river looking out towards Ferragudo. At one end of the town there’s a smart marina with a free car park, but you can also find plenty of spaces closer to the centre – a short stay will set you back a couple of euros. We headed straight for the tourist information centre, picked up a free map, and followed it to the market on Avenida Sao Joao de Deus. If you’re in a self-catering villa, this is the place to shop alongside the locals for fresh fish, fruit and veg and Portuguese cakes and pastries. When you’re done, head back in the direction you came to the streets around Rua Joao de Deus – they’re pedestrianised, so you can carry on shopping in peace.
In the opposite direction – back east along the motorway towards Faro airport – you’ll find the town of Loule. It’s best saved for a Saturday morning, when the market bursts into life on Praca da Republica. Get there early – around 9 or 10 in the morning – and you can snap up everything from fist-sized bulbs of garlic and giant smoked sausages to sweet fig-and-almond cakes (known as ‘fig cheese’), dainty pots of honey and imaginatively-flavoured jams. Stalls fill the market building itself and spill out onto the surrounding streets in every direction. When you’re done shopping, pull up a chair at one of the outdoor cafés, order a fresh coffee and a pastel de nata – a Portuguese custard tart – and watch as the place fills up even more. You’ll be glad you got here early.
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Author: Katie Gregory
Published: July 4, 2014
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