Our previous holidays have been quite intense with busy schedules and a lot of exploring, so we decided to choose a summer break where we could totally unwind and enjoy the sunny weather.
We visited a small city in the Algarve region called Quarteira. This wasn’t a major tourist area so it was a lot quieter than other places in Southern Portugal, and we didn’t have to pay tourist prices for food and drink – just what we wanted!
Before we arrived, we were lucky enough to see the sun set from above the clouds which was beautiful, and the perfect start to our holiday:
We arrived on Monday evening around 11.30pm and went for a stroll along the beach as it was literally a 1 minute walk from our apartment. The area was buzzing! Families were out, live music was playing, restaurants were still open and there were food vendors selling churros, waffles, candy floss and more.
Tuesday was mostly made up of relaxing by the beach. After plucking up the courage to enter the sea water, it was exactly what I expected – freezing! But with the weather reaching 37°C, the heat made it enjoyable so I really wasn’t complaining (except for when the blistering hot sand burnt my feet!).
Quarteira is a small city which was mostly made up of apartments and restaurants along the beach, perfect for a sunny getaway.
We had booked a boat excursion for Wednesday morning which entailed a tour around the Algarve caves along the coast and a swim in the ocean – which I braved (with a life jacket, of course).
I love being out in the sea because I love dangling my feet from the side of the boat and going into a trance whilst watching the waves form. There’s something hypnotic about the ocean that makes it so relaxing and memorising.
Once we arrived at the caves, the actual tour lasted around 5 minutes which wasn’t long at all. But we did have the opportunity to go for a swim which was very…refreshing? And definitely woke me up for the day! We didn’t expect much as the excursion was only €20 per person whereas the others were €40+, but with a 2 hour boat ride along the stunning coast, a mini tour and a dip in the sea, I’d say it was worth the money.
As the tour set off from the next town, Vilamoura, we decided to have lunch there once we’d returned. This place was a lot posher than where we were staying, with expensive yachts bombarding the marina and high end cars that I can only dream of owning all parked next to each other, like the Porsche, Aston Martin, Bentley and Ferrari I walked past. Yep, I definitely didn’t fit into this place with my Primani outfit and overly dry and puffy hair.
I think I preferred Quarteira as there was a lot more…creativity (yeah I agree, the painting of the woman below is a little creepy):
The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the beach and cooling off in the perfectly blue sea.
Another glorious day soaking in the sun. This time we decided to treat ourselves to a couple of sun loungers and an umbrella. Well, this was mainly for me as I didn’t want to tan, whereas Matthew did (by the way, I tanned…a lot…like, a lot a lot 😥).
What more could you want than to lay back with your eyes closed and the subtle sound of the peaceful waves in the background?! And after all that hard work of swimming in the sparkling sea and catching the sun, it was time for a treat:
Today we had planned to go and visit Faro and its secluded desert island, Ilha Deserta.
Faro itself wasn’t as exciting as I’d expected, however the old town had a few cute cobbled streets which gave it a very traditional feel.
We had a little wonder of the old town which took us less than an hour as it’s so small. As we were walking, we stumbled across a petite museum which included ancient Roman artefacts and a pretty Roman garden.
Then we headed to Ilha Deserta which is part of Ria Formosa Natural Park, and it was spectacular. The fact that nothing is allowed to be built on this island (except for one restaurant for visitors) means the view was jaw dropping.
The crystal clear water was so transparent that you could see the fish swimming beside you as you walked into the ocean. And it was so shallow and calm that you could stroll far out in confidence.
To reach this island you need to catch the only boat that takes you every hour, so there’s not a lot of sun seekers here, which made it feel secluded and exotic. My heart definitely had trouble leaving this place…although the price we had to pay for a couple of sandwiches made it a little easier!
As it was our last day (and I was suffering from a little sun stroke), we decided to take it easy and have one more day of relaxation before heading back to rainy England.
We indulged in ice cream and sat back on the sun loungers and used our last day as an excuse to do nothing except soak in some extra sun, as well as enjoying the sea (which was starting to feel like a constant wave machine).
Then in the evening we went for a meal and stumbled across this little jem:
He was selling cherry liquor in miniature chocolate cups, as well as a few other various flavoured liquors, such as the one below. The guy did try and explain what flavour this was, but we didn’t understand anything except that it taste like a popular Portuguese cake…I think. We may not have known what it was, but we thoroughly enjoyed it (we also went back for a taste of the cherry, which was just as delicious).
And since being home we’ve had one very clingy cat who won’t let us sleep and jumps on the bed and purrs right next to your ear all night long – but it’s still great to be home.
Overall rating: I would absolutely recommend this place to anyone. The destination is quiet and not as touristy as others, but the beach is wonderful and there’s a variety of restaurants to choose from. There are also many excursions you can go on if you’re looking for something a bit more active than our holiday.
If you’ve enjoyed this, visit some of my other travel posts!