A Country Drive in the Algarve
Our hotel overlooking the stunning Algarve cliffs tempted us to stay put and just enjoy the resort. But this visit to the Algarve was intended to give us an overview before a much longer visit. The sky was blue and the weather was hot. So we packed our knapsack for a day trip to the Algarve Atlantic shore.
When driving in the Algarve we had to decide whether we would take the faster highway (A22), the smaller national road (EN125) or one of the small rural routes. We generally tried to stay off the highway as much as possible. For this day trip, we picked a cross country road.
It was nice to see the countryside. Even though locals talked about it being a drought, the land was green and well treed. The trip took us up and down the hills. In several spots we saw small wind farms with wind turbines. Every now and then we would be surprised with an old fashioned windmill.
A Coffee Stop in Aljezur
One of the stops marked on my map for our day trip to the Algarve Atlantic shore was the small town of Aljezur. We pulled into the town and parked.
The first stop was the local market. It was always interesting to see what was for sale. We found a good supply of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. We bought some fruit but we didn’t want to be driving all day with fish in the car!
From the market we wandered to the small cafe by the creek. Cappuccinos and custard tarts were still our favourite snack in Portugal.
We could see the fort high on the hill. Winding our way up through the small streets we found a small parking lot by the fort.
Just the fort walls were left standing at this site. The fort had once been a major defensive position for the region. We entered and walked up for a panoramic view. The view looked down on the small town and out over the hills. In the distance we could see the local church.
Heading To The Water at Praia da Bordeira
Following the signs we headed to the water. We brought our swimsuits with us but we never did get in the water. Our planned stop was Praia da Bordeira. There were lots of beaches to choose from on a day trip to the Algarve Atlantic shore. But we picked this one to be close to our lunch treat after the beach visit.
As we neared the shore we could see a large, broad sandy beach. There were parking lots at this level if you wanted to find a spot on the beach. We saw a large number of small camper vans and campers. Some people had settled in for a long stay.
We followed the road up to the top. There were several places to park and we finally pulled over by the boardwalk. We could see the boardwalk heading along the top of the cliffs with a view down to the flat sandy beach.
We navigated along the boardwalk. In places there were only the rock paths where the boardwalk had fallen away. Along the way, we saw rocky coves where waves pounded in.
When we made it to the top, we were rewarded with another stunning view of the Algarve cliffs. There were several places along the shore with parking spaces. And every view along the Algarve Atlantic shore took our breaths away.
Surfing in Portugal
We joined the group of people perched high on the rocks to watch the show. Below us in the crashing waves we saw the surfers. They waited on their boards at the surf line for just the right wave. Sometimes a lone surfer would grab a wave and ride it in. Sometimes a group of them grabbed the wave. We watched the surf the waves, surprised that they did not run over each other.
We saw surfers again later on our day trip the Algarve Atlantic shore when we stopped at Praia do Beliche. Finding surfers on our day trip to the Algarve Atlantic shore provided great entertainment.
A Seafood Treat
Since our visit to Lisbon, David carried a small piece of paper with “perceves” written on it. It was a reminder that we needed to try this delicacy on our day trip the Algarve Atlantic shore. Perceves are goose neck clams.
David had researched spots to stop. The small town of Carrapatieria was right beside Praia da Bordeira and it was David’s first choice for lunch (O Sitio do Rio).
David had no trouble deciding on what he was ordering. I saw this amazing looking fish soup but ordered the wrong thing. I got soup and not the stew. Oh well. There were lots more opportunities for seafood stew. David got instructions on how to eat his perceves. Bend them at the joint and then suck out the body. He ordered only 100g to test them. The owner said most people ordered a full kilogram!
The Most Southwest Point in Portugal
On our day trip the Algarve Atlantic shore we visited the most southwest point. We knew were at Farol do Cabo de Sao Vicente when we saw the tour buses lined up. Then we saw the lighthouse. The grounds were not open so we could only look through the gate.
There were a number of trailers selling everything from home made wool sweaters to tourist trinkets. One sold food called Letzte Bratwurst vor Amerika (“Last Bratwurst Before America”).
Busloads of tourists were all peering over the cliff at the amazing sheer drops and the view of the pounding waves. We had a great view of the Algarve cliffs at our hotel. But we joined the group looking at the cliffs and the views.
Stopping in Beliche
As we drove away from the point, we stopped a few times to see if there were different views. We finally pulled into the parking lot at the Forte do Beliche. There was no way to get into what remained of the fort. Looking through the gate we saw a small church inside the walls.
There were several paths that let us get a view of the fort from outside. We put ourselves in billy goat mode and headed down the rocky path to get a closer view of the cliffs below the fort. From this point we could see the town of Sagres. That would be our last stop for the day.
We moved from the fort to the beach just down the road. It was a large cove with a sand beach. This is where we saw the other surfers waiting for a wave. The waves were calmer there and most of the surfers were just enjoying sitting in the gently swelling waves. But every now and then a surfer would ride a wave in!
Missing Out On Sagres
When we started out early in the morning, we planned to visit Sagres on the Algarve Atlantic shore. There were many sights in Sagres that looked interesting. When we were on our trans-Atlantic cruise, we listened to port lectures on Cape Verde. We learned that Prince Henry used Sagres as his base and built a school of navigation. From this base, great strides were made in developing nautical sciences. To protect the city from pirate attacks, a massive fort was built in the 17th century. Today only the walls remain of this great fort.
But by the time we finally dragged ourselves in Sagres, we were pretty well done for the day. We headed to the port to get a view of the fishing harbour. We were surprised to find it much smaller than we had expected.
The next time we visit the Algarve Atlantic shore, we will start with Sagres!
Finishing Our Day Trip To The Algarve Atlantic shore
Driving in Portugal, you need to make smart decisions about when to use the highways and when to take the slower roads. Given how tired we were, we should have taken the highway. Taking EN125 instead, we had a very long and slow drive back to our hotel. Once we got very turned around inside of Lagos and several times we hit road construction. It made it a very long day trip to the Algarve Atlantic shore!
But we were glad to have seen a different side of the Algarve. We saw our first large sand beaches and got entranced with more of the Algarve cliffs. We visited the most southwest point in Portugal. When we visited the eastern end of the Algarve, we would add the most southeast point. Our trip to the north of Portugal would get us the third corner of Portugal. Unfortunately we would need another trip to visit the eastern part of Portugal!
Have you done a day trip to the Algarve Atlantic shore? What was your favourite stop?
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I want to spend time exploring there, those beaches are gorgeous! I had a pang of hunger seeing the pastry photo!
Cathy, It is great to write a blog post well after you have travelled. But the downside is serious wanderlust. I too want to head right back to these beaches. But at least I get to re-experience it as we edit and post. There was NO end of delicious pastries as you know. Good thing we walked so much most days!! Linda