Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal

I am a lazy writer and I guess I will always be one. There are so many things to write about my Europe trip and I have no clue which places to start with. This is the problem that happens when you have been to too many gorgeous places and you don’t know which one to start with.

Portugal – A gorgeous underrated country

Many people ask me which was my favourite country this time around and I answer Portugal without any hesitation. I never realised how underrated a country Portugal was till I went there. Most Indians flock to the more popular neighbouring country, Spain due to a famous Bollywood movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ that released a few years ago. Did you know that Portugal is one of the top ecotourism destinations for 2017 selected by travel bloggers?
Portugal was my favourite country. Need more tips to plan your trip to Portugal. Check out this Portugal travel guide for some great tips.

Starting the write-up with Algarve, Portugal:

Even though I flew to Lisbon, I thought I will start with Algarve, Portugal since the number of Indians travelling to this beautiful part of the world is so less. It was very difficult for me to figure out where to stay and how to reach Algarve. I thought by jotting down my mistakes, you guys can avoid the same mistakes.
Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal

Where is Algarve Portugal? 

So where is Algarve? The entire south coast region of continental Portugal is known as Algarve. It is a gorgeous coastal region full of magnificent cliffs, stunning beaches, hidden caves all coupled with crystal clear turquoise waters. Do you need any more reason to visit Algarve? You find some of the best beaches in Europe in this region.
So why did I choose Algarve? I was mesmerised by the photos and just decided to spend few days here. Now that was the easy part. But then I realised that it was going to be much tougher than that. Since it is the entire coastal region, I realised that there are many villages and resorts (150 beaches according to lonely planet) to choose from. Since I was travelling solo, I did not want anything too remote. But I also wanted some privacy and did not want to stay in a hostel here.

Places to stay in Algarve:

So what are the options we have?
•  Faro: Faro is home to the international airport as well as to a railway station and many tourists fly here. However, most people do not prefer to stay here since it is far away from all the popular beaches. The entire district is also known as Faro and you should not be confused between the two.
• Lagos: Lagos is the party destination of Algarve and it is quite popular with the younger crowd. So it can get a little too overcrowded. Lagos is, however, more accessible compared to the other villages/towns. Lagos also has plenty of historic buildings since it was once a centre of the slave trade and the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
• Portimao: Portimao is another popular destination and is well known for its gorgeous beaches. I almost ended up booking a room at one of the hotels at the Praia Da Rocha beach. I only hesitated because I thought it would be too touristy.
• Tavira: All the above regions lie to the west of Faro whereas Tavira lies to the east of Faro. This is another historical centre and the beach here, Tavira Island can only be reached by ferryboat.
• Sagres: Sagres is one of the remotest towns in Algarve and is said to be the extreme south-west corner of continental Portugal. I had not read much about this place before I went to Algarve but most locals say it is a must visit and I agree. It is very popular with surfers.
• Albufeira: Also known for its beautiful beaches. However, I am not sure why but when I was doing my research, many people advised me to not stay in Albufeira since I was a solo female traveller.
• Lagoa: I ended up staying in the lovely village of Carvoeiro in Lagoa, Portugal in Central Algarve. One of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, Praia Da Marinha is located in this municipality. Additionally, the world famous Benagil caves are also located here and this is one of the reasons why I chose this area. Carvoeiro is also listed as one among the hidden European destinations you have to visit in 2017.
There are other options as well but these are some of the more popular areas in Algarve. Also if you like golfing, you can look at spending time at one of the many golf resorts in the region.

How to Get to Algarve Portugal:

I took a bus from Lisbon to Algarve. It takes approximately three hours and there are multiple buses to choose from. Most people prefer to fly into Faro international airport.
As usual, I got confused between Lagos and Lagoa. When the bus did stop at Lagoa, I thought I had to go to Lagos. When I was half way between Portimao and Lagoa (10kms between them), I realised that I had to get down at Lagoa, courtesy my GPS. I ended up getting down at Portimao. However, there were no cabs available and I ended up waiting there for a while. Finally, a cab driver came but he was already booked. He asked me to wait for 10 minutes and he came back after dropping his passengers. So I ended up paying 15 Euros for a cab ride that would have been cheaper if I had gotten down at Lagoa.

Hotels in Algarve Portugal

I stayed at Tivoli Carvoeiro. It is a 4-star hotel and has all the facilities that a normal resort should have. The hotel is really old and hence is in need of some major renovation. I still liked this place since it was quite clean and the hotel staff were really friendly. Also, view from the hotel is phenomenal and I would not trade that view for anything else in the world. It is also dirt cheap for a hotel of its size and hence it was quite economical for me. Also, they made sure that they made delicious vegetarian dishes only for me. I initially thought that the beach was not accessible. But you can still get to the beach if you try hard enough. I even saw a wedding there, all because of that magnificent view.


Things to do in Algarve Portugal
Tivoli Carvoeiro
 
 

Hiring a car in Algarve Portugal:

Many people asked me if it is necessary to hire a car. It is definitely not required since bus services are quite frequent on weekdays. However, if you want to go beach hopping like I did, then it makes better sense to hire a car. The distance between all the above options is easily around 30 kms each way.  It is not that expensive and you can get a good deal for 20-40 euros per day (including insurance). Most people hire a car from the airport whereas I hired one from a rental close to my hotel.
Driving in Portugal is definitely not that difficult. Only thing to keep in mind is that they ride on the other side of the road and that some of the drivers can be rash. However, it was quite easy for me to drive in Algarve and I had lots of fun driving in Portugal.
Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Coves
 

Things to do in Algarve Portugal

Algarve is a beach destination and you can make your vacation a relaxing one if you want to. You can either laze around the whole day at any of the gorgeous beaches or you could go roaming in the historic towns to get a touch of history. I was here for 2.5 days and I spaced it out equally so that it would not be too hectic. There are tons of things to do in Algarve Portugal and I list some of the ones I did below.
The day I reached, I spent my time lazing around the pool (the hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool). Later in the day, when I realised that I could reach the beach if I wanted to, I hiked down and spent some time swimming in the ocean. It is difficult to get to the beach here since you have to drag yourself up on the way back. But fret not, there are two gorgeous beaches just walking distance from the hotel and that is where I spent most of my time in, over the course of the next two days.
I used to go every day for a morning swim at one of the beaches after a heavy breakfast. One of those days, I realised that I could do a speedboat ride along the Algarve coastline. This is a must do and I cannot recommend it enough. Seeing the coast from the water is such an amazing experience. Even though we were supposed to start from near Vale de Centeanes at Carvoeiro, we had to go to Portimao that day to catch the speedboat. The reason given was that the ocean was rough that day and we could not take one of the smaller speedboats. The bigger speedboat could only dock at Portimao. So they took us to and fro to Portimao in a minivan. They charge you around 25 Euros from Portimao whereas it is around 17 Euros from Carvoeiro. So I guess they just wanted more money from us. In spite of that, please do take one of the tours along the coastline and you won’t regret it.

 

Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Hidden Coves, Algarve, Portugal

Speedboat along some of the best beaches in Algarve

So all of us (10 of us) are fitted with life jackets and then we begin a really fun way to see the coastline. Unless you see it with your own eyes, you would not believe how beautiful the whole journey is. The whole coast is lined with golden cliffs and gorgeous white sand beaches. Another highlight is the innumerable number of hidden caves and coves. You are taken inside many of them based on whether your speedboat can get inside. This tour, however, does not allow us to go swimming in some of the coves. Even though many tours claim that they allow you to do this, I could not find a legitimate one and I doubt if this is legal. The tour guides are good and they keep giving you a good account of all the beaches along the coastline. You take the boat ride from Portimao to a little after Praia Da Marinha and then you head back. Along the way, you see numerous people cliff jumping, fishing, hiking (there are some gorgeous treks for people who love to hike), sunbathing etc. Once in a while, the skipper and first mate decide that we are going too slow and decide to spice things a little bit. Have you ever had that feeling? Going at crazy speeds, the waves crashing all around, as you sit there hanging on for dear life, all the while being completely awed by the beauty of nature. The caves are equally beautiful and when we went inside one of these gorgeous caves, we could hear or see nothing but our breaths and the waves crashing against the rocks. Unfortunately, we could not enter Benagil caves that day due to the rough sea and we had to be content with seeing it from an angle. Soon we were back to Portimao and then taken by minivan to Carvoeiro. The whole journey including the waiting time takes around 4 hours.

Check out this experience of seeing Algarve caves by boat too.

Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Bengali Caves, Algarve, Portugal


Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Hidden Caves, Algarve


 

Sightseeing in Lagos, Portugal

I drove down to Lagos in the afternoon. Lagos has a number of historical places to visit and I walked around the Centro Cultural Da Lagos for a while. Only when I got to the Canopy walk, I realised that I could have gone on Dolphin watching / Kayaking tours if I had reached a bit earlier. From there, I drove down to Praia Dona Ana beach and spent rest of my day there, spending most of my time, staring into the ocean.

 

Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Lagos, Portugal
Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Praia Dona Ana Beach, Algarve
 
 

 

Praias Algarve – Praia Da Marinha Beach

I spent my morning at Praia Da Marinha beach the next day. It is a really gorgeous beach and is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. By then, I had made some friends at my hotel and I had a nice morning there, swimming with them in the sea. I did not spend much time in the water since it was still a little cold for my liking. But you can sit there all day long, staring into the beautiful vastness. One good thing about going in May is that it is just starting to get touristy but you still get many secluded beaches to choose from. I only wish I could have gone scuba diving here but I did not plan in advance and hence missed my chance.

 

Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Praia Da Marinha


Sagres, Portugal

Everyone kept raving about Sagres and I knew I had to go there in the afternoon. It is around 65kms from Lagoa and around 30 kms from Lagos. The drive there is picturesque and as you drive there, you can see the climate changing. When I went, Sagres had a Moorish kind of stillness and the view from the Sagres point is spectacular. It was fairly deserted and I was glad that I could walk around the entire place without much disturbance from others. I cursed myself for not carrying a jacket or a sweater since it was freezing there as opposed to the weather I was used to in Algarve. They charge you around 4 Euros to enter the Sagres point.
 
Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
Sagres, Algarve, Portugal


 
The drive back was equally calming and I went to bed content after a memorable 3 -day trip there. How I got out of Algarve is a story for another time but you already know that by the end of the next day, I was robbed and almost penniless in Madrid.

Conclusion:

Yes, Algarve can get quite crowded during the summer months but I still loved my time there. Being in the midst of so much beauty can sometimes be overwhelming. 
If you are still not convinced, check out more reasons why Algarve should be your next travelling destination.
Liked it, then pin it.
Indian, Female And Solo In Algarve, Portugal
 
  • View from room is just amazing…

  • Yes the view was amazing. I just did not want to leave.

  • LoL I love your frankness. And obviously you're not THAT lazy of a writer because you wrote a lot of great advice in here. I didn't know there were such beautiful places in Portugal!

  • Great piece! I just booked my tickets to Portugal/Spain next summer so am bookmarking this for when we travel to the Algarve! Also about to head off to read about your experience in Madrid (eek!)

  • What a great guide and I wish I had seen this years back when I arrived in Lagos…only to find it was a bit much for me. Hopefully this helps others enjoy it. Love your photos and I definitely need to go back to Portugal!

  • I love the pics from the coast! And so detailed information, thanks!

  • Love your photos! I hope to add Portugal to my trip next time I'm in Spain or elsewhere in Europe 🙂

  • Such a beautiful area! Thanks for sharing your 'mistakes'. 🙂

  • Wow! Algarve looks incredibly stunning! It reminds me the landscape of the great ocean road!!!! Nice post!!!!😉😉😉

  • Great Pics, especially the one from your your room: what a view! The getting confused between Laos & Lagos…adventures of travel!

  • I like your advice about hiring a car- the prices really are affordable and break down of things to do in the area. I think you packed a lot of lovely adventures into 3 days- would you like to spend longer?

  • Oh man, gorgeous photos! Now I have a serious need to go to Portugal. Thanks for sharing!

  • I agree that Portugal is an underrated country. I had a great time there but I only went to Porto and Lisbon. I will have to visit Algarve the next time I go. Your photos of the beach are amazing!

  • I had never even heard of Algarve until this post! You have definitely done us all a service by covering this city so thoroughly and beautifully. And I agree with the comments above- the view from your room looked amazing!

  • Thank you so much Miranda. I hope it was helpful for all of you. Portugal is a gorgeous country.

  • It is a beautiful place. Hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes.

  • You should add Portugal to your trip. I would definitely be going back.

  • I loved the coast experience. Thank you.

  • I am glad that I didn't stay in Lagos since I found it to bee touristy. I loved Algarve and would definitely go back one day.

  • Hope you have a great time when you are in Algarve next year.

  • Esther that was my first impression when I saw Praia Dona Ana beach as well. Thank you.

  • In spite of traveling all over the world, I am directionally challenged sometimes. Thank god for GPS. Else I would have gone all the way to Lagos before I realised my mistake.

  • I would have loved to spend more time in Algarve. Unfortunately I had a fixed itinerary and I had to leave. It is really economical to hire a car in such places since the distance between the various spots is more.

  • You should definitely go to Portugal. I loved Lisbon too.

  • I could not go to Porto this time around and I have heard it is a beautiful place. Would definitely want to visit one day.

  • That is surprising since it is a famous tourist place in Portugal. Portugal is so underrated and you definitely should go there. Yes the view from the room was amazing.

  • The view from your room looks insane! What a great post, now I want to go haha!

  • I was supposed to go to Portugal this summer but it didn't work out. 🙁 Your post makes me want to head there right now!

  • Yes the view was insane. You should definitely go soon.

  • You definitely should go the first chance you get.

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