Where to stay
If you’re after a beach holiday then you need to choose your location wisely as taxi boats to the beautiful islands in the Rio Formosa only depart from specific places.
Cabanas (de Tavira), once a quiet fishing port, is probably the most famous beach destination, albeit very touristy and developed now according to recent reviews. Tavira close by is a great option. You’re close to Cabanas but escape the tourist crowds and staying in a town gives you plenty of things to do and see including numerous excellent dining options.
Olhão, only 15min by taxi from Faro, should also be considered for a more relaxing holiday. It is very quiet, there are charming streets to wander and a vibrant harbour where you can sample fresh fish and seafood. Several sailings per day depart to Culatra and other islands in the Rio Formosa – you’re basically at the gateway to the best beaches in the Algarve.
Faro is often overlooked as a destination which is a shame as it has an ‘accessible’ beach where no water taxi is required to get to it. Praia de Faro is a magnificent long stretch of golden sand and is close to the airport, although technically not part of the Eastern Algarve anymore. Most people arrive in Faro by plane and head straight to their resorts in Albufeira which is a shame. The town itself is very pretty with Iberian and Moorish-influenced architecture and is worth visiting.
We did not rent a car as there are still issues with rental cars how toll is being paid. This has resulted in many headaches and often heavy fines to renters. Some rental companies have since installed transponders in their cars enabling you to pay the toll without troubles. If you’re thinking about renting a car in the Algarve either avoid toll roads or double check there’s a transponder installed.
Something to bear in mind as well is the time of year you’re visiting. We went off season in mid-October where not everything was open and even some water taxis and ferry boats were not operating to the islands. It was fantastic seeing almost no other tourists but it meant we had to base ourselves somewhere with good infrastructure.
So, with all of these things in mind we opted for an area called “Pedras D’el Rei“, just a few minutes from the traditional fishing village of Santa Luzia and 10min by taxi to Tavira. Pedras D’el Rei is really unique, it’s a holiday resort but more like a purpose-built village. Now, that might sound incredibly touristy to you but it never felt that way. The resort itself is very large and has absolutely stunning landscaped gardens.
Here are the things that convinced us to stay there:
- beautiful resort with a big swimming pool, restaurants, bars and on-site supermarket
- walking distance to the beach or alternatively take the train (how cool is that?!)
- fabulous Barril Beach with its anchor cemetery and great restaurants
- being close to Tavira for sightseeing
- and most importantly – this apartment!
I looked long and hard before finding this gem of an apartment. It was absolutely huge with three large bedrooms and three bathrooms, a spacious living room + kitchen and a massive terrace with gorgeous views of the mature gardens. Just look at that view!
Maria was a fabulous host and the apartment worked out as an absolute bargain, even though we were only 4 people sharing as opposed to the 6+ people it can accommodate.
She speaks English, Portuguese and German. I can 100% recommend the place so if you’re interested just click on the link above.
Don’t know Airbnb? Then you’re missing out!! I have been using it for two years now and could not imagine a holiday without. Airbnb let’s you rent directly from people, so you’re not just helping your host with a little extra income but also get to stay in places that are normally out of reach for tourists. Hosts usually go above and beyond to make your stay memorable. Most of them will also be happy to accommodate early check in and late check out saving you hassle and cash.
If you’re interested and would like to get started you can follow this link to get €19 / $25 off your first booking. I am not lying, I will also get the same amount as a travel coupon once you make your first booking 🙂 So, in a way you’re helping me to stay in another fabulous Airbnb place soon which I will of course blog about!
Continue reading: Barril Beach