It’s hard to explain the beauty and serenity of the Western Algarves in the south of Portugal. Along the southern coast of the country there are the touristy beaches of the Algarves, with stunning cliffs and rock formations, resort beach towns, and secret caves. Along the Western coast, however, it’s remote, peaceful, and much less touristy. When we started planning our Portugal trip we knew we wanted to visit the south because that’s where the weather would be the nicest (and we needed to see the sun!) and we wanted to spend as much time in the rugged outdoors as possible. I randomly found a remote, rustic “resort” in the Western Algarves through a comment recommendation on a hiking website (told you it was random), and when we looked up the place we knew we had to stay there. It used to be an old farmhouse that has since been renovated into a comfy, rural hotel with a few spacious bedrooms and separate annexed houses. We were looking forward to staying there our entire trip, and as we made our way down the coast we began to realize just how remote this place actually was. The 2 hour drive from Lisbon was primarily farmland and fields, and with the sunshine and warm wind blowing through the open windows, we felt like we were driving through a fairytale countryside. We eventually drove down a bumpy, dirt road and found the entrance to our serene get-a-way, and it did not disappoint.
After oo-ing and aw-ing over our adorable room, we borrowed a few mountain bikes from the hotel and road down the dirt road behind the back of the hotel. Ten minutes later down the road was the most stunning cliffs and secret beaches, and we spent the afternoon riding down bumpy dirt roads, getting our first sunburn of the year, and exploring the beautiful beaches and cliffs of Portugal’s western coast. When we finally made it back to the hotel we were greeted by noisy cow bells from the neighboring farm and the most beautiful sherbet sunset. We felt like we were in a dream.
The one interesting part of staying in this remote part of the country was there were not many towns close by to visit for dinner. At the recommendation of the hotel, we drove 10 minutes down the dirt road to a “delicious seafood restaurant”, which happened to be a rundown shack of a restaurant at the end of a sketchy looking road. When we sat down we realized that this place was the place for locals in this area, and we ate the most delicious meal full of fresh seafood and delicious wine. It was heavenly.
We knew we had to make it down to the southern coast before we left Portugal, so we spent the next day driving down the coast exploring beach towns. We stumbled upon Praia de Odeceixe (Mar) and wandering the rocky beaches, collecting the COOLEST rocks we’ve ever seen and finding lots of hidden caves.
Next stop was the beaches close to faro, and we stopped by Praia Dona Ana because obviously we had to stop at a beach with my name in it. It did not disappoint. While much more touristy than the Western Algarve beaches, Praia Dona Ana was not as crowded as I imagine it is in the heat of summer and was the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Jack went swimming in a secret beach he found around a deserted corner, and I collected way too many shells (seriously, the shells were out of this world. I couldn’t believe they were real!)
As the sun began to set we drove as far west as possible and stumbled upon a huge surfing beach and watched the waves for a bit. Chasing the sunset, we continued west, pulled off at a turnout, and hiked along a sketchy dirt road to the most beautiful view in the whole world. (I know I say that a lot, but it really really was beautiful). Alone on our private, magical cliff, we watched the sun set behind the lighthouse and soaked up the last few rays of warm, spring sun. It was the perfect ending to our amazing Portugal trip and made me fall in love with this country and our time here even more.