Portugal’s Algarve – A Dream Come True

Do you have this one spot in the world, where you would like to spend your retirement? I do. Definitely. Portugal’s most gorgeous coastline is where all dreams of surreal beautiful beaches, rough sublime waves and the most incredible rock formations combine… I know, there a bazillion amazing beaches out there, but I’m convinced that you can’t find any beach within Europe that compares to the ones on the Algarve.

During my semester in Lisbon I took two weekend trips down to the Algarve, and ever since swore to myself that I will so have to come back for a longer stay. Or even for good.

One trip was organized by Erasmuslisboa, an organization that helps exchange students explore the country and also hosts surf classes and wild parties. We visited the smaller coastal city of Tavira and the touristic center of Albufeira in October 2011.

Whereas we stayed in Tavira overnight, we (luckily) only spent a few hours in Albufeira, which I honestly didn’t especially like anyways. Albufeira is just another one of those places were the country’s culture is suppressed by what ignorant tourists would expect to find: Pseudo-American hamburgers, or pseudo-Spanish tapas restaurants, horrible gift shops, and overpriced hotels. The city beach is small, and mostly surrounded by cafés and hotels. Supposedly there are more deserted, natural finish beaches in the Albufeira area, but the city itself didn’t leave the most positive impression to me.

Tavira on the other hand is simply beautiful. Of course, it is also somewhat touristic, but you can still feel the authentic vibes of this little coastal Portuguese city, which once used to be Portugal’s most important harbor in the south.

We stayed a little further from the city center in a beach resort. I really didn’t expect my cheap Erasmus student trip to be as luxurious, as the Pedras d’el Rei resort turned out to be: It’s a whole village of bungalows, all completely furnished, with balconies and terraces, surrounded by meadows and orange trees. The soft dunes are only a few minutes’ walk away; from there a tiny train takes you to the most perfect sandy beach: Praia do Barril… I was really sad that we only stayed for one night.

Right there, my personal all-time favorite beach picture so far was taken… mere perfection!

This trip was my initial trigger for my deep love for the Algarve, but when I visited Lagos a few months later I was mind-blown.

Regarding beach destinations in Europe: I’ve been to beaches in Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Croatia – but nothing could ever compare to Portugal’s amazing Algarve!