lisbon to algarve roadtrip
Visiting Portugal is one of the best redirects I ever made. And at this point in my travels my #1 ranked wander. I had originally planned to fly into Barcelona after Paris and drive the coast to Nice. But the weather wasn't ideal for that kind of trip. Turned out the best weather was in Algarve. So off to Lisbon I went.
Just a quick uber away from the airport and you're in the centuries old area of Lisbon. I chose an apartment-like-hotel right on the hillside border of Alfama and what becomes city streets. Situated perfectly to explore both worlds while staying on a quiet and cozy cobblestone village street. Arriving here is like nothing I have ever experienced. In a matter of minutes you go from present day, from the airport, to centuries old rustic bliss. Its a real life time warp.
I arrived later in the day so by the time I checked-in and got situated it was already time for dinner. I gladly took my first step out the door to my new neighborhood for a couple days. The streets were calmly alive with Fado music and the smell of diner plates arriving at their tables. I didn't have to go far. I found myself a solo table seated outwardly viewing the passerby's as I enjoyed Bacalhau and wine. And with that I called it a night to rest up for the following days explorations on foot.
I awoke before sunrise with energized anticipation for the wander ahead. A couple fresh cups of coffee while I perched from my open window. Admiring the sleepy street in my rustic neighborhood. I grabbed a quick bite as I headed from my hotel to explore Alfama and up to the castle. Some of the best rustically colorful viewing you'll ever find. Then I made my way down to the water front through entryway architecture into the city streets. Following along the waters edge I made it to the train station for a quick ride to Pastéis de Belém and back. Very very tasty.
By now it was late afternoon and on my way back spotted a great contemporary styled lunch at Local. A really clean vibe with really clean food. The pleasure of rain showed up and really started pounding as I finished. So I explored up into the hillside streets guided by where I found coverage above. It was great. As I made my way back to my hotel I picked up some wine and charcuterie along the way. That evening, with my windows open, I enjoyed my dinner spread to the sound of rain.
The next morning I took the train to Sintra. Although I rather enjoyed the rain, It unfortunately brought low cloud cover so the viewing was very limited. Regardless, walking the forest trails in the rain there will forever be a memory. After miles of wandering I headed back for my last evening in Lisbon. That evening I walked over to the lively Bairro Alto District to Leve Leve Tapas Bar. A must and an excellent farewell to Lisbon. Off to Algarve in the morning with my rental.
A nice breakfast spread at my hotel and plenty of coffee to start my road trip. The drive is very relaxed and excellent conditions. Some really nice farm land and beautiful deep open hill sections along the way. After several hours of driving I made it to my first stay in Lagos for the evening. A fantastic walled old town with a white rustic nautical vibe. The evening walk here is unforgettable and the seafood dinners are mouthwatering fresh. The next morning I took another walk and had brunch before driving out to the point for some views. Then on to my next much anticipated stay in Praia de Carvoeiro.
I knew I'd love it here the minute I pulled into the little beach front cul-de-sac with my hotel, Hotel Carvoeiro Plaza, just steps away. Its the little beach coved town you dream of. Not too busy, not too big--just right. Your hotel, the beach, the town, your evening walk and diner...its all just steps away. And the best part is anytime you find something like this, this good, its typically pretentiously overdone, expensive and characterless. Not here, not now at least.
The next couple of days were some of the most enjoyed days of my life. I would jump in the ocean in the morning then hike along the beautiful ocean cliffs into the afternoon. On my return another ocean refresh. Then I would resume relaxing with cheap champagne and charcuterie. The sun setting was my indication to take my evening walk in my leather slip ons for dinner at A Galé. After a couple of days I reluctantly checked out and headed back for my flight out of Lisbon. The perfect days I will cherish forever.
ProTip: To really complete this visit to Portugal consider flying into Porto and visiting then take the train to Lisbon etc.
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