The Algarve is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. Every day during the summer an army of 737s from all over the continent shuttle holidaymakers in and out. Many head straight to package holiday destinations such as Montechoro or Albufeira, others to their villas on the golf courses of Quinta do Lago while some drive a few hours to reach pristine surfing areas of the west coast. Wherever they go there will be beaches, good food and pretty much guaranteed sun.
Traditionally people would visit for a week or two as the annual summer vacation but with the now abundance of flights and affordable fares it is now possible to visit for shorter stays multiple times a year. One often overlooked area of the Algarve is Praia de Faro which is literally a five minute drive from the airport. Meaning you could leave London at lunchtime and be in the sea by five o clock.
Praia de Faro has long been a locals beach which makes it a very authentic experience. While Portugal as a whole is a very affordable place, many of the touristy areas are growing more and more expensive as time goes by and in turn the quality is dropping. But like most places in the world the best value is where the locals do their shopping and this beach is one of those places.
While still relatively undeveloped there are several places to stay. The original Aeromar has been joined by the Luxury Beach Guesthouse across the street, while the name could improved slightly it does look a nice modern hotel with a roof terrace with sea views. A number of Airbnb’s with varying reviews have appeared in the last couple of years. Some promise terraces overlooking the sea which look perfect for watching the stunning sunset every night. Finally the WAX hostel has recently opened for the budget conscious. Reviews online are very positive and it looks very new and modern. It has a terrace bar facing the Rio Formosa nature reserve for those who like nature and also the airport for those who prefer plane spotting.
Food and Drink
There are numerous beach bars along the waterfront from the old fashioned plastic table and coffee and bottled beer joints to more modern affairs offering more international menus. Local beers cost between €1 and €1.50 with coffee starting as low as 60 cents. There a few local restaurants along the road behind the beach with Restaurants Roque being a DealTraveller.com favourite. It offers very affordable fresh fish and views of the nature reserve. The Aeromar hotel also has great value lunch, don’t let the menus in four languages scare you off. The €7 bottles of wine will likely coax you in either way. Last week a plate of fresh sardines with salad, bread and olives along with a half bottle of wine cost just €13.
The beach can be busy close to the hotels and restaurants with sun beds going for €10 for a half day and €15 for the full day but walking 15 minutes in either direction will find you almost alone with as much space as you can imagine. Something the built up resorts can’t offer. When the tide is out the beach is perfect for walking and you can get as far as the resorts of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo within an hour if you wish. Check out Julia’s beach bar and Antonios fish restaurant if you make it that far.
How to get there?
There are no direct flights from the US currently to Faro airport but you can connect pretty much everywhere in Europe. TAP Portuguese airlines are increasing their frequency from the East coast and offer free layovers in Lisbon which is also very much worth a visit. Fares this summer from the U.K. have been at an all time low possibly due to weaker sterling, Brexit fears or excess capacity on the routes. Travelling from New York I used the new Norwegian Airlines service from Stewart airport and connected to Ryanair in Edinburgh utilizing a couple of very low fares.
Nothing is worse than having a journey ahead of you when you arrive after a long days travel. Praia de Faro offers everything you need and it’s location means you get more holiday time when you arrive and the day you leave. Just think if you leave now you could be there in time for dinner!!