I was going to do a big ol’ post listing and talking about a few different places to go to in and around the Algarve. But when I started writing the list, it got a little long.
So here’s some of my favourite places to go that aren’t attractions as such, but great places to visit all the same.
True fact (hopefully!) – there never used to be supermarkets in the Algarve. Well, we had mini-mercados, but nothing like there is now. Now you can’t go for a drive without seeing an Intermarche, Continente or even Lidl!
Before we used to go to the markets. All the little and bigger towns have markets. Full of fresh produce – your meats, fruits, vegetables, fish. Everything.
The coastal towns, like Portimao, have impressive fish markets. Silves has a good selection of your fruits, veg and baked good. Just remember to go early in the morning to avoid disappointment.
Most markets are at their best on Saturday mornings, but you might want to check local councils. Some times Wednesday mornings are market days – it does vary from town to town.
Sometimes though, while the markets are great and I like that they’re still around, they’re sometimes not the cheapest place for goods. Sometimes you are actually better off going to a supermarket for fish.
Oh and they’re not markets, but vendors on the side of the road selling fruit are a good place to stop at. They’ll always be selling fresh fruit or vegetable that’s in season and you might be able to haggle a little bit.
After you’ve popped to Silves market, why not head up to the Silves’ Moorish castle that dominates Silves skyline.
You have to pay to enter the castle. It’s only about 1 Euro 25 and it’s open from 9am – 6pm. It’s definitely worth a look-see.
There are often events inside the castle. The type of event varies for different times of the year. Sometimes a beer festival, sometimes food related somethings and other such things. If you’re in the area when something’s on up there, go have a peek in the castle grounds. You’ll get to see the castle and probably get some free food.
If you’ve rented a car and are headed to Silves I’d recommend you park near the market, or a little further on where there’s another free car park. From there you can just walk up to the castle and take in the cobble streets and sights. I definitely wouldn’t recommend driving up to nearer the castle. You won’t find parking! Though, just so you know, it is a bit of a walk and it can get a little steep!
While you’re in Silves you need to go to a really amazing peri-peri restaurant. Well, it’s more of a traditional Portuguese food restaurant. It’s always packed during lunch times, with office workers from Silves. The peri-peri chicken is perfect. It’s not in the centre of Silves – little way out. Well worth it! But you know what? I’ve forgotten its name! It’s just that place we always go to for great food. Well, here are some sketchy directions. With your back to Silves castle, it’s left. Keep going along the main road, straight over the roundabout and it’s just next to a petrol station. When I remember the name, I’ll update this!
Renting a car is almost a necessity when you’re over in Portugal. It’ll help you get up to Monchique without having to rely on tourist bus services or public transport. A plus in my books!
Monchique is a beautiful town in the Serra da Monchique. But what people really do when they go to Monchique is go a little bit higher to Foia, one of the highest points in the Algarve. The view up there is amazing. On a clear day you’ll be able to see for miles.
Foia does get a little clogged up with coach loads of tourists, but they come and go really quickly. Oh and I wouldn’t bother with the restaurant in Foia – pack a picnic and enjoy the view!
If you’re after more views but a little bit more serenity you should head up to Malhao. Malhao is the highest point in the Serra do Caldeirão. From there you can see all the way to the sea and the view is just spectacular. And it’s just so quiet.
I believe you can visit a Buddhist temple up there. I went up there at one point but the temple wasn’t open. Even then, the drive up there is one of the nicest drives and when you’re up there, just soak in the view!
Oh and if you’re going in any other season than summer, be warned, it does get a little chilly up there. When I went in the middle of summer, we started our drive in the low 30s (centigrade) and in Malhao it was just over 20 degrees!
Well, while it’s nice being able to see the coast from miles and miles away, it’s nice to actually be a little closer to it. So go back down to Carvoeiro, go through the town and head to Algar Seco. It’s an area of spectacular cliff faces that plummet into the see. There are amazing walkways and paths that wind through the cliffs.
You can walk along the cliffs all the way to Vale Centeanes. It’s a nice walk along the top of the cliffs, but careful – there aren’t any barriers that mark the edge of the cliffs!
After you’ve had enough of nearly falling off cliff edges, why not go back inland to the safety of some hills? Santa Clara is a little town in Alentejo. Just outside of the Algarve. It’s one of those very picturesque points.
Head up to the Pousada (hotel) and you can get some amazing views and something to eat.
If you feel like heading up north, there’s a nice little town called Evora just over an hour’s drive away. Not recommending Evora for anything specific other than it’s somewhere different to go and it’s a nice place. Also, there’s a Pousada there which does a great pork and clams regional dish. Well, it did last time I was there!
Right, that’s it for the second part. The next part will be a few of the more obviously touristy places to go. But they’re still great places to go and see!