Portugal has been deemed the hottest travel destination of 2019! This is no doubt due to the fact that the prices are low, the hospitality is top notch, and the weather is immaculate. Lisbon & Porto are often the cities of choice tourists but my friends and I ventured to the south for heaps of sun and sea.
Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal, known for its turquoise waters and caves. Why Algarve? Well if turquoise waters and caves didn’t hook you, I’m not sure what will.
Since my family first vacation to Europe in 2017, I’ve been a huge advocate for Groupon Getaways. So it should come as no surprise that I jumped aboard the Groupon train when I saw a deal to visit Algarve €169 (which has since increased), which included roundtrip airfare from France and lodging. So if you’re looking for a laid back time in Portugal, Algarve may be the region for you.
We flew RyanAir which I and anyone in their right mind would not recommend.But we said a little prayer for our safety (and sanity) then sardined onto the plane. But after paying 55 euros for a boarding pass because I dropped the ball and didn’t download them on my phone. Two things 1: It was totally my fault & 2: Ryan Air you’re tacky and I hate you. But we arrived safely despite a neck breaking landing both ways, but we survived and were just through the roof that we escaped the depressing cold and rainy weather in Paris.
My friend Xenia bought a bottle of champagne at the airport so once we landed the stress was washed away by the happy little bubbles sloshing away in our stomachs.
We arrived at Faro airport which is about an hour or so away from Monte Gordo, where we were staying. Transportation tip – Use Get Transfer app to schedule your pickups and drop-offs as we did. We found Get Transfer due to a trusty Google search prior to our arrival and our bank accounts are glad we did. An uber or taxi from the Faro airport to our hotel was about $60-$80. But with this app we scheduled a van to the hotel and the return to the airport for $56.
Our driver Rogerio was an absolute delight and waited for us with a sign with my name on it, like some sort of RomCom. Two things ran through my head while on that ride 1: Rogerio was and is an angel, filled with useful information and bumped great music, 2: What is the speed limit & does he know what that is?
But after two more rides into town, we soon realized that living your Fate of the Fast & Furious dreams is somewhat normal in Portugal. Bless them.
We stayed at the Baia Monte Gordo Hotel which is about a three-minute walk from the beach. Also, it was the off season so the beach was nearly empty. The water was cold of course, but that’s what I get for being born in March. But the pool was heated so ‘no woman no cry’.
We arrived at the hotel and Hannah the warm and wildly helpful receptionist checked us in and helped us navigate the region throughout our trip. So, in short, the plus sides to the hotel – the beach, free breakfast, the pool & Hannah duh. Downside – I dare you to find someone under 60. I’ll wait…
But that was no matter because all I need in this life of sin is me and my girlfriends. We had no complaints because for what we paid, we were just glad that our hotel was nice and clean. So if you’re looking for cheap accommodation and don’t want the heebie-jeebies during your stay, then Baia Monte Gordo all day baby.
In Monte Gordo, there was no shortage of affordable restaurants on the beach, and cool bars further into the city. I had the greatest tuna steak to ever touch my palette and for that, I am forever in Portugal’s debt. If you’re not a fan of seafood, I understand (not really) but it is most certainly worth a try if you’re there because it’s just that good.
There was a small market just along the beach with spices, crystals, clothes, etc which was fun to take a look at while soaking up the sun and admittedly with a beer in hand.
We booked another Get Transfer to the city of Portimão to see the caves. The ride was an hour away from the hotel but absolutely worth it because the caves (Benagil cave to be exact) is the main attraction to the Algarve region and rightfully so.
My lovely friend Nora introduced us to Get Your Guide, a trusty resource for planning excursions in any travel destination. She found a 2-hour cave boat tour for 30 euros a person. The Benagil cave was the most beautiful out of all the caves we saw. It can only be reached by swimming or by boat.
Our tour guide Mauro was hilarious and very knowledgable about the caves and dropped interesting little nuggets of history about the town. The tour was a win and a must do if you’re in the region.
After the tour we walked along the Marina and stopped for some seafood and sangria to refuel.
On our last day, we took a trip to the historic old town of Faro. With no particular plan in mind, we walked the cobbled street town taking pictures, ducking into shops and exploring.
The city is a great mix of old and new. Great old churches juxtaposed with colorful street art, graffiti and night clubs (which there were quite a few). The Algarve region was quite laid back but if you’re looking for a more lively time, Faro would be it, unless you makee the trip to Lisnon or Porto.
All in all, the birthday, girls trip to Portugal was an absolute success. There was never a dull moment exploring the Algarve region with three of my absolute favorite women. What do you get when two Americans, a French woman and a Caribbean babe walk into a bar? AN UNFORGETTABLE TIME.
Will you add Algarve to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!