Portugal was somewhere I had always wanted to go, somewhere that had always called my name. I never knew much about it, and still wish to learn much more, but my recent 4 day adventure to Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal has further fuelled my love affair with this country. I have fallen madly in love with Portugal and I can’t wait until my next visit!
We landed in Faro in mid-September, 2010. Faro is located in Vilamora, which is part of the beautiful Algarve region in Portugal. We stayed at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura. This 5 star hotel faces both the ocean and the marina. It is a twenty minute drive from Faro, an inexpensive taxi ride.
The food and drink in Vilamoura was to die for. Fresh seafood, regional specialties, inexpensive wine and beer. The Vilamoura Marina is home to dozens of unique restaurants located all along the boardwalk. Prime Steakhouse was one of our favourites, where I enjoyed the most delicious cod dish I have ever experienced. My vow is to return there one day for this dish alone!
Faro is a seaside city that is loaded with interesting history, including both Arab and Roman ruins. The old part of the city is surrounded by ruins of Roman walls that date back to the 9th century. In the centre of the walls is a square where you will find a 13th century cathedral. I found this little piece of history so mind-boggling. Standing inside the ancient cathedral took my breath away. Upstairs there were paintings and artifacts that were from the 10th and 11th century. To wrap your head around how long ago these works were created, how many people have walked in your exact footsteps since that time… it’s humbling.
Other things of interest in this old part of the city were the stonework on the buildings, roads and arches, and a particularly interesting skull shrine and wall filled with centuries old human monk skulls. It’s a sight to see!
Faro city centre had a fabulous shopping district, with quaint cafes scattered throughout. Beautiful jewelry stores, fashionable clothing boutiques and of course lots of touristy attractions. Portugal is known for its cork products and there were no shortage of unique cork handbags, umbrellas, jewelry, kitchen accessories – even shoes!
It was warm in Vilamoura. Midday temperatures were 35C+, so although we enjoyed exploring the Algarve, by early afternoon we were headed for water. The Tivoli has a vast and beautiful pool area, but we preferred the ocean out front. The waves were warm and we jumped in them for hours. The PuroBeach lounge featured refreshments and light snacks, comfy beach couches and great music. It was paradise.
History. Beautiful beaches. Great food. A vacation of a lifetime. I can’t recommend the Algarve enough – we will be back!