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A Summer Holiday In The Algarve

algarve beach

The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal is my favourite holiday destination. I have been lucky enough to visit the area on many occasions and have always enjoyed my time there.

The Algarve is hilly, but traversed with rich valleys. The Algarve in Portugal is a popular destination for tourism, primarily because of its clean, warm water beaches, Mediterranean climate, safety and relatively low costs.

The coastline is notable for picturesque limestone caves and grottoes, particularly around Lagos, which are accessible by powerboat. Praia da Marinha, Lagoa was classified as one of the 100 most beautiful and well preserved beaches of the world. There are many other beautiful and famous summer places such as Albufeira, Vilamoura, Portimão, Lagos, Armação de Pêra, Quarteira, Monte Gordo and Tavira.

Recently, the Algarve has been investing in the creation of a network of golf courses. Many of these golf courses are amongst the best in the world.

A well known beach at Algarve is Praia da Oura.The beach is reached via a steep hill from the bottom of ‘The Strip’, however the name applies to a large area from the bottom of ‘The Strip’ and down to the beach. This area extends eastwards along the coast with a wide range of places to stay. Hotels, villas and huge apartment blocks dominate this area, however, the large excellent beach can handle the hoards of visitors.

The area, like most of the Algarve is still being developed and new apartments are being jammed in wherever possible. This gives a very crowded feel to the area and makes car parking very difficult. For the adventurous and keen walker it is possible, if one times the tides correctly, to walk from Praia da Oura to Albufeira in one direction (west) and in the other, it is supposed to be possible to walk to Quarteira (a long way east). As for the walk to Albufeira, the part between Praia da Oura and Praia Dos Aveiros requires a good head for heights as part of it is along a path worn into the cliff face.

The beach areas in The Algrave in Portugal have a wide range of water sports available including, para-ascending, yellow banana rides, tractor tyre rides and jet skis.

Accommodation (A-Z)

  • Alfagar Apartments on St. Eulalia beach. This was a large complex of some 200/230 apartments. The grounds are beautifully laid out. The complex has two swimming pools, a children’s pool, a bar and a restaurant. The complex has a ‘shuttle’ bus operating from reception to take new-comers to their apartment. They also run a twice daily courtesy bus into Albufeira Town. The views along the coast are lovely, but the beach is only accessible via one of two very steep paths. The same beach can be accessed by turning left onto the main road from reception and going down to the bottom of the hill where the sign is for the Locomia night club. Turn down this road and follow the not so steep hill down.

  • Jacaranda Bungalows. Coming from the beach go left on the roundabout. You’ll find the entrance after about 100 metres to your right. Although very near to the main road this is a very quiet and large site with mostly 2-room but also some 3-room bungalows. The bungalows are old (1974) and that shows, but are very clean and most of them have a very spacious private garden surrounding them. There’s a swimming-pool, a restaurant, tennis-court and a little playground for the kiddies. We had a very pleasant stay here and would surely recommend this to anybody searching for a bit more luxury than you will find in most of the apartments.

  • Clube Praia da Oura.
    I was impressed with Clube Praia d’ Oura, apart from we had only been able to book a studio and it was so tiny!!! It had 1 single bed with another bed underneath that pulled out and you had to put it on legs. It would of been no good whatsoever for larger people. We saw one of the 1 bedroom apartments though and they were really spacious”.We very much enjoyed our stay at Clube Praia da Oura. Our only criticism was that the beds in the studio apartments were pretty bad. We had a fold down bed settee with a metal frame which creaked and pinged with every movement. I would therefore recommend the one bedroom apartments rather than the studios. Otherwise the accommodation was of a very high standard. We had a full cooker, microwave, toaster, hair dryer and excellent crockery and utensils. All apartments have a good balcony or terrace. One other point to bear in mind is that due to the layout of the buildings, some of the balconies are situated alongside walkways. If you require privacy you should request this when booking. We did so and our apartment was extremely private with a lovely sea view.
    Many facilities are available on site, massive swimming pool, Jacuzzis, bowling and other sports. There are two or three bars and restaurants which are of a fairly high standard. We also found the location to be good but it would not suit the old or infirm due to it’s location at the bottom of a short, but very steep hill, (locally known as cardiac hill!). Entertainment is provided in the night club every night but I don’t know what this is like since we never attended. Clube Praia da Oura is also a time share property and the timeshare people will ask you to attend their presentation during your stay but obviously, you don’t need to do this, and they are not as persistent as in some other resorts.

    In conclusion I would have no hesitation in recommending these apartments provided you were prepared to accept the minor problems mentioned above.

  • Oura Estrela Apartments. Very spacious with a full kitchen and a big patio area. We were overlooking the swimming pool which was cold and not used in Feb. Some rooms did overlook the road. The reception staff were very helpful.

  • Soldoiro Apartments. Situated halfway up “Cardiac Hill”, virtually opposite Montechoro Beach Club. My wife and myself had our first foreign holiday in Sep. 2000. It was booked on Teletext and this is were we ended up. The apartments are situated over three blocks and from the outside look quite appealing!
    If you are unlucky enough to be allocated a room at the rear of any of the blocks, they are dark and some of them suffer from damp [‘cos the pool is at a higher level]. Anyway, the missus complained [she’s good at that!], and we got a change of room. It was on the ground floor of the lowest block, with a nice balcony and a bit of garden [adjacent to the side road which runs through to Club Praia da Oura. Although the room was quite dark it was in a perfect location for afternoons after a day doing whatever. Sun ’til late is great if you’re drinking Matteus on the balcony! And it was a perfect spot for “people watching”.
    Do not be misled by brochure claims of activities [after all, September is not exactly low season]. The bar area is clean and attractive, though quiet of a night. The pool and surrounding areas were excellent but they seemed to be used by non-residents, which was a bit off putting. And the majority of residents were Dutch or German [take that as you want!] But because the beach was only a stones throw away, this didn’t really bother us. The daily staff were great, the reception staff were adequate and the bar staff were Russian! As I said at the start, this was our first foreign holiday, we went back again last September[2001] after requesting the same room, and had an enjoyable two weeks. And although we will be returning to Praia da Oura this year, twice in the same apartments is enough. Overall ratings: Location [location, location!] 9 out of 10 Rooms 6 out of 10: Staff 7 out of 10: Facilities 6 out of 10 Value for money 7 out of 10.

Eateries (A-Z)

  • Eddy’s Bar. Beside Oura Praia – Excellent snack bar and good English breakfast available any time of day or evening.

  • Jacaranda Reastaurant. Small restaurant at the Jacaranda bungalows site serving not very many dishes, mostly snacks. The food was fairly pleasant, but not great. Service was to some extend good but not as one might expect. This was the only restaurant where they didn’t ask when to serve to dishes for the two little kids we had with us, so their dishes were served with our main dish, which isn’t very smart considering the eating-capabilities of two two-year olds (your own food gets cold while you’re trying to feed your child.)

  • Lilles Bar. More of a snack bar than a restaurant, try ‘Lilles bar’ on the left heading towards the globe roundabout from Oura Praia. Does some pretty good daily specials, popular with the locals too, but very friendly. Breaks the rule that you can’t have cheap AND cheerful. Also child friendly, not that any Algarvian eatery is not, but found them exceptional.

  • Neto Restaurant. Located on the back road from Club Praia da Oura and behind the Oura Praia.
    Neto restaurant still provides a quality meal, and a complete evening out thanks to the attention of Joao and Adalberto, ably assisted by newcomer Marcello. The food remains excellent, as noted elsewhere this does lead to the odd full house, but the restaurant has also been extended into the former shop next door, making room for some 20+ extra diners. Generally eating out on the Algarve has become a little more expensive recently, particularily for those serving premium quality food, but in comparison Neto still gives good value for your money. Must have at the moment is the monkfish kebab, but it would be hard to order a dish that failed to please. Wash down with a bottle of local wine or their delicious Sangria, remember eating out on the Algarve is not fastfood, allow a full evening for the best experience. Reckon on €15-20 per head for a full meal with drinks.

  • Martinique Velha. The Martinique Velha bakery/coffee shop opposite the front door of the Oura Praia hotel and which you recommended is still excellent. I walked passed it twice as the frontage isn’t the most welcoming but has super cakes and rolls.

  • Mona Lisa. We visited a cafe in the Commercial Centre at Praia de Oura called Mona Lisa. It was run by the most polite family I have ever met and the baguettes were massive and absolutely the best I tasted whilst I was there. Also the crepes at this cafe were gorgeous with fresh fruit etc. I would recommend anyone visiting this beach to go for a snack there. The only drawback, and it was a small one, was that there was no toilet attached but there are toilets in the centre which we used which were really for the sole use of the staff in the centre.

  • Hong Kong. Very good service and food was excellent, ate here three times in one week and had no problems. Staff all very nice and food worth going back for.

  • Rodizio Ze Brasilero. A Mexican restaurant where you can eat all you can of the main meal for one price. More expensive than the other places but a nice novelty if you are a good meat eater and are hungry. One thing to watch is that they bring you starters of bread and sardine paste etc and although we said that we were much too full for a dessert the very charming waiters brought us a very nice pudding which of course we shared and the starters and the dessert are an extra (not requested) on the bill.


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