Over the Easter holiday, the Swiss Family Domeck and some dear friends from Orlando jetted over to Portugal in search of sunshine, good food, and new discoveries. Our journey started in the capital city of Lisbon, a visible mishmash of contemporary success and past hardships. Lisbon is artsy, funky, gritty, and even a little bit posh. And I believe it may be one of the most underrated cities in Europe.
Since I had visited Lisbon before (see my post A Look at Lisbon), I was most excited about heading south. In fact, we traveled as far south and as far west as you can go on the European continent!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We rented a car in Lisbon in order to have the freedom to explore the Alentejo and the Algarve regions to the south. We left the main highway (the A2/E1) in order to wind our way through The Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park (Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, PNSACV). It’s impossible to feel hurried on this drive. As we drove by sheep grazing in their pastures, cork oaks stripped of their prized bark, and dozens of storks nesting on telephone poles, I inadvertently forgot our modern world of constant connectivity because I felt like I was observing life as it used to be. The rugged and rural landscape was as captivating as a Netflix original series. I just couldn’t look away from the beauty of it all!
After a leisurely lunch in the oceanside town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, we meandered up and over ridges until we entered the Algarve. We bypassed Lagos and went a bit further west to Salema. Salema is a small fishing village that is actually still within the realm of the PNSACV. With a stretch of sandy beach and one main street, the town is tiny and lovely. We rented our own two-bedroom townhouse in the Salema Beach Village, a property by Nau Hotels and Resorts.
Upon our arrival at the Salema Beach Village, we were warmly welcomed by the staff at Reception and then escorted to our apartment, Number 19. We had outstanding vistas over the entire village, adjacent cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. These views were so good that Justin and I would get up to see the sunrise over the cliffs, painting the sky with its warmth.
The Salema Beach Village turned out to be the perfect place to unwind and relax. With only three nights and two full days in the Algarve, we weren’t even able to enjoy all of the property’s amenities, such as the pool. But the staff was very kind to make lunch reservations for us in town on Easter Sunday, where we indulged in a sumptuous feast from the sea.
Salema also proved to be a great hub for exploring the western portion of the Algarve Coast. Lagos, famous for its whitewashed walls, Portuguese charm, and dramatic cliffs, was only a 20-30 minute drive away. We enjoyed the views from the Ponta da Piedade, shopped around the Old Town, and dined near the marina. Lagos caters to vacationers and has plentiful tour operators, restaurants, and shops. And while I’m glad we spent a day in Lagos, I’m also glad we didn’t stay there.
Salema is also not far from Sagres – the most southwestern town on the European continent. Henry the Navigator, one of Portugal’s great explorers, returned from his adventures at sea and established a sailing school on this precipitous piece of rock. Today, there is a fort where the mariner’s institution once stood. And Sagres is a great place for surfing and sunset watching.
As the sun and moon both set over our time in Portugal, I felt completely refreshed and at peace. Although our stay in the Algarve at the Salema Beach Village wasn’t quite long enough (I really didn’t want to leave those views nor the reassuring hush of the ocean as it washed over sand and rock), I will fondly remember our time somewhere west of Lagos.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO SHARE…
Olá a todos! Don’t you just love Portugal? Can you believe those cliffs? Are you a beach person? Would you eat fresh octopus which was probably caught in sight of your balcony?
Disclaimer: The cost of our stay at the Salema Beach Village by Nau Hotels and Resorts was discounted in exchange for an article on our experience. Like always, you can expect honest opinions from me, a Candor, and trust my integrity to share the real thing here.