Faro, Portugal, is a gem of a city, with its wild, rugged coastline, numerous golden beaches and 24/7 sunshine. Our home for the week was in Silves, a small town to the west of Faro, in a gorgeous villa, a little off the beaten track but a short cycle to the town centre. Ripe pomegranate, lemon, orange and fig trees are in abundance here, providing endless deliciously sweet snacks.
I’d recommend taking a trip to the local market, open 7 days a week, to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables as well as trying all the traditional Portuguese delicacies. Loulé has one of the best and largest markets in Portugal, running down several cobbled streets, as well as indoor. Obviously the best thing about markets is sampling everything you can get tour hands on, and that meant sweet date cakes (a local delicacy), fudge, olive oil, chutneys and plenty of cheese.
If you’re near Silves, definitely head to Churrasqueira Valdemar famous for it’s spicy Piri Piri chicken. The actual restaurant is nothing to write home about, but the chicken is flame grilled right in front of your eyes, dirt cheap and tastes delicious - no wonder it’s always teeming with locals. We also headed to Cafe Ingles, which is the kind of restaurant that makes you truly feel like you’re on holiday - alfresco dining, live band playing jazz or blues, tall trees surrounding the tables lit up with fairy lights, and delicious food (gaspacho, octopus, pizza, chicken, salads, wine, huge G&T’s everything!). It’s a real gem of a place, and though we didn’t try their dinner menu, I bet it’s equally tasty.
As for beaches, you really are spoiled for choice, as the coastline caters for every preference, from water-sport enthusiasts to nudist beaches, if that floats your boat. I’d recommend heading over to Praia dos Pontos and walking the 5k trail from cove to cove along the cliff top. The views really are mesmerising, it’s an easy walk and you’ll stumble on some charming hidden beaches that have escaped the keen eye of the crowds. One of the highlights of the trip for me, was a boat ride to see the wild dolphins. I’m always a bit sceptical about these sorts of claims, but after seeing about 20 dolphins in the first hour, I can safely say that if you’re an animal lover, you should do a trip like this. We started in Albufeira and headed up the coast to Praia dos Pontos, managing to get right up close to these beautiful animals, who were swimming right under our boat and definitely showing off with lots of jumping. The caves we explored were fascinating, a real rugged contrast to the crystal clear turquoise water beneath. I was craving a dip in the sea since it was about 35 degrees, so the 2 hour stop off at a remote beach for a BBQ and SUP (stand up paddle boarding) hit the spot.
All in all the most rejuvenating, sweatiest week that felt like escaping to a truly unspoiled place, handily only 2.5 hours from London by flight. The perfect getaway for time-poor sun seekers craving some adventure, the sand between their toes and nostalgic evenings eating delicious food in a charming little town.