Winter is whipping by so fast, it feels like just yesterday we were jetting off to the beguiling landscapes of The Algarve with Jet2Holidays yet in fact it’s almost a month now since my flight to Faro in Portugal with Jet2. When it comes to travelling I am someone who loves to live and breathe the culture of wherever I am visiting and so being taken around the hotspots of southern Portugal by the Algarve tourism board was perfect for soaking in that Portuguese ethos. It’s especially a treat knowing you get to see so many places which you may not have found by yourself. Over the space of three days we managed to pack in as much sightseeing as our little old legs could handle, so here’s a round up of what the trip consisted of.
Where we stayed
For our trip over the four days we stayed at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura with Jet2Holidays. Waking up to hear the gentle crash of waves each morning was a luxury I had no idea I’d been missing. I came back home and was instantly disappointed with the return of the sounds of car engines roaring past and the occasional shrill whistling of a next door neighbor as they absentmindedly search for their keys. The modern minimalistic interiors of Marina Vilamoura were ‘right in my wheelhouse’ as Ollie likes to say – and he’s not wrong because I really can’t resist the look of a nice white sofa or chair. Each morning our group would wander bleary eyed into the restaurant and be instantly revived by the delicious array of breakfast foods which greeted us. A sizeable amount of pastries were always ready for the picking along with fresh fruit, cereals and cooked breakfast options. Not to mention I spied an ice bucket of champagne next to the breakfast juices and if I hadn’t of been working each day I would have been straight over there. Overall it was the most relaxing & comfortable stay, there was good food aplenty and the beach club proved to be a very aesthetically pleasing place to enjoy.
Type: Hotel | Rating: 5 Star | Facilities: Beach Club, 4 Pools & Spa
Where we ate
We landed with Jet2 around mid morning and headed straight into the town of Faro so we could enjoy some autumnal portuguese sunshine and explore the streets. After an hour of taking in the sites our tummies were rumbling and so we headed to our first foodie destination on the trip, the wonderful Tertulia Algarvia. The restaurant is primarily seafood and meat based dining as it serves the most authentic portuguese food so I was ready to embrace tastes I’d never tried before. One of the appetizers we started with was a cured cheese with honey and almonds and these are ingredients I would never normally think to put together. It’s safe to say it was highly delicious and I may have gone in for seconds and thirds. An array of dishes were spread on the table for us to enjoy and enjoy I did. From Octopus to dried Tuna, my tastebuds were on a culinary thrill ride and overall the lunch was fantastic.
Offers: Lunch, Dinner, Culinary Experiences | Price: ££ | Website:http://www.tertulia-algarvia.pt/en
After lunch we checked ourselves into our hotel and quickly got ourselves ready for dinner. A short car ride from Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, we arrived at Emo Restaurant which can be found in Tivoli Marinas sister hotel Anantara Vilamoura. I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing a 5 course meal before so it was a welcome novelty to enjoy such a structured dining experience. Each course was accompanied by a specially selected wine chosen to compliment the food in the best way possible. My palate was well and truly blessed with a sensation of tastes during this evening and my favourite course had to be the steak which was cooked to perfection.
Offers: Dinner & Drinks | Price: £££ | Website:https://www.anantara.com/en/vilamoura-algarve/restaurants/emo-restaurant//
One of my favourite dining experiences during this trip had to be the excursion to the solitary establishment of Restaurante Estamine on Deserta Island. If you are wondering what I mean by solitary, it’s as simple as it sounds. The restaurant is not just the only eating house on the entire island but actually the only established building on the island too. The only other premises on Deserta is that of Mr Alves the lone man who inhabits the island day and night with his dog to accompany him. Don’t feel too sorry for him though, his wife lives on the mainland so clearly Mr Alves is living in the best of both worlds. The island is accessible by a boat fleet dedicated to taking people to Estaminé restaurant, it runs several times a day and tickets can be purchased through the website.
Restaurante Estamine offers food cooked from the Algarve only and specialises in mainly Seafood. I’ve always been a little tentative towards eating shellfish but it was this dining experience which really helped me overcome my inhibitions towards it. The food was so beautifully cooked and prepared I just couldn’t resist going back for more and more with a particular favourite being the Razor Clam Rice. Divine! Plus a little interesting fact to end on, the restaurants kitchen is run on solar power meaning it’s not only a wonderful experience but also environmentally friendly too.
Offers: Lunch, Afternoon Dining | Price: ££ | Website: https://www.ilhadeserta.com/estamine-restaurant/
On return from our trip around Ria Formosa and Deserta Island, we returned to the mainland late afternoon to do a little more wandering around Faro before getting ready for dinner at Paixa Restaurante that night. Another short trip away from the hotel, Paixa is considered as a hotspot for eclectic & contemporary style dining. This mediterranean style tapas cuisine is perfect for anyone who loves being able to sample many different authentic tastes and also anyone who loves to overload on bread (me, I’m talking about myself). With an extensive wine list, modern decor and exemplary service it’s easy to see why this Restaurant is highly rated.
Offers: Dinner, Contemporary Dining Experience | Price: £££ | Website: http://paixarestaurante.com/en/intro
Restaurante O Patio
On our third day exploring the Algarve we were taken to Carvoeiro for a delightful lunch at O Patio. Personally, if I were to base my opinion off location, this would be my favourite of all the dining experiences down to it sitting on a lovely town square overlooking the sea. Dining experiences reach peak optimum for me when not only the food is good but the environment is also culturally immersive too. We’d just finished a walking trail of the seven hanging valleys so it was lovely to sit back, relax & enjoy people watching as they hustle and bustled across the busy town square. More seafood was enjoyed and I dare to say I tasted the most delectable piri piri prawn dish I’ve ever tried which now haunts me with occasional cravings every now and again (perhaps a visit back to O Patio is on the cards for 2020).
Offers: Lunch & Dinner | Price: ££ | Website: https://www.praiacarvoeiro.com/o-patio-menu/
Last and most certainly not least on our dining experience of The Algarve was the tres cool and very popular Bovino Steakhouse. The moment I walked in I fell in love with the look and feel of the bar and restaurant. With its crushed velvet green bar chairs to it’s immaculate tiled flooring, I was in interior heaven! If you are looking for a restaurant that offers excellent sharing options then this is definitely one for you. For starters we had a selection of Grilled Tiger Prawns, Cheese & Onion Empanadas, Lamb Croquettes and Grilled Spanish Sausages. These were all utterly delicious but the course that stole the show for me was the main. We were presented with a selection of steak cuts which were brought on a heated plate meaning the longer you left the steak the more well done it would cook. The atmosphere in Bovino is vibrant and electric and if you are looking for a great place to go with friends you needn’t look any further.
Offers: Dinner & Drinks | Price: ££ | Website: https://www.quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/bovino-steakhouse/
What we saw
A package holiday is brilliant way of enjoying a trip abroad without the hassle of having to organise the sometimes overwhelming details of travelling. The packages which Jet2 offer takes care of your flights, travel and stay and offers stunning locations (such as Faro) in places teaming with activities for you. In this instance we took our Jet2 flights from London Stansted and from the moment we took off to the moment we landed the trip was completely fuss free. Plus The Algarve is one of many gorgeous destinations within Portugal which Jet2holidays offer! On our first day in The Faro District we were taken around the sites of The Algarve capital and enjoyed many a good view from the heights of Faro. So if you are looking for any further inspiration on where to head on holiday next then check out these next photos.
Our second day involved embarking upon a catamaran to wind through the canals of Ria Formosa Nature Park as we learnt about the many species of birds which inhabit this area. Our tour was given by a marine biologist who was experienced in the many benefits which the nature park has upon the area of Faro. The end point of this tour then brought us to Deserta Island where we met Mr Alves and enjoyed our seafood lunch at Restaurante Estamine. Not only does Deserta Island boast these two things but also a unique golden sand beach which stretches down one side of the island. It was picturesque in every way.
As they say, save the best till last and on this trip they most certainly did. The Seven Hanging Valleys is a natural wonder which sits along the coastline of the Western Algarve and comprises of some of the most stunning seascapes you can imagine. The trail is not too difficult (make sure to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes) and feels like it passes way too quickly as you gawp in wander at the golden cliffs and incredible scenery. Along the walk there are plenty of beaches where you can sunbathe or even on some of them can partake in sea activities such as Kayaking. There is no end of activities to enjoy throughout this part of the Algarve.
AD [Press trip] All activities, dining experiences, flights and hotel were gifted as part of this press trip however opinions and content are completely my own.