Carrapateira, Portugal

Carrapateira, Portugal, is a village on the Algarve coast with a nice selection of beach house rentals. The village offers easy access to an isolated beach that features three clean kilometres of virgin sand. Carrapateira is the real Portugal, a place to let go of big city worries. This is a vacation for the discerning traveler, wanting to escape to a unique environment. It helps if you are a serious surfer, because the waves at the mouth of the Ribeira da Bordeira can be challenging. The beach is bounded by limestone cliffs and wide ranging dunes that extend inland to Carrapateira, a rural place with an easy going atmosphere, quite more relaxed from the more crowded resorts, also found in the region.

Find your inner poet in the peace and quiet of Carrapateira. This is where you go to find freedom, in a secluded beach house with a glorious view. The meaning of life comes clear to those who spend time in a village like this, where you will find a surprising range of affordable and convenient rentals.

And, when you need big city advantages, it’s only a drive of a few kilometres to a generous selection of restaurants, spas, and golf courses. The Algarve Coast has long catered to international tourism. Whether you are here to fish, surf, or just soak up the sun, this is a unique escape.

For your soul, spend time walking around Costa Vincentina Natural Park, a protected reserve with fabulous ocean views, pristine forest trails, and wildlife. Then, for fine dining, your favorite stop will be Restaurante Sitio de Forno, sited on a limestone cliff with an unobstructed ocean view. But for fun, learn to surf at the nomad surfer’s home, the Carrapateira Surfcamp, Surf School & Surfaris, Portugal. Remember, the Algarve’s southwestern tip is a surfer’s paradise unmatched anywhere else in Europe. Blessed with perpetual sunshine,
the Sagres Peninsula has a coastline with decent to excellent surfing conditions year round. The waves range in size from timid to heroic, while the variety of beach breaks and reefs will provide the perfect challenge for all surfers, from the tyros to the maestros.

The other option is to stay at the Carrapateira Surfhouse, a one stop business offering surf lessons for beginners, guided tours for the pros, and comfortable B&B housing. Connect with kindred spirits in the surfer’s village of Carrapateira, or enjoy a beach party on the ageless dunes of Bordeira Beach.

The Carrapateira Surfhouse boasts a multicultural, poly-lingual staff. Look forward to parties with Brazilian food, Mexican barbecues, and even the random belly dancer. For this and many other reasons, the Alrgave coast continues to be particularly popular for United Kingdom vacationers.

When you vacation at Carrapateira, look forward to a pristine beach with a charming café, romantic sunset surfs, and a feathery mist suspended off the coast like a distant shore. When the mist comes in, it will feel like the land that time forgot, to create a memory that you will savor, always.


Sagres, Portugal

For the traveler looking to avoid hustle and bustle, all-night parties and rampant overdevelopment, Sagres in the southwest region of Portugal’s popular Algarve region offers an oasis of relaxation. The relative remoteness of the small town from larger population centers has allowed it to escape the rapid development experienced by other areas of the Algarve. Sagres offers beautiful beaches, surfing, diving, cycling and bird watching.

During Roman occupation, the area around Sagres was known as Promontorium Sacrum, or Sacred Promontory. The Romans thought that the area marked the westernmost point of the world and that the setting sun caused the waters off the point to boil furiously. Legend has it that Prince Henry the Navigator founded Sagres around 1420. The school of navigation that Henry established is believed to have pushed Portugal forward as a leader in exploration.

The population of Sagres dwindled after Henry’s death, and the town began to fade. An earthquake destroyed the town’s church in 1755, forcing residents to travel a considerable distance to attend Mass, and even more people left.

Though history buffs may be disappointed that many of the town’s original buildings collapsed during the 1755 quake, the Fortaleza de Sagres survives. The fortress, originally completed in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1793, dominates Sagres Point. A small chapel from Henry’s time survives inside. Sagres Point itself affords breathtaking views up the coast to Cabo Sao Vincente, which is home to the second-most powerful lighthouse in Europe.

Though the town has recently undergone expansion, its population remains under 2,000. Sagres spreads out a considerable distance, but the shops, restaurants and cafes cluster along the main street, the Rua Comandante Matoso. Seafood lovers will enjoy the abundance and variety of fresh fish offered by the restaurants on this street.

Both Atlantic and Mediterranean currents influence the climate. Sagres enjoys moderate temperatures, and winds from the Atlantic help to keep summers cool. Rainfall is sparse and occurs mostly in the winter months.

Most people visit Sagres for its stunning coastline, popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. The shape of the coastline provides sheltered beaches and numerous surfing opportunities. Praia da Mareta is a popular family beach five minutes from the town center on the southern side of Sagres. Praia do Tonel on the more exposed northern side of the point is popular with surfers and is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer. Those seeking solitude will enjoy Praia do Martinhal, just east of Sagres.

Accommodations include hotels, apartments, guest houses and a campground. Concrete high-rises are almost nonexistent. Travelers should note that surfers flock to the region in late July and August, and accommodation may be more difficult to find during those times.

Travelers can get to Sagres by flying to the regional capital, Faro. The Faro International Airport has links with all the European capitals. Trains run from Faro to Lagos, which is 30 miles from Sagres. Bus service is infrequent and may take a long time, so travelers are advised to allow plenty of time when traveling by bus from Lagos to Sagres. Rental cars are also available in both Faro and Lagos.


Monchique, Portugal

Step back in time to when life was peaceful and things didn’t move too fast. Picture a village with lush gardens, beautifully terraced hillsides, charming cottages and a beautiful green landscape gently making its way up the hillside. Monchique, Portugal might be just the place you are dreaming of.

Monchique is a small town with little more than 10,000 residents, which has a nineteenth century atmosphere that is very inviting. In recent years, many of the younger residents have moved to the coastal areas where there are better career opportunities, but taking up residence in the charming town is a community of expatriates and others who have come to visit and fallen in love with the relaxed pace of life there.

The climate in Monchique is milder than its coastal neighbors and enjoys more sunshine. The residents are warm and friendly, with hospitality being the norm rather than the exception. The town is comprised of lush hillsides dotted with white houses built around the central church with a few small villages to the east and west. There are no pretentious shopping malls, golf courses or five star restaurants, but the local cuisine, although not elaborate, is excellent.

Sight seeing in Monchique is best accomplished on foot, taking in the beautiful and relaxing scenery. Enjoy a coffee in the town square or a bit of lunch. Sample a pao com chourico, which is spicy sausage in a fresh roll. You might also want to sample the signature local dish piri-piri, a traditional spicy casserole prepared with chicken or salted cod, or local favorites wild boar, kid or assorted wild game.

Monchique has many local artisans that produce beautifully crafted items including sculptures, pottery and homemade soaps as well as handmade shoes crafted by local cobblers.

Strolling through town, there are signs to guide you through the area and a wide variety of walking trails. Follow the cobblestone streets and visit the parish church and the Sacred Art Museum located there, then follow the path up the hill to the ruins of the Franciscan convent, circa the 1600s, that offers breathtaking views of the area. Another interesting feature of Monchique is the terraced orchards where oranges, almonds and figs are grown in the traditional manner that has been used for many centuries.

The nearby village of Caldas de Monchique is located off in a wooded valley along the road to Monchique and a favorite locale since the Roman era for its natural spring water, prized for both drinking and bathing. During Roman times the area was developed into a spa around the natural hot spring that is at a constant temperature of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). There is another natural hot spring near Picota called Fonte Santa that legend credits with having special healing properties.

Surfing, sunbathing and swimming are all available within a short distance from Monchique as well, with both the south and west coast beaches of Portugal nearby. The coastline is pristine and offers some of the best beaches in the world.