If you only had one week to explore Southern Portugal, you'd be hard pushed to fit it all in... There's Faro and the magnificent Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. So perhaps a day of roman floor mosiacs, moorish oil lamps and the views of the Sé from the cathedral's bell tower..followed by a cruise of the nature reserve on the lagoon?
Or you could consider heading out like we did towards the Sagres peninsula, a short drive on the N125 from Lagos. Visiting the imposing fort, stand over the pebble wind compass and be amazed at the isolated headland with it's rocky crags and crashing waves.. Windblown doesnt do it justice! but I guess if you arrive on the 31st November you can't expect to enjoy the summer warmth of the waters off the Martinhal beach..
Or perhaps you could head inland though, move away from the sandstone cliffs and spectacular sea caves and visit Silves to roam around the Moorish castle, one of the region's most eye catching monuments... or even find time to enjoy the Museo Arqueolgico with it's amazing 12th Century Arab well cistern... sadly we arrived late in the day and never really took to Silves... the lure of the Algarve coastline proved too much!!!
With so much to see and so little time, we'd happily have taken a visit to Tavira too... to enjoy the Moorish Castle with it's own pousada (Convent of Nossa Senhora) where you can catch a glimpse of the original Moorish street foundations or the tombs of Dom Paio Peres Correia and his seven knights!! But as you can see from the pictures above... the Sagres peninsula proved a real hit.. with both girls clambering over the windswept promentary... It's fortress built to allow Henry the Navigator to see beyond the Canaries & Cape Bojador!! It's easy to see just why the Portuguese were such great explorers... from Vasco de Gama to Christopher Colombus ... the remoteness and lure of lands across the sea must have been an amazing opportnity in years gone by...
That said, the biblical rain storm that battered us as we arrived was something else (just grab a quick look at the picture below to see the aftermath)... but given an hour, it was soon back to sun (if a little more windy)... but the chance to see lightning crashing down into the Atlantic Ocean was a truly breath taking sight as it danced across the sea towards the lighthouse (we wondered how light houses deal with this? A point to ponder or if you know the answer please let us know?? by adding a comment below)
With Silves still yet to see, we headed back along the N125 before dipping into small winding roads to the coast and the sheltered beaches that line this part of the Algarve (if you're in a motorhome, you might want to visit Salema but the free parking at our favourite cove at Boca du Rio might just tip the balance - )
But if you're into true Algrave beaches, then head on a little further east towards Praia da Luz, Senhora da Rocha or perhaps our favourite beach at Ponta da Piedade (Dona Ana)!!! Either way, you'll love this part of Portugal... full of history, natural beauty and some of the best beaches we've seen across Europe (in fact we'll have to re-write our 'Top 5 Family Friendly Coastlines across Europe' article after this trip!)
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