As the snow is currently falling here in the UK, and we’re still unable to go on any new adventures, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane, looking back on a solo trip I took to Portugal in February 2019.
Fingers crossed we won’t have to wait too long before we can all travel again, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy heading back to the warmer climes of The Algarve with me.
This post was originally published on 5th February 2019 and updated on 7th February 2021.
My first taste of Albufeira
Yesterday was my first full day in Portugal. I’m staying 4km outside of old town Albufeira, and with my trip being out of season, many of the shops and restaurants nearby were still closed.
Having decided to head into central Albufeira, aiming for the old town, I could either take a taxi, a local bus or walk the 4km from my hotel into Albufeira. As it was such a lovely morning, and I was looking forward to exploring, I decided to walk.
I often find that we are so busy focusing on where we want to get to on our adventures, that we forget to stop and take in the journey. Walking gives us that real opportunity to see what’s around us and to take in our surroundings.
Albufeira sits on the southern coastline of Portugal in the popular tourist destination, The Algarve. Due to it’s proximity to Morocco, the summers in Albufeira are warm and the winters mild. Having never been abroad in February before, it was hard to know what to expect weather-wise, and it had been equally as tricky to know what clothes to pack. The weather was looking beautifully sunny, but with it only being February, the air was also fresh, so I headed out in a thin jumper, T-shirt and jeans.
The walk into Albufeira isn’t the prettiest. Whilst the road takes you close to the coastline, you can’t see the sea until you reach Albufeira itself.
I passed ‘the strip’ on my way into town, which is the party area of the resort. Without sounding old, I was grateful that I wasn’t spending my week there. Don’t get me wrong, I love a night out, and maybe I’m generalising here, but no matter which European seaside resort I find myself in, the main aim of the strip seems to be to get so drunk you’re sick, and to end up in a bed that isn’t your own. Spending all that money doing what you could be doing back home, albeit the weather would be more unpredictable back home weather, seems a bit daft. Or perhaps I am just getting old!
It took me around 50 minutes to walk into town, and when I arrived, I wasn’t disappointed.
By this point, the weather was warming up. Off came the jumper, along with thoughts of, why didn’t I pack any lighter trousers!?!
I’ve barely seen a cloud in the sky so far, and when you’re in the sun, even at this time of year, it’s hot enough to make this gingernut start to turn a nice shade of pink!
The Old Town
On my arrival, I decided to take a walk straight up into the old town. It wasn’t quite lunchtime, so I had some time to explore before I needed to start looking for a pit stop. As I headed into the old town, I kept seeing signs pointing towards ‘Miradouro’. Miradouro in English means ‘viewpoint’, so I began to follow these signs to see where they lead.
The Miradouro turned out to be a beautiful spot above the beach, which overlooked the coastline below. The views were stunning. From the Miradouro, I decided to keep walking as I had spotted signs pointing towards the marina. As I wouldn’t be in Portugal for long enough to return to the old town, I decided to keep walking towards the marina. I also hoped I might find somewhere to stop for some lunch whilst I was there.
Although I love exploring on my own, as I got closer to the marina, I felt very aware that there were fewer tourists along this route. It seemed to be much more of a residential area, so I decided to turn back and walk back towards the old town.
As I got closer to the restaurants, I left the path and hopped down onto the beach. The beaches in Albufeira are stunning. Everywhere I have been so far I have found to be spotlessly clean. The sands are golden and pebble free, there’s barely any rubbish or very little seaweed lying strewn across the golden sands.
I wished I had worn my sandals instead of my trusted Nike trainers, so off they came, allowing my feet to breath. It felt so good to feel the sand between my toes.
Sardines and Caipirinha’s
By now, my belly was telling me it was time to eat. One of the many perks of holidaying in February means that it’s easy to get into restaurants at any time of day because there are so few tourists around! I managed to get a table in the sunshine, in the first restaurant I stumbled across. After receiving an offer from the waiter to join me for lunch (I turned him down of course, but it was very flattering to get the offer), I settled down to look through the menu.
Before arriving in Portugal, I had read that they are big on their fish, especially sardines. I had never eaten fresh sardines before but decided to give them a go. I hadn’t expected them to arrive with their heads on, and I had no idea which parts I could eat and which I couldn’t! After a quick google to find out, I tucked into them, savouring every bite. Afterwards, I washed them down with one of my favourite cocktails, an ice-cold Caipirinha.
After lunch, it was time to walk off those sardines. I headed back to my hotel, where I spent a couple of hours by the outdoor pool and finished the day off nicely in the indoor solar heated pool ☀️
I would highly recommend Albufeira, especially at this time of year. I would imagine the swarms of tourists arriving later on in the year in time for the much warmer summer months, would take away from some of the old town’s charm! For me, I would love to come back to Albufeira, but I would also go out of my way to head there for some late winter/early spring sun to miss the rowdy crowds. At this time of year, it is perfect for solo travellers, families, and couples. If I find myself heading back in the future, I’ll make sure to pack some shorts and T-shirt’s because the sun does get quite hot throughout the day, although it’s best to go prepared for much cooler nights.
There’s something so enjoyable about meandering through cobbled streets