The Algarve is the southernmost region in Portugal and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe with over 7 million foreign tourists visiting the area each year. We had the opportunity to visit the area on a cruise several years ago when our ship made a port stop in Portimao.
During our stop we visited Lagos, the historic center of the Portuguese Age of Discovery and frequent home to Prince Henry the Navigator. It also has a more infamous history in that it was the gateway for African slaves into Europe. The first slave markets in Lagos opened in 1444 and brought considerable wealth and income to the Portuguese monarchy and merchant classes (including Prince Henry who reportedly received 20% of the selling price for every slave.
Nearby Lagos is Ponta da Piedade, a beautiful natural feature of the Algarve coastline. They consist of golden sandstone cliffs, 60 feet high, that were carved into rock pillars, tunnels and grottos. You can take steps (500 of them) to get to the bottom or hire a sightseeing boat to view them from the sea, which many people do. Being on a tour, we had limited time here so the pictures are from above, but it is something I would like to do when we visit again.
On our way back to the ship, we stopped in the beach town of Carvoeiro. Once a traditional small fishing village, it has developed into a popular resort with foreign tourists. The beach (Praia do Carvoeiro) spreads out in front of the main square. On either side are small white fishermen’s houses as well as numerous restaurants and cafes while the colorfully painted fishing boats on the beach make the scene postcard perfect.
In researching this port prior to our trip, one of the “must-do” was to sample the local grilled sardines. Our Maître’ D onboard ship, a native of Portimao, recommended the restaurant Dona Barco in town. He guaranteed we would not be disappointed and we weren’t. Large plump sardines chargrilled, served with a tomato salad and boiled potatoes accompanied by a glass of white wine- YUM, YUM, and YUM! When we got to Dona Barco’s it seemed like our whole ship was there chowing down, including the Captain
We had a good time (and a great meal) in Portimao and I would enjoy visiting again. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy the pictures.