In a new series, we ask readers to send in their top tips on making the most of the Algarve. This could be suggestions on walks, social groups, viewpoints, landmarks, interesting history, restaurants or shops with unique products. If you have any to share please send them to the editor.
From: Paul Morgan
Subject: Walk and Talk
After attending a men’s circle last year, I realised the importance of men communicating openly with other men. I gained such strength knowing that I was being listened to with no judgment or even a response.
Having lived in Lagos for three years (on and off), I felt disconnected from myself – and the local community. I also struggled to find a social group that didn’t revolve around drinking, nightlife or sports. Setting up the Men’s Walk and Talk has given me purpose and has created a connection for me to both Lagos and the people within it. The walking group is still in an early phase where we build trust and respect between each other. I hope it gives other men the strength to open up and communicate. I hope you feel inspired to join us on our weekly Men’s walk and talk. Men of all ages and nationalities are welcome.
Facebook: Men’s Walk and Talk Lagos
From: Geoff Hollow
Subject: Treading the Boards
On a recent visit to the Algarve, we did several walks along the boardwalks at Alvor, Ponta da Piedade and Meia Praia.
What amazing structures these boardwalks are in giving access to fragile environments, providing safe exercise routes and enhancing tourist information of the environment, particularly where storyboards are provided along the route. A brilliant investment by the local council.
On a beautiful, sunny January morning, we embarked on a walk along the Meia Praia boardwalk, which we had not done before and it was particularly enjoyable. There is a 4 km walk to the Forte da Meia Praia starting at the car park at the beach’s western end. It is an impressive but abandoned Renaissance fort dating from the 17th century. It was built as a strategically located fortification offering defence to Lagos primarily against the French. The fort is freely accessible but rather overgrown and spoiled by graffiti, but from its ramparts, it provides outstanding views across the beach, sea and surrounding landscape.
The fort provides a fascinating focus for the walk and numerous beach bars en route, two of which were open, even in January, to offer excellent “refreshment”.
We took one of the spur boardwalks leading onto the beach and returned to the car park along the foreshore, providing a gloriously different and circular two-hour round walk.
Hopefully, in the future, some conservation and repair work could be done on the fort to preserve this important cultural site in Portugal’s history.
From: Dan Costinas
Subject: What’s so great about summer?
When you think about holidays and journeys, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Summer? August? Are mobs of tourists roaming your favourite destinations? – Maybe from now on, you’ll enjoy thinking and acting somehow out of the widely known box.
While February may not be the most conventional time to plan a trip, it is definitely worth visiting the Algarve. Most of the time, but not necessarily, a harmless short burst of rain is a reasonable price to pay for smaller crowds, having the gorgeous beaches all to yourself, more availability for lodging, slightly lower prices, and very high odds of enjoying some beautiful, sunny days during one of the darkest months of the year. As an unexpected bonus, in the second half of the month, the soft white colour of the almond trees in blossom delightfully mixes with the stronger green and reddish-brown of the surrounding dry landscape.
During an agreeable Algarvian winter, the average diurnal temperatures can reach a value of about 16 or 170 C. It is ideal for hikers, as well as for those seeking a relaxing reset. The air usually gets quite cold after sunset, down to 6–80 C, mainly due to the wind coming from the ocean. But, the winter season can also mean consuming richer food and drinks in a cosy dining room or right in front of a fireplace.
Cardies, sweaters and comfy coats or jackets can still be necessary sometimes, but a (T-)shirt will suffice most days. All in all, February is a delightful time for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy some highly sought-after sunshine. Moreover, depending on weather and sea conditions, some of the impressive caves and rock formations or the dolphin-watching tours operate all year round.
While visiting Portugal in February benefits you in more than one way, it can also be advantageous to the local communities, at least for those who make a living from the tourism industry.
What’s so great about summer anyway?
Subject: How to find a good restaurant
I am a real foody and like finding new restaurants and enjoying different cuisines. However, it is difficult to know which reviews in local magazines or websites are genuine and which are sponsored or posted by the restaurant. Then I met Peter Cruiming.
He is an enthusiastic food lover like myself, who moved to the Algarve after selling his successful job-search business in The Netherlands. He told me that he didn’t play golf, so he invested his time and money into setting up a website and blog hotspotsalgarve.com. One of his childhood dreams was to be a journalist, so he feels he is living out this dream. He loves to share information and stories while sampling all of the culinary offerings of the Algarve.
He visits one restaurant a day and rates them according to food, service, value, and atmosphere. In order to be objective, he pays the bill himself and only features the good restaurants as he doesn’t wish to write bad reviews. He also confided in me that he visits the gym three times a week to counteract the negative effects of all this food sampling!
In just over a year, he has gained 20,000 followers – a testament to his website, which also has excellent articles on places to visit.
So, if you are looking to try something new in 2024, check out Peter’s website for a true taste of local cuisine.
Send your suggestions for next month by getting in touch with our editor Sophie Sadler: firstname.lastname@example.org