Carvoeiro Uncovered! March 2016
Last week we decided to visit Carvoeiro, one of the Algarve’s most popular and picturesque holiday resorts and, as the March sunshine dazzled, we knew we were on for a fantastic day!
It took just 30 minutes to get there from hometown Lagos; we opted for the A22 toll motorway due to road works on the N125 – costing just 2.25€ each way from Odiáxere to Lagoa. When we arrived in Carvoeiro, we were lucky enough to park in front of the shops along Estrada do Farol, just up from the central square. Parking can be difficult after the small town centre was revamped in 2009 (making it a non-parking zone), but this was the first of many great things about visiting Carvoeiro in March!
In true Portuguese style, it was straight for coffee first and we stopped at Smilers Bar, sitting outside in the morning rays with um expresso duplo and um galão (double expresso and traditional milky coffee, both costing a couple of euros). We received an instantly warm welcome (as we’ve come to expect from Carvoeiro) starting with a cheerful “Good morning” followed by the hot topic of the weather…and with the thrill of an amazing sun drenched day ahead, this was definitely going to be the topic of the day!
After coffee it was time to hit the beach, so we popped across the road, passing the tourist information office (a great starting point for any visit to grab a map and ask questions), past the restaurants around the square and Praia do Carvoeiro is just there! With the boats lined up at the back of the beach waiting to take people to see the grottos, the stunning cliffs wrapping around us and the turquoise blue sea against the golden sands (where some were already sunbathing!)…well, what a sight!
After the obligatory shell collecting, “aaaaah moments” and watching a group board a boat trip, we went up the hill behind the tourist office (Estrada do ParaÍso) enjoying fabulous views of the densely low rise colourful town and beach. Not far from the top of the hill is the car park above Praia do ParaÍso, (there’s also a restaurant called O Boteco). Although we didn’t venture down the 100+ steps to the beach because it was high tide, the coastal views were just spectacular!
From there it was down the hill again, across the square and up the other hill to the chapel, Capela da Nossa Senhora da Encarnação. It’s the prettiest Catholic church, with a play area outside and again, the most stunning views across the beach and cliffs. Just past here was the 570-metre winding boardwalk to Algar Seco, new to Carvoeiro in September 2014. With a bandstand style seating point and gentle gradients, it is perfect for all ages and abilities to enjoy the fabulous rock formations and sights. Boneca Bar, which nestles in the rocks here, was sadly closed (seemingly for a pre-season makeover) so we had to soldier on and get back to the town before we could quench our thirst.
With the lunchtime rush and restaurants around the square quickly filling up we grabbed a table at O Barco…sitting with a beach view and a pint and wine in frosted glasses was nothing short of another “aaaaaah” moment. We wanted a bite to eat too, but having glanced at the menu, the traditional Portuguese food was unfortunately a bit far removed from Portuguese prices, so we stuck with the drinks and got the bill….8.20€ was a bit of a shock (the pint of local beer Super Bock costing 4.40€ and the wine 3.80€) well, even compared with some beach bar prices in Lagos, that was steep, so we headed over to the other restaurants to find somewhere cheaper. We ended up at Jan Bar Restaurant at the back of the square, where the menu included dishes from around the world. We opted for sharing a couple of vegetarian dishes, with nachos with guacamole and salsa and layered mozzarella and courgette salad, plus some lovely warm bread and butter (food plus four drinks and two coffees under 30€…this was a bit more like our budget).
With beach, sightseeing and refreshments under our belt, there was only one thing left to do before leaving Carvoeiro…Shopping! There are so many great shops, from souvenirs and pottery to clothes and jewellery, as well as the more practical grocery shops and off licences….we had so much fun chatting to the shop assistants and it was just the perfect way to end our day in Carvoeiro!
Without a doubt we’ll be back to Carveoiro sometime soon, to take a boat trip to the famous Benagil caves and in the meantime, please feel free to check out www.CarvoeiroUncovered.com for more information about this amazing place!