After our bus trip to Alvor the weekend before, we couldn't wait to get back to the station for another decadent day out...and this Saturday, it was Praia da Rocha here we come!
We got the 12pm bus again from Lagos (which actually goes as far as Albufeira – so watch this space!) and it was 8.60€ return and took just 35 minutes. The drop-off point outside Hotel Clube Praia da Rocha was ideal, with just a few minutes’ walk to the famous hotspot Avenida Tomás Cabreira; which is western Algarve’s equivalent to Albufeira’s “Strip”!
With it being September the cobbled avenue, lined with hundreds of bars, restaurants, cafés and shops, was thankfully a little calmer than July or August; when day or night, it is packed, packed, packed like a tin of sardines! There were still plenty of people around though and September is a great month for couples and groups to visit Praia da Rocha, with the promise of sizzling beach days and bustling bars…especially when there’s a big sports event on TV, like the Manchester football derby!
For us, there's only one starting point when we get to Praia da Rocha, and that's clifftop bar, Miradouro, at the western end of Avenida Tomás Cabreira! We found this little gem on our first trip to Praia da Rocha many years ago and we couldn't believe it when a glass of wine (filled right to the brim) was just 1€!
Well these days after ‘significant’ inflation, a glass of wine now stretches us to 1.30€ and the traditional "copo" has been replaced with an elegant tulip glass with a similar overly generous measure! A pint is a ‘whopping’ 2€, but actually compared to some Praia da Rocha bars, that could be deemed expensive with 1€ pints in Happy Hour!
After watching people playing in the sea and the jet skis whizzing around, it was time to hit the best viewpoint in town, to see the FABULOUS Praia da Rocha beach in all its glory! The golden sands are wide as well as long, with sun loungers and water sports all on offer until the end of October when the supervised beach season ends. With the crystal clear waters, coloured sun shades, a boardwalk lined with bars and the overlooking hotels at the back, it's easy to see why Praia da Rocha is pure holiday heaven!
And as we were holidaymakers for the day, it was rude not to sample a beach bar lunch and after perusing the menus on our boardwalk stroll, we came across "Salsada do Zé", which instantly sucked us in with its traditional Portuguese menu plus four vegetarian options! The couvert of bread, marinated olives and carrots was simple yet superb, but the butter was melting faster than we could spread it (it was HOT!!!). For main course it was octopus salad, mixed salad, veggie burger and chips washed down with a bottle of white wine and as we whiled away another hour sunbathing we polished off a disgustingly delicious desert, expressos and liquors; well this is the only 'problem' with getting the bus, no worries about driving and relaxing far too much.
The bill came to 52€, which admittedly was much more than we would normally spend on lunch (and there are plenty of other cheaper places in Praia da Rocha) but it was well worth it for the huge meal, drinks flowing and baking at the beautiful beach.
After lunch it was time for another of our favourite Praia da Rocha pastimes, shopping! Whether it’s bags, beach gear, flip flops, sunglasses, jewellery, clothes or souvenirs, Avenida Tomás Cabreira has it all and, to compensate for lunch, we found 5€ flip flops in one of the Chinese shops!
With the bus not until 6.50pm 'unfortunately' there was still time for one last drink at the “On The Rocks” sports bar that earlier on had been spilling over with football fans watching the game. It was a lovely end to our trip, just to watch the balmy bustle of September in Praia da Rocha!
Quick guide to Praia da Rocha!
- Where is Praia da Rocha? Western Algarve, southern Portugal; 74 km from Faro Airport.
- When to visit? Praia da Rocha is an all year round resort with places to eat, drink and shop anytime, but summer is when it goes bonkers with thousands flooding in ( New Year is the same for the PARTY and fireworks) and for the rest of the year, school holidays aside, it’s more calm and couples, groups and older folk come to enjoy the wonderful climate, more relaxed pace and cheap out of season holidays.
- What to do? Beaches, shops, bars, cafés, restaurants…it’s just the start! In summer riding the tourist train is a must, as is a trip to Portimão centre or the retail parks for shopping, you can wine and dine and book boat trips from the marina or even get a possibly regrettable tattoo!
- Where to eat? There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from and all cuisines, so whatever tickles your fancy, Praia da Rocha has it! To see where other holidaymakers like to eat check out Praia da Rocha Restaurants on TripAdvisor!
- Disabled access: Praia da Rocha’s Avenida Tomás Cabreira is ideal for wheelchairs and motorised scooters and the beach is officially classed as an “Accessible beach”!