Escape To The Algarve
Portugal’s beach-studded southern region is the perfect destination for a minimoon, says Anjana Gosai
If relaxing and recharging is on the agenda after the Big Day, head to Portugal – a convenient option for a post-wedding getaway.
Just under three hours from the UK, the Algarve – the country’s southern most region, is awash with sunshine for nearly 300 days a year, while its rugged landscape, golden beaches and picturesque fishing towns offer plenty to see and do.
WHAT TO DO
Beaches are a big draw in the Algarve, with more than 150 to pick from. These spectacular stretches of sand never seem crowded, allowing you to truly unwind. Many are lined with dramatic caves and sea-carved archways, where sunbathers can seek solace from the rays.
The waves of the Atlantic make many of the beaches the perfect spot for surfing, while watersports are also available in more subdued zones.
Head over to Marhina beach, which sits 8km southeast of Lagoa – it’s ranked among the best beaches in Europe, thanks to its series of Instagram-worthy crevasses and caves.
The Algarve is one the world’s most popular golf destinations. Whether you are looking for a course with stunning views of the coast, or one with lakes and bunkers, you’ll find a gorgeous array of fairways and greens in this region.
Try Monte Rei – a course with dramatic valleys, designed by 18 time major champion Jack Nicklaus. Alternatively, Quinta do Lago’s 18-hole championship layout overlooks the beautiful Ria Formosa National Park.
Be sure to include a day trip to the breathtaking Benagil cave to your itinerary. Portugal’s most emblematic sight is a huge, natural seaside cave with a hole in its ceiling, through which sunlight illuminates the sand below. Several companies run boat trips to the attraction.
WHERE TO STAY: ANANTARA VILAMOURA, ALGARVE RESORT
Just a short, 30 minute drive from Faro airport, this quiet, elegant retreat set amidst lush golf greens is the first European offering of the Anantara hotel group.
The luxurious 280-room resort has plenty to keep you entertained. You could spend hours laying on the outdoor daybeds overlooking the pool, while you’re waited on by the attentive staff. The outdoor yoga sessions are great for those wanting a light workout, while the blissful rooftop spa has a seriously impressive vitality pool.
Many of the bedrooms come with balconies overlooking the pristine gardens. The rooms are comfy, with heavenly beds, contemporary furniture and large bathrooms filled with Elemis products. One of the delights of Portugal is the amazing array of Algarvian-grown goodness.
Anantara has four restaurants – we enjoyed the vast buffet at Emo, which included local dishes, as well as rare Portuguese wines.
Seafood aficionados will like the locally caught fish at Ria restaurant, which overlooks the picturesque pool. The plump olives, calamari salad and grilled turbot were particularly tasty.
There is a tennis court and championship golf course for sports enthusiasts.
It’s no surprise that the service was spot on, some members of staff held previous posts at Buckingham Palace.
If you decide to venture out of the resort, the hotel is based just a 10-minute drive to Vilamoura’s beaches, marina and nightlife. Hop on one of the hotel’s yellow Tuk Tuks and head to Purabeach for a spot of lunch or just to take in the sea views.
• Nightly rates at Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort start from £150 per night with breakfast – www.anantara.com
WHERE TO STAY: TIVOLI CARVOEIRO, ALGARVE RESORT
If you like seclusion combined with dramatic views, head to Carvoeiro, which is less developed than some other resort towns in the Algarve. The scenic, 243 room Tivoli resort, is carved into the imposing Vale Covo Cliffside, where you wake up to the sounds of the sea – it’s the stuff of dreams.
After a recent refurb, the rooms are clean and contemporary in feel, with open plan bathrooms featuring huge walk-in showers.
The hotel’s superb array of facilities include the Tivoli Spa, where treatments are carried out using the organic range Voya.
You’ll probably want to spend most of your time lounging by the ocean-facing outdoor pool, where you’ll find direct access to the quiet Vale Covo beach.
Foodies will be impressed with the dining options that focus on fresh and seasonal produce. The fine-dining One restaurant is an apt spot for a romantic dinner. Dishes are fresh and tasty and the accompanying local wines are impressively matched by the sommelier.
The casual Mare Bistro offers light bites throughout the day. Med Food & Wine serves up the freshest produce right out of the Atlantic, meanwhile stunning views and tempting cocktails can be enjoyed from the super-sleek rooftop Sky Bar.
The buffet breakfast is sure to be a highlight. Everything from fresh pastries, local hams and cheeses, fruits and cooked eggs are on offer.
It’s important to mention the hotel’s service, which is excellent – the staff are genuinely keen to please guests and some of them have been there for over a decade.
For a true taste of the Algarve, take a stroll to the charming village of Carvoeiro for a spot of shopping and a bite to eat at one of the traditional taverns.
• Nightly rates at Tivoli Carvoeiro start from £106 based on two people sharing a room on a B&B basis.