Welcome to the final blog in a series of 5 travel reviews, following my travels over the last year.
Today’s post features Portugal, the destination of my last beach holiday. I have enjoyed quite a few holidays in Portugal over the last 10 years or so – whether playing golf and/or sunbathing, all of which have been spent on the beautiful southern coast of the Algarve… until last summer. I was keen to explore a new part of Portugal, and had read about the ‘surfing mecca’ that is Ericeira, in the Lisbon region, so last summer a couple of friends and I spent a week there.
Today’s #5aday is dedicated to Portugal, Ericeira, and the Algarve:
- First Impressions – I’ve always been so pleasantly surprised by Portugal, especially the pretty fishing villages, beautiful beaches, and manicured golf courses of the Algarve. Ericeira was even more of a surprise, with its rugged coastline, its vast natural beaches, cobbled narrow streets and the bonus of no Brits! Bliss.
- The Algarve – Most of my holidays to the Algarve have been in the western region. I’ve spent a few weeks in the pretty fishing village of Alvor with its stunning beaches, great shopping and wonderful restaurants. I’ve also played quite a few rounds of golf around the Algarve, including a few weeks at Parque da Floresta with its plush greens, rolling hills and beautiful views.
- Ericeira – Early last year I was researching activity holidays and places to go surfing in Europe. I came across Ericeira, which is considered to be the surf capital of Portugal. Not that I am a surfer, but I have always wanted to give it a try. Ericeira is a hidden gem. It is such a pretty place with its blend of the old traditional Portuguese way of life, with that of the modern surf culture. Think old fishermen and young surfer dudes side by side! We stayed just outside of Ericeria, by the main surf beach of Ribeira d’Ilhas in a lovely spacious, comfy 3 bedroom apartment overlooking the rugged coastline (booked through Holiday Lettings).
- Food and drink – Portuguese food is delicious, especially if like me you love fresh fish and seafood. Ericeira has many wonderful restaurants serving up tasty fish caught a matter of hours before. Particular mention must be given to Furnas, with its enviable position right on the rocks by the sea, and stunning views. As well as fabulous restaurants, there are some cool bars, like the Sunset Bamboo Bar, a regular haunt for us last summer. Special mention must also go to our beach – Ribeira d’Ilhas and its bar – Ribeira Surf Bar.
- Surfing and Sintra – Most of our days were spent soaking up the sun on one of the beautiful beaches around the Ericeira area. I did of course have a surf lesson with the Ericeira Surf Center which was great but hard work! And I am impatient, so was quite frustrated not to pick it up quickly! As well as giving surfing a go, we took a day trip to the historical town of Sintra, about 40 minutes from Ericeira. Unesco-listed thanks to its extraordinary buildings – castles, palaces and country houses, this was the ‘touristy’ part of an otherwise tourist-free holiday. We spent many hours exploring the magical town set atop a hill, with its winding cobbled streets and spectacular architecture.
This post has made me quite nostalgic about Portugal and all it has to offer. I thoroughly recommend visiting Ericeira, which is one of Portugal’s best kept secrets.