Algarve – Portugal

Finally holidays again !!
And enough time to go a little further away with our “cochecito”.

Praia do Marinha

We left Javea in the afternoon and drove via Albacete inland to our first destination: El Aeropuerto Central de Ciudad Real or “El Aeropuerto Don Quijote” how it is called – as it was build but never operated.
The airport is south of Ciudad Real close to the highway and a perfect place for an overnight stop – enough parking space but nobody there. (38°52’18.6″N 3°59’24.3″W)
When we arrive, it was already dark but there were streetlights around the main building. In the morning we got up before sunrise to take some pictures.

Aeropuerto Central de Ciudad Real
or Aeropuerto “Don Quichote”

We drove further south and stopped for a lunch break at Carmona, which looked already from the highway very impressive. We could park directly in front of one of the old town entrances, the Puerta de Córdoba and walked through the town to the Parador at the historic castle. (37.476 , -5.6326)

Puerta de Córdoba – Carmona

In the afternoon, we reached La Rábida near Huelva, where we wanted to visit the Muelle de las Carabelas – the reconstructed caravelles of Columbus first journey to India, but it was under renovation and closed until June.

So we headed instead to the Convento de Santa María de la Rábida close by. As Columbus left from here, it’s what the exhibition is about, even though there is not much left from these times. It has a nice park around and the parking would be a good place to stay overnight 37.2073 , -6.9235.

Convento de Santa María de la Rábida

We passed Huelva and soon reached the border to Portugal. After the bridge over the river Guadiana we left the highway to avoid the toll road and reached Castro Marim, where we saw a caravan parking and decide to stop for the night, we did enough driving for one day. (37.2196 , -7.4444)

Castro Marim
Castro Marim – caravan parking

We walked up to the castle and stopped at a small bar for a glass of red wine for € 0,60! Close to the caravan parking we found a big supermarket, ideal to stock up on supplies.

The next day, we took the N125 west along the coast. After Faro we stop near Almancil at one of the most beautiful churches of the Algarve: São Lorenço dos Matos. The inside is decorated completely with the typical blue tile motives. But the church was closed – fiesta. We were not the only disappointed tourists walking around the church.

São Lorenço dos Matos – Almancil

We reached Sagres and stopped first in front of the Fortaleza, where a big parking is also suitable for overnight stops. (37.0043 , -8.9447)
We walked up to the fort with many other tourists, but it was closed due to a strike. We felt haunted.
Therefore we drove on to the Cabo São Vicente lighthouse. The museum there was also closed but we enjoyed the views and went for a walk along the spectacular coast. In April everything is flowering and the landscape is covered in yellow, white and purple.

Cabo São Vicente
everything in flower around the cabo

We longed for some solitude and headed to one of the beaches at the west coast: Praia da Cordoama (37.1087 , -8.9358). The road ended above a beautiful beach with level parking, a restaurant and a surf school. The beach was long and beautiful with an impressive coastline of cliffs.
The perfect place for long beach walks and afterwards delicious Sangría at the bar.

Praia da Cordoama
Praia da Cordoama

The next morning, we went for a long walk, before we relaxed on the beach. At midday, we left for Carrapateira, where we stopped in town for the market and then at the parking behind the vast sand dunes of Praia da Bordeira. (37.1926 , -8.9021)
We crossed the river and walked to the beach first. Later we took the road which leads up next to the parking and follows the coast south. Along the road are many lookout points and the cliffs are spectacular. Just before our parking a nice restaurant – O Sítio do Rio – stopped us for a glass of wine. But finally we reach our “cochecito” again.

Praia da Bordeira
View from the parking over the dunes
Caravan parking Praia da Bordeira

The following morning we are the first ones on the beach and walked along the sea and back through the dunes. It was a special feeling to have this spectacular landscape to ourselves.

river between the parking and the beach

With the camper, we drove along the coastal road where we had walked the day before and continued until the next beach: Praia do Amado. It’s a surfers beach and a couple of surf schools and a restaurant are above the long sandy beach. A big parking with views over the spectacular inland hills is also good for staying overnight. (37.1688 , -8.9013)

between Praia da Bordeira and Praia do Amado
fascinating coastline

We went for a walk inland up the hills. This time of the year the hills are covered in flowers and the view over the rolling hills and back to the coast and the village was worth the hike up.

We decide to find one more beach called Praia de Vale Figueira near Monte Novo (37°14’50.7″N 8°52’03.4″W). Our navigation rejected the coordinates and we got lost. We never found this beach, instead we took a road which led to a bay further north. First it took us on a gravel track through eucalyptus forests. When the track started to go down to the bay. We were happy to have 4 wheel drive and gear reduction. When we reached a sign, which said “stop here and walk down when you want to be able to get up again” (more or less). We followed the advice and parked the camper there.
(37.269402, -8.859351). Please don’t go there without 4 wheel drive, ground clearance and no fear of driving steep off road tracks with a lot of gravel and trenches. With a real off road vehicle you can even go down to the beach, which has no sand but black boulders. With our 5,5 tonnes we didn’t dare it. Our parking above the bay was spectacular enough we thought.

Praia do Canal
Praia do Canal

We stayed there over night before we worked up the courage to drive back up again. But what an adventure! Our ride up on video:
Later we found out we were at Praia do Canal.

driving up on 4×4
difficult terrain
we made it !

When we reached the civilisation and tar again, we headed to Lagos for some contrast. Outside of town there is an official caravan parking next to the the N125 and the stadium where we emptied our tanks and filled the water up. (37.1155 , -8.6787)
To visit Lagos we parked at a big parking area closer to town behind the harbour. (37.110407, -8.672268)

Along the river we got into the center and strolled around. Many pastelerias, ice cream stalls, bars and restaurants attract the tourists and the beaches close to town give a first impression what the coast has to offer.


After lunch we go back to the harbour and on a tour to the grottos. The boat is small enough that we can drive into the caves, sometimes it gets crowded with other boats and kayaks filling up the small caves. But the coast is impressive and our guide tells as the name of every  bay or animal you can see in the rocks.

boat tour through the caves

Our next destination was Praia do Marinha next to Carvoeiro. We parked directly at the coast above the beach with an incredible view. After a stroll down the stairs to the beach we sat in front of our cochecito and enjoyed an al fresco dinner.

Praia do Marinha – view from the camper !
cochecito parking above the cliff

In the morning we hiked along the coast, at first to the west to Praia Benagil with the famous cave with the hole and then east to some more beaches, which are only accessible from the sea.
The video gives an impression of the coast:
It was sunny and hot so we relaxed on the beach and went for a swim. The water temperature was fresh but not too cold.

cave of Praia do Benagil
coast near Praia do Benagil
coast near Praia do Marinha
a bee-eater we could watch in front of the camper

Later, we drove on to Faro, where we parked close to the centre at the Largo de São Francisco parking. From here we walked first through the old town to the cathedral and then through the Arco da Vila past the harbour. We found some nice bars and decided to stay here overnight and go out at night. The parking was comfortable, just the planes from the nearby airport made some noise.

Faro – cathedral
Faro – Arco da Vila

The following day we headed inland to São Bras de Alportel where we walked into the centre and went for breakfast at a pasteleria, before we visited the museum. It’s in a historic palace and shows dresses from 1900 onwards and everything about the cork production, which made the town rich. Afterwards we visited the interpretation centre of the roman road, which led through town and also found the remains of this road close to town.

São Bras de Alportel
Portugiese sweets – delicious !
Museum Etnográfico do Trajo Algarvio
Calçadinha Romana – roman street

Further east we stopped at Tavira. (37.129275, -7.652809)
From the parking it was a short walk down the river to reach the old roman bridge. The best way to discover this beautiful town is to go up the hill to the old water tower to look at Tavira through the camera obscura! The nice lady there shows you the town from above and gives you information to all the sights.


After wandering through town a bit, we headed on to Cacela Velha, a small fishing village. (37.158469, -7.546592)
From there we had a good view over the surrounding wetlands. We made the error to go for lunch at the  restaurant close to the parking. The place and the food was nice, but the service was a tragedy.

Cacela Velha
Cacela Velha
Rio Formosa coastline

We finally left Portugal and drove past Huelva and Sevilla before we stopped for the night at Estepa. We parked above town near the ruins of a castle. The wind got stronger and stronger and even with our hydraulic stands the camper wobbled and the noise of the wind got annoyingly loud. At the end, we decided to drive to a more protected place near the school just down the road and there it was much more comfortable and we could finally sleep.

In the morning, we drove on past Granada to Puerto Lumbreras, where we will meet some family at Sol Moto, a hotel and Enduro heaven. ( The next 2 days all the enthusiasts of our family will drive through the river beds of this area until they are exhausted and covered in dust. In the evening we visited the Enduro World Championship close by, which took place that weekend.

almond trees near Puerto Lumbreras
Enduro enthusiasts at Sol Moto
Enduro World Championship

Now the holidays are finally over and we have to head back home.
Our time in Portugal was much too short, but we now have a good impression of the southern part, and we have to come back soon to see more. Especially for campers, this country is like heaven as you can park and stay over night in unbelievable places. Thank you Portugal !

Drone Video:

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