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SCENIC DRIVING ROUTES
A trip round the Algarve
The Algarve is situated in the south of Portugal. Its breathtaking coastline, beaches and rugged cliffs, its grottoes, and mountain ranges, year-round sunshine, and reasonable prices, have made the best known of the Algarve’s beach towns into Portugal’s top holiday destination. So, for God’s sake let’s get away from it.
We’ll take a few days out of the schedule and hire a car. Go on . . . it won’t kill you . . . and we’ll head off into the back country, and and find some castles, and vineyards and some beaches no-one goes to.
From Faro to Faro in four days.
Grab a car at Faro, and head off West towards Lagos, until you see the N125 which will take you to Villa do Bispo. Then look for the N268 and head for Sagres. Any of the little side tracks along the way, like the one to the tiny town of Salerma, are worth a look.
So here we are in Sagres. So What?
This is the Western most part of Europe, so it’s about the sunset, bubba! Put the Raybans away and listen up . . . wherever you are looking outThe Cliffs of Sagres at a water horizon to the west and there’s a great ocean beyond that, sunsets are a free light show of splendid proportions, and here, surrounded on three sides by massive cliffs, with good port wine to suck on while you contemplate God’s works . . . it doesn’t get much better!
Sunset’s over. Off to the bush!
Put the Raybans back on. It’s morning and dinner in Sagres was goood!. It’s left you with eyes like burn holes in a blanket. Best thing, roll down the window, find the N268 and make for Alfambra. Oh, and a pint of ice cold milk does wonders!
At Alfambra, bacon, eggs, greasy sausages . . . don’t die on us now! Then it’s the N120 to Aljezur. This is the gateway to a great place. The South East National Park. Right, dismount vehicle, open brochure and read . . .
“From Burgau to Cabo de Sao Vincente on the southern coast and up the whole Algarve and Alentejo coastline, lies the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina.
Take time to explore part of this truly stunning area, with its rugged cliffs bordering the coastline, empty beaches, inlets, estuaries and marshes, where you will see some of the most splendid wildlife, unique to Portugal.”
True, as well.
After you spend a about a lifetime and a half checking out the park, head back to Aljezur for dinner.
Done the park? Head for the hills
Morning comes so quickly when you’re having fun. And we’re on the N127 where you just relax and take this one easy, for its a real winder of a climb on this back country road. It eventually gets you to Monchique.
This is a great little market town and its set like a jewel in the middle of a hilly forested area called the serra de . . . now wait for it . . . Monchique.
There’s a bit of hill outside the town, ony about 3000 ft high, but because of the long sweep of valley away to the North-East and South you get a great panorama over the Algarve. Anyway, bit of a stroll, Raybans back in the pocket, and you’ll be at the top in no time.
Roll on down to Silves
So here we go, South on the A266 which is a little skinnier even than yesterday’s A267, but we’re rolling, and we are looking for the town of Porto de Lagos. Lunch at Porto de Lagos (not to be confused with the hustle bustle of Lagos, down the road and on the beach) and then on to Silves. Great scenery, and yes, castles even!
At Silves and at towns really close to Silves there is a raft of good meals and places to stay. So, rest up, eat well, have a couple of wines, and tomorrow you’ll be fully fit for climbing all over the red sandstone castle towers and checking out the remains of Moorish and Roman settlements, or just wander about enjoying the scenery.
And it’s Faro, here we come
If you’d rather you can slip straight down to the coast and join the motorway from Silves, and then you can check out some of the coastal towns on the way. See, three days, great times, no great cost. Worth it?