Dreaming of an Autumn Escape? Don’t Overlook the Amazing Algarve!

Autumn Trip in the Amazing Algarve

Sat in the late afternoon sun, below ancient olive trees, sipping a delicious glass of white produced in the very vineyards surrounding me, I had to punch myself that I really was in the Algarve.

After all, my impression of Portugal’s southern region had been something a little different form this.

One of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, The Algarve has a bit of reputation in my mind as a “Brits abroad” destination – think cheap lager and lobster red sunburn chic!

But sat in the family-owned Morgado do Quintão winery, having just enjoyed an a deliciously paired vegetarian alfresco lunch, that image of the Algarve felt miles away!

And, over the next 3 days, it was about to move further and further away as I got to see a completely different side of the Algarve, one where nature reserves, beautiful beachside restaurants, catamaran cruises and historic towns swam into view instead.

So here’s how my amazing 3 days in the Algarve totally changed my opinion on this destination and left me desperate to return…

Portugal, Algarve, Me in Vineyard


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My trip to the Algarve was sponsored by Jet2 but, as always, all views are my own.

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.


Flying to Faro

Portugal, Algarve, Jet2 Plane

It kicked off with an early start.

4:10am to be specific.

But, as always with short trips, an early kick off has it advantages if you want to make the most of day 1 on holiday… especially if you live in east London and are heading somewhere with regular flights from London Stansted Airport!

That’s not say, however, that arriving at Stansted in the wee hours, I wasn’t a little blurry-eyed|!

Thankfully, the excellent Jet2 airport staff (easy to recognise in their bright red uniforms, even with half an eye closed) helped me navigate check-in seamlessly, while the departure lounge coffee got me easily to the gate!

It was then just a 3 hour flight to Faro with Jet 2, which nodding off promptly on take off and opening my eyes as we landed, felt even quicker!

I thank the super comfy seat and good legroom in the Jet2 cabin for the sterling snooze effort too!

Stepping off the plane in southern Portugal, the late September heat immediately hit me; so I was delighted to make it quickly through passport control and baggage claim, before heading out of the Algarve airport and back into that 27 degree blue sky day asap!


Pine Cliffs Resort

Portugal, Algarve, Pine Cliffs Resort

Then it was just a 40 minute drive to reach our accommodation.

The beautiful Pine Cliffs Resort is located just outside the town of Albufeira, but is a far cry from the rather unappealing bar-filled strip this area is renowned for.

In fact, the Pine Cliffs Resort is part of Jet2holidays Luxury Collection.

A stunning 5 star resort, complete with deluxe hotel rooms and luxury apartments, this huge complex is located right on the coast with direct private access to the sandy beach below.

Complimented by 7 pools, multiple bars and restaurants, a spa and gym, a golf course, tennis courts and some beautifully landscaped gardens, Pine Cliffs is absolutely the sort of hotel you can arrive at for a week and happily not leave!

Especially if you’re keen to indulge in one of their yoga or fitness retreats, not to mention their all-inclusive packages.

Choosing from a different pool and eatery each night would personally keep me more than entertained, with the beautiful beach at the bottom of the property literally crying out at me for an idyllic sunrise stroll and daily sunset dip.

With free loungers available on the sand and the lovely Mare restaurant alongside, you could easily make a day of it down here!

Afterwards, head back to your comfortable room for an aperitif you can pick up enroute – the hotel even provide the takeaway cup!

My room boasted a peaceful pool and sea view balcony and one heck of a huge bathroom – perfect for getting ready for a delicious dinner!




A Day in Faro

Portugal, Algarve, Ria Formosa

Day 2 in the Algarve saw me leaving the area of Albufeira and heading to the Algarve’s capital of Faro.

A historic coastal city, home to just over 60,000 people, wandering the ancient streets of its pretty heritage centre was perfect way to kick things off.

Having spent quite a bit of time in Andalusia (the southern Spanish region just a few hours away), it was fascinating to see the Moorish influences, dating back to the 12th century, reflected in this part of Portugal too, and to learn more about the layered history and culture of Faro.

Colourful washing, hung on balconies, swayed gently in the light breeze, as house cats lounged peacefully behind painted window shutters, keeping cool in their slated shade.

Locals gathered at small tables outside cafes and tourists waved to passers-by from the top of the church tower.

Heading to the Faro harbour, it was then time to hop onboard a catamaran with family business, iSea Charters, to explore the stunning Ria Formosa nature reserve.

A group of 5 islands, set amid beautiful turquoise waters, this beautiful protected area is home to over 300 species of bird, including flamingo and storks, as well as the largest seahorse colony in the world.

Also home to orcas, hammerhead sharks and green turtles, we sadly didn’t spot any of the most common mammal residents – the bottle nose dolphins – that regularly cruise these waters.

Learning about the local oyster fisherman trade here however, famous thanks to the area’s nutritious waters and tidal range, as well as the amazing Esatmie restaurant, run by Alves the fisherman who lives in the warden’s cottage, more than made up for it.

So too did the champagne we enjoyed onboard, as we lounged on the boat’s deck, before a delicious cheese and charcuterie platter rounded things off.

The day finished off with beer tasting at the independent Algarve Rock Brewery just outside Faro, before a delicious traditional Portuguese dinner at Figueiral, proving that luxury holidays to the Algarve are must certainly on the menu.


The Algarve Coastline

Portugal, Algarve, Coastal Arch

No trip to the Algarve could be complete, of course, without exploring the region’s stunning coastline.

Filled with towering sandstone cliffs, that boast amazing caves to explore, plus of spattering of arches and stacks created by the unique geology here, hiring a kayak or SUP would be the perfect way for active Algarve adventurers to get their fix.

We, on the other hand, opted for a slightly more leisurely boat tour with Algar Experience.

Their open deck boat was ideal for soaking in the sunshine, as well as the scenery.

As a year round, locally-owned, tour operator, their dolphin spotting, parasailing and beach BBQs trips would all make fantastic group activities that are easy to book online.

Arriving back at Albufeira harbour in the late afternoon, cocktails at the beautiful W Algarve beckoned for our final evening in Portugal.

A stunning, 5 star that just opened in June 2002, W Algarve boasts 134 rooms, 42 residences and direct beach access amidst a luxurious setting with a distinctive Portuguese flavour.

Part of Jet2holidays Indulgent escapes in The Algarve, this hotel beautifully showcases the glamorous side of travel in the Algarve and the diversity of what the region truly offers away from the gaudy stereotypes.

From sipping sunset cocktails in the golden hour glow of the W Algarve elevated terrace, to the boutique wine tasting and seasonal lunch experience of the organic Morgado do Quintão vineyard, I reflected on how this trip had totally changed my perception of southern Portugal and opened my eyes to the authentic and unique travel treats it really does offer.

So if you’re looking for a late summer getaway, free from the school holiday crowds and typical package offerings, the sunny Algarve cannot be overlooked!

Whose in?




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