At the start of Spring, the pending realisation that you haven't booked your summer holiday hits home. The kids will be off school on summer holidays for 8 weeks, our children are 16, 14 and 12 years old and we feel that we should take them away for some 'family time', they on the other hand are not particularly bothered and just require wifi. So my husband and I start the annual ritual with some random geographical destinations that have peaked our interest in recent months. After whats seems like a lifetime of frantic googling and reading online articles, reviews and blogs, the costs of flights and accommodation for a family of 5 is normally the driving factor of our final location. As a family, we aren't very good at just relaxing at the beach and/or pool, as the kids don't like the heat and will use this as the perfect excuse to retreat indoors, as parents its our duty to stop them !! This year, we decided to go the Algarve, Portugal, just for a week, as the villa hire was rather steep for any longer. We flew into Faro Airport on Easjet, hired a car and drove to the villa that was in a town called Vilamourna, about 30 min drive from the airport. We tend to like to see places in the mornings, and rest in the afternoons (when gadget time is permitted) and have dinner at local restaurants that are walking distance. At the end of July 2019, we went on our summer holiday and I wanted to share some of the places that we visited as a family that we enjoyed.
1. Benagil Caves, Lagoa, Portugal
Benagil Sea Cave is the most famous cave in Portugal, but there are lots of Algarve caves to explore, as the whole of the Algarve coastline is filled with caverns, caves archways and bizarre rock formations. One way to enjoy all of the caves and the coastline so we opted for a boat trip, as meant that we could just sit back and relax without having walk around in the heat.
A fearless girl jumping off a rock !!!
2. São Domingos Mines, Corte do Pinto, Alenteio
The São Domingos Mines are a deserted open-pit mine in Corte do Pinto, Alenteio. The Romans mined in the São Domingos area for gold and silver for about 400 years. Mining stopped here when the Romans left. The mine was reopened in 1894 and finally closed in 1966. It’s scenery seems like it’s taken out of a post-apocalyptic novel or movie. Derelict buildings, rusty colossal past-era machinery and crimson red water ponds. It’s not hard to imagine all kinds of different scenarios that might have been going on there.
Water in the pit is red due to iron and is acidic from sulphur oxidation
3. Porches Pottery, Porches
An outing to Porches Pottery has proved popular with visitors to the Algarve for many years. Situated in a walled garden where a fountain plays, the pottery resembles a traditional 18th century Algarvian farm house and has the atmosphere of a thriving craft workshop. Here you can witness the magic of the decorators’ brush work as, seemingly effortlessly, they go about their craft. There are many of these types of places in the region, but this one seemed to be more genuine rather mass produced imitations.
4. Cabo de São Vicente
Europe’s southwestern most point is a barren headland 6km northwest of Sagres' town centre that was the last piece of home that Portuguese sailors once saw as they launched into the unknown. It's a spectacular spot: at sunset you can almost hear the hissing as the sun hits the sea. A red lighthouses a small but excellent museum showcasing Sagres' role in Portugal’s maritime history.
5. Castelo de Mértola
The fortified Mértola Castle excels over the parish church of this fascinating Medieval villages of the region of Alentejo. Its building dates back to the 13th century. The city was built over an Arabic enclosure, the alcáçova (citadel), which at the same time rests over a Roman forum.