What would you do with a whole week off work? In my case, I don’t even have to think about it: travel somewhere nice and warm. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Portugal. Why? It’s kind of hard to explain, but it has to do with the calm and serene atmosphere that characterizes the country, and especially its southern region, the Algarve. I sometimes feel like I’ve stepped back in time when I’m in this area, and that is definitely a welcome respite from the hectic pace of my office job.
So yes, a one-week trip to the Algarve was in order. As I looked at the map trying to pick a destination, my mind automatically jumped to images of remote sandy beaches, top-notch golf courses, and fantastic food and wine. The whitewashed fishing village of Ferragudo - with a permanent population of less than 2,000 and just across the Arade River from the city of Portimão - seemed to fit perfectly with my plans, so I didn’t think twice and booked my flights and accommodation. Here’s how my weeklong holiday in Ferragudo went.
Travelling to Ferragudo from the UK
The easiest and most convenient way of getting here is to fly into Faro. The Algarve’s popularity as a holiday destination means that it’s possible to fly there from pretty most British airports on carriers such as Aer Lingus, British Airways, easyJet, Flybe, Jet2, Monarch, Norwegian, Ryanair, and Thomson; You can also fly on TAP Air Portugal with a stopover in Lisbon. Faro airport is about an hour east of Ferragudo, so realistically speaking you have two options: take a local bus from the airport to Faro’s bus station and then hop on a coach to Ferragudo, or rent a car at the airport and follow the A22 road. I chose the self-drive option because I was planning on doing a bit of sightseeing during my one-week stay.
An interesting alternative involves train travel. Check out this site to find out how to get from London to Portugal by train in 24 hours. The last leg of the journey would involve taking the ferry from Portimão to Ferragudo to get across the mouth of the Arade.
Highlights of a One-week Holiday in Ferragudo
Once you arrive in Ferragudo it becomes obvious that everything is geared towards relaxation and enjoyment. The town is compact enough to be visited on foot, and you’ll feel (and smell) the glorious ocean breeze no matter where you are in town. Ferragudo is as picturesque as a town can be: its gorgeous whitewashed houses are topped with pretty terracotta roof tiles and the narrow cobblestone streets gently slope from the town’s highest point down to the beach.
Ferragudo has been a fishing village for decades, and despite the (luckily controlled) tourist development, fishing is still central to the town’s everyday life. In the early mornings, local fishermen head out to sea and their traditional boats profile themselves against the beautiful colors of the Portuguese sunrise. Quite a sight if you ask me!
Of course there’s a lot more to see and do in Ferragudo and the surrounding area. Here’s my list of must see’s and do’s:
Ferragudo’s fort, São João do Arade, is an impressive 15th-century affair which overlooks Angrinha Beach and the nearby city of Portimão. Great for picture taking!
The local artisans are incredibly skilled at pottery-making, ceramics, and basket weaving. Don’t miss a visit to one of the local workshops, which double as souvenir shops.
Sample the local cuisine at the waterfront restaurants. My favorite is Fim do Mundo, which gets 10/10 for its decoration, ambiance, service, and of course the fabulous fish dishes.
The beaches: I loved watching windsurfers do their thing at Praia Grande, Ferragudo’s main beach. I drove to Praia do Pintadinho a few times and loved its unhurried atmosphere and picturesque beauty.
Listen to a performance of fado (a song tradition which is to Portugal what flamenco is to Spain) and be moved by the intensity of this music. The best place to catch a live fado performance is Casa Grande.
Castle and golf in Silves: I drove 20 minutes north of Ferragudo to this attractive down of 34,000 and combined a several rounds of golf at the Pestana Silves Golf club with a visit to the city's imposing castle, a largely medieval Moorish construction which has stunning views to the surrounding countryside. I also visited the Onyria Palmares Golf Resort, a world-class, 27-hole course.
Take a day trip - a half hour drive from Ferragudo - to the quaint village of Monchique (with a population of barely 4,400) and experience "the other Algarve", away from the beaches and high up in the sierra (mountains). This is the ideal place to disconnect from your holiday if you know what I mean! And while you’re there, visit one of the local meaderies or stop at one of the local coffee shops and along with your coffee ask for a bolo de tacho, made with honey, coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate. Totally addictive!
Needless to say, my weeklong holiday in Ferragudo was the highlight of this summer and I strongly encourage you to spend some time in the area too.