The best things to do at the Algarve – off the beaten track

Well, the Algarve in Portugal is beautiful and especially Portimao is popular for it’s long and stunning beaches. In this Article, I will tell you more about the hidden spots, the really good ones you need to see if you want to explore Portimao and it’s surrounding not only for the touristy part but off the beaten track. Find the hidden treasures of the area of Portimao and Lagos.

the best things to do in Portimao - off the beaten track

Of course, there are great beaches like Praia da Rocha, stunning caves like Benagil Cave and of course Cape St. Vincent what is the most South-Western point of Europe. A whole lot of nothing but water until America. All of it is beautiful, stunning and definitely worth visiting. But let me tell you about the places that not mentioned in the travel guide, where you have to go to see the Algarve at it’s fullest.

Friday Happiness

Pizza Party Night. Oh my god. You have not seen the Algarve if you haven’t been there. It is a very special place, you might need to like Hippie people and a bit of techno music, but most important: Do you like self-made Pizza, watching people and dancing? Then you are right here. Every Friday night beginning at 6 pm you can come and eat as much self-made Pizza you like and enjoy yourself. Costs 10 € for the Pizza and 1,50 € per beer, water is free. Run by a German guy for over 20 years it is the place to be every Friday night. In Summer it gets quite full and the queue for the Pizza tends to get long, so come early enough to get your fair amount of Pizza before you have to wait too long. From 9 pm there two different music stages where different DJ’s play and anyone who likes can dance. They also offer self-made waffles and cakes. All kind of people of all ages come here and have fun. It is in the middle of nowhere in the hills of Monchique, but google maps nows it, when you type in Friday Happiness, it will guide you just right there. You can find more information on their Homepage: Friday Happiness.

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Friday Happiness
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somewhere in the middle of nowhere
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self-made Pizza
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the bar
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chill-out lounge
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love bus
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music stage for later in the evening
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that says it all
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chill-out

Chicken Piri-Piri

Chicken Piri-Piri is the typical dish of the Algarve and you can get it basically everywhere. Unfortunately, it is not everywhere really good. As I mentioned in my post How to save money while travelling I strongly recommend to go local and try some new places. This is the best one. Here, we found a real treasure up the N126 to Monchique. On the left side of the road is a small and easy to oversee Restaurant that has no menu card and doesn’t need one as they sell only one menu anyway. Nothing for vegetarians, to be honest. But the best Chicken Piri-Piri for a really good price you will find. Promise. The little Restaurant is usually well visited so you may want to book a table in advance. It is located in the hills of Monchique surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and a beautiful view. The menu comes usually with fresh tomatoes, Portuguese local prosciutto and cheese. Do not forget to ask for a Medronho after dinner, a local produced Schnaps that you can either get pure or added with some honey or the doce de amêndoa what is made of marzipan. The place is run by a lovely family for over 30 years and the owner is always friendly and welcoming.

The real name of the place is Cafe Imperio and has no own homepage, but you can find some reviews in German and more pictures on Trip Adviser.

By the way, in case you wonder, Piri-Piri is the local kind of Chilli pepper, but they don’t overdo it. It is spicy, but not hot. If you like it hot, there is always a little cup of really hot Piri-Piri on the table.

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Inside the little Restaurant
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If you don’t know the place, you’ll probably won’t recognise how great it is when driving by

Butcher Walter (Algarve-Metzger Walter)

In case you are German or you just like German sausages as much as I do, you can go and find Walter. He is a German (Bavarian) butcher living in the Algarve for quite some years and doing what he loves. German Food.

To be honest, not super easy to find. When you drive from Lagos into the hills there will be at some point a little sign at the street where “WALTER” is written on it. Just follow the sign for short gravel road and park the car. Then you’ll find the most beautiful garden, with some chairs and tables outside and inside the conservatory. Every Sunday you can go and get some awesome self-made German food. Beginning with a Weißwurst and changing menus every Sunday. Find him on Facebook, get friends and you’ll get information about how to get there, what he does and who he is.

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Lovely garden
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lovely house
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awesome food
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Walter himself

 

Hippe market in Barão de São João

Finally something non-food. Every 4th Sunday of the Month there is well-known Hippie Market in the tiny town of Barão de São João, about 13 km of Lagos. This usually more sleepy town gets crowded with people every last Sunday of the Month. It started as a normal flee market with Portuguese stuff, then more and more dropouts with long hair, dreadlocks and coloured clothes joined in. Now it is a real happening where you get self-made organic food, art, crafts and music. Just place yourself in the middle of the thing, turn 360 degrees and watch. Never seen anything like this before. I personally was there one time to sell my self-made hats, so if you want more pictures click here. When the market closes there is an after show party with lots of music and fun until the early morning.

Hippie market Barao de Sao Joao
Me at the hippie market in Barao de Sao Joao
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Barao market Pic: ttps://inspiritana.org/blog/reisen/digitale-auszeit/
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Musicians everywhere at the market (Pic: https://hiveminer.com/Tags/bar%C3%A3o,de)

 

Club Nautico de Silves

This is a super sweet little Bar pretty close to the town of Silves. Silves is worth a visit anyway, but this cute bar is a hidden treasure. Only open during summer and run by a couple that does it because they have fun doing it. It is a really beautiful spot with loads of things to look at. Just sit by the river and enjoy the silence and the view. You also get some foods that are fairly good. You can either get there by car or as we did it by dinghy using the tide to go up, drink a beer or two and then with the tide down again. They have a quite wobbly looking pontoon where you can tie the dinghy up and leave it there for good. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit as you can either jump in the river or in the swimming pool they have. For the swimming pool, you might get asked to pay a little fee. Even though they call it Club Nautico, it is more than that and exclusively for members. Everyone who wants can come and enjoy the place. I haven’t been to the Carribean but everyone who has been told me that this is what the Carribean looks like. So this place is also called “the little Carribean” and I think it is a good description of you’ll find. Don’t bring any stress as the owners are very friendly and welcoming but not too fast. You can find the Club also on Facebook.

Club nautico de Silves
Club Nautico de Silves
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Sittiing there and enjoying the view
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the bar
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getting there with the dinghy

 

Well in Caldas de Monchique

Last but not least, there is Caldas de Monchique. If you want to see a beautiful restored little village up the hills of Monchique I can totally recommend Caldas de Monchique. Easy to find at the N126, turn left where the sign is and you’ll find a picturesque small village and also a fountain that is supposed to be the “fountain of the eternal youth”. You can go there in a small garden where you’ll find big eucalyptus trees and some nice places to sit down. Just in the middle, there is a tiny creek flowing and at its end (or beginning) there is a fountain where you can bring your own bottles and fill them with fresh, pure, crystal clear fountain water that is also supposed to increase your health. What else do yo ask for?

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Fountain of the eternal youth in Caldas de Monchique (pic: https://www.borboletameetsworld.de/2017/07/23/monchique-gebirge/)

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