It’s the end of June, a rare summer heatwave has swept the UK and despite this it was time for my annual villa holiday to somewhere hot in Europe to over indulge in dinners, ice creams, sunshine and cheap local beer.
This year I headed to Vale do Garrao on the southern coast of Portugal, a few minutes drive from Quinta do Lago and Almancil where I have been previously. As European holiday locations go, Vale do Garrao is right up there as a premium resort in the Algarve with top quality golf courses and multi million pound villas next door in Vale do Lobo – quite some distance from what I’m typically used to back at home in Milton Keynes!
Flying out from Luton to Faro was a mixed experience. We had a 1 hour delay however our plane was one of EasyJet’s brand new aircraft (Airbus A320 NEO) – in fact it was only the plane’s 60th flight – offering significantly more leg room, cabin space and thinner seats. Certainly the best budget airline flight I’ve been on in many years.
On arrival at Faro we went to collect our Hertz hire car which we were expecting to be a Renault Megane or similar and after a bit of banter with the staff, secured an upgrade to a far more premium Mercedes, nice!
After a 20 minute drive from Faro airport we arrived at our villa in Vale do Garrao on the Dunas Douradas complex.
First impressions of this villa were pretty good however as per most European villas they’re a little rough around the edges – this one was no different with a window frame falling out and door shutters jamming!
First things first though, with temperatures hitting the low 30’s – pool!
During our time in Vale do Garrao we got dressed up and headed to a number of restaurants including Julia’s, Fantasia, Casa Pituxa and Restaurante O Tanque.
I love heading to these beach resorts as the food you’re served is always so fresh, especially the locally sourced fish. For me there really isn’t anywhere better to try new things and so I went with a wide range of fish dishes including grilled sardines…
And something completely different, grouper…
The beaches at Vale do Garrao are also really impressive, stretching for miles in both directions. There’s certainly no shortage of private space if that’s what you’re aiming for.
Having a hire car on holiday is great as it gives you that freedom to get out and about and explore. On one of our days we headed to Tavira, about 25 miles from Vale do Garrao for a few hours. Tavira is a historic town with the usual assortment of churches, gardens and a castle ruin. There’s also an old Roman bridge which we explored.
As villa holidays go, this one was really relaxing. We had no issues to contend with, the weather was consistently in high 20’s/low 30’s, the food and drink were great and the company I was in with Sarah and her parents was excellent.
We had some great BBQs and the draught local beer, Super Bock tasted great!
The Algarve is somewhere where I think I will be heading back to a lot in my life. It’s nearest holiday contender are the Spanish islands however for me Portugal has the edge with more friendly locals and better beaches.
Thanks for a great holiday Portugal, I’ll be seeing you again soon!