The Algarve has been a popular holiday destination since the 1960s and is now one of Europe’s most visited places. Holidaymakers are attracted to this southern tip of Portugal for many reasons – the famous golf courses, the golden sandy beaches with lots of hidden coves to explore, the fascinating history and culture, and of course the delicious food! And there’s no need to be put off if you’re on a budget. Tie up your purse strings and pack your sense of adventure – we’re going to show you how to do the Algarve without breaking the bank!
The Algarve on a budget
WHERE TO STAY
If you’ve got your eye on value stay out of the main tourist resorts somewhere lower key, with a price tag to match. More inland, small towns and villages tend to fit the bill (pun intended) and ooze local charm. A stay here might mean you choose to hire a car. With your transport costs covered up front, the freedom to be choosey on where you visit and eat will make your money go further.
We’ve picked out Casa Jasmim near Estoi. These two self-contained villas are an economical choice for two families holidaying together. Fill the six bedrooms and you’ll be getting a large and comfortable villa complete with a pool, games room and access to a small, private football pitch. Even in August, from £589pp† you will get all of this for seven nights, plus your flights.
WHAT TO DO
It’s true what they say, that the best things in life are free. You don’t need to pay big bucks to make holiday memories that are priceless. Adults and children alike will love the eastern sands near Tavira, where you can swap Atlantic waves for the calmer, lagoonal waters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, with its incredible landscape. Nearby the fishing town of Olhão is worth a visit to amble the promenade, take in its Moorish vibe and come away with seafood and goodies from the fabulous markets to cook back at your villa.
In fact, the possibilities for exploration here are endless. Faro’s Old Town and historic Silves are lovely spots to engage a child’s active imagination in a way that’s carefree and easy on the pocket. The Roman spa town of Monchique is more hilly and inland, a change of scene from the beach and coast. Looking for souvenirs for the kids on a budget? Try bartering in the Quarteira Gypsy Market, or visit the daily market at Loulé, at its best on Saturdays. Explore the pretty churches and cobbled streets, then treat the children to a Portuguese pastry at one of the cafés. Bliss.
One of the luxuries of a villa is your own kitchen. Shops and markets offer great local wines and ingredients for a fraction of the cost you’d pay in a restaurant, and you can cater for yourself (and any fussy children!) any meal of the day, at whatever time your little darlings announce they’re hungry. Take a look at our Piri Piri chicken recipe. Don’t forget days out – what child doesn’t love a picnic on the beach? Pack up lots of goodies and give yourself a pat on the back for pleasing your troop, while counting the pennies.
If you want to eat out then being on a budget shouldn’t stop you. Here’s where that hire car comes into its own. Take your pick of restaurants and cafés off the tourist trail, make lunch your main meal and tuck in to delicious set menus, or menu do día. Just remember the olives and bread that they bring out will be charged for, unless you send them back. However, if you’re at the stomach growling stage some nibbles might be a better choice than a starter.
FABULOUS DAYS OUT FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET…
RIA FORMOSA BOAT TRIP – Pirate Ship cruise from £19pp* for 2-6 hours
ALGARVE TOURING – Hop on, hop off Albufeira bus tour from £16pp* for 24-96 hour ticket
HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHT – Lagos Zoo entrance ticket from £14pp*