Return Flights: £68.85 each (after redeemed travel credit) (Ryanair)
Accommodation: €75 each (approx £67.14) Residencial Dandy (Booking.com)
Total per person: £135.99*
*Exchange rate at time of writing
Summary and Highlights
- Search around where is cheap to fly in the more expensive summer months
- Go to where the tourists aren’t
- Split the cost of a room between two or more of you
- A boat tour of the Ria Formosa Natural Park
- Old Town
- Praia de Faro
The summer months are obviously the most popular time to travel, which unfortunately is reflected in the prices. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done on a budget still. My pal Jess and I decided we wanted to go somewhere but wasn’t sure whereas all the places we were suggesting, one of us had already been to. It was hard to keep to the £100 budget but rules are meant to be broken so I could let the moths out for this one a bit. I’d done a lot of city breaks so I was ready to relax by the beach. We searched around and found reasonable flights to Faro in Portugal from the centre of the universe that is Leeds Bradford.
Pretty much everyone who is travelling to the Algarve will have been to Faro, the airport that is. But very few actually go to the city itself which is only about 10 minutes away. The great thing about it is that it means the city of Faro is still fairly tourist free, but with plenty to do.
I often travel alone but sometimes when my social battery is charged enough, it’s nice to go with someone else. This also means that splitting the cost of a room makes it much more affordable (thanks pal). We stayed in a very traditional Portuguese place but was all we needed and close to the centre. I pulled Jess into a walking tour which was primarily based around the Old Town and we also did some island hopping which I would highly recommend.
There are various options to get to the islands such as frequent water taxis or organised trips. We settled on a 2 island tour that lasted about 4 hours for €25 each. I thought at first this was a bit much but it was definitely worth it and I feel we got our money’s worth as it actually went over a little. Faro is actually in a lagoon surround by barrier islands that lead to the Atlantic Ocean, When the tide is out, the lagoon is exposed marshlands so the captain took us along them to see the wildlife before heading towards the islands. Some islands are just holiday homes, others are Fishermans houses and other such as the named Isla Deserta (Desert Island) has only 1 restaurant on it and the rest is a Blue Flag beach.
A beach holiday wouldn’t be complete without going to, of course, the beach. The main beach – Pria de Faro is a bus or boat ride away on the outer edge of one of the barrier islands. The price for both is the same (€5 return) but the boat has the more scenic route and stops further down the beach away from the majority of beachgoers. Even in the middle of July, the Atlantic was still pretty nippy.
Since the area was not overly touristy, the prices were reasonable and we often got food from the supermarket or a deli during the day and went out for a meal in the evening. All washed down with a jug of sangria. The best food I had was a veal steak for €9 in some back street restaurant, which was essentially the size of a house. I loved Portugal and can’t wait for my trip to Lisbon in January. As for now, I have to stick with finding decent Pastel de nata in the UK.