Inside And Out: Exploring The Algarve On A Budget

I’m not a travel blogger. I don’t usually write in depth pieces about the best Michelin star restaurants, fancy hotels or the best trains to take when it comes to a budget trip. I do however reflect on the importance of travel (like travel alone to The Algarve) and managing yourself when traveling. I love the idea of being prepared when it comes to food and drinks, always. Got a food intolerance? Then, I got you or at least, part of you.

Since a recent trip to The Algarve, I’ve had several requests for a write-up on my trip and how to do it cheaply and cheerfully.

At the end of July, I decided to head to the Algarve. I hadn’t seen sun in god knows how long and the idea of spending hours melting on a beach certainly wasn’t too much to handle. I booked five nights in Portugal, flying to the Algarve and having zero itinerary. Having been to Praia da Rocha over six years ago, I had a rough idea of the coastline. Spending several weeks in Lisbon as a freelancer also had me prepared for the basics of Portuguese and perfect coffee.

Booking something last minute and going alone meant the budget was super tight. It was necessary to consider what I wanted most from my impromptu adventure. I knew that choosing luxury meant more money while having a tight budget equaled compromising on what I consider pure comfort.

I opted for the lower budget trip and learned a lot along the way.

Ryanair offered the cheapest flights (Dublin to Faro). Booking six days in advance would mean more pricey flights and I managed to get them for 158€ return. That meant that I needed to fly on a Monday morning at 7am and return on Saturday morning at 8am. As I had the option of flexibility, I went for that option. It also meant having 4x full days and another 1/2 day to play around with. Taxis to and from the airport meant that this bumped the price up altogether 158€+45€ (because of my location) so it’s worth considering this factor before booking an early morning flight. From Lucan for example, the airport don’t go before 6am. Moreover, if you decide to stay in Portimao (as I did) then it won’t work staying there the night before an early morning flight if you’re relying on public transport. Instead, you can opt to stay in Faro which is ten minutes from the airport.

Having sworn off hostels circa my Chilean days, it was a big leap for me to book one. The Aloha hostel in Portimao didn’t disappoint. At 25€ per night, I slept in an all female dorm right in the town centre and with the nicest owner I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. At just over a year old, Aloha hostel had nearly 10/10 on Booking.com. The decor is perfect and it’s super clean. I was also fortunate enough to meet a mix of fellow solo travellers from all over the world.

With all the reviews online, don’t be fooled. Portimao is beautiful and I believe, just as beautiful as the rest of the Portuguese coast. It has a perfect seafront, stunning bridge view and an authentic feel to it. Arriving there on the first day, I sat in the main square taking in the views and inhaling a glass of vino verde. The seafood is tasty and most importantly (whether on a budget or not), it is super cheap. To offer a comparison, I got a lunch one day for 8€. That comprised of a coca cola, massive salad and roast potatoes. The following day, I had lunch along the seafront in Praia da Rocha and it cost 12€ for just a salad! Choose wisely and bring snacks to the commercial beaches should you choose to head there.

The bus from Portimao to neighbouring towns and beaches is just 2€! It’s five minutes on a bus to Praia da Rocha which I highly recommend for the nightlife. Meanwhile, the trains to Albufeira, Faro, Lagos and other neighbouring Algarve cities is 6€. When heading back to Faro for my last night, I opted for the train for the sheer comfort and ease. The train station is super central and easy to find. On that note, I was given the heads up not to stay too close as it’s much safer and a higher standard of accommodation in the town centre.

Heading the first week of August, it was the middle of a heatwave in The Algarve. The day I left, it was 35 degrees! This was great for tanning however if you’re not used to the heat, a September or October trip will still be 23+ degrees. It will also work out cheaper as it won’t be peak season.

Any other tips and tricks about The Algarve? Fancy reading more travel posts from me? Be sure to share your thoughts.