How to Spend the Perfect Week in Portugal and Spain
Updated: Mar 13
I am in love with palm trees, clean beaches, sun-kissed skin and island life. Hallelujah, my family planned a trip to reconnect in beach paradise. All prayers answered.
Four days to escape to southern Portugal, Praia de Rocha <beach of the rock> in a region called The Algarve and three adventurous days on the island of Ibiza, Spain.
See bottom of post for location maps*
Disclaimer: Although none of these recommendations are sponsored, the AirBnb we stayed in is owned by family. We chose the activities and locations that we wanted to explore and I’m recommending them to you because they were top class!
The Algarve, Portugal
In Portugal, we stayed in an apartment so close to the beach, I could smell the salt in the waves and breeze off the shore = perfection. I would highly recommend staying at Verandas de Rocha. The view of the ocean, nightlife and proximity to anything you could want was bliss.
The region, The Algarve, has been rated in the top 5 most popular beach destinations in Europe three years in a row (so has Ibiza, but that's in the second portion of the post). The picture below shows the apartment as the second block from the left: what a view!
Our days were colored with activity.
Here's what to do in Portugal:
~ Enjoy morning coffee and local treats (Pastel de Nata, that famous Portuguese custard tartlet, or freshly-filled custard doughnuts are a must);
~ Take advantage of beach time (tanning, swimming, sport-playing and rock exploring). Bring your own towel, beach toys and umbrella otherwise they are available for hire;
~ Sample gelato (Ice-cream is available on every street and corner. How many did we try, you ask? Hmm I’ll admit to not stopping at one a day);
~ Ride scooters to nearby towns and beaches (local scooter rentals are easily accessible and an affordable way to travel and explore). We ventured to exotic beaches and towns, such as Alvor and Praia Dona Ana. D Ana is a world-famous beach with turquoise waters and interesting rock formations;
~ Take a boat cruise to the many mysterious caves along the coast, such as Benagil cave with holes in the rock above and below (tourists LOVE this one but they are all unique and have an interesting story);
~ Go snorkeling (either you are going to go on a boat ride and see the sunset or you are going to see all the fish. We picked the sunset and laughed at each other swimming in the darkening waters chasing the few fish we saw;
~ Take long sunset walks along the promenade;
~ Drink sangria and try local dishes (order jugs of it to share everyday, you won't regret it);
~ Embrace the night life (dinner, dancing and the like).
There are Irish pubs with live music, local clubs and bars scattered all along the road adjacent to the main beach. It was so wonderful to go out, walk along streets teeming with people late at night and into the morning and do as we pleased.
You can walk on the beach, have a drink, get a gelato, dance, socialize with locals and internationals any day of the week... anything is possible. The best part is that when you're done, you're 5 minutes walk from home, if that. Yes, please;
We definitely squeezed in afternoon naps and a few meals of home cooking, too. What more could anyone want on vacation?
In Ibiza, we stayed in a hotel 10 minute’s walk from the beach, Playa den Bossa. There was access to a pool, grocery and liquor stores, tasty restaurants, a sandy beach and prime viewing spots for passing airplanes overhead.
Here's what to do in ibiza:
~ Cool off in the ocean (there aren't any ways so the ocean is like a large pool - bring a ball/frisbee to throw. Lilos were also popular);
~ Sample local meals (Paella, a rice dish which originated in the Spanish city, Valencia, and tapas, appetizers or snacks were my top choices). There are international menus available too and Italian food appears to be a favorite;
~ Ride scooters to famous destinations, such as the restaurant Café del Mar, as well as secret beach, Calla Bassa, with rocks to jump off into the ocean;
~ Dive into night life at Pacha, megaclub. Labyrinch was on the night we were there. The club filled up early in the morning and is an experience of a lifetime;
~ Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dalt Vila (historic Old Town Ibiza and an outrageous castle);
~ Celebrate a milestone (my dad, @durbanskyye, turned 60)
Look at us go...
I loved every moment with my family and as I write this I long for creamy paella, a jug of sangria and wish I was digging my toes into the sand. If you love the beach, need some down time but are in for a little adventure, get on to booking those tickets!
Love, Kate x
Location maps, as promised: