For many of us holidays are the highlight of year. We plan, we dream and we save so that we can eat in the best restaurants, enjoy nights out, and fun family days. However, in the Algarve, it is not always necessary to spend a lot to have a great time. And we don’t just mean that you can eat and drink at very reasonable prices at many of the Algarve’s great restaurants and bars. Here are some of our favourite things to do in the Golden Triangle – and they are totally free!
Top of the list of fab free days is a day on the beach. With so many amazing beaches in the area, the most arduous task you will have is to choose which one to visit each day. Pack up the family, make up a picnic, grab the buckets and spades (and sunscreen) and head out for the day. Enjoy splashing in the waves, relax in the shade with a favourite book, take a long walk along the shore. Do as the locals do and lie by the waters edge on your towel – no need to pay for sunbeds. The day might not be totally free of course – you may have to pay out for an ice-cream or some of those delicious fresh donuts sold on the beach.
Picnic in the Park
Every Friday during the summer months Quinta do Lago hosts a fabulous Picnic in the Park, bringing a little bit of Central Park vibe to the Algarve. The Driving Range at Quinta do Lago becomes a family friendly picnic spot, complete with stage, food stands and entertainment. Starting at 7pm, you can bring your own picnic – as elaborate or a simple as you like – or opt to buy some food at the stalls. Live music and entertainment keeps young and not so young happy, spontaneous performances from picnicers are encouraged and of course there is plenty of space for youngsters to run around and burn off some of their energy. A really great family evening.
Ria Formosa Nature Walk
The Ria Formosa is an amazing natural park that is begins in the Golden Triangle and it is there for all to explore and enjoy by bike, boat or on foot. A great circuit to walk is around the lake at Quinta do Lago – start near Caso do Lago restaurant and simply follow the tracks around. For a longer and more adventurous days walking, follow the trails from Quinta do Lago towards the east, heading towards Faro. The trails goes right through the nature reserve, past lagoons and salt pans and you can spot lots of the local wildlife, a huge array of birdlife and even some of the locals picking shellfish when the tide is out. You could do the same, so not only do have you a free days walking, you bring dinner home too!
Join the locals in a relaxing evening stroll along the promenade in Quarteira. Running parallel with the fabulously long and sandy beach of Quarteria town, the promenade is a palm tree lined avenue with cafés and restaurants, bars and shops. During the summer months, there is often entertainment along the avenue and lots of temporary stalls selling books and handcrafts. There are two playgrounds for the children with slides and swings and in August there are usually some fairground attractions too. At the Quarteira end of the promenade you can visit the fish market (mornings only) for a jaw dropping display of fresh fish and shellfish. The promenade is about 2kms long, and if you want to extend your walk a little you can actually walk from the eastern end of the promenade across the beach, passing Almargem and Trafal beach before reaching Vale do Lobo.
Visit Loulé Market
Every town in the Algarve has it’s own fresh fruit, veg and fish market. The market in Loulé is one of the biggest and the best. The market building itself is pretty impressive with its red and white Moorish inspired design. Open Monday to Saturday mornings, probably the best day to visit is Saturday. This is the day small landholders come to town and set up temporary stalls outside the market selling a colourful range of fruit, vegetables, home-made cheeses, sausages, breads and cakes, complementing the fish market and other stalls that are inside the market. Saturday mornings at Loulé market are hectic, noisy and busy, the air rich with aromas and loud with the calls of the traders. Great fun just to wander around, even if you don’t buy anything.