Algarve by van

In summer 2016, the first one of owning our van we decided to go straight to Portugal. We’ve always been told of Algarve as if it was some heavenly place, just like those you may find around the lost Caribbean islands. We finally had some holidays, we wanted sun, to relax, to learn how to surf and to take our first van trip.

We had absolutely nothing inside the van, but of course, that didn’t put us off, not for a second. We brought the bedroom mattress in, grabbed a camping gas, a picnic table, a pair of chairs and we said goodbye!

The motivation we felt to finally be on the road was such that as soon as we crossed the border we exploded in happiness. We entered Portugal by Faro, the capital city from that area, but we went past it with all the emotion and the thrive to see in person the cliffs and those beaches that we had seen on pictures so many times. So we waved goodbye to Faro from our van windows and we continued our journey.

On one of our stops to eat something, we came across a place that caught our attention; Sandworld, a very interesting and different touristic attraction that we hadn’t heard of yet. If you happen to cross it and want to get distracted with some art, it is definitely worth it, especially if you travel with children. It’s an outdoor area full of monuments and statues made entirely out of sand, some of them are quite impressive for how enormous they are. Every year they work a different theme, when we were it was all dedicated to music and cinema.

After taking a tour around Sandworld we headed back to the van, ready to find a place to spend the night. We had done our homework and thanks to furgoperfecto, we found the Praia dos Arrifes on the west of Albufeira. It is a small and beautiful bay.

We parked our van in the parking lot before reaching to the cliff because it was quite crowded. When we reached the cliff we could only manage to say OH! Because what a view! The first thing you see is three enormous rocks in the middle of the beach and because the tide was low, you could see the erosion in them, forming incredible little caves full of sea life. We ran back to get on our swimsuits and grab our snorkel equipment to spend the afternoon there and charge batteries.

As soon as the parking space near the cliff got empty, there were only vans and AC, so we could get a nice place with great views of the sunset that left you speechless. In front of the beach, there’s a restaurant where they have a public bathroom and a shower service that cost 1€. We took a most wanted shower and went off to the van. Little we knew then that that shower was going to be one of the few we would be able

to take in all the trip! We must say that the first night was the best for us, the place was incredible, you can’t waste the chance to enjoy both the sunset and sunrise that Praia dos Arrifes offers. We woke up early to see the sunrise and even though we thought that everyone who had spent the night there would be doing the same, it was just the two of us. As it couldn’t be any other way, we celebrated with some Nutella pancakes for breakfast!


Batteries charged and full stomachs we headed to our second stop, Praia Marinha. We got there at midday and it was a miracle we could find somewhere to park. We highly recommend you to get there as early as you can because the parking lot was absolutely and insanely crowded. We went down the passage to get to the beach, it’s a really nice walk although we were so anxious to arrive at the beach that it felt really long. The place doesn’t let you down, it’s an absolute beauty. We made our way, with many difficulties, trough the people in there to leave our stuff and get in the water. We had a little swim, we jumped off the rocks, we did some snorkel but we left as soon as we could. For our taste, it was way too crowded and it was stressing, so we decided to go back to the van.

We hired a boat tour of all the beautiful bays and caves around the area for the next day because we got stressed but we definitely didn’t give up on enjoying that beautiful beach as it deserved! We spent the night in a camping but you could also spend the night there, we saw plenty of vans doing it. Pretty early, the next morning we went back to Praia Marinha, we had a very peaceful walk around the beach, took some pictures and we relaxed. After a while, we had the boat tour, because of the low tide there was that morning, we had to wait a while so the boat could access the small bay we were setting off from. We accessed it from a small hidden passage inside the rock. After a while of only us two in that secret and beautiful beach, arrived another couple. It was only the four of us doing that tour and we were so lucky because everything was more personal and the guide took us to some small caves that weren’t on the tour. Don’t let the chance of visiting all those amazing bays and caves pass, it is a pure joy and a gift for the eyes. Amongst many others, we visited the Praia de Benagil, the famous cave with the hole in the middle of the roof which we are pretty sure you’ve seen in many pictures already. We saw people on kayaks, next time we go we’ll try that because we are sure we’ll be going again.

Once the visit finished, we went back to the van and set off to Lagos, to visit the Ponta da Piedade and take some pictures. Another wonder that you can’t miss, but be prepared for going up and down a lot of stairs, crowded with tourists taking breaks to catch their breath. You can also take a boat tour around the bays near Ponta da Piedade which we are sure is beautiful, but as we had already done one boat tour that day, we decided to move again and went to Cabo de São Vicente, about 45 minutes from Lagos. There, you can be one of the last persons in the whole Iberic Peninsula to witness the sunset, as it is the most south-west site. There’s a lighthouse and a fort although the landscape is so stunning you don’t even pay attention to them!

We got there relatively early but in a matter of minutes, came a huge wave of people that despite the strong wind and the cold, were determined to, like us, be some of the last people on the Peninsula to enjoy the sunset. We took a place and sat there, the wind was so intense that it was even difficult to keep your eyes open and of course, the jokes from everyone in there about it were what made the whole experience worth it. It was beautiful, people cheering with non-stop ‘Oooh’ as the sun disappeared on the horizon, we all started clapping and cheering in happiness although we didn’t stay very long after that, neither us nor anyone. The crowd started to dissolve and leaving Cabo empty. Once in the van we stayed there for a while until most of the cars and vans and taxis had left. On our way up to the Cabo we saw a paved parking lot full of vans and ACs and as the place up there was too inclined and too windy, we set off to the parking lot and spent the night there. It was quite peaceful, we prepared dinner on the camping gas, we read a little, stared at the stars and went to sleep. The next day would be our last in Portugal and we needed to be well-rested.

We couldn’t possibly leave Algarve without surfing, so we headed to Sagres, where there is the Praia Castelejo, an incredible natural beach surrounded by cliffs and for what we’d been told, a great beach for surfing. We hired a couple of lessons for that day and we spent it learning how to surf and relaxing on the beach. Once we finished the lessons we were completely dead from exhaustion and we took it easy for the rest of the day. Being it the last day, we felt like treating ourselves with a good Cataplana. A typical seafood dish from Portugal. Our dishes were spotless when we finished. We took it with a green wine, also typical from that area and perfect for the Cataplana. We highly recommend it, it was all delicious and with our stomach about to explode, we went back to Praia Castelejo to finish the day relaxing by the beach and spend the night before heading home.


We had to go back, but not without capturing the great moments that we had lived in that trip, which would be the beginning of an important change of direction to our life. So on our way back, we stopped at a tattoo studio and each of us in our way, got tattooed what that first van-trip had meant for us.

If you’ve liked this post, share it on social media


Shower inside your van without giving up space!