Your time on the road will be brief. You’ll spend most of your time admiring views and soaking in the sunshine. Start in Albufeira, a town known for its bountiful beaches. Drive to the end of the world*, Cape St. Vincent, Europe’s southwesternmost point.
Algarve, Portugal Road Trip: Albufeira to Cape St. Vincent
Your Starting Point: Albufeira, Portugal
Start your day with a stroll along one of Albuefeira’s beaches. Praia dos Pescadores and Praia da Oura are the city’s main beaches, and if you’re heading out early, they’re likely to be quiet enough for a romantic walk. There are several other beaches in this resort town to enjoy though – our go-to is Praia da Coelha. It’s a bit more out of the way for most, but a short walk from the villa we’ve been staying in. Go early, and you might get the beach to yourselves.
If you are vegan or have food allergies, your snack options at gas stations are limited, so if you want a bite to take on the road, consider a stop at the nearby Apolonia grocery store. I love that they have quick, quality food options for every kind of eater. Order a Pastel de Nata or other pastry from their bakery, shop for prepped fruits, or select a snack – tasty vegan and gluten-free options are available. They stock some of my favorites: Kookie Cat Cookies and Kuna Pops. Some Kuna Pop flavors have dairy, so check the label if that’s a concern.
Optional Stop: Lagos Marina
Ponta da Piedade
The kayak and catamaran tours will allow you to check out Ponta da Piedade (Piety Point) from the water, but it’s a spot worth exploring by foot as well. Ponta da Piedade is one of two stops on this road trip listed in Lonely Planet’s top 12 Natural Wonders of Portugal. While there, walk along the cliffside boardwalk and down the stairs to Praia do Camilo. The views are spectacular.
Time to say cheers to a relaxing lunch that’ll leave you feeling energized for the rest of the day’s fun – there are no pizza-coma meals at this pizzeria. Arte Bianca is a farm-to-table pizzeria with a menu that accommodates most any type of travel foodie. Chris can eat almost anything, likes meat with his meals, and loves spice. I’ve recently learned that I have food allergies that make most pizzas a no-go.
Before lunch, sip on a local brew like a pilsner crafted by the Lisbon-based, family-run brewery, Dois Corvos, or a fun craft cocktail. I gave their Mama Mia a try, and it was delightful.
You should order the Diavola Di Arte Bianca if you’re like Chris. It’s one of their traditional pizzas: Mozzarella fior di latte, Italian tomato sauce, Napoli salami spicy, Scarmorza cheese, and Nduja paste – a soft, spreadable fermented pork salume spiked with Calabrian chilies.
If you’re like me or vegan, the Horta de Arte Bianca might be your ideal’ za! It’s a vegan gourmet pizza with asparagus cream, sauteed carrot spaghetti, roasted hazelnuts, and asparagus flower.
Whether you’re a nature-lover or history-lover, there’s something to love about this spot. Romans called it Promontorium Sacrum (Sacred Promontory) and forbade pilgrims from spending the night here because it was for the gods alone.
As the Promontorio de Sagres (Fort Sagres) site says, “…the mythical charge of the place that still and always appeals to the darkest and most irrational side of our collective memory.” Fort Sagres holds tales of an unlikely navigational school, shipwrecks, and legendary navigators. Modern historians have disproved some of its histories, but the stories still hold sway over many a traveler’s imagination.
For about 3 euros per person, you can check out a museum, the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Graça (Church of Our Lady of Grace) built in the 1570s, and the cape’s natural wonders.
Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente)
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/portugal-top-natural-wondersLocated at the southwesternmost edge of Europe, Cape St. Vincent is the other spot on the road trip that made it onto Lonely Planet’s list of Portugal’s natural wonders. It’s here that we looked out at what was once considered the end of the world. Can you imagine what it must’ve been like for Magellan, Vasco da Gama, or Columbus to sail by this point? I don’t navigate in any unfamiliar territory without a map app, but to set out with a compass and some other old-school tools and see what happens? Wow!
After you park your car, you’ll have the chance to walk by a stand serving up the last brats available before you reach America. Other stalls selling food, clothing, and wares line the path to Cabo de São Vicente. It’s a short walk to the striking view of the last cliffs those explorers would’ve seen. Once you’ve enjoyed the views, you might want to stop in the gift shop for a clever t-shirt touting the fact that you’ve visited the end of the world.
Then, sit in the pleasant outdoor seating of the nearby cafe and enjoy a Sagres beer, glass of wine, or gin and tonic. For the most romantic time, stay to enjoy a gorgeous sunset.
*Bonus: If you’re like me, visiting the end of the world makes thoughts of the world ending feel quaint and archaic instead of terrifying. After all, if the end of the world is just a place, why wouldn’t I feel fine about it?
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