This is the story of an incredible journey.

10 days wandering around South Portugal: me, my husband, our 5months son and a really basic Van.

Everybody says Algarve is incredible, and yes it was. Incredible and stunning: especially out of season

After being for a month in Lisbon last autumn, we decided to take a break from the city and explore the south, Alentejo, and Algarve. We already experienced a camper trip during last summer: a 1600 km journey along all Italy, up and down, for about 15 days including a wedding, a working husband, a lot of rain and a baby that doesn’t like the car seat.

There we understood that a van trip was cool but needed to be

  • much shorter
  • oneway
  • in a good time of the year
  • wilder

So we rented a van with Indiecampers, the only company that allowed us to drop it in another city (Sevilla), we shipped part of our luggage to travel lighter with this company and we start our trip visiting Sintra castle.

As the first night we camp in a parking lot in Carcavelos (Cascais) with 6°C outside, we then realized that we needed to check for campings in order to have the heating on all night.

But the sunrise the day after was AMAZING: as Elio woke up at 6 am, I walked out of the van along the beach where hundreds of surfers were starting their day of training on one of the longest beaches close to Lisbon. After checking out the majesty of Boca do Inferno, a great natural spot right next to Cascais, we drove south.

Crossing the Bridge 25 Abril 1974 was an emotion but even emotional was to finally discover what was after the bridge waiting to be explored: first, we needed to take the ferry from Setubal to Tròia where we were supposed to see a group of dolphins that wasn’t actually there.

The first campsite was Praia Da Gale: the camping was almost empty but the natural coastal formation was gorgeous: a 5 million years old fossil cliff formation overlooking a 15 km long beach. The weather wasn’t brilliant but we enjoyed the view a lot.

Then we moved forward to Vila Nova de Milfontes, a small village on the estuary of Mira river: as we were there out of season, the city’s pavement was being renovated and therefore everything was closed but at least the sun start to shine and I and Elio could enjoy the outside while Giacomo was working in the van.

Vila Nova de Milfontes and Elio

As we left Alentejo to enter Algarve the landscape change a bit and the crowd too: more surfers start to pop out as we hit Arrifana beach, a nice surfing spot that’s situated in the Vicentine Coast Natural Park. Aljezur is a very characteristic village close to the beach, with white houses and windmills all over.

But it was in Sagres that the crowd of winter tourists starts to increase: Sagres it’s lovely and very well served with van parking (close to the castle), nice cafes and shops open all year around. The best part is the Cabo Sao Vicente, the furthest southeast point of the entire Europe: from there you can see both the south and the eastern coast of Portugal and you can enjoy the endless view of the open ocean, why not, sipping a cold Sagres.

After a good dessert at Mum’s we followed the suggestion of a British old man and choose to stop by not far from Sagres: the amazing Eco camping in Salema. Probably the best choice of our trip as we spent 3 nights together with other nomads families from Germany and France: good staff, lovely Tipis, a very good restaurant (amazing pizza) the firepit always on, lovely nature, good music and only 10 minutes walking to Salema beach. We spent almost all the time in front of the fire or walking in the sun meanwhile Giacomo was in the middle of a business storm.

Salema beach it’s a gem in this part of Algarve, one of the fewest beaches with direct access from the street: we even saw some dolphins jumping out from the sea thanks to a pair of lend binocular.

Lagos was the next stop: typical Algarve town, with a lot of amazing graffiti all over the city buildings, a well preserved historic defense walls and a nice harbor. First, we checked out Praia Dona Ana, Algarve style beach, with high cliffs, blue water, and shells everywhere: then we tried to stay at the harbor camper parking spot but as there were no electricity nor services whatsoever, we choose to follow the second British man’s suggestion and look for Turiscampo Camping. The camping was full of seasonal tourist from all over North Europe, services were amazing and also the restaurant found us very happy: so happy that we stayed there 2 nights.

Elio learned to seat alone at Turiscampo!

After this stop we didn’t have so much time left, only 48 hours to reach our destination, Sevilla.

We decided to skip Faro as we knew it wasn’t the best: we instead stopped by Praia dos Três Irmãos, the best scenario for some family pictures and for getting completely wet meanwhile taking amazing photos.

As we tried to stop at Tavira Ilha de Tavira camping and found out was closed and only reachable by ferry (no van allowed though), we got a brief stop at Cachela Velha, a super small fort, overlooking the sand of a nice sand laguna; a city so small that the priest office was also the tourist information point, but not too small to have nice art pieces everywhere. That was the very last stop.

At lunch we were in the rainy Sevilla, where our friend Elisa and Louis had been so nice to offer us hosting for two night while packing our millions stuff before heading back home: it was so cool to be back there as 6 years had passed since I was there doing my Erasmus. I was amazed to see how the city has changed fx, the finally finished Mirador Parasol, or the very ugly new Sevilla tower, but also to check the old but gold Blanco Cerrillo and their amazing calamares fritos or the progress of Huertas del Rey Moro.

Sunset at Mercado de Encarnacion

36 hours in Sevilla weren’t enough to see everything I wanted and everyone I missed but it was enough to remember how good was there and to feel that I want go there again soon.

Let’s do a check about what expected for this trip

  • much shorter > YES 650 km instead of 1600 km
  • oneway > YES Lisbon-Sevilla one way
  • in a well choose time of the year > MMM ok off season but September- October or May- June probably are a better choice
  • wilder > NO WAY: it was too cold outside and too poor isolated inside the van to stay wilder

So, for now, we put our “vanfamily” adventure on hold…

p.s. bytheway my parents just got a new van! Stay tuned : )