It was a foggy, dark morning last week that we arrived at Southend airport, the early hour adding to the silence that fog seems to encourage. My Mum and I were off for a short break to Luz, in the Algarve and we couldn’t have been more excited. It was the first time we had flown from Southend Airport, and a first time visit to Portugal for both of us, so it was all brand new. Parking the car, we headed for what we thought was the exit in the reduced visibility that the fog provided, relieved to have found it after wandering around the car park twice. The “exit” was actually the security mans gate and office. Opening the gate, expecting to see the walkway to the airport, we instead saw the surprised guard, enjoying hs 5am cup of tea. Asking him for directions, we stumbled back out into the fog, giggling like school girls, finally finding our way out of the car park. A fabulous start. Only we could get lost in a carpark, and find it hilarious. It seems we had set the tone for what became 5 days of fun…… In this post, with my stories, adventures and meanderings reserved for another day, (or we would be here until breakfast) I am giving you the low down, where to stay, eateries and cost guides for a short break in Luz The Algarve. Enjoy!
Where is Luz
Situated on the western part of The Algarve coastline, Luz and its neighbouring villages are small, low key and fairly unspoilt. Traditionally a fishing village, Praia Da Luz’s beaches are sheltered by the huge Rocha Negra basalt headland, creating a peaceful and calm stretch of soft sandy beach. With the cultural town of Lagos just 5km away (15 mins on the bus costing just €1.80) Luz is a fabulous, relaxed base to explore this beautiful side of the Algarve. Its compact, so ideal for a short break. The basalt headland was created 150 million years ago, when extremely hot lava pushed through the red sandstone of The Algarve, creating beautiful headlands striped with colour. At different times of the day these colours appear more vivid or muted, depending on the suns direction. Simply beautiful and I loved watching them change.
Sadly, many people think of Luz as simply the place that the gorgeous little girl Madeline went missing. That terrible tragedy happened 11 years ago, and of course we remember it. All I can say is that tragedy happens everywhere, and having been in Luz, it seems almost more shocking that it could happen there as it is such a tiny, sleepy little place. Luz is very, very safe and is incredibly popular with young families, couples and older, retired people looking for peace and quiet. It is beautiful.
Short Break in Luz The Algarve
The flight from the UK to Faro airport, is a fairly short one, with the estimated flight time given as around 3 hours. As I said, we flew from Southend Airport, with Easy-jet, and it was super efficient and stress free. Our flight landed ahead of schedule at about 2.5 hours, so that was great.
I had carried out some research before hand on how to get from the airport to Praia Da Luz, and it seemed the simplest way was to organise a private transfer. You can get public transport, but it meant a couple of busses, so I decided to make our life easy and book a door to door car for the roughly 1.5 hour each way car journey. There are many companies offering a transfer service, and I went with one called Sunline Transfers, that had great Trip Advisor reviews. It cost around £100 for the return journey, which I know seems a lot, but I wanted peace of mind, and a seamless service. This was what I got and I was very happy with the transfer and care given to us. You can find some cheaper companies, where you share the car with others, so there are plenty of options available.
Where we stayed
I was in Luz as a guest of travel rentals company of 14 years, Clickstay, who have holiday rental properties (over 60,000 of them) all over the world. I had met the brand at a blogging event last year, and had stayed in touch with them, so was thrilled and over the moon when I was offered the opportunity to go to Luz and stay in their Clickstay apartment in Luz. Mum came along as my plus one, and as she hadn’t been abroad for almost eight years, it made her year! The apartment that had been made available for us was in walking distance from the beach, on the second floor of a small block of 8 apartments. It was the first time in a long time that I had stayed in an apartment as opposed to a hotel, so I was really looking forward to the flexibility of it.
When we let ourselves in through the front door of our temporary home, we were shocked at how huge it was! (If you saw my Instagram stories, you would have seen my apartment tour and the size first hand) Once through the front door you are in a large hallway, with doors to two bedrooms and a bathroom leading off. We also found two foldaway beds, supplied if you need 6 beds, that can be put up in the spacious hall with more than enough room. There is also a set of double doors leading through to the massive lounge, dining area and open plan gallery kitchen. Off of the lounge there is a balcony to the front looking out onto the street and the sea in the near distance, and another balcony looking out over the communal pool. Two further balconies led off from each of the bedrooms. You can imagine all the light and brightness that all these balconies let flood in. Gorgeous. There is also a roof terrace if you want even more choices to enjoy the beautiful Luz weather.
The main bedroom is like a suite in itself! I kept losing my Mum (or she kept hiding, you never know with that crazy woman)! You have the large double bed area, with an area leading off where the fitted wardrobes and a changing area are, then leading into a large en-suite bathroom. Talking of bathrooms, both of the bathrooms in the apartment had baths as well as showers, which is unusual in holiday lets. Its usually only a shower, and never two full bathrooms. Heaven for me and my Mum as we both love a bath! It was perfect. The second bedroom was very big, also with fitted wardrobes providing more than ample storage, (we were also pleasantly surprised to find there were plenty of clothes hangers, again, that never happens)!
The apartment was spotlessly clean. I have to be honest and say that I am one of those people that check the bed and bathroom as soon as I get in a place, and they were immaculate. We were also amazed at how well equipped the place was. Everything had been thought of from a fully equipped kitchen, large tv with sky, a music system with a selection of cd’s, even a well stocked book shelf with books from all genres. It was fantastic and its those little touches that make you instantly feel relaxed and at home. A folder had also been created with restaurant recommendations, bus time tables, super market information, everything! It was so useful. You even had a car parking space in the private garage below the apartment block for a hire car if you had one. It was perfect!
A couple of points worth noting is that the apartment would not be suitable for wheelchair users, or perhaps families with babies in prams as you do have two flights of stairs to go up. The stairs are not steep or challenging for anyone without mobility issues, but there is no lift so I need to make you aware of that. Also, the block of apartments is situated on a road that has very small amounts of traffic. We are talking a few cars in what I suppose would be the time locals living in the immediate area are going to work. It is not noisy in any way in the apartment, but if you are outside on the balcony at the front at this time, you will hear the odd car. It is not something that we found troublesome in any way, but you know me, I am always 100% honest with everything I tell you lovely lot, so felt I should say.
The location of the apartment is ideal for exploring Luz, just perfectly placed. The gorgeous beach is just a 5 minute walk down the cobbled streets, and you can walk all the way along the promenade. Little cafe’s and low key restaurants line the sea front, so you can sit and have a coffee (or sangria, I wont judge) as we did every morning, (sangria was afternoon, we are not that bad…) people watching and just enjoying the relaxed and laid back vibe of Luz.
Where we ate
Now. Let me tell you about the food that the area has to offer. If you like good food, you are in for a treat! There are several really good restaurants very close by. I was in heaven! Portugal is known for its fresh fish, especially sardines (and Portuguese tarts, yum) so there is a huge amount of options for fish lovers. All of the restaurants that I mention here are within a 5 minute walk of the apartment. Iv also given you what we ate, and the price we paid so you have some idea of costs.
Yolo – What a treat this restaurant is, and it is just across the road from where we stayed. It has a real cosy, homely feel to it, with flickering candlelight on every surface and It was one of the two meals that we went “posh” with, so knew it would be a little more costly. Mum and I both had three courses, and both had two glasses of wine. We both had the most gorgeous fish cakes to start, which were amazing! Then seared, sesame seed crusted tuna steak on green beans for my main, and risotto with mushrooms and truffle for Mum’s main. To finish, I had banoffee pie with the best caramel sauce I have ever tasted in my life, and Mum had creme brulee. This meal came to €70
Fortaleza Da Luz – I loved this place, and we had three visits to here! Two were just for drinks though so don’t judge….. We decided to go here for our last night as we loved it so much. The building gets its name as it actually is a real, 1600’s fortress!
Situated right on the headland, overlooking the rugged landscape of the cliffs and gorgeous, uninterrupted views of the sea, its a beautiful spot. The restaurant boasts an open air terrace that makes you feel like you are floating above the sea, and the gardens are filled with colour and native plants. The view is spectacular and Mum and I enjoyed a jug or two of sangria here.They also do events like jazz afternoons that we would have gone to if we had more time. The inside of the building is just beautiful and you can straight away tell its heritage. The five feet thick walls and the archways within, give the restaurant an ambience that is fitting. We had a two course dinner here, as well as a jug of sangria. Starter was fish soup for Mum, and grilled goats cheese for me, then fish pie for Mum, salmon fillets with vegetables for me. We were full so skipped desert! This meal came to €54
PapiPizza – One night, we may or may not have had a few too many cocktails, so ended up with take away pizza from a tiny pizza place just across the road, that we took back to our residence……….. It was the best pizza ever! It cost us just €8 Food that night was a bargain, drink bill not so much……….
Cafe Jasmin – I have to mention this place as it is the cheapest for miles around, but delicious! Its ideal for things like toasted sandwiches, filled croissants, rolls, any cafe type food. It is not posh, but the food was amazing, the staff the friendliest ever, and again, its on the road we were staying on. We had two cheese and onion toasties, two Portuguese tarts and a soft drink each and it came to under €10 for all. Bargain!
Endless Summer – This little cafe on the promenade overlooks the beach and is the perfect place for a cafe latte and a Portuguese tart. Im not saying it was our usual regular morning spot, but by the end of the 5 days our choice was ready before we even ordered it…. A gorgeous place to while away and hour or two, chatting to the locals and ex-pats that call Luz their home, it was gorgeous. Two coffees, two tarts came to around €9
Ollie’s – Ollie’s is not a restaurant, but a cosy cocktail bar situated just two doors down from where we stayed. It is fantastic, so I had to mention it. Owned by a lovely young man called Ollie (funnily enough) he opened the bar this summer, and we felt he had got the decor, drinks menu and atmosphere just right. It has a rustic, welcoming decor and Ollie and his team are so friendly. As is tradition on holiday, you can even enjoy a happy hour(s) where cocktails are at a reduced price of €5. I can fully recommend the porn star martini’s. I tried a few so I could give you my honest opinion (ahem)….
So thats it! My guide to the resort of Praia da Luz. I hope you found this little guide useful. I will cover all of the things that you can do in Luz, the surrounding areas and things in another post. There is so much to tell!
Clickstay have also very kindly given my readers a discount code to use! using the code Kerrylifeandloves will get you £50 off (£500 min booking) How fab is that!
*I was in Luz as part of a press trip for Clickstay, but my opinion, words, photos and experience was all my own.
So, tell me, am I the only person to have not previously discovered the beauty of The Algarve? Has anyone been before? Are you usually in a hotel on trips, or do you like the flexibility of an apartment? Do you think these restaurant prices are pretty reasonable? Do you treat yourself to a few “posh” meals when your on a trip? I have been so impressed with The Algarve, so if you have any recommendations of where else I should go there I would love to hear!