Algarve Guide: top things to see and do 

As many of you will know from my incessant Instagram story spam – I’ve recently got back from a fabulous four days in the Algarve with Jet2holidays and I couldn’t go on a trip without documenting it, now could I? So here’s your very own Algarve guide and the top things to see whilst you’re there. 

Algarve guide seven hanging valleys

*[AD ~ Press Trip] The hotel & activities mentioned in this post were gifted as part of a press trip with Jet2Holidays.

Typical me had overpacked and managed to sit on my case and crack the thing before we’d even left the country. Luckily it came in under the 22kg of luggage allowance by some kind of miracle and arrived in Portugal when I did. A good start! 

Algarve Guide: Jetting off  

Our Jet2 flights were booked from London Stansted and can I just say their planes are pretty damn nice.

You’re probably thinking ok hun you were on a press trip you have to say that… actually nope I’m a huge advocate of keeping it real and I’m telling you the planes are roomy as funk. The overhead lockers are big enough to climb in and take a nap but obviously wouldn’t recommend, as I can’t imagine the crew being too happy having to fish people out of lockers. 

I’d never really been on a package holiday before so I was unsure what to expect. But I really enjoyed the planning being whisked out of my hands so all I had to do was turn up and take in the sights.

Algarve guide Tivoli Marina

Where to stay: Tivoli Marina Vilamoura

There is something wonderful about exploring a new hotel. From the views to the breakfast options to the spa and stocked up mini-bar (yes my life revolves predominantly around food – I’m not mad about it). We stayed at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura with Jet2holidays and it didn’t disappoint! 

It’s just a gorgeous place full of lovely details and I fell slightly in love with the older gentleman who helped us with our cases- he was just a dream.

Pillow talk

What I would give for a bed turndown and a chocolate on my pillow every evening as was the case at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura. Realistically Dem will pull some overenthusiastic wrestling move to ensure he’s not the last one in bed (and left in charge of making it) and as for the chocolate on my pillow, I get the occasional dog treat but that’s about it – cheers Bear!

With views over the marina and a balcony view over the pool, complete with a daily sunset over the coastline, I could have happily relaxed in my plush room for four days. But imagine returning home and saying yep I visited Portugal with Jet2holidays and just stayed in my room the whole time! And I’d have missed out on a pretty cracking itinerary…

Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Algarve guide

Sardine souvenirs 

We started our trip by visiting a very unusual souvenir shop. The souvenir shop in question houses tins upon tins of sardines which are somewhat of a national treasure in Portugal, for their impact on the country’s diet and trade.  

We were each gifted a tin of sardines with the year of our birth printed on the front. Cute. What’s even cuter is they came in a little bag where I could store all my stuff that I’d decided to lug around. Yep, I thought I might require an emergency outfit change, so my sardine gift bag housed everything, spare top – camera, phone, plus the obligatory sardines… keeping it classy, always.

TIP: If you’re looking for a cute and original souvenir then head to O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa – they also have vegan options available too if fish doesn’t float your boat. 

O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

Boat tour in Ria Formosa Nature Park

Take in the local wildlife with a boat trip to Ilha Deserta (desert island). We cruised on over to the desert island whilst watching birds of prey scoop their breakfast from the sea which was pretty amazing. Can’t think of the London equivalent, commuters fighting over the last tuna baguette in Pret? Not quite as majestic… 

For goodness sake bring a light jacket or jumper for the boat tour because no matter how warm it is, it can get Chris Breezy when you’re out on the open water. Oh and don’t wear a ridiculous hat because it will blow away. But defo bring one with you if you’re partial to a sand dune photoshoot. 

TIP: I’d defo recommend booking a boat trip – our guide was super knowledgeable and friendly and didn’t laugh too hard at us as we awkwardly clambered aboard in sundresses, oversized sunnies, and silly hats. 

Ilha Deserta

Ilha Deserta #IlhaDeserta

The desert island is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It’s deserted. And it’s an island. Oh, and it’s stunning. People are overrated so a desert island to myself is precisely what I look for when looking for places to visit. 

What’s the phrase. No man is an island? Well, actually Signor Alves is. He’s the only inhabitant of Ilha Deserta which is only accessible by boat. His wife lives on the mainland in Faro – which gives new meaning to the question “are you going to be home in time for dinner?” in this case, probs not. Just as well there’s a lovely restaurant to dine at! 

TIP: Stop off at Estaminé Restaurant for a fresh fish lunch. 

Algarve guide ilha deserta

Hotel Faro – Cosmopolitan roof bar 

Every holiday needs a cocktail or three and my lord will you want to swing by Hotel Faro for a refreshment. Take the lift to the top floor and then make the tough decision of which cocktail to order first… The Cosmo bar recently won the best bartender award and it’s pretty obvious why – every single cocktail is made to order and are served in the most hilarious vessels. Moving forward if my cocktail doesn’t come in cacti or a unicorn, I don’t want it, hun.

TIP: Order the day of the dead cocktail and make your way to the outside seating area for gorg views over Faro.

Hotel Faro cocktails Algarve guide

Algarve Guide – The winding streets of Faro

There’s plenty to see just by wandering around in Faro, for example, the “Faro Archway” which was built on one of the historical entrances to the city. Or take a walk around Faro Cathedral and up to the Bell Tower (watch your step though as some of the steps are a little steep) particularly if you take a trip up here after a lunchtime cocktail! 

Algarve cathedral

Bell tower Algarve guide

I really enjoy just strolling around on hols – finding cute little side-streets and hidden gems to explore. Which is funny because if you ask me to walk anywhere in London I’m in a taxi quicker than you can say Google maps! 

TIP: Keep your eyes skyward and look out for storks nests – which look large enough to house a small human. 

Algarve guide: Faro

Museu Municipal de Faro

A gorgeous place to visit is the Museu Municipal de Faro (located just behind Faro cathedral) an old convent that has been converted into a museum. Have your camera handy because you’ll want to be snapping away at the archaeological finds, paintings, and architecture – half an hour is probably all you need to check out the museum, and you can enjoy a short escape from the midday sunshine chilling out in the courtyard. 

TIP: Look out for the gargoyles located on each corner of the building – they hold a very interesting story… 

Museu Municipal de Faro

Algarve Guide fave activity – Seven Hanging Valleys trail

My favourite activity from my four days in the Algarve was the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, it’s just breathtaking. From the views to the coves it was by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The trek is fairly easy and you can take your time following the winding trails, taking in the natural beauty of the Algarve.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

The sea is bluer than the 20th of January and is guaranteed to stop you in your tracks as you make your way around the coastline. 

Stop for an ice-cream on one of the many picturesque little beaches and if you have time why not visit O Patio which has a varied menu and a great outdoor seating area to catch some rays.

Seven Hanging Valleys trail

TIP: Do wear trainers or sensible walking shoes as some of the terrain is uneven and make sure to pack plenty of water! 

I had such a lovely four days and only wish I could have stayed longer. If you’re headed to The Algarve in October pack a jumper or two. Don’t just pack 7 bikinis and 6 pairs of shoes – although it’s really warm in the day you’ll be grateful for an extra layer come afternoon/evening. And underwear for the sea will not help you out in this area! 

Carvoeiro Algarve guide

Our Jet2 flights from Faro back to Stansted were booked late morning so there was just enough time to load up on Pastel de Nata’s and wave goodbye to a truly unforgettable four days.

All my foodie recommends are listed here (as there are so many) but do let me know if you have any site-seeing recommendations to add to my Algarve Guide xo

Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Portugal

Algarve Guide: suggested itinerary 

  • Day 1- Explore the streets of Faro – Bell tower/ Cathedral/ Sardines/ Museum + Rooftop cocktails
  • Day 2- Boat tour in Ria Formosa Nature Park + Ilha Deserta 
  • Day 3- Pool/ beach and spa at Tivoli Marina Vilamoura
  • Day 4- Seven Hanging Valleys trail 

*[AD ~ Press trip] The activities and hotel mentioned in this post were gifted as part of a press trip, but all content is original and my own. 

Algarve guide Faro streets


  1. Alex November 4, 2019 / 10:50 am

    Everywhere is stunning😍 looks like you had a wonderful time

    • misshldolan
      November 4, 2019 / 11:11 am

      It was honestly the most beautiful trip – defo somewhere you should visit!xx

  2. Antonia Uren Ashdown November 4, 2019 / 10:56 am

    Omg looks and sounds amazing !!😍😍

    • misshldolan
      November 4, 2019 / 11:12 am

      It was so lovely – you’d have loved the Seven Hanging Valleys the sea was just beaut xx

    • misshldolan
      November 5, 2019 / 7:49 pm

      Oh thanks so much Amie – it was a lovely trip I’d go back in a heartbeat 💖💖

  3. Lisa Alioto November 5, 2019 / 8:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing your journey – it sounds like quite an adventure. Great pics!

    • misshldolan
      November 5, 2019 / 9:00 pm

      Thanks Lisa – glad you enjoyed it ☺️ hopefully gave you a bit of travel inspo! xx

  4. Lucy November 5, 2019 / 11:12 pm

    This looks like an amazing trip, it looks like you had a great time too! The Algarve is one of the places on my travel bucket list! x

    Lucy |

    • misshldolan
      November 6, 2019 / 9:06 am

      Ah it was so so good – honestly the Seven Hanging Valleys was just a dream! Defo worth adding to your list 🙂 xx

  5. summersholiyay November 15, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    Literally LOVE this blog!! Portugal suits you girl you look insane…. as do the beaches!!! So pleased you had a fabulous time xxxxx

    • misshldolan
      November 15, 2019 / 2:45 pm

      Oh thank you my little angel – it was such an incredible trip I could have stayed on the beach few more days. Literally nothing better than white sandy beaches and clear blue seas!!xo

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