Financial Crisis Holidays in Portugal
Are holidays in Portugal still the value for money they once were? Naturally this totally depends what you want in a holiday. The beaches of the Algarve are still exactly what they have always been. Secret corners still exist which are uncrowded and authentically Portuguese but the Algarve has been done to death by holiday makers for decades, centuries, and so this article is a short cut to some affordable alternatives.
A week in August
The first thing to address is getting around. Unless you’ve chosen a locale that’s a direct airport-to-hotel transport situation and you plan to stay put, then there’s the issue of car hire. For chaps coming from the UK it’s going to strike you as expensive, but compared to the rest of Europe car hire in Portugal is not that bad. A selection of quotes: €158 autorent.pt, €210 farocarhire, €210 from Lisbon autocarhire.net and from Porto €201. Compare it to car hire Ibiza at about €232 for the same time same period, and you’ll feel like you’re getting a good deal.
The Algarve starts getting less intense on the Costa Vincentina, the Western coast. Muxima-Montes Ferreiros, close to Aljezur, is a little bit outside of financial crisis price parameters but it’s also a little bit special. Obviously a labour of love, the rooms in this guest house are decorated with soul, and the property itself is set in tranquil countryside with a small lake for swimming. It’s about 10 minutes from the beach. Doubles from €770-1120.
At the same price, Herdade do Reguenguinho is set in the Alentejan hills about 15km from the coast of Sines and Milfontes. It’s luxurious, nice pool, completely unspoilt vista, and not that far from the beach if you just cant stand lying in the hammock anymore.
You can still get beach action for a good price outside of the deep south. The cost of accomodation might not be dramatically different but it’s the quality of the place, the peace, and the interest factor that make these places better value.
Quinta dos Raposeiros is a lush property with a pool, stunning views to the sea and about a two minute walk to the beaches of Ericeira. There are four nicely done apartments that could sleep four, €770 for the week plus breakfast €35pp/week.
Still in Ericeira, Coxos Beach Lodge is two minutes to the beach and has nice plain ikea syle apartments with kitchens for €560 (for 2) or €630 (could fit 4). Seaward looking balconies to hang yourself, your wetsuit and towels on and there’s fresh bread delivered every morning. It’s in a quiet spot with a very nice vibe. The Coxos has deals with the seafood restaurant next door which will over-satisfy your prawn requirements and there are surf lesson and spa packages available too. We stayed there. We liked it a lot.
The are plenty of bargain rentals in Lisbon and Porto. Here are a bunch in Lisbon ranging from €450 to €800 but mostly at the lower end. But for €800 I’d check out offers at 4&5 star hotels who will be clamoring for business.
Castelo S. Jorge, very nice!!!
in centre, nice old building, not expensive
cool roof terrrace
In Porto, for €805, stay at Pensão Favorita, or there are plenty of quality apartments in the €500-€600 range:
by the river
nice old building
Nice one for the kiddies
In pursuit of the cutesiest village in Portugal, Aldeia da Mata Pequena has got to be up there. A bunch of restored villages house go for between €540 and €700 a week. If you have small kids this looks like the place for fondling furry animals and peering down wells. It also happens to be in Mafra, where there’s a jolly great palace to be seen and no shortage of good restaurants and pastries.
According to my research the biggest holiday bargains are in the centre of Portugal. There is something of a glut of B&Bs and fine quintas with pools everywhere. If a pool and lounge chairs are not enough, there is the vast network of river beaches, pristine rivers and dams which can compensate well for a lack of swell. What you get as a bonus is the absence of a sweaty throng queuing for icecream at the same time as you.
The barragem do Castelo do Bode, nearish Tomar, is one of the more spectacular locations in Portugal. Casa do Troviscal is super charming and set in lovely gardens and has direct private access to the water, and a pool as well. After you’ve splashed yourself senseless you can amuse yourself at the castles of Tomar, Almourol, Ourem and don’t forget to see Pegões.
Casas da Lapa is set in the gorgeous landscape of the Serra de Estrela, and looks like a heap of luxury for €700 a week per double.
A week of wine tasting in the Douro valley can be had pretty economically. Casa da Eva and Casa do Burro sleep 3 or 6 respectively and are €400 and €600 for the week. Completely equipped and self contained. They are renovated farm houses on a working vineyard. You can participate in the farm’s activities. The location is rather gorgeous and there are other charming villages to check out nearby. There’s a river beach 5kms away and a golf course at 60kms.
More like a hotel is Casa de Vilarinho de S. Romão in Sabrosa in Vila Real. Very appealing, close to the Douro and to lovely Vila Real, it would be very easy to wile away a week here. €630.
If its wine plus nature you’re looking for Casa Santa Cruz is a fantastic manor house, very tasteful for €595. Unspolit nature at your door and a nearby river for swims, caneoing and wildlife spotting.
Another luxo-quinta experience can be had at Quinta da Santa Comba, which certainly looks the part and according to their site has an abundance of bird life and some very funky chickens. If this isnt enough, it’s in Barcelos, which is a quirky medium sized town with the best market in Portugal on Wednesdays. Barcelos also makes it close to Braga, and Braga is a quality town. Doubles with breakfast €455.
If you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown or you havent read a book all year this might be the place for you. Casa Avelã Brava in Trás-os-Montes is also a good place to write your great novel. Traditional stone house with an architect designed renovation, right on the bank of the Pisões dam, self contained. An unbelievable €455 for the week for two people or €630 for 4 people. People like me who just like wandering off to amble through obscure little villages, taking pics of oddly constructed pig sheds and chickens loose in the street, keeping on the lookout for that six-seater tasquinha with local cheeses and a unique dish of slow cooked game with homemade desserts, well, it looks like we’d be very happy here.
Most of the pictures here come from wonderfulland’s rather wonderful website.
Instead of putting a link for each individual property I’m just listing here the sites where I found them, ok?