It’s been only just a week since I decided that I didn’t want to be here anymore, it was mentally impossible (here as in Huddersfield, England) because it was mid June and it was raining, it was constantly cloudy, and I’m from a beautiful sunny island and I’m not used to this abnormality. I couldn’t go back home though because I am graduating in July and it would have been a waste of time and money. Still, I needed to go somewhere, anywhere.
Long story short…our dad gave us the idea to go to Portimao in Portugal because he has been there many times due to his business there and Portimao has the same weather, same vibe if you like, as my island Cyprus. It was a very spontaneous moment because we only thought of going somewhere and never actually intended to actually book the trip, and it was an amazing feeling.
Fast forward one week, we flew to Portugal for four days and honestly, it was like taking a breath of fresh air after a long time living under a rock. It was exactly what we needed; sun, beach and great food. Bare in mind that we had no idea what there was in Portimao to do so when we arrived, we basically planned our day as we went along. Of course, it would have been way worse if it wasn’t for the help from my dad’s friends who lived there and who drove us around; from the airport to our hotel, to other beaches in Portimao, to the mall.
Definitely, there are things I wish I knew before I went to Portimao but now that I do, I am going to share them with you guys.
Things you should know before
traveling to Portimao!
→We stayed at the Jupiter Hotel (four-stars) for 400 euros. It’s a very nice, very clean and refurbished hotel that is placed near the Praia da Rocha, Portimao’s main beach because it’s where all the cafes, bars and restaurants are (if you visited Ayia Napa in Cyprus, it looks exactly like that). We booked for bed and breakfast only and the breakfast menu was rich and tasty; from pancakes to eggs, to fresh pastry (strongly recommend the cream tarts) to fruit and cereal. Definitely worth waking up at 9 every day.
→ One thing you have to know is that there is more to see than just the main road in Praia da Rocha and if your budget can’t afford a taxi or if you aren’t lucky like we were to have friends in Portimao, there are a few places that are near Praia da Rocha that you can walk to. One of them is Santa Catarina viewpoint where you can see the marina and the Rocha beach. It’s about 10-15 mins away from Jupiter Hotel.
→ Near Santa Catarina and quite visible from there is the No Solos beach bar. This bar is very popular and I was beyond upset that we had to discover it during our very last hours in Portimao. The vibes there are very chilled and tropical and the beach is five feet away from the bar. So it’s a combination of relaxation and fun. I suggest you visit this bar first and you might just want to keep spending your day there.
→ Next place we visited was the marina and we actually went there by foot since it was just 20 minutes away from our hotel. We went there because we had booked a boat trip to the Benagil caves that are something you definitely must visit in Portimao. However, it was the WORST EXPERIENCE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!
Here is what you need to know before going on one of those boat trips:
- First of all, it’s a three-hour trip for 25 or 30 euros, depending which boat you are taking. So, if it’s a very windy day, do not even attempt to go on a boat trip to the Benagil caves because they won’t even take you there due to the dangerous waves. Instead, they took us to some other caves by taking another less dangerous root, making the trip last for four hours.
- That didn’t mean fewer waves though. If you are someone who gets dizzy easily, save yourself and don’t go. My sister and I don’t get dizzy easily and we felt like we had entered hell. During the first hour, we started to feel nauseous because we were sitting on the side of the boat but we didn’t think it would get worse. After they told us that we wouldn’t be going to the Benagil caves and go to the other caves instead, (ultimately making the trip four hours instead of three) that’s when we started to realize that this would turn out to be a huge mistake. Two hours in and we were unable to even stand or open our eyes from how sea sick we were. When we finally arrived at the caves, we couldn’t even enjoy them because our stomachs and heads were completely messed up. The worse thing of all was that there was nothing that could fix the situation and to know that we had another two hours to go, made the whole experience a living nightmare.
- However, if you do go on the boat and it turns out the way it did for us, what you can do to make it less of a nightmare is, sit right in the front of the boat from the beginning and make sure you secure that sit with your life. Also, whatever you do, don’t sit on the floor because the feeling of the boat moving is more intense and you will only make it worse for yourself like we did. The first two hours we sat on the floor at the side of the boat without being able to see anything or feel the air on our faces was how we made things 100 times worse. But on our way back we stood in the front of the boat and the dizziness started to wear off. So, feeling the sun and the air really helps as well.
Overall, the caves we visited were pretty cool, so if it wasn’t for the hell we went through, the trip could have been a good experience.
→ There are a lot of people who are trying to sell you stuff and they are all over the place. They can be very insistent to a level that becomes annoying so I feel that you should know this.
→ The mall in Portimao, Aqua Mall closes at midnight surprisingly and it has a big supermarket with a huge variety of fish, dairy and traditional food and drinks if you are into those things. It also has a few nice shops that aren’t found in Britain or Cyprus so it’s worth a visit. It has a food court on the third floor, and what’s more, the mall has no roof so it’s beautiful during twilight hour.
→ All the restaurants have pretty much the same price on their fish but those who are settled on the Rocha beach are more expensive.
→ If you are looking for relaxation and quiet times, it’s best that you visit Portimao in June because once July begins, it’s going to be a very busy time. All the tourists come in July when the parties begin. There is a huge fiesta going on at that time that lasts all day and all night. So if you want to party and not just relax in peace, then go in July for some fun.
Thankfully it was a very nice and relaxing trip. The people in Portimao were very polite and it all came down to the choices that we made during our four-day stay. It could have been even better if we already knew what we know now of course but there is always a next time!
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