Just 20km west of Lagos, the turn-off from the N125 snakes down a delightful semicultivated valley, the sea creeping ever closer.
The bus parks just above the beachside promenade, much of it cluttered with brightly coloured boats. The fairly homogenous white splodge of apartment and villa construction spreads back up the valley, leaving the old village to the east of the harbour largely untouched. The beach – a wide, rock-sheltered bay – is magnificent: in winter, the sea comes crashing right up to the edge of the village.
Hotel Residencial Salema
There are plenty of rooms to let round the old town (just look for the signs: you should be able to secure something with a terrace and kitchen). There’s also the central Hotel Residencial Salema (Tel 282 665 328, www.hotelsalema.com; closed Nov–March; 5), whose small rooms have skewed sea views; there’s also a bar. There are cheaper rooms at A Mare (Tel 282 695 165, www.algarve.co.uk; 4) on the hill above the main road into town, where the small rooms have bath, sea views and terraces with sun loungers. More upmarket – and steeply uphill – is the Estalagem Infante do Mar (Tel 2282 690 100, www.infantedomar.com; 5), around 1km from the seafront on the road to Figueira, a smart four-star inn with many rooms offering panoramic views over the coast; there’s also a restaurant, bar and pool. The pleasantly landscaped campsite, Quinta dos Carriços (T282 695 201, [email protected]), is 1.5km back up towards the main highway – the bus passes it on the way into the village.
Best of the restaurants is Mira Mar, Travessa Mira Mar 6 (Tel 919 560 339), with a sea-facing terrace and excellent fresh fish at moderate prices; try the bream. The nearby Boia Bar Restaurante, Rua das Pescadores 101 (Tel 282 695 382; closed Tues), is a swish place with snappy service; caldeirada (fish stew) is the speciality and full meals here cost around e18. Bar Aventura, Rua das Pescadores 80, is an attractive bar with Internet access (open until 2am).