Looking for something a little different? Here are our top 3 three alternative holiday adventures in our favourite destination, Portugal. An underwater adventure in Madeira, a trek across Algarve cliffs and the hidden beauties of Lisbon.
Explore an underwater world
The ‘Madeirense’ is the wreck of a cargo ship, intentionally sunk at the turn of the millennium.
We think this is a genius idea, sort of like a toy ship at the bottom of a fish-tank. Habitat-creation like the ‘Madierense’ is inspiring. Now we just need some underwater castles.
The looming shape of the boat emerges in the clear water. Colourful fish hidden in its dark spaces. ‘Madeirense’ lies in crystal clear water, making this one of the best diving spots in the world.
With the intention of generating scuba tourism, the ‘Madeirense’ provides a safe habitat for dozens of underwater species. Just off the coast of Porto Santo, this underwater world is home to friendly grouper fish, barracuda with curved teeth, and whiskered red mullet, rummaging in the sand.
Diving down to the ‘Madeirense’ is quite a tricky dive because of its depth of 35m. Warm up in the other shallower waters around the Madeiran Islands. There are intricately beautiful reefs and some archaeological sites with sunken cannons. When you’re staying on the island of Porto Santo for your newly inspired diving adventure, explore the untouched wilds!
Roam secluded cliffs
Want something alternative to Algarve’s busy beaches?
Home to Peregrines and Kestrels, who hunt and nest on its black-and-red cliffy posterior, this secluded beach trail on the Western Algarve is ideal for adventurers. Begin in the St Vincent Bay region in the south. Follow a tricky hike across the cliffs until you reach Praia da Ponta Ruiva. Uniquely in the Algarve, there are moments of total seclusion. From the bluffs, you’ll spot the striking shapes of red-billed choughs eyeing your progress through the wild.
Basked in Portgual’s bizarre Atlantic – Mediterranean heat, stand on the edge of Europe. Beyond you lies the vast North Atlantic ocean, behind you the rugged landscape of the Algarve. Complete peace.
There’s a stunning beach to visit, too. This is the Algarve. Praia do Telheiro Beach is wrapped in a bay, flanked by sheer cliffs. This beach is tricky to reach. Even in the Algarve’s most popular seasons, you’re likely to be alone. If you do see anyone else on the beach, it’ll be other intrepid hikers. Hardy surfers also make the journey, and they’ll not interfere: they’re too busy cruising on the secluded surf that rolls into Praia do Telheiro Beach.
An alternative adventure in winding Lisbon
Considered the oldest city in Western Europe, Lisbon has been developing rapidly in the last decade. During the recession, prices in Portugal crashed. However, the faltering prices of real estate and amenities have encouraged growth. A young, alternative crowd has filled up some of Lisbon’s oldest streets with a buzzing gallery and cafe scene. A walk around Lisbon will stun you with its hidden alleyways and nooks and crannies.
Boasting a cosmopolitan life to match any other European city, Lisbon changes and moves with the times. Like any growing city, the best time to visit is now.
If you don’t feel like trekking in the Portuguese sun all the way to the Sao Jorge castle, the charming Tram 28 will take you all the way up to the top of town. Look down over the multi-coloured roofs of Lisbon. The mournful and melodious sound of fado music will drift up the aromatic streets and have you dozing in the sun, stuffed full of Portuguese pastel de nata.
All in all, we love Lisbon. It’s an unsung hero of European tourism, but on the rise. Visit now and beat the crowds.