When you’ve been visiting an area for 25 years you would imagine that you’ve seen every beach. Yet the Algarve is full of surprises. Heading towards the coast from the A125 through Porches, look for direction signs to ‘Cova Redonda’. It takes 5-10 minutes to reach Praia da Cova Redonda (but don’t expect to see the beach from the car). Parking the car might be a challenge as it’s a highly built-up area, but once you have found the passageway to the beach park-up and head down the steps to the beach. It’s a lovely and surprising large beach. You could have an enjoyable day just here, but if beaches and exploration are your thing then you trip is not finished.
From the road entrance to Cova Redonda head down the hill by foot, turning right at the Pestana hotel following the sign for ‘Praia da Senora da Rocha’. Some way down the hill, follow the ‘Praia’ (Beach) sign down the steps. You’ll find another lovely beach with a good beach bar and boat trips etc.
But you’re not finished yet! Once on the beach, head to the headland on the right-hand side of the Praia. You’ll find a hole in the wall. If you’re brave, head through the hole (be careful as it isn’t very tall) and follow the path through the headland. If you don’t fancy the exploration, simply look at the photos below. These were taken very early season when the weather isn't hot and the tourists are less plentiful. Don't expect it to be so empty when you visit as there are a number of sprawling 'Solana-style' (for those that watch Benidorm) hotel/apartment blocks around.
If Beach Volleyball is your thing, or you'd like it to be, then look no further. Praia da Rocha is one of the finest beaches you'll find for a sport which suits both types of people, people who want to play and people that want to sit and drink Sagres while watching people play.
We found two groups at the beach this time. Both seemed really well organised and from the fun everyone seemed to be having it's a great event to attend. The first group was DeepDish, a group (brand) created by the Great Britain Volley Ball team. There were some seriously good players, but also some people to whom VB was clearly new. The atmosphere among the group seemed terrific. If it wasn't for the ridiculous amount of effort involved, we would have joined in. The second group, a Swedish company Beach Travels, were spread over a vast amount of the beach. This seemed suited to a young crowd, more of a summer camp vibe. Again, everyone looked to be having great fun and there was a lot of training underway.
Visiting the amazingly wide Praia da Roche beach is a bit of a must-see during a stay at Casa Jovic, if only to realise how wonderful it is to have your own pool to go back and sit beside.
Have you ever fancied your hand at driving a hovercraft? Well now you can! This is seriously good fun and just a short drive (20 minutes) from the villa near the Autodromo. There are three circuits and as long as you're over 15 years of age then you can drive as fast as you like (well up to 50Km per hour anyway). Go on, you know you want too!
A new hop-on hop-off bus route has opened in and around Carvoiero, with the main connection stop right outside the Sesmarias Supermarket, on the Ferragudo road just 200 metres from the villa. On first sight it seems like an expensive option, but we think that if you use it efficiently it could be really worthwhile. The ticket takes in a number of routes ranging from Lagoa, to Ferragudo, to Praia do Carvalho. A 24 hour ticket in high season is 10 euros and for one trip that’s more expensive than a taxi, especially if there are four of you. But our suggested itinerary gives you a good day out, all for the same money:
First take the 9am bus to Lagoa to see the fish market working. To be honest you need to be there by 7am really, but then you are on holiday :) After the market, take a wander around the village. There are some lovely buildings there, particularly in the vicinity of the market although the local council has clearly received a bumper load of tarmac recently and has decided to lay it through the village. The work may, or may not, be finished by the time you are here because it only started last October and this is Portugal after all.
By now it’s 10am’ish and you need a Galao and maybe a Pastel-de-Nata. Head towards the newer office buildings near the end of the pedestrian cobbled street (Rua Alfonso Costa) and find Helydoce café. It’s a lovely pastelaria and they make some amazing cakes, plus fresh rolls. It’s now time to get back on the bus. You’re now heading for the beach. You can either pick Praia de vale Centianes or Praia do Carvalho. Both are worth a visit. Each has a great beach and a good café/restaurant.
Having sweltered in the sun for a while, catch the bus back into Carvoeiro. Metabixo bar in the square is a good place to watch the world go by for a while (and grab a beer) before taking the bus home. But the day is not done.
In the early evening, take the bus to Ferragudo and take a walk along the water front before settling in the square at one of the many restaurants, or for a big meal book Fim do Mundo (End Of The World) - on the road opposite the square.
The last bus home is around 11pm, but it’s worth checking the time with the driver as it might alter during the season.
There you are, a full day out for just 10 euros each.
It's not unusual to see a good number of storks and other birds in the Algarve. But May and June are particularly fun because the birds are nesting and rearing chicks. This pair, pictured from about 100 metres away (plus their nest sits on-top a chimney stack) had at least one small chick. You can just see its head in the second photo. It's a lovely sight seeing such lovely birds, but beware parking nearby - they eat a lot and what goes in, invariably comes out.
One for a cooler day is this indoor race track. Whether you're a keen driver, a group looking for an indoor thrill or a family looking to make sure the kids have a holiday to remember, this indoor karting track, just 35 minutes drive from Casa Jovic, is definitely worth a visit. The 400m track is great fun and quite reasonable too.
See more at their website here and the video below:
Have you or the family been to GoApe in the UK? If you have, then you'll be familiar with this type of activity, if you haven't and as long as you're not scared of heights then this has got to be worth a try. Located just a a 30 minute drive from Casa Jovic, this high ropes course is well soon to adults and children alike who are seeking an exciting physical challenge that can be participated in at your own pace.
Also available is paintballing and a nice area to enjoy a drink for the slightly less adventourous while the rest of the group climb through the trees.
For further information visit the website here.
If you don’t rent a car when you’re at the villa, or if you fancy some open-air exercise, then renting an electric bike might be the answer. There are rental/charge points at two locations within 5-10 minutes walking distance of Casa Jovic, plus stations in Lagoa, Portimao and at many other locations across the Algarve. The bike can run for 60 kilometres on one charge but if you also peddle then this can be extended. You can either park your bike at a recharge point, or swap its battery for another and head on your way. The cost for a day’s hire is €30. You can even rent it for €5 per hour. This was a new facility in 2014 so, in good Portuguese style, the website still lacks detail but does provide full pricing. See www.citybike-pt.com.
When visiting Casa Jovic in the slightly cooler months (November - March) provides a great opportunity for a more ambitious ramble along the Algarve cliff tops. This is the sort of activity than in peak summer would be just too hot for us but in the cooler (15'c-20'c) temperatures that this time of year brings a recommendation is to do the cliff top walk from Marinha beach to Benagil. The stroll takes approximately 40 - 60 minutes and provides stunning views of unaccessible beaches and caves along the way. We chose to stop off in Benagil for a coffee stop, but the walk is doable as one loop. Worth the effort for those that can and really is worth it for the beautiful views!
Fancy a few days away in Lisbon before or after your holiday at Casa Jovic? We did.
Fly into Lisbon for a short city break which is just a 2 hour drive (or 2 hour train ride) from Casa Jovic. Lisbon has plenty to see and is a bustling city full of history, culture and glorious sunshine!
Top tip: pick up a bus pass for Yellow Bus tours at the tourism office. These passes not only give you access to 4 routes of guided bus tours but also transport on the local tram routes which is sure to get you everywhere you need to be.
Lisbon has so much to offer it would be impossible to share it all (and we don't want to spoil the surprises that this city holds!) but here are just of the few reasons we recommend a visit:
One of the great things about Portugal is that you’re never far from a vineyard (Vinha). And what’s better than enjoying a nice wine whilst perusing some excellent artworks? Fortunately, many excellent artists live in and around The Algarve. But at Casa Jovic we’re really lucky. The villa is about 10 minutes’ drive from a fantastic winery: Quinta-dos-Vales which produces a number of different red, white, rosé and sparkling wines of differing strengths (and costs) from something like 19 Hectares. But the grounds, which are used for weddings and other events, also house some pretty amazing art. It is also the venue for many art related events and each year the vineyard holds wine-tasting open days (well worth a visit!). The artist Karl Heinz Stock designed most of the sculptures that can be seen around the property and in the photo’s we took during one such wine-tasting event.
Getting to Quinta-dos-Valesis pretty easy. Head towards Portimâo on the N125 (that’s left at Lagoa roundabout). At the first roundabout take the road towards Slide & Splash. The map below provides directions from the road once you pass the Slide & Splash entrance.
Aqualand, for years recognised by Algarvian’s as The Big One (nicknamed after one of its rides), is having a facelift. As you can see, Aqualand is increasing the size of its main Anaconda flumes which should make for some fun tube rides. Aqualand already has a great ring-based ride called Rapidos and another called Banzai, which is simply a very exciting long drop on a tea-tray. But the new flumes should bring it up to the standard of Slide-n-Splash and means that Casa Jovic not only has the best water park in the Algarve within five minutes’ drive, we also have another great park just 15 minutes away along the N125 between Porches and Alcantarilha, in the direction of Faro.
A tip: buy tickets for the waterparks before you go from Multipro in Sesmarias. You’ll receive a discount and avoid the queues.
September is traditionally the start of the golf season in The Algarve. The sun isn’t so intense but the days are long, making it perfect for some leisurely, yet often competitive, golfing holidays.
Less than 10 minutes drive from the villa you can find two of the best courses, not just in the Algarve but throughout Europe!
Eight times consecutive host of the European Seniors Tour Qualifying final, Vale de Pinta golf is respected for its playability and challenging layout but it’s also a fun and varied course. The course is recognised as one of the best designed courses in Europe. But there’s more........!!
Literally across the road is the uniquely designed Gramacho course. 18 holes and 27 greens, plus numerous different tee points, means players are able to enjoy the same course time and time again but always with slightly different challenges. The course has hosted many tournaments, but what really makes it stand out is its natural look and feel. The designers used the natural undulations and rocky outcrops, old stone walling and original tree lines (with the addition of the odd lake or two and some challenging bunkers) to create a very natural setting that is more like taking a stroll in the countryside than it is playing a professional course. For more information - click on the course map.
On the last Saturday of August every year Carvoeiro (and many of the other villages and towns in the Algarve) hosts a very impressive summer party. Quite possibly the most impressive firework display you'll see in years but also live music and a big local celebration and typical of the Portuguese - its all laid on for free.
Guaranteed entertainment for all ages. Read more on the celebrations and be sure to check this out next year....
A great way to visit Portimão, Praia da Rocha or Portimão. Marina is to take the water taxi from Ferragudo. For just a few euros you will be driven across the mouth of the River Arade to the Portimão Marina and better than that, most of the year the driver will pick you up whenever you're ready and bring you back over to Ferragudo - just like any other taxi! Great experience and very exciting way to explore some new areas.
Next weekend hosts the Annual International Algarve Fair aka The Fatacil in Lagoa, Algarve (just 5 mins from Casa Jovic). The Fatacil brings everything that is Portugal together - crafts, food, music, farming, wine and so much more. We were lucky enough to catch Boney M at the Fatacil just a few years ago but you're sure to find some great local acts as well as international stars!
The Algarve is a great place for shopping. One of the best shopping malls is Aqua, in the heart of Portimão. Aqua is partially open-air and has around 120 shops across three floors. Free underground parking at the centre is a real asset. Open daily from 9am until midnight the shopping centre is best known locally for being the first place in the Algarve with an H&M clothes store and a Primark. But you’ll also find many other international and locally branded stores including a large toy shop, many shoe shops and a large supermarket. A good place for a coffee and toastie is the McCafé, next door to its larger sister, McDonald’s. There are also places to have a hot meal or grab a beer. There’s even a small bowling alley in the children’s amusement area!
Finding Aqua can be a bit challenging but once you find it and get your bearing’s, you’ll be able to find your way around Portimão like a local. If in doubt, turn left onto the N125 at Lagoa and keep going, over the big bridge (closing the windows as you do to prevent the interesting smell as you reach the other side of the bridge!) and turn off when you see the Monchique and Hospital direction signs. Don’t head for Monchique but instead head into Portimão with the hospital on your right. Instead of taking the underpass take the sliproad and at the top of the slope take the first exit from the roundabout. Then follow the signs!
"Carvoeiro is a great place on the Algarve to stay, with many places of interest within easy reach. Had trips out to Vilamoura, Ferragudo, Portimao, Silves and Luz"
"We had many nice meals down in Carvoeiro, and particularly like 'Ela and Elas', 'Casa do Bife' and 'O Tascos'"
"Some of our favourite places to eat were L'Orange, Bon Bon (Sesmarias), Primavera (Carvoeiro) and Jophil's (Sesmarias)"