Broke but desperately need a holiday without the tackiness of a typical cheap ‘Brits abroad’ package break? Do you just need the four S’s – sun, sea, sand and se… ahermmm, sleep for under £180? Salgados in the Algarve, Portugal is the way forward!
There have been numerous times over the last few years when we desperately needed a holiday. We didn’t want a fancy hotel or to go sight-seeing every day, in fact that was far from what we needed. Just some sun and relaxing on a beach would do with clean and basic accommodation to catch up on much needed rest, putting aside work and all of life’s hassles. But with life taking over, having to take the time out of self-employment, the car breaking down, rising house bills or a leaking roof – you name it; money was an issue.
Now I don’t know about you, but we are definitely not package holiday kinda people. You know, the type that attract the stereotypical badly behaved tourists. Unfortunately, across the globe but especially in European package holiday hotspots, the Brits have a strong reputation for sitting by the pool bar all day turning into lobsters and getting hammered, shouting obscenities at each other, using no manners or even going out of their way to be belligerent to staff and generally taking over without any regard for the local culture and people they come across. It is no wonder this reputation exists, I have experienced it a few times and frankly it’s embarrassing. But I have also noticed over time this stereotype should actually stand for many other countries too, the Brits are no longer the main culprits or maybe I am just avoiding the places they tend to go to! A stereotype is always born from something, but anyone intelligent enough takes this information at face value and understands this isn’t the case across the board. I am constantly defending us as a nation when we’re away, we are not all like that, far from it! I also recently read a great blog that made me chuckle pointing out our reputation for all having shit teeth! PLEASE, if you are from another country, this is absolutely not true, stop watching Jeremy Kyle and those ghastly ‘Brits abroad’ programmes!
So the research begins. I sigh at the first holiday blurb; ‘Come and stay in our hotel, famous for the ITV series Benidorm.’ Urrrm, no thank you. There are pages and pages of these types of holidays and these destinations are definitely the cheapest. A few pages in, I see a little gem in the Algarve, Portugal. There are many different places in this region for all different types of holiday makers with a range of budgets. I have also stayed in this region but in different towns before. So seeing this, I then do the usual and build my own holiday with my choice of flights and location, still managing to opt for beautiful scenery and peace. The flight prices are pretty standard and there is rarely a difference between booking direct or booking as a package. However I am always convinced I can find a better hotel in a nicer location for the same price or less, and with a bit of time and effort am usually right. As always, anything I write is my own opinion and experience and is not in conjunction with any other company.
Portugal isn’t hot and sunny all year round – you’ll need to get in quick if you want to book a last minute dash to follow the sunshine, alternatively booking for spring through to autumn is a good bet. Check the weather before booking. It is usually better than the UK year round though even if it isn’t bikini weather.
This is how I did it for under £180 per person:
Salgados is more what I’m trying to sell here. You can go with any airline and choose whatever accommodation you wish, but this is the real gem. Salgados is Albufeira’s prettier, calmer sister. We have both been to nearby Albufeira before and in places it does have that ‘Brits abroad’ essence, but if you’re clever you can steer clear from all that and it actually does have some good nightlife in the old town with cocktail bars and some classy and quirky hangouts, not to mention a few very nice restaurants. But this gets costly, so this time round we didn’t go anywhere near Albufeira, but was good to know it was there if we wanted. Salgados is very quiet and pretty residential. It does have a few hotels but they are sporadic and a couple are in the high end luxury range. The beach itself is absolutely stunning and often crops up in top beaches in Portugal posts. It is remarkably clean and free of litter and the waters are clear, you wouldn’t think it was so close to a big tourist resort. Unlike other cheap destinations, there are no high rise buildings or a bustling promenade selling tacky inflatable beach toys. Instead there is a beautiful nature reserve and lagoon with different plants and wild life including flamingos who often hang out there. Unfortunately we didn’t see any on our trip. There is a little hut selling cold drinks and they also rent out beds and umbrellas and a bit further down a well renowned seafood restaurant, we didn’t visit it this time round but it has raving reviews. So imagine that, a quiet serene beach you’ve not had to pay a premium for, very little tourists around and when you turn away from the sea, instead of being faced with concrete and bricks all you see is sky, sand dunes, birds and plants – heaven! It’s also really easy not to get tempted to spend too much; there are a few little restaurants and shops but you have to go and seek them out generally so the temptation doesn’t take you away if you are on a tight budget. There are also a couple of well stocked supermarkets if you wish to fend for yourself. You’re also right in the midst of the Algarve which in itself is a gorgeous place to explore. If you have a little more money and more time to stay awake then do hire a car and have a look around. Take a wine tour or go off on a long drive and see where the wind takes you. There are also nearby water sports and certainly a great location for the budding golfer and plenty of shopping if you so wish. I also love this area because it has very little mosquitoes! Those damn things have been the bane of my life since I can remember. My reactions are ridiculous and usually last a week or two, so there is a reason the lack of mosquitoes excites me!
Low cost airlines are the way forward. We mostly fly with Easyjet. Not always, but they usually come out the cheapest and fly from our closest airport London Gatwick. I am not their biggest fan but they have enabled me get from ‘a to b’ cheaply and safely over the years and in the end that’s all that counts. But always check their competitors as prices can differ or maybe the flight you want doesn’t go from your chosen airport. We managed to pick up return flights to Faro earlier this year for approximately £60 pp return and this also included one piece of hold luggage. You can bring the price down by taking hand luggage only which we have done in the past. Fuel and costs obviously change with different factors. At time of writing this, the price varies and is anything between £60 pp to £110 pp, excluding hold luggage.
A lot of my time during the research process is spent on review sites such as Tripadvisor. I always value real opinion and experience over the pretty talk of a travel agent or tourism websites. Once I’ve found a couple of hotels I am happy with, I search on the low cost accommodation websites such as booking.com, hotels.com or On the Beach. There are many more but these are the ones I have used in the past with success. This time our chosen hotel was coming out cheapest on Travel Republic so we booked Bayside Salgados for just £50 pp for 7 nights. It was just what we needed; clean, quiet, close to the extremely beautiful beach, supermarket and had cats galore (I always need a cat in my life!) There are also a few other hotels for different budgets so search away and get what suits you.
We also needed airport parking this end and transfers at the other end. This amounted to about £20 pp. Again check the above websites or the likes of Holiday Extras. Always check the official airport parking websites too to make sure you get a good deal.
As far as spending money goes, we were very frugal and with the Euro the way it is, you have to be when on a budget. Things can start to really mount up. We mainly cooked and made sandwiches, we did treat ourselves to dinner out a couple of times and had a couple of cocktails in the hotel bar but our evenings were mainly spent with a nice glass or two of wine from the supermarket on our balcony watching the sunset. For this budget guide we roughly spent £50pp excluding the meals out and treats/alcohol. So if you literally just get your food from the supermarket without eating in restaurants and not fussed about beer, wine or cocktails then this is what you can get away with spending. Also don’t forget the extra things you need for a holiday such as sun lotion, mosquito repellent (even with lack of mosquitoes in this area, I always take them just in case) and general toiletries.
The above all amounts to £180pp. Pretty good going for a 7 night holiday with everything included. This place won’t stay so serene for too long so I’d go now if I were you!
Have you been to Salgados and the surrounding area before, if so what did you think? What are your tips on travelling on a budget in Europe? Do you want to go there and have some questions? Comment below, share the love and like away or follow me on www.facebook.com/thehardytraveller and Twitter @hardytravellers – I appreciate every single one of you, thank you for reading!