Jonny and I first visited the Algarve seven years ago when we stayed in Albufeira, the party capital of the Algarve. It wasn’t our cup of tea at all as we go away from England to experience some difference and unfortunately Albufeira is just full of drunk Brits out to spend as much money on booze as they can. Up to them I suppose but we just wanted to get out so we travelled around a bit and were bowled over when we visited Lagos, another town in the Algarve, for the day. It had been recommended to us by friends of a like mind and I suspected it would be good but I didn’t realise quite what an impact it would make…
Lagos is beautiful, historic and a working fishing town. It is really quite typical but at the same time is also very happening and buzzing (in a non Brit bar sort of way)! We instantly fell in love with the beautiful cove beaches and town centre and made the most of the day before we had to get back on board a coach and return to party hell!
While I was lying on Estudantes beach that day, a small cove which is one of many that run along the side of the town, I said to Jonny that I wanted to get married there… We went back to Lagos the following year, this time for the whole of our stay and my Mum came with us to celebrate her retirement. The year after that we went again just the two of us then again and again and again we returned. Eventually we did get married there and my wedding day pictures have such a wonderful backdrop! We’ve had so many great times there that just thinking about it makes me smile!
Every time we visit we stay at Vila Branca. A complex of villas just a 15 minute walk from the town centre. We have never done that before and visited a holiday destination again and again but Lagos and Vila Branca are just something special you see. Usually we visit somewhere, have a good time but then we want to see something new and although we still do go to other places, we can’t help but want to go back again each year to Vila Branca and Lagos because it is simply perfect.
It was perfect for us when we were a couple and wanted to drink cocktails while dancing all night long! I said we didn’t like Albufeira, I didn’t say we were boring! We just like something a bit classier and a bit more funky, Lagos fits the bill. It was perfect for me when I was pregnant and needed to relax in the sunshine and peaceful tranquility. And it’s still perfect now that we have children as it’s a wonderful playground for them – it’s a dream location. As well as the beautiful cove beaches, which can be difficult to get to with winding steps and a buggy, there are miles and miles of golden stretched sand beaches which are easy to get to on foot and the coast line is simply stunning! As for Vila Branca, well, it’s the ideal accommodation really!
There are one or two bedroom apartments which are equipped with everything you need for a two week stay. They are large and comfortable and travel cots and high chairs are available. There is kitchen equipment like a coffee maker and in the living room there is a television showing English channels.A dining table and chairs are provided inside but we prefer to eat at the patio table outside on the terrace which have always been huge in the apartments we have stayed in.
The apartments are situated round two different pools. The blue pool as I call it is more for the adults in my mind although there is a HUGE children’s pool there too and the yellow pool (it’s just a case of the sunbeds being those colours), the one we choose to go to, has a brilliant splash pool for little ones and beautiful gardens right next to it. I always think of the yellow pool for children but actually both pools are fairly quiet (apart from when we’re around)!
The whole complex is well looked after, gardeners are in every day and apartments are cleaned with linen and towel changes every other day. The gardens are beautiful, the pools are sparkling and there is an informal restaurant and bar on site too. Just a stones throw away from the complex is a wonderful little shop which although small in size somehow sells everything from freshly baked bread to alcohol. You could cater every meal yourself using the little shop but we tend to go out in the evenings because the restaurants in Lagos are so fantastic; we literally haven’t had a bad meal. We love the new restaurant in town ‘The Garden’ and have many, many favourites to choose from. As I said, the town, although old and still working, is not Britishified but it is still geared up for business and there is a buzz in the eclectic air. Lagos is full of surfers from Oz, back packers from around the world, artists, musicians and families alike… There is a relaxed vibe which helps to make it my absolute favourite place to be!
So, if you fancy a trip to Lagos with your little ones then I can strongly recommend it and I can highly, highly recommend Vila Branca which is very reasonably priced. We just paid £826 for a fortnight in a two bedroom apartment, some of the time in August and some in September. We book directly with Vila Branca whose staff are wonderful, beautifully helpful and understanding as well as speaking every language possible I think! I have also been very impressed with the Monarch website which was super easy to use and the flights were excellently easy although lots of tour operators fly into Faro. Once you arrive Vila Branca can organise a private transfer in a taxi for 88 Euros each way or you can hop on a bus. Some of the apartments at Vila Branca are privately owned and can be booked through their owners directly. We met Pauline and Alan who own their apartment while we were staying and they kindly let me have a sneaky at their home which they too rent out (see here for details). It’s full of home comforts like proper mugs, a DVD player and a book shelf which can be dipped into and they run an honesty policy in their kitchen which is a fabulous idea. From wine on the rack to salt and olive oil in the cupboards, you can use what’s there and replace it before you go. If you fancy a more homely stay then this is a great option and they even have a built in BBQ on their terrace. They are in the block which over looks the blue pool in a brilliant location and their apartment number is 25B! It’s on the ground floor which I would always recommend with children especially as the terrace is so much bigger on the ground floor! All the terraces, including theirs, are completely enclosed (they have a secure gate as it also leads to their front door while ours was at the back of our apartment with access only from inside to out) meaning children can play out while you watch them from the living room and they can’t escape!
Lagos is the place for me and we are so lucky to have just come back from yet another fabulous break there! My Mum came with us again which was awesome as another pair of hands made it so much more relaxing, I even read 4 whole books! Unheard of these days! The children were in their element and loved the freedom on the beach, all the ice cream and the many hours of swimming. A wonderful holiday with wonderful family and some treasured memories made! Utter bliss!
I have not been compensated in any way by any person or company for writing this post.