Onto day 3 of my Faro 3 day tour. After two days exploring Algarve’s capital, there was only one place left on my list - Estoi. This small town is only half an hour away from Faro and well worth the visit.
I had a ticket for the 12.35 pm bus, so I still had time to do a
quick visit to the Algarve Regional Museum (Museu Regional do Algarve). Here, I found a series of
photographs showcasing how the Algarve has evolved through the centuries, as well
as traditional objects that were used for fishing and local costumes.
Once I finished the tour, I headed to the bus terminal and got on the bus to Estoi. There are two stops in the area, one drops you off near the Estoi church and the other near the Roman Villa of Milreu. I decided to start by the church and then followed the path to the Estoi Palace.
The Igreja Matriz de Estoi is set right in the town’s centre. It
was built in the 15th century and like Faro’s church it was also affected by
the earthquake of 1755 and later restored to its former glory.
It’s hard to miss the Estoi Palace with its predominant pink façade and its luxurious gardens. This 19th-century palace is now a hotel, with little more than 60 rooms, a spa and two large swimming pools, along with many other facilities you would expect to find in the finest hotels. Its interior is museum-worthy, with magnificent plaster ceilings, stunning chandeliers and mythological figures on the walls. Outside, goddess statues and tile panels hide amongst the greenery. Visitors, like myself, are allowed to explore the main garden and the hotel’s grand room. Many lovers choose the Estoi Palace as their wedding venue or a place to relax on their honeymoon. Away from the hustle of the city, it seems like the perfect site to celebrate any special moment.
I booked a table at the restaurant’s hotel, O Visconde, and got a chance to sit on their beautiful terrace, with Algarve’s countryside in the background.
restaurant offers a variety of regional delicacies, including the Cataplana,
which much like the tagine is named after the pan where it's prepared. The fish
cataplana is the most famous around the Algarve but here they also serve one
with pork loin and clams. With so many options available it was hard to make a decision.
The fried shrimp with garlic seemed like a good place to start, and then, of
course, the fish cataplana, to see what all the fuss was about. I was
definitely not disappointed with either and if I had had some extra room I
would have ordered one of the many appetizing desserts on the menu. I guess I
will have to save that for my next visit.
A coffee gave me enough boost to continue my walk towards the
Roman Villa of Milreu. This well-preserved site was occupied by the Romans
during the 1st century AD and served as a luxury villa in the following
centuries, which featured a bathing complex and a large temple. Most of its
mosaics are still very much intact and show a clear emphasis on sea motifs. The
ticket was 2 euros which didn’t seem enough to cover this lost piece of history.
I was spending the night at Vila Monte do Casal, a few miles off the centre but just what I needed after two days of walking non-stop. I took a taxi to get there and was more than happy to relax in my ocean-view room for the rest of the day.
Set atop of a hill, the Vila provides breathtaking views of the
now seemingly far away islands of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The staff are extremely welcoming, making me feel like home from the second I arrived. After a well-deserved nap, I sat down and watched the sunset
from my bedroom’s balcony before heading back down for dinner.
In 3 days I was able to see pretty much everything that Faro had to offer and I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of this amazing region. The team from Algarve Lifestyle was a big help in terms of planning this trip. Besides giving me a full plan of things to do around each town, their team has helped me find my accommodation, arranged local tours and even hired a car for me, which will be delivered tomorrow at the Vila, so I don’t have to worry about picking it up elsewhere.
Tomorrow, I’ll be driving to Loulé and continue my trip towards
the West of the Algarve...