Carvoeiro, or Praia de Carvoeiro, as it is sometimes known, is a resort in the Western Algarve area of Portugal. Once a sleepy fishing village, it is now a lovely resort that is growing in popularity. A mixture of incredible beaches, great restaurants and with plenty of shops, Carvoeiro is my new favourite holiday destination, and one which I am looking forward to visiting again very soon.
Tivoli Carvoeiro and Vale Covo
We stayed at the Hotel Tivoli Carvoeiro. This is on the outskirts of the village, and overlooks the incredible Vale Covo, an unmanned beach which can be reached by a series of paths and steps (and is well worth a look). The hotel has a dive centre, another great way to make the most of Vale Covo, and the beach is also a focal point for many of the boat trips that explore the caves around the Western Algarve Coach.
The Town and Square
The two main roads into the town convene in a pretty town square, which is currently adorned by an unusual black and white elephant feature. This square leads right onto the beach – the Praia de Carvoeiro, which is soft and sandy and sheltered by cliffs on two sides, it is a treasure trove for those who like to collect shells. Sunbeds are quite expensive on the beach, at 17 euros for the day, so it may be wise to take your own towels and just lie on the sand.
The Square also has a stage set up and most nights there is some form of live entertainment. (And people do literally dance in the street). Restaurants line the square, with fish and pasta/pizza being popular choices. There are also benches for people to use to sit and watch the sea.
There are plenty of watersports and boat trips available from the beach, including jet skis and pedalos. The sea is the Atlantic, so, of course it can be a little rough and choppy, so it may not be the best idea if you suffer from sea sickness.
The town square is the meeting place for the town train, which is a great way to have a look at the village on a leisurely 30 minute trip. We enjoyed looking at the coast and the lighthouse on this trip, which cost just 10 euros for 2 adults and 1 child. Twice a week this goes further afield and travels to Ferragudo, another lovely village in the vicinity.
Carvoeiro is literally full of fabulous places to eat, ranging from traditional Portuguese cuisine with Monchique dishes, to Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants. For daytime snacks Sandoskas is brilliant, inexpensive with a menu full of tasty salads, pasta dishes and the most incredible giant toasties that are just made for sharing. Hawali, is an Indian restaurant that is well worth a visit, with buttery nan breads, tasty marinated tikka dishes and the best Saag Chicken I have ever tasted. Take care though, portions are very good and you may struggle to finish your meal.
There are a lot of Italian Pasta and Pizza places, with Californian being my pick. For traditional, rustic style thin crust pizzas, this place is perfect, and with traditional gingham style table cloths and a relaxed atmosphere, this is a really lovely, family friendly, restaurant.
There is a good selection of shops in the town, ranging from boutiques selling straw baskets and acres of white linen and cotton clothing, shoe shops with an emphasis on Brazilian sandals – Grendha, Havaianas and Ipanema designs, and shops selling a lot of traditional cork goods – a local specialty.
We visited Carvoeiro during the recent Euros, and so the sports shop which stocks a range of official Portuguese kits (both club and country level) was very popular with my little boy. There are also lots of shops selling quite bad counterfeit copies of kits, which are frankly awful, and still quite expensive – avoid these at all costs!
Black and White Night
The Saturday nearest to the 21st June is the nights of the Black and White festival, where Carvoeiro celebrates the start of Summer. This is a fantastic night, with people in costume, live entertainment in the streets and most bars and restaurants. Shops stay open until around 3am, stilt walkers are everywhere, and this is just about the friendliest festival you will experience.