Algarve is pretty high up on anyone’s bucket list for 2019. But, can you travel Algarve on a shoestring budget?
They say paradise doesn’t come without a price. However, penny pinching you’re way (and stay!) is a lot easier than you might think.
Here are my Top 5 Hacks to traveling the Algarve without breaking the bank.
Traveling on a dime takes some flexibility. It also takes some artful and clever ways of making sure your whole budget fits into the paradise picture frame you’ve idealized, for a bargain.
Now to fit a destination as monumental as this into that picture frame, ingenious will be a one part formula to reaching the european destination that offers a rock-havened coast over baby blue waters, vibrant landscapes and the cultural experience the world is talking about.
Finding cheap flights to the Algarve can be tricky, but there are plenty of fare-comparing websites that make finding the cheapest deal easy-peasy. These websites typically include a notification system you can opt into that will send you an email when flight prices drop below a certain level for your target destination.
If you’re on a budget you should probably skip booking through your local brick and mortar travel agent. “DIY”, online yo!? You can save a bunch of your hard earned money by going – direct to source – through budget carriers flying the route you need. Hello FAO (and cocktails on the beach!).
My absolute favorite resource is Momondo. It will give you an idea of the cheapest days and months to fly and it will send you those emails, known as golden nuggets that are any budget travelers dream come true.
You’ll need a car if you want to make your visit worth your while – as distances between the “must-see” cities and places in the Algarve are lengthy – but be smart about it. Limit the car rental period. Although you may be tempted to score a lower daily rate with a vacation-long car rental, many will be the days where you’ll be lounging with a pool-side cocktail or discovering all the near-by sites and attractions in the surrounding areas of your hotel anyway. Are you really going to let your money sit in the parking lot? Well, it won’t be earning you any interest that’s for sure.
A two-to-three-day car hire is adequate and this “smart move” will keep your costs under €100! Then, all you have to do is plan right. Define those two-to-three days with a killer – instagram worthy – sightseeing itinerary and you’re set for discovering unforgettable locations and countless cultural experiences.
INSIDER’S LOCAL TIP: If you just happen to be on your cellphone or tablet right now, take advantage of Portugal’s leading and most trusted car hire service and get a 10% discount on any reservation made via mobile devices. Woot, woot! You just saved up for a whole lot of beer on the beach – sun’s free and yes, beer in the Algarve is as cheap as €1 a bottle.
Leave the rest to your sense of adventure and spontaneity. Remaining days near your selected accomodation area can be spiced up with alternate transporation options as simple as renting a bike, scooter or heck even a surf or sup board to get you exploring the many amazing beach coves that outbranch from the main beach locations, which are only accessible by sea.
Unless you only “do holidays” in 5-star hotels, take your pick of a wide variety of aparthotels, hostels and even the prettiest of guesthouses capable of meeting budget accomodation rates without giving up on comfort, style or location. When time comes to book your stay Agoda is the way to go. You simply can’t go wrong with options like “Book Now – Pay Later”, “Free Cancellation” and “Discounts” of up to 80% OFF on selected offers!
Personally, I'm a big fan of aparthotels, as they usually offer nice private surrounding areas for leisure, a pool and many also offer a bar service and shops on the premises. Overall, staying at an aparthotel is cheaper and the fact that you have a kitchen at your disposal can also really help you cut down on meal costs. This alone, not only gives you incentive to visit the local markets and experience the Algarve, it’s people and their customs from a cultural perspective, it’s also guaranteed to shave big bucks off a food budget.
Of course you don’t want to come on holiday to cook every day, but having the ability to prepare snacks & sandwiches for beach days and even just choosing a few nights to “cook-in” will leave you with a lot of extra cash in your pocket. Cash that you can put towards a real special night or two.
INSIDER’S LOCAL TIP: You could also register with Airbnb – no kidding – they have amazing privately owned holiday homes listed and available for rent at top-noch locations in all major areas of the Algarve. In the event that you’ve never booked a place through Airbnb yet, just sign-up and as a new member you’ll automatically receive a €41 credit from me. You can immediately put it towards your holiday accommodation booking for the Algarve.
“Cha-Ching”! You know that €41 in the Algarve can get you a fabulous full-course meal for two, right?! Care for some fresh grilled fish? Well, if that doesn’t excite your taste buds, I'm pretty sure our world–renowned “vinho verde” will!
To avoid overpriced tourist traps, act like a local. Locals don’t eat out every night and if you’re on a budget you probably shouldn’t either. Hopefully you’ll take my advice in visiting a local supermarket to see what the local palate is like and if you’ve booked yourself a nice aparthotel – with a kitchen – half the nights you can make yourself a nice dinner and pocket the extra money towards small splurges that can make you feel like you’re living large. Ice-cream for dessert while walking on the beach, a digestif on one of many star-night lit terraces are bound to have you creating some serious paradise vibes on the frugalist of budgets.
INSIDER’S LOCAL TIP 1: For a regional take on an authentic digestif experience try the sunny Algarve's locally produced “Amendoa Amarga” on the rocks, served with a splash of fresh lemon juice.
When you do go out to eat, ask around for the best spots to get good, cheap eats. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask a local. Locals here are extremely friendly, they’re always happy to give you their best tips and most of them speak english.
When eating out at restaurants look for what is known as “Prato do Dia” which is the dish of the day. It’s always your cheapest option and you will be amazed at how these will, no doubt, be the most tasteful options on the menu – it’s the food locals eat and well… let’s just say, local cuisine in the Algarve is to die for! Also, many restaurants will offer a menu of the day, which packs together a three-course meal for a set (and very reasonable) price, so keep an eye out for these.
When you want to go all out and spend lavishly – maybe for an extra-special occasion of making memories – eat at an expensive restaurant during lunch. Most high-end restaurants offer lunch specials much cheaper than those on the normal dinner menu.
All types of live entertainment is available, free of charge, on most of the coastline’s village bars. You’ll be able to catch some pretty wild local acts while simply quenching your thirst from under the Algarve’s hot sun.
Explore the outdoors. If the best things in life are free, then the Algarve truly is paradise on earth. It doesn’t cost anything to lounge on one of the world’s finest beaches or to tackle Monchique mountain on a hike, in discovery of it’s hidden waterfalls.
Get online and search the City Hall’s website, closest to the location where you’re staying. Check their cultural & entertainment agenda. You will be amazed at the countless options that range from gastronomic festivals to local art or theatrical productions with a “free entrance” attached to a remarkably good time.
Now, we all know that old saying, “Save the best for last”. In this case it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What if I told you that there is an App that saves you money on every penny you spend in the Algarve. You read that right. In other words, the more you enjoy yourself, the more you can save! Designed with 3 key categories of “Food & Drink”, “Activities” and “Lifestyle” the Access Algarve App has over 400 Vouchers and 200+ Buy-1-Get-1-Free deals.
We bet our piggy bank savings you’re smilin’ now. Great! Get used to it, because it’s going to be pretty hard not to once you download the app – available for both IOS and Android devices – and begin to discover all the things you can do and all the fun you’ll have, on pocket change. A petty subscription of €10 and you’re set for the holiday of a lifetime in the sunny Algarve!
INSIDER’S LOCAL TIP: The App is free to download and you can activate your subscription (which is valid for 1 year) once you get here. Simply choose your device’s operating system – IOS or Android – and "hey big spender"!!
You can eat out more often, relax in a SPA, splash around at a waterpark or skydive… all for less. There are vouchers to suit everyone and keep you and your family entertained. I have the App (and the book!) and I never leave home without either of them.
If you’re not tech-savvy and you prefer the book, know that you can purchase one when you get here. They are available at Intermarché supermarkets, accross the Algarve.
Moral of the story: follow these tips and you won’t have to “penny-pinch” a day in your life, in paradise.
Hey Sunhsine! Thanks for dropping by the blog today. I'm Yvette Martins and my top priority is to provide you with valuable information that will enhance your travels through the sunny Algarve.