Holiday Villa Algarve - Idyllic holidays in the hidden Algarve

Lemon Tree Cottage is a well appointed two bedroom self catering holiday villa offering an
unusually private and peaceful location in the heart of the rural Algarve. Only a 15 min drive
from Loulé and 25 min from Faro airport.
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Local Sights and Favourite Restaurants

Loulé is the nearest (8 miles / 15 minute drive) large town. It is a wealthy, but remarkably authentic, country town, with locals going about their business in the daily covered market.

The small town of Salir is 6 miles / 10 minutes drive and has padarias (bakeries),  pastelarias (pastry shops) , restaurants, cafes, mini-markets, hairdressers and many other shops.

We  are happy to share our local knowledge on some of the fabulous walks in the area, places to visit, or a personal recommendation of the local eateries. Eating out round here is inexpensive by UK standards.

Lemon Tree Cottage is an ideal base for short trips further afield. Lisbon can be visited by train from Loulé station in a day. Fares are inexpensive by UK standards and you can afford to travel first class. You can make car journeys to Seville in Spain or to many interesting towns in the Alentejo.

 

  Loule Market
 

Monte Da Eira in Clareanes

Monte Da Eira in Clareanes is one of our favourite restaurants where Pedro serves traditional Portuguese cuisine (Cozida Portuguesa Typica) in some style. We think that at €50 ~ €60 for two people with wine etc it should only be for special occasions. Though by UK standards it is not expensive for what you get.

Pedro is open for lunches and dinners every day (except Mondays and Sunday night). He opens for dinners only during August. Call Pedro on 289 438 129  to make a reservation – Pedro speaks English, German and French as well as his native tongue so no trouble with bookings.

Clareanes is just 4 miles / 5 minutes by car from Lemon Tree Cottage.

This picture is of our family and friends enjoying a birthday celebration one Sunday lunchtime.

  Monte De Eira Clareanes
 

Vela 2 Restaurant Sta. Margarida Nr. Tavira

Ask us about the Restaurant Vela 2 where they will serve all the grilled fresh fish you can eat for just €10 a head. Once seated, you’ll be asked “ Peixe?” to which the standard answer is “Sim” because nobody goes there for anything else. Half of the family catch the fish at night and next day the other half of the family cook it for you in the restaurant. You have to be early though. No reservations and queuing for opening at 12:00. It’s that good! If you are not there by 12:15 expect a very long wait to be seated. First come, first served. They don’t take bookings. Open for lunch and dinner every day except Mondays – Segundafeira.

> They serve bread and olives as a couvert plus a wonderful salad of lettuce, tomatoes and onion. You can have new potatoes or chips with your fish. They really do keep bringing you silver platters of grilled fish until you say “no more thank you”. A meal for four people with a bottle or two of wine will normally cost €60. When you ask for the bill (a conta) the owners wife comes to your table, looks at the debris and then writes a number on the table cloth. That is the bill and what you pay. Typically, a bottle of white wine such as Monsaraz or Reguengos costs €4 (not much more than in a supermarket). If you have a Jarro of Vinho da Casa it will cost you even less.

 

  Quinta dos Valados in Corsitos
 

Querença

Rosa’s cafe is the heart of the aldeia (village) of Querença and is open every day from ca. 09:00 until late. Rosa is a jolly, friendly woman who speaks English and German in addition to her native tongue. She has a small shop at the back of the cafe and sells gorgeous pastries and cakes, ice creams, locally made chouricos and many other tasty morsels to take home or eat with your refreshments outside in the largo (square).

If you would like to see inside the lovely XIV church, go the tourist information office and ask Patricia if she would kindly unlock the church door for you. Patricia speaks English so you will have no difficulty with any questions that you might like to ask her.

The tourist information office has leaflets for the many places of interest within the whole of the Loulé municipality – including the Percuso pedestre das 7 Fontes walk around Corcitos, through the Fonte da Benémola and Querença – and many are in English.

  Querença, algarve
 

Casa dos Presuntos  in Cortelha

The Casa dos Presuntos in Cortelha is another of our favourite restaurants close to home. Nuno Sebastião, his wife Clara and his twin sisters Isabella and Sandra serve the traditional Portuguese cuisine of the Serra do Caldeirão in a delightful atmosphere. It is an ideal place to while away a winter’s evening or a hot summer’s lunchtime with friends. Ask Nuno to recommend a wine for you and you won’t be disappointed.

Cortelha is a small hamlet on the EN2 to Lisbon, just north of Barranco do Velho, and is about 10 miles / 15 minutes by car from Lemon Tree Cottage via a delightful drive through the cork forests of the Serra do Caldeirão - the centre of the cork oak industry.

Nuno, Clara, Sandra and Isabella all speak English. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week and they never close for a day off! The restaurant is very popular but you don’t normally have to book. Though you may have to wait a while on a Sunday lunchtime when it seems everybody wants to eat out. It pays to get there early (say 12:30) and you should get seated.

These pictures were taken one lunchtime in September 2010. Couvert comprised bread, olives, butter and sardine paste. Entrada was a plate of tapas (queijo e presunto). The main course was Ensopada de Borrego accompanied by a delicious mixed salad with tomatoes from Nuno’s neighbour. We had a good bottle of red wine (Tem Avondo) from the Alentejo followed by coffees . All together our lunch cost €25.60 for two – plus a €3 tip. Had we chosen a jarro of vinho da casa instead of the bottle of wine it would have been under €20. The portions are generous and often a single portion is enough for two people.

 
 

Cork Forests of the Serra do Caldeirão

Corcitos lies on the southern edge of the cork forests of the Serra do Caldeirão - the centre of the world’s largest cork production area.

If you drive through the cork forests from Salir to São Bras de Alportel during July to September you may see the cortiçadores hard at work harvesting cork. Huge lorries transport the cork to merchants or the factories for processing. There are many land owners who have grown rich on cortiça (cork) in this area.

Harvesting begins In late summer when the trees are stripped of their bark. This is hard, dangerous work and the cortiçadores earn good money. You can easily identify which trees have been recently stripped of their bark. The trunk and branches from which thebark has been removed are smooth and  rust coloured. However, the colour soon changes as the tree quickly starts to re-grow its bark. After about 7 years the bark can again be removed. After stripping the bark, the cortiçadores use white paint to mark each tree with the year of harvesting.

 
 

Olhão

Another of our favourite restaurants is in Olhão. Joaquim’s Caso do Pasto named Um Ás Do Amigo is typically Portuguese serving  grilled fresh fish from the market with fresh salad and potatoes. The whole lunch with half a litre of wine will cost you just €8 a head.

The town of Olhão with 30,000 inhabitants, is essentially and historically linked to the local fishing industry and only grew into existence in the 17th Century. The fish market in a long building on the waterfront is a "must" to visitors. Every morning there is a lively noisy atmosphere and the impressively large variety of fish offered by the local catch is displayed to tempt the housewife. From Olhão you can take one of the frequent  ferry boat trips to the ilhas (islands) of Armona, Culatra or Farol where life is very leisurely and simple.

 

 

 
 

 Tavira

Tavira is one of the most architecturally attractive towns in the Algarve and its origin dates back to around 2000 BC. Like most of the Algarve its buildings were all virtually destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. The town has since been rebuilt with many fine 18th Century buildings along with its 37 churches. A Roman bridge links the two parts of the town across the River Gilão. Well worth a visit!

Combine a visit to Tavira with lunch at Vela 2 Restaurant in Sta. Margarida and you won’t be disappointed with a day out here.

 

Tourism information about Tavira

 

  Alte, villa for rent in the Algarve
 

Other interesting destinations - Alte


Described as "a delightful snapshot of the real Algarve" in many a tourist brochure, Alte is a picture of beauty and serenity. The little village with its whitewashed façades, filigree chimney pots and rural charm appears to have little time for the 21st century. The central attraction is the picnic area near the stream. The area is also renowned for its handicrafts and colourful folklore.

  Alte, villa for rent in the Algarve
 

Other interesting destinations - Estói


Just off the town's main square is the Pousada do Visconde de Estói, a 19th-century Rococo Pousada, with gardens fanned by giant palms and cooled by fountains. A ten-minute walk from here brings you to the site of Milreu, a Roman complex dominated by a temple that was converted into a Christian basilica in the 5th century.

  Estoi, villa for rent in the Algarve
 

Alentejo

Travel north from Salir, via Almodovar, into the Alentejo. This is one of the last unexplored areas of old Europe. The landscape is hilly in the south and rolling plains further north and east. 

The Baixo Alentejo (Southern Alentejo region of Portugal) is renowned for its wildlife  (wild boar, Bonelli's eagle, eagle owl, deer and otter) and many people visit for that reason.  Others appreciate the clarity of the air and the night skies, others the history and culture of the countryside.

In springtime there are wonderful vistas of fields covered with Spring flowers – red, mauve, yellow and blue. The Alentejo is the breadbasket of Portugal with immense vineyards, olive groves, wheat fields and farms where the Iberian pigs (porco preto) roam amongst the cork oak forests.

 

  Alentego, villa for rent in the Algarve
 

Monsaraz (Alentejo)

Monsaraz is a tiny fairytale walled village that maintains a delightful medieval atmosphere. It was originally fortified by the Knights Templar, and today its 150 or so permanent residents live in ancient white houses with outdoor staircases and wrought-iron balconies.

It is worth climbing the granite castle's battlements for eagle's-eye views of the houses clustered within the village walls and for the magical landscape of the surrounding countryside.

Monsaraz stands at the northern end of the "Barragem de Alqueva". With a surface of  250 km2, a shoreline of 1200 km and an overall length of about 85 km the "Barragem de Alqueva" is the largest artificial lake in Europe. At the southern end there is an impressive dam with hydro-electric power station near the village of Alqueva.

 

  Monsaraz Alentejo, Villa for rent in the Algarve
 

Vila Viçosa (Alentejo)

Vila Viçosa has always been considered a jewel in the treasure chest of Alentejo.  Vila Viçosa will satisfy the demands of the most refined visitor. The traditional cuisine of the Alentejo reaches its high point here, with special emphasis on cakes and desserts, above all "Tibornas".

The impressive Ducal Palace was the former residence of the Dukes of Braganza from the beginning of the 16th century. The main façade is completely covered with local marble and takes Italian Renaissance architecture as its inspiration.

Vila Viçosa is the ‘marble capital’ of this region and hosts the famous International Marble Fair every year. Marble is ubiquitous and you will see it used to make pavements, kerbstones, window sills and many everyday items used in construction.

 

  Vila Vicosa Alentejo, villa to rent in the Algarve
 

Seville (Spain)

Seville is about 2 hours drive from Loulé where you can join the A22 and after that it is motorway driving all the way. Seville is one of Spain's major cities and is the capital of the Andalusia region. Seville is a friendly and captivating place to visit. Straddling the Guadalquivir River, central Seville comprises an abundance of twisting streets and narrow lanes, adding much character to the city. Most public squares feel rather small and intimate and many of the best attractions are within easy walking distance.

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