Holidays to Sao Rafael put Portugal’s finest beach within touching distance. And laid-back village streets dishing up old-school Portuguese cuisine turn up the relaxation a notch.
Sao Rafael is a tiny seaside village of villas and apartments built in the traditional Algarve style – think whitewashed walls and terracotta roof tiles. You’ll find it on Portugal’s south coast, just outside Albufeira. There’s a clutch of beachfront bars and restaurants, plus a supermarket. Other than that, it’s tranquility personified, so you’ll quickly forget you have a care in the world.
Even by the Algarve’s high standards, Sao Rafael’s beach is something special. Backed by tall limestone cliffs, it’s a Blue Flag-winning stretch of golden sand that's been crowned Portugal’s number-one beach. Natural good looks are its main appeal, but its high-class restaurant, handful of watersports, and first-rate snorkelling deserve a mention, too. Plus, you’ll find several secluded coves immediately west of here, such as Praia da Coelha and Praia do Castelo.
Sao Rafael’s laidback village streets blend into those of its next-door neighbour, Galé. They’re home to a wide range of restaurants serving up old-school Portuguese cuisine, and are all within walking distance of each other. If you want to stretch your legs further, you’ll find tennis courts and world-class golf courses nearby. Or take a long stroll along the clifftops.
Close to Albufeira
The city of Albufeira is just a 10-minute taxi ride from Sao Rafael. Its old town is a myriad of winding Moorish streets dotted with churches and romantic cobbled squares. And on the east side of the city you'll find a tourist strip of back-to-back pubs and nightclubs that stay open until the early hours. At its sparkling new marina, meanwhile, you can cherry-pick from the bars that look out over the glitzy yachts, or pop into the little shops on the main road behind it.
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