In September 2016 I decided to go on holiday with 8 of my friends from university. We were looking for somewhere to relax in the sun for a week before term started again, and Portugal was perfect!
We booked a villa through AirBnB, and the house was perfect! It was called Casa Ornella and was on the outskirts of Estoi, a small town near Faro. There were 5 spacious bedrooms (a mixture of double and twin rooms), a well-equiped kitchen, a large pool and barbecue area, and a pool table in the lounge. With so much to do in the villa, we barely needed to leave! Maryanne, the owner of the villa, was very friendly and always on hand to help us and give us recommendations.
The town of Estoi was pretty and quiet. There wasn’t much going on whilst we were there, but it was well equipped with two supermarkets, a butchers and some nice restaurants and takeaways so it satisfied our needs. The Palácio de Estói is worth walking to, as it offers nice views across the surrounding area. I definitely think that hiring a car would have been a good idea though, as it would have allowed us to explore a bit further afield, and would have meant we didn’t have to trek back from the supermarket with enough food for 9 people in the boiling heat!
One of my favourite days of the holiday was our trip to Aquashow, a waterpark near Faro. Since it was off-season the park wasn’t busy at all, meaning we barely had to queue for anything! There was also a nice restaurant in the cafe serving pizzas which we made full use of at lunchtime. There was a great mix of small and big rides, as well as a large swimming pool with a wave machine.
We ate out in Estoi a couple of times during our trip. We went to the Estoi Kebab & Curry House for lunch, and later in the week for a takeaway. It was great value for money and has a large outdoor eating area which was nice since the weather was so warm. They do a wide selection of kebabs, curries and pizza, so all 9 of us could find something we fancied. On our last night we stumbled upon O Branquinho, a little restaurant tucked down a side road near the town centre. We sat outside and enjoyed great service – the waitress didn’t speak a word of English but tried her best to describe each dish on the menu. The menu changes every day according to what they have in stock, which made it feel even more authentic and fresh. I had an enormous meat platter with chips and salad, followed by a creme caramel for desert and a few too many glasses of sangria! The meal cost around 7 euros in total which was hard to believe considering all the food we ate, along with the drinks. The boys also enjoyed huge tankards of Superbock, the most popular beer in Portugal, for a euro each. It was a lovely evening and I would definitely recommend visiting O Branquinho if you are looking for an authentic dining experience with a local feel in Estoi.
Let me know where you would most like to go on holiday with a large group of friends – I would love to know!