Updated February 2019
Who says you can’t finish work on a Friday, jet off for a dose of sun, sea and glamour, and be back in the office 48 hours later? Harriet Cooper gives the lowdown on three European seaside breaks which will make for great water cooler chat on Monday.
With its golden beaches, pretty whitewashed villages, fresh seafood and sleek five-star hotels, sun-kissed southern Portugal has everything you could wish for on a beach weekend away.
Make your escape
You’ll need to slope off a little early from work (just remember to bring back a nice present for your boss), but catching the 17:10 flight from London Gatwick will put you in Faro at the civilised time of 20:05.
If it’s a beach holiday you’re after, then you can’t go wrong when your hotel sits above the longest beach in Portugal. The idyllic Pine Cliffs Resort sits in evergreen splendour, just a 30-minute drive from Faro Airport. A lift lowers guests down the cliffs to the golden sands of Praia da Falésia, where there’s a beach restaurant – but if you’d rather prepare your own Algarve gastronomy, you can take cookery lessons at the on-site cookery school, Mimo Algarve. Whether you choose to stay in the hotel, or in one of its suites or residences, you’re in good hands: the whole property is part of the well-respected Luxury Collection.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from at Pine Cliffs Resort. Dine on the sand at Maré. The hotel’s lovely beach restaurant is open seasonally.Book Pine Cliffs
Fancy the chance to see dolphins swimming in their natural habitat? Catch a boat from Albufeira and explore the rugged coastline up to Carvoeiro, with its stunning coves, interesting rock formations and, of course, dolphins – there’s even a marine biologist on board to answer any questions.
Head to the pretty whitewashed village of Salema – its main road is lined with fishermen’s houses, some of which are now bars and restaurants that spill out onto the beach. Take a seat on the sun-drenched terrace of Boia and work your way through a cold bottle of the local wine vinho verde.
Spend a balmy evening at the Michelin-starred Vila Joya in Albufeira – the only restaurant in Portugal to make the top 50 in San Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurants list. It’s pricey and there’s a dress code, but sitting on the terrace, surrounded by flickering candles, eating exquisite food with the sound of the waves below is perfection.
Bring it back
The Portuguese have ceramics down to a fine art and the town of Porches is where you’ll find the best workshops, such as Porches Pottery.
You want to be fresh as a daisy at work, so Sunday’s 18:00 flight from Faro is a great option – you’ll land at London Gatwick at 20:40, giving you plenty of time to catch up on your beauty sleep (you’ll even be able to squeeze in a long Portuguese lunch before you leave).