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Inflight Magazine of Brussels Airlines

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Faro May 2011

The warmer weather marks the start of a season of outdoor events in the Algarve, one of the best of which is the FIESA International Sand Sculpture Festival (fiesa. org), which takes place in Pera until October. Paul Rouse is our city guide

FARO & THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE

Faro is the gateway to the Golden Triangle of Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura, an area of designer resorts, gourmet dining and some of Europe’s best golf.

SLEEP One of the Algarve’s newest five-stars, the Tivoli Victoria (Vilamoura, tel. 289 317000, tivolihotels.com, rooms from €180) blends international modern-minimalist design with a nod to Portuguese heritage, and backs on to the championship Victoria golf course. The Crowne Plaza (Vilamoura, tel. 289 381600, crowneplaza.com, rooms from €95) offers direct access to the beach and is walking distance from the marina.

CULTURE Take a golf lesson from resident pro Antonio Sobrinho at Vale do Lobo (Almancil, tel. 289 353000) – non-golfers can indulge themselves with a range of treatments at the Royal Spa.

EAT It’s wise to come hungry and meat- loving to São Gabriel (Estrada Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago, tel. 289 394521). This one-star Michelin establishment serves pheasant, quail and 30-hour cooked beef, with few concessions to nouvelle cuisine pretensions.

SHOP You know you’re in a top-end supermarket when it has its own made-to-order sushi section. Apolónia (Almancil) is also a great place to stock up on Portuguese wine for enjoying at your holiday villa.

LATER Piano bar, Japanese restaurant, lounge garden or late-late disco? Take your pick at T Clube (Buganvilla Plaza, Quinta do Lago).

TIP You can easily pop over to Spain for the day – the border is less than an hour from Faro. Fill up the hire car while you’re there: the petrol’s cheaper.

FURTHER AFIELD – LUXURY ALGARVE

If there’s a special occasion coming up, there are plenty of options for spoiling a loved one – and yourself.

SLEEP Vila Joya (Praia da Galé, Albufeira, tel. 289 591795, vilajoya.com, rooms from €375) has Portugal’s only two-star Michelin restaurant and a spectacular clifftop setting. For more affordable luxury, Quinta Bonita (Lagos, tel. 282 762135, boutiquehotelalgarve. com, rooms from €110) has eight elegant individually designed suites, all named after local beaches.

EAT At Ocean (Vila Vita Parc, Porches, tel. 282 310100), chef Hans Neuner gives an Austrian twist to local produce, with stunning sea views for good measure. If you want to impress with your cooking skills or need ideas for dinner parties, book a masterclass with Fine Dining In Style (Almancil, tel. 289 393258). Top chefs let you in on some tricks of the trade, after which you and your guests enjoy the fruits of your labours in a private dining room.

SHOP There’s a wide variety of paintings and other art from Algarve-based artists of all nationalities on sale at Corte Real Gallery (Paderne, tel. 912 737762), including work by Ted Compton, John Lamonby and Meinke Flesseman.

LATER If you fancy a flutter, Praia da Rocha, Vilamoura and Monte Gordo all have casinos (see solverde.pt), with evening entertainment, floor shows and a range of gambling options, including roulette, poker, blackjack and slot machines.

TIP Arrive in style with VIP Chauffeurs (vipchauffeurs-algarve.com), a Mercedes limousine transfer service complete with smartly turned-out and courteous driver, drinks, magazines and DVDs. Or get a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular Algarve coastline with a helicopter trip courtesy of Algarve Helicopters (tel. 916 262888) – you can even take the controls if your nerve holds.

INFO

Faro Airport is 7km from the centre.

Taxi Faro €10; Olhão €18; Vilamoura €25; Albufeira and Tavira €40.

Bus Airport buses go to Faro and shuttle buses serve selected resorts. Eva buses (eva-bus. com) go to various destinations.

Train The nearest station is Faro, with trains to various Algarve destinations and Lisbon.

Car hire is the best way to explore; the major companies have desks at the airport, but it’s a good idea to book.

Tourist office In Faro at 8-12 Rua da Misericórdia (tel. 289 803604, visitalgarve.pt)