Holidays in Portugal – Aldeia da Pedralva

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It’s sometimes hard to convince friends that just because we live in a holiday destination it doesn’t mean we are on holiday all the time (it’s Lou here, by the way). We still have to work, pay bills, go to the supermarket and complete all those household chores which are a part of daily life. So a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a break and go on an actual holiday in Portugal, to the idyllic Aldeia da Pedralva.

Holidays in Portugal - Aldeia da Pedralva
Holidays in Portugal – Aldeia da Pedralva

Aldeia da Pedralva is a tourist resort located approximately halfway between Vila do Bispo and Bordeira, on the Costa Vicentina area of Portugal’s west coast. Popular with surfers, the west coast is more wild and unspoiled than the beaches on Portugal’s south coast, so we were excited to be exploring a different part of Portugal than we are used to.

Aldeia da Pedralva has an interesting history. It was an almost entirely abandoned village when the owners first discovered it. They spent two years gradually purchasing the dilapidated houses and another two years renovating them. The sympathetic renovation work was designed to maintain a traditional Portuguese village feel, complete with winding cobbled streets, mismatched house sizes and white-painted walls. The atmosphere is one of tranquil relaxation – often the only sounds we could hear were the birds singing and the tinkling of the sheep bells as a small flock grazed on the village’s grassland.

Cobbled, winding streets
Cobbled, winding streets

The houses themselves are a delight. Each one is different and has its own character and charm. We stayed in a one-bedroom house with delightful views over the open, hilly countryside, which is dotted with trees and flowers as far as the eye can see. Our house was quaint and rustic, yet spotlessly clean and with all the facilities we needed for a weekend away. It had a small yet perfectly adequate kitchen and a good-sized living space, as well as a large bedroom with an extremely comfortable bed. The bathroom was particularly charming, with a stone-walled shower very much in keeping with the whole feel of the village.

Unique houses in a tranquil setting
Unique houses in a tranquil setting

Aldeia da Pedralva is designed as a base for active holidays, yet it also makes a wonderful, peaceful retreat for those looking to escape modern life. WiFi is only available in the reception area, which was at once refreshing and a little unnerving (I am a massive iPhone addict). There are no televisions or radios in the houses. The emphasis is on enjoying the wonders that nature has to offer, along with fresh, clean country air and good food.

Quaint touches abound
Quaint touches abound

There are two restaurants in the village, which I will review in detail on our sister blog Food and Wine Portugal, but suffice it to say here that the food in both was excellent and the service extremely friendly. Both are worth a visit on their own merits and we will definitely eat at them again next time we are in the area, even if we are not staying at the village. Breakfast was also included in our stay and consisted of a good continental spread, along with gallons of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice (so fresh that it was actually squeezed in front of us).

The pretty blue house
The pretty blue house

We spent our weekend at Aldeia da Pedralva exploring some of the west coast, as it is an area with which we are largely unfamiliar. Driving through the winding hills, we visited a number of windswept beaches, splashing around in the huge Atlantic waves coming rolling in. The highlight had to be the beautiful Praia do Monte Clérigo, where we lazed about in the sun for several hours, treating ourselves to a drink and a cake from the (horrendously overpriced) local café.

The rugged west coast
The rugged west coast

Praia da Amoreira, a stunning and desolate beach accessed by driving down a mountain, also deserves a mention. The scenic drive makes a wonderful approach to the sands, while the beach is backed by flower-covered dunes which are host to a variety of wildlife.

Overall it was a delightful weekend. We came away feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, which is exactly how a holiday is supposed to leave you feeling. The combination of the local attractions and the village itself, with its hidden nooks and crannies for curling up with a book in the sun, makes the perfect break – it’s definitely somewhere we will be heading back to next time we take a mini holiday in Portugal to escape the stresses of modern life.

Beautiful countryside
Beautiful countryside

In the interests of full disclosure we were invited to spend the weekend at this resort. However, be assured that all views are our own and that our opinions cannot be bought!

If you enjoy reading the blog and want to hear more about how our life has changed since moving abroad, why not check out our book: 

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Lou & Ben,

    I’m British wife Brazilian, we moved to Brasilia Brazil in 1985 and until having read your blog, and those of others, were seriously contemplating in retiring to Southend-On-Sea. Although we are both healthy, for the moment, the main attraction of the UK for us being the NHS, the low cost of prescriptions and my sister and her family.

    The NHS in Brazil is appalling and the cost of private health schemes for the over 60s is astronomical, the cost of living in Brasilia is higher than that of the UK.

    Portugal makes a lot of sense for us really, we are Portuguese fluent, we wouldn’t be loosing the sun , adopting some winter which I miss and at the same time benefitting from a lower cost of living.

    I would be grateful if you could shed some light on the workings and competence of the health service in Portugal. What happens to the old if they need to institutionalised?

    Also, having no rent to pay , eating simply but well and enjoying the natural life on average, how much would one need per month to support 3 adults?

    Rather than the Algarve we were thinking higher up around Lisbon, possibly cheaper and more work available if we needed to complement our income, any comments? My wife’s qualifications are recognised in Portugal and I am a chartered structural engineer qualified in the UK whose qualifications I believe are recognised there too.

    So, any regrets having moved to Portugal, have you ever been tempted in moving back?

    Many thanks for having blogged your experiences.

    PS – My wife is a doctor and suggests Lou take the supplement ‘B-complex’ to ward off the mosquitoes


  2. Hi Michel,

    I’m glad you are enjoying the blog and thank you very much for the B-complex recommendation from your wife.

    We don’t have any regrets about having moved to Portugal and so far we have not been seriously tempted to move back to England, although there has been the odd moment when trying to get paperwork completed that we have mentioned it in jest.

    Our experiences of the health service here have been limited. Once you are resident you can register with your local doctor, then you have to pay a small fee (I think it’s €5) for each appointment and you get a discount on prescriptions. If you want a faster service, you can also use a private medical centre. Our local one costs €40 per appointment.

    In terms of care for the elderly, I don’t know what is available or what it costs, but I suggest asking on some of the online Portugal forums for information on this.

    The cost of living can vary hugely, depending on what kind of food you are eating. Locally caught/grown fish and vegetables are very cheap, as are chicken and pork, but if you want to buy any imported food then costs will quickly rise.

    I would say (and this is only a very rough figure) that an adult could live comfortably on €300-400 per month for food, household essentials and a few visits to a cafe and meals out per month.

    However, household bills can be expensive, particularly electricity, so you would need to allow a few hundred extra for those. Cars are also very expensive here, so that’s something to bear in mind too.

    I appreciate this is a little vague, but hopefully it gives you a rough idea!

    Best wishes, Lou

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