The Algarve Coast in Portugal offers great beaches, affordable accommodation and delicious wine. But are you looking for an experience out of the ordinary? Plan a luxurious day trip to the Pink Palace, Algarve.
Day Trip to the Pink Palace: A Quiet Escape from busy Faro
Most people visit Faro on the Algarve Coast because of their beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts and warm climate. And if sunshine is what your soul is craving, then you definitely landed in the right place!
We recently spent a few, wonderful September days in Faro. It was absolutely wonderful – and a great way to escape the grey, Scottish weather that’s been haunting us for way too long now. For us, September turned out to be the perfect time to visit Faro and the Algarve. There was less tourists in the streets, but the days and nights were still as hot as in the more busy summer months. I’ve been wanting to visit the Algarve ever since Simone wrote about her Portuguese campervan adventures and I must say that I was certainly not disappointed with what the Algarve had to offer.
During my rather quick whirlwind trip of the Algarve, I still managed to eat my bodyweight in tapas (hello cuttlefish with lemon! YUM!), drink serious amounts of sangria and vinho verde, and explore the region with a few well-chosen day trips. I still wish I had a few more days there, but I guess it just means I have to come back, right?
Apparently most tourists flock to Faro, and the Algarve in general, to visit their stunning sand beaches and turquoise sea. Although I love beaches (and get way too little beach appropriate weather here in Glasgow), I still decided on spending a minimal amount of time exploring the Portuguese beach life. I simply had too much to see and too little time.
Instead, I decided to use my precious time by taking a few day trips from Faro in order to explore the very best of the Algarve region. And I was certainly not disappointed!
One of these day trips included visiting Pousada Palacio de Estoi, often known as simply the Pink Palace in Faro. Once a grand palace filled with laughter and parties, the building today functions as a small luxury hotel. But there’s no need to splurge out in order to discover the grandness of the estate – the stunning palace and its beautiful garden is open for everyone to see.
The History of the Pink Palace in Estoi, Algarve
Beautiful things take time to build, and this is perhaps especially true for the Pink Palace, located in the small village of Estoi. In 1840, a local Algarve aristocrat, of the Carvalhal family, started building the Pousada Palacio de Estoi. However, by the time of the aristocrat’s death – several decades later – the palace was still nothing but a beautiful ruin, a half-made dream.
In 1893, the unfinished palace was bought by a wealthy landowner from Beja. He spent a fortune finishing the grand estate, and in 1909 the Pink Palace could finally celebrate its completion. The opening of the Pink Palace in Estoi was celebrated with a massive party that took place in May the very same year. The celebration was apparently so wild that people spoke about it for years after. Unfortunately, the joy was not meant to last. Only a few decades later, the privately owned palace closed its doors and the wealthy family moved away for good. The Pink Palace was once again a beautiful ruin.
It wasn’t until 2009 that Pousada Palacio de Estoi once again opened its doors – and this time as a small luxury hotel in Estoi.
Today’s Palace: A Small Luxury Hotel in the Algarve
Today, the Pousada Palacio de Estoi is reborn as a luxury hotel, and it’s part of the renowned Small Luxury Hotels of the World Group. Due to its more rural location in Estoi, (10 km from Faro), it’s perfect for those in need of some serious relaxation and privacy. Here you can go for your morning swim in the perfectly secluded outdoor swimming pool, enjoy a Turkish bath or have an amazing massage experience. All of this, in beautiful and tranquil surroundings on the Portuguese countryside.
Moreover, the Pousada Palacio de Estoi is the ultimate luxury retreat in the Algarve. Here you can find serenity by walking along the Versailles-inspired garden or by reading a book next to a stunning fountain. In other word, this is the kind of place that will make you wish that you’re not travelling on a budget.
Luckily, you don’t have to splurge out with a small (large) fortune to spend a day in the gardens of the Pink Palace. There’s free entrance for those of you who feel cheeky enough, so bring your significant other (or best friend, mother, grandfather or that stranger you just met on the bus), and walk straight in! There is a bar conveniently located on a patio above the gardens, so this is the perfect place to have a glass of fizz and pretend that you’re a millionaire jetsetter on a luxurious holiday in the Algarve.
After a walk around the gardens, it’s time to sit down on the patio and order a fancy lunch at the hotel restaurant. If you’re on a budget, just like me, you can head down to the village and buy a huge hotdog for 2 euros. It will be less classy, but it will fill your stomach and is definitely very budget-friendly (you can thank me later).
How to Get to Pousada Palacio de Estoi from Faro
The small village of Estoi is only a 25 minutes drive from Faro, so this is a perfect day trip for those of you who are in the Algarve for only a limited amount of time.
There are no trains operating the line between Faro and Estoi, but there’s a very quick bus service that travels regularly between the two cities. You can buy a return bus ticket at the Faro bus station (the bus station is located near the harbour, right next to Hotel Eva), the price should be around 6.60. The sign on the bus will say ”Sao Bras de Alportel” (try saying that after a few too many drinks!).
There’s 2 bus stops in Estoi, but it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. As you will discover soon enough, Estoi is a very small, rural village and the walking distances are rather short. Be aware that the Pink Palace can be a bit tricky to find amongst all the small alleys, so I recommend that you download a map of the area on Google Maps before you go.
I have been mentioning that this is a day trip, but truth be told – Estoi is a small village and I doubt that you will need more than a few hours here (unless you’re blowing your budget and booking a room at the pink palace, that is!). We left Faro at 11, and we returned with the 15.35 bus from Estoi. That gave us plenty of time to walk around the beautiful gardens, have a drink on the palace patio, explore the town centre of Estoi AND having lunch. Nevertheless, Estoi is a wonderful day trip and it will definitely show you a different side of the Algarve.
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