It's time to mix things up.
Health no longer falls under the remit of just lifting weights or pounding the pavement. Nowadays, exploring the mountains, the desert and everything in between is a proven way to add quality to our lives. Immersing ourselves in new surroundings helps us focus on the present and create memories for the future, alongside the proven benefits for both our physical and mental health.
Here to provide an alternative to the modern-day usuals of prolonged wakefulness, high levels of stress and sub-par sleeping patterns, Nate Dodge explores Portugal and is here to take you through his very adventures.
Beaches, quaint cities and food were the three things I had in mind when booking my next adventure. It's safe to say - recently, I've been on the lookout for places that I can visit without running into a plethora of tourists and lo-and-behold, I think I have the perfect destination for you.
Sure, in high season the Portuguese coast can get pretty swamped with tourists but, there are still plenty of ways that you can find a secluded beach on the coast of Europe.
We chose to visit Portugal in April, just before the summer crowds hit. Yes, you may have to sacrifice hot, sunny weather but it'll probably still be warm enough to lie out on the beach or even go for a surf lesson if you're ready to chance it.
In the past week, I road tripped from Faro to Lisbon and put together a quick travel guide to help you find some incredible landscapes, city scapes, and restaurants. I also want to preface this by saying that these are by no means the only locations that you should see whilst you are out there! Go explore!
Just outside of Faro is Albandeira Beach which was the first stop on our road trip. The beach sits in a protected cove and features some pretty awesome cliffs and a huge rock arch jutting out into the ocean. It was a great way to welcome us into Portugal.
Your second stop should be to Ponta Da Piedade in Lagos. Just a short drive from the city, you'll find endless cliffs, beaches and trails to explore. This section of coast is also riddled with sea caves and rock arches caused by years of erosion from the waves. To make the most of the scenery, you can also book a kayak or boat tour to explore from the water!
If you've spent your time at all of the popular beaches in Lagos or Faro and you're tired of the crowds, head North. The entire coastline from Lagos to Lisbon is a beach and you can find tons of them that are just as scenic, with half of the people. We had a few completely to ourselves, but I'll let you explore those on your own.
I'm an outdoor adventure photographer and spend very little time in the city, but it's impossible not to love the quaint little city streets of Portugal. Both Lagos and Lisbon have that small city charm with cobblestone streets, colourful trams and vibrant architecture. It's nice to take a break from the landscapes and explore some urban photography once in a while.
If you don't want to commit to just one entrée at dinner, you have to visit this tapas restaurant in Lagos. It's called Casa Do Prego and is one of the highest rated restaurants in Lagos, and for good reason. The three of us split 5 small pates of tuna, hummus, sirloin, chorizo and potatoes, all prepared in a Portuguese style.
It was one of our favourite meals in Portugal, hands down.
Moving up to Lisbon, I would also highly recommend Damas (another tapas restaurant) and O Pitéu da Gracça in Lisbon, where we had some of the best fish of the trip.
Unfortunately, travelling isn't always as perfect as it looks. You will come across places that look amazing to start, but upon further inspection, could be suffering greatly.
We found this beach with perfect sand, rock formations and a cool island with ruins on it - but looking down for the first time, we spotted colours that didn't fit. Tiny pieces of micro plastics spotted the beach, mixed right in with the sand - full bottles, styrofoam chunks, and sections of fishing rope and nets.
We ended up collecting a whole pile of plastic bottle caps that unfortunately, over time will break down in the sun and salt and become food for the marine life. Please respect the area!