This Hidden Gem Beach Is A Budget-Friendly Destination Dupe Of A Popular Greek Island

Tucked in the Algarve region on the southern tip of Portugal, Burgau is an underrated gem in this country, fondly known as the "Santorini of Portugal." Whitewashed buildings trimmed with blue are stacked haphazardly on top of one another while sandy beaches and cobblestone streets complete the quintessential "Santorini" look. Situated in the heart of Costa Vicentina Natural Park, carpets of wildflowers spring up from the hillsides overlooking the vast Atlantic, and sets of aquamarine waves crash against the cliffs.

An hour's drive from Faro Airport in Lagos, it's a quick and easy destination to reach. As a former fishing village, the history of this city dates back to the 16th century. Burgau's small size and intimate setting make it the perfect retreat for an uninterrupted getaway. The nearby city of Faro exudes California vibes with an upscale urban feel, just an hour away. Unlike the renovated textiles that coat the buildings in Faro, Burgau projects the image of a picturesque town with thatched-roof surf shacks and the occasional beach cafe that just skims the shoreline.

The Algarve region is rated more favorably than Santorini when it comes to beaches and resorts and is more budget-friendly overall. Unlike Greece, the cost of living is much more sustainable in the Algarve region, from hotel rates to dining out. A dish at a restaurant averages $15, while drinks only cost around $2, which is significantly lower than the $25 average meals and $5 drinks in Santorini. Spring and fall are the best times to visit while the weather is still beautiful and a subtle stillness hovers over the town — a picture-perfect setting for a relaxed getaway! 

Explore the coastal jewels of the Algarve region

Burgau has no shortage of hot spots that beckon travelers from around the globe to its sandy shoreline. Praia de Burgau is perhaps the highlight of Burgau. The white powdery sand and crystal clear waters are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and sailing. Burgau's single concrete boat dock attests to the village's heritage as a maritime port where fishers from the Middle Ages hauled their catches to shore.

Just 12 minutes away is a hidden gem right on the tip of the coastline. A sleepy town village with its own coastal charm, Salema is known as "the jewel of the Algarve." Like Burgau, Salema is rich in outdoor serenity and a place of peaceful existence. The boardwalk that parallels the ocean is ideal for morning walks by the sea, while mountain biking, horseback riding, and golfing are also popular.

A short 20 minutes from Burgau, Lagos is a few steps ahead of the smaller port towns like Salema and Burgau when it comes to modernity. Gilded churches from the 18th century and artisan cafes line the cobblestone streets of the city's square. Closer to the coastline, rocky tunnels dapple the beaches alongside rows of chaise lounges sheltered from the sun by striped umbrellas. The Benagil Cave is one of the most astounding attractions in all of Lagos. Its cone-shaped roof filters in light from the outside world while sand and saltwater mingle on the floor. Sun-drenched beaches, wooden walkways, and dappled coves make Lagos a must-see destination when in the western Algarve region.

Italian or seafood — this sleepy fishing town lets you choose!

When in Burgau, you're most likely at one of two places: the picturesque seashore or tasting the native cuisine at a local cafe. When comparing food in the Algarve region to that of Santorini, Lagos is consistently crowned as the winner. Burgau's cuisine is a delectable blend of native seafood dishes and international fare. Sardines, mackerel, and octopus are typical house specialties. Nearly every restaurant in Burgau is locally owned, making them a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Restaurant A Baracca boasts an airy and cheerful dining space with sweeping views of the entire coastline. Each guest is greeted with a steaming breadbasket, followed by seafood-forward plates, ranging from grilled fish to bouillabaisse. Known for delivering authentic Algarvian cuisine, it's perfect for sampling the native fare while socializing with the friendly staff and owners. What better way to enjoy pizza than right on the water? If you find yourself craving the comfort of homemade Italian food, you can't pass up Corso (famous for their wood-fired pizzas). The warm, cozy ambiance and whitewashed exterior beckons visitors to step up and order.

When it comes to budget-friendly dining, delectable cuisine, and an aesthetic appearance, Cafe do Burgau excels in all three arenas. With an assortment of handmade pastries (don't skip the cinnamon buns!), sandwiches, and smoothie bowls, this beachside cafe has a little bit of everything. Stop by on the way to the beach break in the morning for a spot of breakfast by the seaside.