Long before tourists were treading the quaint, bougainvillea-lined streets of the Algarve, dinosaurs were leaving their footprints in the butter-yellow limestone rocks on the edge of an unspoiled fishing village called Salema. It’s a ways down the coast from the Conrad—the best part of an hour—but it allows a glimpse at the wild western side of the Algarve, where scrub and sand dunes are covered in carpets of flowers, and little white houses have the traditional blue trim to ward off the devil. Salema has been particularly untouched by time; the streets are still cobblestoned and the fishermen still sit mending their nets near the beach. The dinosaur footprints, discovered in 2001 by geologists from Lisbon University, come from a herbivorous biped: a three-toed creature whose rounded toes, with no claws, point to the fact that it was a vegetarian. As you face the sea, you need to explore the rocks on your right to find the footprints (there are no signs). Next, stop at Bóia restaurant for lunch. It’s a rough-and-ready place with paper tablecloths (don’t even bother to ask them to fillet the fish), but the view onto the sparkling azure sea and the freshness of the day’s catch are worth the journey alone. Try a robalo, or sea bass, simply grilled with a drizzle of local olive oil.
Make your way down the coast to the fishing village of Salema, which is about an hour from the Conrad but worth the trip. When you’ve explored all the cobblestone streets and soft beaches, head to Bóia Bar Restaurant. It’s located on the quaint street of Travessa do Miramar, right on the beach.
RESTAURANTE BOIA BAR: 101 Rua dos Pescadores, Salema; +351-282-695-382; boiabar.com