Excursions Direct 2007 Excursion Review

Excursions Direct 2007 Excursion Review

As the Algarve season draws to an end for another year, Excursions Direct is able to bring you the 2007 Excursion review.

Each year we produce a review Blog that will hopefully help and guide next years visitors to the excursions, days and nights out that you enjoyed this year. We have had quite a few changes for the 2007 season, and not just including the attractions. The Algarve has undergone a transformation over the past 2 years where roads and junctions have changed dramatically as the infrastructure has been dragged into the 21st century.

This year more than ever has seen many of the junctions replaced by roundabouts, the usual single lane roads widened to dual carriageways. It is with these changes in mind that we advise all visitors for the 2008 season to use the transport provided by many of the excursion companies, this will save you masses of time and effort in navigating the new improved Algarve traffic system. We hope by 2009 the majority of the works undertaken will be complete and normality can resume.

Right, enough of the rambling lets get down to business. We have reviewed the top 5 excursions that you booked through us last year as well as consulting our friends at Thomas Cook to get a broader picture of what was hot in 2007. A couple of the reviews actually contain more than one excursion this is because depending on which part of Algarve you chose would depend on the trip you would take (you will get what I mean when you read on). Also please remember that you can get exact prices and group quotes from our website.

The sections included this year are;

  • Zoomarine
  • Waterparks
  • Coach tours
  • Nights out
  • Boat trips
  • Zoomarine

    For about the 300 hundredth year running Zoomarine has toped the charts once again. Locals struggle to remember an Algarve without the famous park; some say it was built during the Moorish invasion and that Henry the navigator himself brought the original dolphins after his Atlantic voyage (sorry I am being ridiculous). The park has become an integral part of any Algarve holiday for all nationalities. Zoomarine was actually founded in 1989 as a marine learning centre for adults and children alike since then it has grown into the Algarve’s most famous excursion. The dolphin shows, Sealion theatre (in 2007 called “Magic book”), the birds of prey display and the shark tunnel, not to mention the log flume, the swinging pirate boat and the mini rollercoaster. 2007 also saw the addition of the 4D cinema, this incredible movie shows how we are changing and affecting our planet through how we treat nature. All of this accompanied by the huge swimming pool and sun deck, bars, restaurants and shops you can begin to see why it wins every year. Oh and on top of all this did I forget to mention that with an advance booking through Excursions Direct you can swim with the dolphins, yes that’s right SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS. The dolphin interaction is a fantastic way for visitors young and old to fulfil what is for most a life long dream. Zoomarine was priced at €21.50 for 2007 we will keep you posted on any price rises for 2008 on our website, Excursion Direct. However for a full day out including transport with everything inside free (with the exception of food, drinks and gifts) ?13.00 per adult is unbelievable value. Excursions Direct would just like to say a huge thank you to Rosa and all the team at Zoomarine for another superb season.

    contact us for exact prices and opening times.


    The waterparks produced the Excursions Direct team with yet another headache this year with the Algarve split once again depending on where you were staying. The West coast visitors had Aqualand and Slide and Splash at a 40, 60 split in favour of Slide and Splash, whereas the East coast visitors all flocked to Aquashow in Quarteira, so to give you a run down of all three here goes.


    They can be found in between Alcantarilla and Lagoa on the EN125, known locally as “The Big One” for strange phallic reasons which we can only imagine refer to the fact it sports the highest waterslide on the Algarve called the Kamikaze, you can also enjoy the Anaconda, Congo river, Surf beach wave pool, the raging rapids, the crazy race, the banzai boggan plus all the swimming pools, bars and restaurants. There is an assortment of gift shops and return transport from as far away as Vilamoura to the east and Praia do Roche (Portimao) in the west. The pricing starts at €21.50 for an adult staying locally up to €25.50 for an adult staying at the furthest pick up point, children are slightly less roughly 75% of the adult price. All in all a great day out and a summer favourite.

    Slide and Splash

    Just pipping Aqualand at the post according to our records (not by much mind), Slide and Splash is a family favourite, with pick up points from one side of the Algarve to the other it is an easy park to get to. The park can be found on the west side of Lagoa towards Portimao, with huge slides and rides, multiple swimming pools and the usual Bars, and restaurants Slide and Splash is a absolute must for the water babies amongst us. Again with prices ranging from €21.50 right up to €30.50 from Spain (yes Spain, they will travel to get you).


    What can we say about Aquashow and Senor Calderinhas team that the park doesn’t say for itself? Packed with incredible rides and shows as well as a full on rollercoaster. Situated on the main road from the EN125 at the “Quatro Estradas” roundabout heading towards Quarteira. The park provides transport from just about anywhere and charges the same price of €21.50 for entrance. The park is heavily pushed by the major UK tour operators for their Eastern Algarve visitors and we must confess that wherever you may be staying on the Algarve it is worth the trip to pay the guys a visit.

    Waterparks are an essential part of any Algarve holiday, you can soak up the sun, relax on manicured soft grass, sip refreshing ice cold drinks from the bar all in the knowledge the family is safe and being supervised every step of the way by experienced and professional lifeguards.

    Contact us for exact prices and opening times.

    Coach tours

    Now all you guys that visited Algarve this season certainly enjoyed your days out on board our famous coach tours. From the Eastern Algarve to the best of the west and everywhere in between. It was a hard one to call this year but Excursions Direct came up with the defining top three coach tours, somehow. Starting in reverse order at number three we have the Seville shopping trip, we are not really sure what is going on here but you guys are visiting Portugal and your number three coach trip is to Spain??? Besides that we have to admit it is a fantastic trip, the day begins pretty early (around 7.30am) where you are collected from your hotel by air conditioned (or heated) coach. On board is your guide (You can choose from English, German, French, Portuguese and Spanish) for the day that will help with any questions or queries you may have during the 2 hour journey through Eastern Algarve and out onto the vast flatlands of the Costa de la Luz, Huelva and finally your destination, Seville. On arrival in Seville you will be given the coach meeting point (very easy), maps and of course all the locations of the shops. You can either spend the entire day at the main shopping centres or you can explore some of the sights and sounds of this remarkable city from the incredible cathedral to the art quarter. At around 4pm you will return to the coach where your guide will make sure everyone is aboard and accounted for (it has been known for customers to spend the night in Seville and make their own way back the next day or catch another coach on another day) we will then head back across the border where you will be dropped off at your hotel or drop off point.

    At number two is 2 trips on different days but doing almost the same thing, Loule and Quarteira market trips These are both half day tours and are very self explanatory they will collect you from your hotel, apartment, villa or nearest pick up point at around 8am depending on where your staying. If you are visiting the Quarteira market you will be travelling on a Wednesday if its Loule you have chosen it will be a Saturday. The markets are a favourite where you can browse the clothing, lace embroidery, gift and local art stalls. If its food and local produce that gets you going there is the local fresh fish and meat market as well as deli stands and street food sellers. Both of the markets are very much local affairs and you will be rubbing shoulders with the locals as much as other visitors, the locals seem to find all the fuss about their markets a little strange they are simply there to buy their weekly shopping but still it’s a great experience. The markets will begin to close at approximately 2pm where you will be collected by your coach and taken back to you accommodation. Both markets are very local to Vilamoura and Albufeira so if you want to stay on in either town for some late lunch or even an afternoon browsing let the coach driver know and off you go (no refunds for one way trips mind ha, ha, ha). So to the top of the pile for the Excursions Direct coach tours we have the Historical Algarve trip. Again you will be collected from your hotel or nearest pick up point at around 8.30am and off to the first stop on the tour which is Silves. This is the ancient Moorish capital of Algarve and is steeped in history dating back almost 1000 years you can visit the cathedral (entrance fee not included). Travelling west we head to the Monchique Mountains where the views are spectacular from the peak of the famous 3000 foot high mountain top where you can sample local wines and brandies in a free tasting. The next stop is down towards the coast and the ancient city of Lagos where you will have time to reflect at the location of the very first human slave market in Europe and pause for thought in the old baroque style church of St Anthony. Our next destination is Cape St Vincent, the most westerly point in Europe where many centuries before Henry the Navigator once stood and pondered on what really lay beyond the horizon. We take the time to visit Baleeira the small fishing village and the fortress where Prince Henry started the very first navigation school. We then make our way back eastwards to your drop off points along the Algarve. The trip runs every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and costs an incredible €25 (?17) per person with discounts for groups children and OAP?s.

    Contact us for exact prices and opening times.

    Nights out

    When it comes to letting your hair down it’s a difficult one to call as everyone is different, you can find people in traditional restaurants in Algarve’s beautiful countryside, chatting at the bar of a golf club or partying on the strip in Albufeira or the old town. We have included a couple of reviews in this section as well as some info on some organized nights out available through , Excursions Direct If your looking for the party atmosphere you need to be heading to one of three places. The strip in Albufeira, the old town (square) in Albufeira or the marina in Vilamoura (summer only). These areas are filled with bars, restaurants and nightclubs, there are Karaoke bars, fun pubs and theme bars as well as the new trendy wine bars around the revamped square in Albufeira’s old town. The Algarve has a huge range of restaurants and cafes from the Michelin stared Willy’s in Vilamoura to the popular Churrasco (bbq’d meat) restaurants where a Prata do Dia (Menu of the day) would cost around €6 for a 3 course meal (yes that’s ?4 per person). We also have the proverbial Indians, Chinese, Italians, burger joints and pizza restaurants but we can have them anywhere cant we, so we wont spend much time on those. For more detailed information on the bars and restaurants of Algarve feel free to drop us a line through the Excursions Direct

    As far as organised days out are concerned there are two main options that we have had huge feedback from, the casino shows and the Portuguese evening.

    The casino shows

    We have three casinos on Algarve, one is at Praia do Roche (Portimao) one in Monte Gordo (near Spanish border) and the other is in Vilamoura, all have different shows on throughout the year so here is a low down.


    The Vilamoura Casino will present for the first time the show “Amor Latino” -production and choreography by the Russian Sergey Denisov. In a cigarette factory, somewhere in a country with a Caribbean aroma, a North-American officer (“Romeo”) falls in love at first sight with the sensual beauty of a factory worker (“Julia”) who is engaged to be married. It is a small city and the love triangle meets in a discotheque. The jealous lovers fight for their dear one. “Romeo” is put in jail but manages to escape with his lover’s help who hides him in a boat. However, as carnival time starts there is a masquerade where anything can happen, even the unexpected. When entering the magnificent hall of the Casino, you may visit the Commercial and Art Gallery, where exhibitions are frequently held and artists, photographers, sculptors delight lovers of the different artistic expressions. In one of the comfortable lounges we have at you disposal, you may choose to have a chat, read a magazine or enjoy an appetizer before dinner. In the Royal Restaurant/ Lounge, with a capacity for 200 people, you may enjoy a comfortable and elegant atmosphere, which is the ideal place to hold celebration dinners of all types. The Miralago Lounge, with 500 places, offers a magnificent view and presents, daily, a wide variety of shows that carry you to the most idyllic sceneries while you appreciate unique flavours. Situated in the hall of the Vilamoura Casino, the Arabesque Bar is the meeting point where you may appreciate the most exquisite international cocktails before and after meals. The Arab d?cor takes us into the world of magic stories, such as “1001 Nights” by Sherazade or “Ali B?b? and the 40 Thieves”. It has been for over ten years one of the most popular places for the Algarve night. This is especially due to the modern and refined d?cor.


    Situated in the extreme south of Portugal, the Algarve coast is famous for the immense blue of its sea as well as infinite, warm water beaches with the finest sands.

    The rich gastronomy, traditions, handicrafts and magnificent golf courses are unique requisites of this irresistible place, situated between the mountain and the sea, and a clear invitation to tourism.

    In the heart of Praia da Rocha, the Algarve Casino Hotel offers the ideal scenery for holidays that combine comfort with elegance, entertainment with relaxation and leisure with business.

    Near the main tourist infra-structures – Golf courses, Piers, Aqua Parks, Bars, Discos and with its own Casino – it has a cosmopolitan atmosphere waiting for you!

    With a private car park, garage, shops, rent-a-car and hairdresser.

    Directions from the Airport to the Hotel:

    Drive from Faro Airport to the Via do Infante / A22 and follow the directions for Praia da Rocha / Casino. The Aladino Restaurant is open for dinners and has a capacity of 220 people. It presents daily performances and artists of an international level.

    With a magnificent view over the ocean, you may appreciate its rich national and international cuisine.

    “It’s Magic” is the new show. It is a production marked by magic, eccentricity and seduction. In a mysterious cave, wizards from all over the world compete for the title of “Magician of the Century”, at the rhythm of sensual music and dances, embracing you from the first moment in an exotic atmosphere of pure fantasy.

    Let yourself be fascinated by incredible tricks, fantastic enchantments and mysterious spells which come out of the top hat and reach a surprising and truly magic end.

    Monte Gordo

    Situated only 6 km from the border with Spain, 300 km from Lisbon and 65 km from the Faro International Airport , the renovated Monte Gordo Casino is one of the liveliest attraction centres in the Algarve.

    The Oceano Lounge, overlooking the sea, offers a magnificent atmosphere where you may, at the same time, appreciate a refined, unique dinner and a most enjoyable international show every day.

    The wide range of games available at the Casino, together with the excellent service, offer you intense and memorable moments in a world of fantasy.

    Open for dinners, with a capacity for 200 people, the Oceano Restaurant offers the best typical dishes of the Algarve cuisine, as well as international shows of excellent quality.

    The daily show crosses Shakespeare’s eternal love story of “Romeo and Juliet” with one of the most famous romances of the popular culture of the XXth century “West Side Story”, appears a new and exciting show that you will love.

    “On the West Side” is a different musical that tells the story of a forbidden love at the rhythm of memorable songs from “West Side Story” combined with R&B, Jazz, classical music and comedy. Modern choreographies and an extraordinary wardrobe combine to produce a simply brilliant production.

    Portuguese Evening

    For the slightly more traditional among us there is the famous Portuguese evening.

    The evening starts with you being collected from your hotel or pick up point in one of our air conditioned coaches, your guide will be there to provide you with some of Portugal’s more traditional information. We will transport you back in time to a typical Algarve village where you will be entertained with folk dancing accompanied by traditional Portuguese musicians. You can eat and drink as much as you wish and dance to the sounds of Portuguese and international melodies. After dinner you can enjoy the show which is laid on by the folk band and dancers. With your night behind you we will transport you back to hotel or drop off point.

    Contact us for exact prices and opening times.

    Boat trips

    Our final section is dedicated to the many boat trips available on the Algarve; we have also included water sports and fishing trips.

    The boat trips you chose in 2007 were very much dependent, once again, on where you were staying. Our West coast visitors centred on Alvor and Portimao marinas, whereas visitors staying on the East coast used Vilamoura marina as well as Albufeira’s new marina.

    West Coast

    Starting with the west coast the boats leaving the Portimao and Alvor marinas are some of the best on the coast. Boats include the Arimar, Sealife safaris, Cepemar and the Novo Alvor to name but a few. Depending on what you are looking for from Sunset cruises to Big game fishing trips the two marinas in the west have it all. For sailing times and bookings please contact us.

    Eastern and central

    Vilamoura is by far the most established marina along the entire coast, with many of the larger boats using it as their mooring. Boats include Tangerina, Champagne cruises, Santa Bernarda, Sea Sunset, Algarve Seafaris, Tope Norte and Polvo watersports. There are many more but these are the most popular. Albufeira marina is only around 2 years old and as far as boats go it is mainly dedicated to personal moorings as apposed to commercial boats. The two we have available in Albufeira are the Vitamin sea fishing boat and the Mara catamaran.

    Contact us for exact prices and sailing times.

    To conclude this years review we would like to say a huge thank you to all the guys and gals who work hard each season to make everyone’s holiday a resounding success. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes that we all take for granted, so please take a moment to give them a thought and keep the flag flying for the Algarve. Europes best kept secret.

    Please pay us a visit at Excursion Direct for exact prices and pick-up and opening times for all of the Algarve’s trips, tours and rides.

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