For anyone seeking out what to do on their Algarve itinerary, I have you covered right here! This is one of my most favorite places in the world, and I’m stoked to share it with you…
It’s so gorgeous, I’m humbled to have actually spent nearly a year collectively in the Algarve! *pinch me*
There are three main things to do in the area, and all of them offer up some jaw-dropping scenery.
In the Algarve, you spend your time hiking, surfing or beach bumming… The cliffsides are where the hikers are, and just below the cliffs are the beach bums and surfers.
Life is good in the Algarve! Here’s how you can organize an Algarve itinerary that suits you…
What to Do On Your Algarve Itinerary?
Hiking, beach bumming, and surfing… Oh, my! Between these three things, trust me, you’ll be more than booked up on your Algarve itinerary. Which is more of your thing? Not sure? Here’s the low down on everything…
Spoiler alert: They are all super beautiful and worth it!
Hiking the Coastline on Your Algarve Itinerary
The Algarve doesn’t do hiking like other places. At least don’t think so! I can’t think of too many places in the world where there are miles and miles of coastline hikes above rocky cliff edges that take you to hidden beaches—Can you?
The dilapidated rocks that have taken over the craggy coastline make for a wonderful wander!
Grab your hiking shoes (or if you were born in flip flops like I was, those can work too but be careful!) and let’s head to the dusty trails of the Algarve…
High above the beach on the tops of those cliffs are barely marked and slimly trodden trails that you can meander for days—literally.
The trails go on for what seems like forever, and numerous trails are scattered around the entire region.
Most of them are along the coastline, and to be honest, those are the best ones.
For miles and miles for as long as you want, you can explore hiking in the Algarve by the trails along the coast and when you’ve had enough, find your way down to a beach to cool off and get those toes into the sand.
When I say you have to find some of the beaches in the Algarve, I’m being serious.
Some of them are hidden in a cove or take monkey-like skills to get to while risking your life (half joking) hopping from rock to rock. Some will seem impossible to get to—because they are. Unless you have a boat!
There were many beaches that evaded me during my days exploring the Algarve but that’s OK! I just went and scrambled to find the next one.
I can’t tell you how incredible it is to hike along these cliffs and this by far the coolest thing to do on your Algarve itinerary in my opinion.
Resources for Your Trip:
1. Check out my travel resource page for the exact companies I use for everything travel-related.
2. This is the travel credit card I use to get lounge access and even FREE flights!
3. MUST BRING – Anti-theft bags that I swear by.
4. Travel safety tips no matter where you’re going.
5. SAVE MONEY! 11 ways to travel for almost FREE
TOP MUST PACK ITEMS
ACCOMMODATION & CAR RENTAL
– I’ve had the most luck with renting from HolidayAutos.
– Hotels.com offers a free night every 10 bookings!
The Best Hikes in the Algarve
The trails are all quite impressive but the top trails, in my opinion, are:
- Telheiro Beach trail
- Carrapateira trail
- Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
- Ponte de Piedade trail
Somethings to keep in mind while hiking around The Algarve:
- All trails are very exposed, there’s literally zero tree coverage. Bring all the sunscreen and hats you can carry!
- Flip-flops are probably not a great idea, so maybe don’t copy me on that. These are dusty dirt trails with lots of rocks crumbling around you. Proper shoes are a better move. But on that note, don’t forget the flip-flops for when you make it down to the beach.
- Most of these trails are very easy. There isn’t too much climbing up and down.
- Be extremely careful exploring the little beaches you may see along your hikes. Some are not meant to be found, and we don’t need you falling off rocks on your Algarve itinerary! Be smart while you’re wandering.
Exploring The Beautiful Beaches on Your Algarve Itinerary
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again. The Algarve beaches are STUNNERS.
I’ve really never seen beaches that are so dramatic and gorgeous.
The soft golden sand, clear deep blue water, and sounds of the crests smashing onto the shores… It just doesn’t get old!
The beaches here are almost all surrounded by incredible sunkissed sandy cliffs which is what makes these beaches so unique and jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Some of my favorites are in the Vila do Bispo area but I have an entirely different post just on the Algarve’s most beautiful beaches that I absolutely love.
Check that post out to see which beaches you’re interested in and which you can fit into your schedule.
Don’t worry, though, it’s hard to make a bad choice!
My top picks real quick…
- Praia do Amado
- Praia do Beliche
- Praia do Martinhal
- Praia da Marinha
- Praia das Furnas
- Praia de Carvoeiro
- Praia da Carvalho
- Praia da Coelha
Recommended beach tours:
Try Surfing on Your Algarve Itinerary (It’s a Religion Here!)
For anyone who surfs, this place is a haven.
I have surfed here a few times but not as much as I would have liked to! It’s mostly a combo of me visiting during shoulder/off-season (so the water is extra cold) and me being simply not good enough!
The waves are a bit bigger and rougher than the waves I’ve been on in Ecuador, Morocco, Mexico, and Indonesia… But I make it a point to try when I visit! I’ll eventually get better. Plus, I love the surf school here!
If you’re around Amado beach or in Sagres, check out the Algarve Surf School and bag yourself a few quick lessons before you tackle the Algarve surf solo. They will help get your confidence up for sure!
My friend Zara works for them, and they are a bunch of cool people who can prep you for surfing in the Algarve. (Tell them Nina says hi if you go!)
3-Day Algarve Itinerary
If you only have 3 days in the Algarve, I’d suggest…
Visiting Marinha and Carvalho Beaches and doing the Seven Hanging Valleys trail.
The trail can be as long or as short as you want. It’s a ridiculously gorgeous area, so chill and enjoy.
If you can and if weather permits, throw in a tour to Benagil Cave.
It’s a uniquely beautiful cave beach that can only be accessed by water.
You can kayak or boat to it. If the weather isn’t being nice and the water is too rough, the Seven Hanging Valleys trail you’re wandering around will take you to the top of it so you can peer down inside.
TIP: Booking a Benagil Tour for the morning is best. It’s less crowded at this time.
Next, I’d either grab a few surf lessons on the west side of The Algarve and see if you can be an overnight pro… Or, if surfing isn’t your thing, go for another coastal walk.
Ponta da Piedade and the beaches and trails in this area are from another world. This is near Lagos, which is a fantastic city to wander around, eat and shop.
- Algarve 3-Hour Caves and Coastline Boat Trip
- If you want to go to Ponta da Piedade, do one of these tours – Boat tour | Kayak tour
5-7-Day Algarve Itinerary
Have an extra few days? Sweet!
I’d add in another surf day or two to your schedule because you want to be a pro, right?! If not, just observe the surfers from afar and beach bum some more. Check my Algarve beach post, for tons of info on the best beaches.
If you’re curious to wander around a town, and you’ve done Lagos, then I’d recommend Albufeira for a happening and lively spot, or Luz if you want a more chill time.
For something in between these two (quite literally), head to Carvoeiro! A gorgeous beach town that definitely gets busy, but its vibe isn’t as crazy as Albufeira but not as sleepy as Luz.
All three of these have very cool Old Towns to wander around, stunning beaches, and yes, they have those coastal trails if you’d like to wander those some more too.
Some recommended tours:
- 6-Hour Yacht Cruise with BBQ Lunch
- Half-Day Algarve Jeep Safari
- 4×4 Off-Road Safari & Vineyard Wine Tasting
- Guided Tour by Tuk-Tuk
- Safari Excursion in the Algarve Mountains
Where Should I Stay During My Algarve Itinerary?
Well, as we discussed, the attractions are all pretty close and if you have a car, you’re GOLDEN.
I can’t really answer this, it all depends on what you want to do and how much time you have…
I’m partial to sleepy Sagres. It’s where I base myself when I visit the Algarve. (It’s less sleepy in summer)
But, you’re probably going to want a livelier place, so I’d recommend Lagos, Albufeira, Carvoeiro, or Faro. Faro is closest to the airport so if you don’t have much time, you might consider staying there.
If you’re surfing, you need to stay as west as possible as that’s where the best surf is. Sagres is one of the best spots since there are so many surfing havens near it.
Overall, I’d recommend not moving around TOO much because, again, if you have a car, just drive to the spots you want to see (under an hour almost anywhere you want to go) rather than waste part of your day packing and unpacking and checking in and out of hotels.
Best Places to Stay in The Algarve
Here are some of the best places to stay in the towns I recommended for your Algarve Itinerary…
- Boutique Taghostel – With rooms overlooking the marina, you’ll be within easy reach of the best parts of Lagos.
- The Salty Lodge – Choose from stylish studios, one- or two-bedroom apartments in the heart of the historical center.
- Casa Luma B&B – Bright modern rooms, included breakfast and a cool rooftop terrace make this a popular place to stay.
- Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda – Just five minutes from the beach, this hotel offers individually decorated rooms, each with a private balcony.
- Salgados Dunas Suites – Enjoy luxurious rooms and top-grade facilities surrounded by palm trees, with direct access to the beach.
- Pine Cliffs Resort – This high-end resort offers tennis courts, a golf course, on-site spa and of course stunning views over the Atlantic.
- Alisios Hotel – A few steps from this hotel you’ll find the lovely Alemães Beach, or you can just enjoy the view from the sweeping terrace restaurant.
- Son of a Beach Hostel – For a budget-friendly but fun option, this hostel offers dorms, private rooms, a bar and rooftop terrace.
- O Quintal Guesthouse – Just 200 meters from the beach, this B&B offers great value for money with cozy rooms and a charming terrace.
- O Castelo Guesthouse – Perfect for couples, you can enjoy breakfast overlooking the ocean from your private terrace.
- Algar Seco Parque – This hotel is a great choice at any time of year with all rooms offering a private balcony, fully equipped kitchen and a wood-burning stove.
- Terraços De Benagil – With a clifftop location you’ll get stunning views from a range of private apartments, the garden terrace and swimming pool.
- Hotel Faro and Beach Club – This resort offers the best of both worlds with a central Faro location, and a free shuttle to its own beach club.
- Sunlight House – Charming pastel rooms, a spacious terrace and handy location make this a perfect romantic stay.
- Hostel Casa d’Alagoa – Choose from budget dorms or private rooms in a renovated historical building in the Old Town.
- The Pocket Pillow House – This clean and bright guesthouse is simple but charmingly decorated, with a location in the entertainment district.
How Far Is Everything from Each Other on This Algarve Itinerary?
This is the great thing about the Algarve. Whether you have 3 days or 7 days in the Algarve, everything is relatively close so you don’t need to panic that you won’t get to finish everything.
Faro to Sagres is only 1.5 hours! Pretty much everything on this itinerary is between those two spots with the exception of a few trails north of Sagres. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time BUT there’s one key thing…
How to Get Around the Algarve
There’s great news here! The Algarve is SO easy to get around…
*wait for it*
…When you have your own car.
This could be a plus or a total bummer, depending on when you get here and how you like to travel.
The car hires in the Algarve get cheaper during the shoulder and off-season.
I’m talking less than $200 for a whole month cheap (what I paid in 2018)! But during high season, you’ll easily pay more than five times that.
If you’re going with friends, the burden of the cost won’t burn too bad, but if you’re a couple or solo, it could hurt your pockets.
The bad news about the Algarve is, it’s kind of difficult to get around without your own car.
Sure there are buses that can take you from city to city but then you’ll need to hire private taxis or book tours to every attraction and sometimes, it’s not even possible.
There are no tours at the trails, you’ll have to get a taxi there.
Once you’re done, you’ll need to call one to get you as this isn’t New York City, where you can just wave one down, plus, some of these spots are a bit in the middle of nowhere.
Do I NEED to Rent a Car?
I think a car rental in the Algarve would be the smartest choice and the best way you’ll be able to get around on this Algarve itinerary. Without it, some of these spots might be a bit difficult or near impossible.
If you want to surf, it’s essentially impossible not to have your own vehicle. How will you get to the beaches with your board?
Some beaches have board rentals at them, but you’d then need to rent daily as opposed to renting for a few days/a week at a time which is a cheaper option.
Of course, if you’re learning, you’re likely going to book with a surf school that will take care of the transportation for you, so that’s no worries.
The BIGGEST benefit to having your own car though is making it a better journey overall.
There’s plenty of random beauty to stumble on, and a road trip is the easiest and most epic way to see south Portugal’s paradise.
These are just some points to think about when thinking about how to get around the Algarve.
How to Get to The Algarve: Faro or Lisbon to the Algarve?
The good thing about arriving in Faro is that you’re already in the Algarve! However, most would probably find the cheapest flights coming into Lisbon.
Lisbon to the Algarve is about 3 hours driving to where the Algarve starts but if you’re going further south, it will take 4 hours or so.
It really depends on what airport you’re coming into and where you’re going.
You could start your Algarve itinerary at the top of the Algarve and then work your way down towards Faro or start in Faro and work your way toward Lisbon.
The only foreseeable issue is whether or not you want to pay the extra money to return your car to a different location. That would be something to look into.
Otherwise, it would be best to backtrack with your car to return it to the same spot. Lisbon to the Algarve would probably be what is most comfortable for people visiting as it’s where most flights go.
Tips for Renting a Car in the Algarve:
- Keep in mind there are two ways to get from Lisbon to the Algarve: the coastal road or the toll road. Obviously, the toll road will be quicker, but it also costs about 20€ one way.
- Avoid driving in Lisbon. It’s pretty hectic, and some of the intersections are INSANE.
- Get the toll pass with your car rental so everything is charged electronically. It is easier and faster.
- Double check if you get car insurance with your travel insurance or your credit card! They are VERY good at guilt-tripping you into getting crazy different insurance plans. If you’re covered, there’s no need to purchase more (We are covered by our credit card, which is another reason why we get the car rentals in Portugal for cheaper). Check my article about the best travel credit cards, it could save you tons of money.
- Always, no matter where you are in the world, take pictures and videos of the rental vehicle before driving off. Point out every single tiny flaw.
Hiking, surfing, and beach bumming.
It’s a simple list of activities to provide visitors with, but man is it impressive! You won’t get tired of the phenomenal views that the Algarve offers, it’s impossible!
What are you adding to your Algarve itinerary? Which things to do in the Algarve are you most looking forward to?
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!