Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve is the main tourist destination of Portugal because of its beaches. Besides being some of the most beautiful in the world, the weather is almost always good and the water temperature is more pleasant than in the rest of the country. But it's more than just beaches. The region has around half a million inhabitants, of which around 100 thousand are of foreign nationality (countries from central and northern Europe) but in the summer months the population reaches 2 million.
In the Algarve, there are also cities with a rich historical and cultural heritage; villages and towns that have escaped mass tourism, incredible hiking trails; various protected areas and a natural park elected one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.
10 Places to visit in Algarve
1. Costa Vicentina / Sagres
It is the wildest coastline of the Algarve. It is part of a natural park - the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, stretching from Odeceixe to Burgau. It includes beautiful beaches, several marked hiking trails, small villages and two remarkable sites from the history of the Portuguese Discoveries: Cape St. Vincent and Sagres Fortress.
2. Ponta da Piedade
This cape with its lacy cliffs, algae and caves is one of the ex-libris of the Algarve. You can admire it by walking along the wooden walkways or, better still, by taking a boat or kayak trip. In this way, as well as avoiding the numerous tourists and "instagrammers", you will have the chance to explore the interior of the caves and discover small deserted beaches hidden between the cliffs.
It is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve, not only for the beauty of its beaches, but also for its historical importance, especially at the time of the Discoveries. Located opposite Africa, it became the point of departure and arrival of the ships that ventured along the coast of that continent.
4. Route of the 7 hanging valleys
This 6 km trail (12 km round trip) between Praia da Marinha and Praia do Vale Centeanes was elected one of the best in Europe. It runs parallel to the sea, on top of limestone cliffs sculpted by rain and sea over millions of years, passing several beaches hidden between the cliffs.
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail passes over Algar de Benagil, the most famous and probably the most beautiful cave in the Algarve. If you want to visit inside, you can take a boat or rent a kayak or a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) at Benagil Beach. To avoid the crowds, it is best to visit early in the morning, on a weekday and off-season.
5. Loulé Litoral Walkways
This pedestrian and cycling trail (linear, 5 km) is located in the western part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Divided into two parts - the São Lourenço Trail and the Quinta do Lago Trail - it is one of the best ways of getting to know not only the flora and fauna of this protected área.
The capital of the Algarve hides one of the most beautiful historical centres of the region, known as "vila adentro", which justifies a visit.
7. Benagil Caves
Another must-see is Algar de Benagil, in Carvoeiro. This place is only accessible by sea but is well worth a visit! You can take a boat trip to this ocean cave and get to know one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
8. Culatra Island
Culatra Island is one of the 5 islands that make up the Ria Formosa. It lies opposite the town of Olhão and includes the fishing villages of Culatra and Farol, as well as beautiful beaches with kilometres of deserted sand, even in August.
9. Armona Island
Like Culatra Island, Armona Island has no cars, no roads and no hotels. Apart from a small inhabited area, it has a wild nature and the beaches are paradisiacal.
10. Barril Beach
Situated on Ilha de Tavira, this is one of the most surprising beaches in the Ria Formosa, either because of its access in a small train, or because of the cemetery of anchors in its dunes.
How to get There?
Faro Airport is located 7km from the centre of Faro, the capital of the Algarve (about 15 minutes).
Buses: The ticket costs 2,22€ and can be bought directly from the driver. You can also opt for a daily ticket which costs 5,29€ and allows you to travel on the buses for 24 hours.
Taxi: this is the most convenient and fastest way to get to the centre. The taxi rank is located in the arrivals hall on the right. A taxi ride between the airport and Faro city costs an average of 10 euros (they work 24 hours a day).