Getting out for a week is always a nice treat to yourself. Since I hadn't been to Portugal before, it was quiet clear, where I would spend my spring vacation. So I bought a plane ticket and started my 9-day trip to the Algarve region.
If you plan on going on a trip to the Algarve, I would recommend getting a rental car like I did. It makes things so much easier as many places can only be accessed by car ond not by public transportation.
The Algarve is a popular vacation destination among europeans, especially the sountern coast. The region itself covers southern Portugal and part of the western coast. When I travelled there in March it was still offseason. This is great since there aren't too many other tourists around, making it less crowded and more quiet. On the other side there are some places that are still closed down until the regular season starts. Weatherwise it is good already. Long sunny days with temperatures up in the 20ies, once the sun is gone it gets cold fast though.
At the bottom you can find a list with all my accomondation, restaurants, bars etc., as well as a map with alle the places I visited.
Places to visit
Faro was where my journey would start and come to an end. In my early planing I decided to stay here for three nights and to be honest you don't need more time here. I booked a nice airbnb just 10 minutes north of the old town area. If you haven't checked out airbnb yet, i highly recommend you to read my article on how to use it. Faro is most likely the most known city in southern Portugal, mostly because it has the only international airport. If you come here by plane, you won't get around Faro. As many tourist leave the city right away for their outside hotels you won't find yourself in too crowded places here.
The city itself consists of an old town centererd around the harbour area. the farther you move out the more you will find more modern and higher building. There are many appartment buildings. All in all it doesn't look to great here. In general the city could use some fresh paint in my opinion. The city center in the old town is really nice to walk through. You have old and narrow alleys, some nice churches and old buldings. From the harbour you have a great view over the Laguna, which is part of the national nature preserve called Ria Formosa. If you want you can go on a boat tour. The laguna itself is nice to watch the sunset.
I spent one day on the island Ilha do Farol, one of the islands forming the outer border to the Atlantic Ocean of the Laguna. The Island got its name from the lighthouse. It has a small fishermans village, which features many guest houses these days, some nice restaurants and a big beach. And the lighthouse of course, I highly recommend going up there, it is free and the view is stunning!
When you visit the old town you should pay the churches a little visit. They charge a little fee for entering, but it is worth it. For once there is the Catherdal of Faro in the old town. You can walk up on the tower, which gives you a nice view over the city. Another church I recommend is the Igreja do Carmo. It is a little bit more outside the old town to the north. It includes the so called Chapel of Bones. And no, they don't mean that literally.
Albufeira is one of the most known tourist towns. It is about 40 minutes west of Faro by car. Like all the little tourist towns it is right on the ocean with a nice, long beach on the shoreline. When there isn't a beach the shore consists of steep cliffs. Albufeira even featueres an escallator to go own the cliff to enter the promenade. The promenade is just like you would expect it to be. Many different shops, mostly souvenir, cafes, restaurants and he usual essential shops. I stopped here on my way over from Faro to Lagos.
If you are not down for this all you need to do is walk in one of the little alleys. They are beautiful and you won't run into many other peple here.Just keep in mind that no matter how narrow they might be, cars are still allowed in most of them, so you might see yourself confronted with a car coming yourway squezing itself through the alley.
If you don't plan on staying here for the night then you probably don't need more than 3 hours here discovering the town, enjoying the sun on the beach or stroll through the little shops.
On your way out I highly recommend you to stop at Ponta da Baleeira, which is about a 5 minute car drive to the west. It is a small observation point right on the cliffs. Make sure to catch the nice view from here, but be careful: there are no barriers and the cliffs are fairly high.
Praia de Carvoeiro
My second stop on my way to Lagos was at Praia de Carvoeiro. This little tourist town is located pretty much halfway between Albufeira and Lagos. It is a small town, mostly visited and accupied by tourists. I first stopped at Praia do Paraiso, a small beach surrounded by high cliffs. There are steep stairs you have to walk down, but down there it is beautiful. It is located about 5 minutes west by foot from the main beach.
The town itself features everything you would expect from a tourist town; restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. It is nice here for a short stop to enjoy the beach and have a little snack. On the east side of the beach tehre is a boardwalk up on the cliffs and some really nice photospots. Unfortunatelly I only read about it afterwards, so I will make sure to include it into my next trip.
For the second half of my trip I decided to stay in a nice airbnb in the old town of Lagos. To be honest, when I got there I was so glad I only rented a small sized car. The little alleys are so narrow you can only use them oneway. For a moment I thought that my navigations app had screwed up on me. But that wasn't the case. I was even able to find a parking spot not to far from my accomondation. For five nights I stayed with Maria at her place, you can find the link on the bottom of the article.
The city itself centers around the old town in the south and spreads to the north. The city is a very old harbour toen and has its flair. The oldtown itself has many small streets as mentioned before, but also a nice pedestrian zone with many shops, restaurants and cafes. If you are not staying in Lagos, still make sure to stop here for a few hours.
South of the city you have a typical coast with many cliffs and small beaches. Most of them can be accessed by narrow stairs along the cliff or are connected through little tunnels. Dependeing on the tide you can walk through these. From the beaches you can watch many boats and kajaks making their way to Ponta da Piedade, a cliff formation in the south. You can book these tours wit many operators on the promenade.
Lagos is devided by a canal which connects the harbour to the ocean. While the main city lies on the southern side of the canal, the northern side ffeatures many guesthouses and the wide, long beach which reaches up to the town of Alvor. On the south side you can alk along the cnal on the promenade. It is a really nice walk, especially since there is a daily market where you can by some nice souvenirs. In the Algarve there are many products made from cork, so you can find some really cool souvenirs.
If you don't want to walk all around the harbour area to get to the other side you can take a bridge in between. From there it is a ten minute walk to the big beach.
Ponta da Piedade
As mentioned before the Ponta da Piedade is located south of Lagos. It is a stunning cliffformation formed over the years. You can easily get here by car, from Lagos it is onl a 10-15 minute ride. From the parking lot you get down to the cove via steep stairs. Make sure to come here rather early, as it gets real crowded here around noon.
The cliff formation is really beatiful. Down here you can even go on a spontaneous boat tour. I didn't go on one, but I am sure it is a great experience. You can walk on top of the cliffs and get down to some small beachs on many places. The view is stunning and some of the beaches are really nice as well.
Burgau is a little fishermen village located west of Lagos. Due to its size it has a charming flair. When you enter the beach you see some fisherboats and many cages for crabs. Like many other coastal vilages, tourism became a part of the city here too. Unlike the bigger towns it is more restriceted to guest houses and no big hotels here.
I stopped here on my way over to the Westcoast, there is a nice restaurant right at the beach called Beach Bar Burgau with some decent food, you can find the link below. If you are on the road and are looking for a short stop to male for a lunch break, this is a good place to do your stop.
Fortaleza de Sagres
The Fort of Sagres sits right on the cliff on the south coast. The cliffs are dropping down about 30 meters. The fortress is from the 16th century and functions as a museum today. It features a nice little chappel, the outer fortress wall and a great walk along the coast line. Bring a jacket, it gets windy out here!
You have a great view from the cliffs, and you can already see Cabo de Sao Vicente, the most southern west point of continental Europe. A nice point I discovered on my way around was a small, round wall formation, I guess one might call it a labyrinth. In its center there is a whole in the ground from whereyou can hear water and wind down on the cliffs.
Praia do Beliche
On my way over to Cabo de Sao Vicente I stopped at a small beach, right in between the cliffs. As usual you have to walk down a steep pair of stairs. Like many beaches on these coasts it is liked by surfers du to the waves the beach droppes on the beach. The parking lot was full of surfer vans. If you are on the way over and got some time, just make the stop.
Cabo de Sao Vicente
The most southwestern point of continental europe. This point is a must visit when you are in the area. Earlier the day I whished I had changed in shorter pants, but now I was just glad I was wearing my jeans and that I brought another jacket. The wind gets really chilly around here. Looking on the ocean it is an interessting feeling, that there is water for sucha long distance before you will finally hit shore again in America. My recommendation would be to come here for the sunset. Be there on time, many people will get here. On the parking lot there are some food stands where you can get a small dinner like the the last Bratwurst before America.
Most people will gather on the rocks right of the parking lot when facing the lighthouse. From there You will have a good view with nothing but water in your way. However, I advise you to go into the other direction. Just south of the parling lot there is a small trail right along the coast line. Here are many great points to sit, plus you will have the lighthouse in your sunset picture.
Beautiful, isn't it?
Praia dos Três Irmaos
A nice place to spot by is the bay Praia dos Três Irmaos. It forms the eastern end of the long beach of Alvor, which is about 6 kilometers long. It ends in a nice cliff formations you can walk through along the beach. At the end you can walk up the stairs to the top of the caves. From there you also have a nice view over the coast. To the West you can see the city of Lagos. It is just left of the parking lot when looking at the ocean. There is even a little café built right in the cliffs. Unfortunatelly it wasn't open yet due to off season. If you are more into beaching you can just go to thee right, there is a ton of beach waiting for you.
Praia de Benagil
Probably the spot I was looking most forward to and by far the most impressing was the Benagil Cave. It is an underground cave formed by the sea over many years. It can only be reached from the waterside through two openings. What makes it even more impressing is the large hole in the ceiling. You can walk to it on top of the cliff. Though it is fenced you can still get a nice look inside and of course over the scenery itself.
Since you can only get inside the cave on the water way I rented a small stand up paddeling board. It was as cheap as 15€/h. From the beach it is only a hundret meters to the cave. some people even swim here, but the water was definatelly to cold for me to do that. plus I wanted to bring my camera in a waterproofbag, so the board was the perfect opportunity. Many people also go on boat trips. I am sure they are worth it, though you can not leave the boat to get on shore in the cave.
When I got inside there were many people inside already. Luckily most of them left a few minutes after and for a moment I even was alone. It is just breataking standin inside this sphere like cave. When I got there it was high tide with some waves, so I got a little wet when I got onshore. It probably gets easier when it is low tide.
Both in Faro and Lagos I booked my accomendations through airbnb. If you haven't checked out airbnb yet I advise you to read my post about it.
My place in Faro was located just 10 minutes by food north of the harbour. It was a provate room in an appartment which has two more rooms up for hosting, so there might be other guestst around. Parking was relatively easy to find down on the street. The room features a balcony from where you have a nice view over the city towards the coast.
You can find the appartment right here
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In Lagos I stayed at a nice place right in the old town. The host Maria is really nice and obligingly. She has two rooms up for rent. Many places in town can be reached by foot, it is just a two minute walk to the promenade or treets with shops and restaurants. Parking can be a little tough dependingon the time you get there. The streets are really narrow, so you are better of with a small car.
You can find the appartment right here
New to airbnb? Sign up through this link and save 25€ on your first trip
Find other accomendations on Booking.com
Restaurants and Tips
Everybody needs to grab a bite once in a while, right? So I collected some restaurant tips for you.
Delicious food with a nice view over the harbour and promeande
Beach Bar Burgau
Restaurant right at the beach, can get quiet busy around noon
Not excactly a restaurant, but a nice concktail Bar with a decent 50% daily Happy Hour
Most places accept payments with credit cards, however AmericanExpress is taken rarely. It is also got to have some cash on hand as here some places that only accept cash though.
Be advised that you have to pay fees for the motorway A22. When getting a rental car you need to get a transpoder. So if you want to be able to take the motorway, which saves you some time over longer distances I highly advise you getting it for the extra money.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through this link it will grant me a provision withouth raising your price. Thank you for supporting this page.
Hey! My name is Max, I am a 24 years old flight instructor from Germany. My passion is all about seeing the world, both on the ground and from above.
Life goal: Have visited 100 countries by the age of 45!
Countries visited so far: 10
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