One week is the perfect amount of time to be spent around Algarve region. It is ideal for travellers that like to combine some beach time and discovering interesting and unique new places, which Algarve has plenty to offer. If possible avoid visiting in late July/ early August as, especially Lagos and surroundings, gets really crowded. And its tiny, narrow streets do not help the cramped feeling. So any other time would be perfect.
Ideally you would find accommodation in Faro or surroundings to cover the eastern and in Lagos for the western part. And the best part for budget travellers is that along entire coast – from east to west and vice versa, cities of Algarve are linked by very frequent train connections.
Faro (2-3 days) – You must book one day for discovering national park Ria Formosa! Take a guided boat trip on which you will be informed about all different and endemic bird species. After that quick lecture you will visit two islands (Ilha is island in Portuguese). Firstly, a touristy and more crowded Ilha Farol, which got its name from lighthouse standing there. On the island you can actually rent some vacation houses and spent your entire holiday there. I would probably go nuts after a day, but some people actually enjoy that. In most boat trips you will visit also Ilha Deserta, which got its name from being mostly deserted. There are no buildings, all visitors arrive by boat and usually leave by the end of the day. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be all alone on the island but it could be a nice approximation. Island is really tiny and you can cover it quickly so you have some time to jump into the ocean. If you still have some energy left you can wander around city centre as there are some nice sights as well. Just be aware that during the summer months, temperatures can rise up to about 35-40 °C. Wear some sunblock and stay hydrated!
Next day catch a train to the east and visit adorable, small fishing village called Tavira. It has charming city centre, where you can grab a coffee and observe people wandering around. Tavira has some very inspiring history – it was an important Moorish defensive port and a major port during the 14th century. For the most beautiful sights you will have to climb up the hill and follow the signs to the castle and the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo. Church is rather small, but the façade is almost completely white which makes it quite remarkable. The castle is pretty much in ruins, there are some ruins of two towers and a fortress wall. If you climb up some very steep stairs with no fence you can enjoy amazing views over the village. After you are done discovering Tavira catch a ferry to beach called Ilha de Tavira. Departure point is in a vicinity of Tavira’s centre. You can buy a return ticket as you will probably be returning the same day. On Ilha de Tavira is one of the most beautiful beaches on the eastern part of Algarve region. Kilometres of sand will greet you but water can get rather ‘’unclean’’ during the day.
If you choose you can expand this itinerary for another day, you can spend a day on one of many beaches around Algarve or you can continue your trip and proceed to Lagos.
Lagos (3-4 days) – you should spend one day discovering amazing beaches around Lagos. This place is famous mostly due to its unbelievable cliffs and sandy beaches lying below them. Scenery is additionally complemented by fascinating rock formations rising from the ocean. This ensures some really unbelievable views. Many beaches are around the town of Lagos, some famous and many smaller, less crowded, but inaccessible from above. However, you can visit the beaches coming from the ocean. If you start your walking tour in the town of Lagos, same more known beaches will come across as follows: Praia da Batata, Praia do Pinhao, Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo. If you continue your tour from here, you will eventually come to surreal sight of Ponta de Piedade. Around that point are many magnificent rock formations. They are forming a system of water caves, which you can visit on several boat or kayak tours that are offered in Lagos. As you come here by foot, you can observe the formations from above and take some stunning photos. From Lagos to Ponta de Piedade is around 3 km. You have to take into account that you also have to go back. If you feel you still have some energy, don’t stop at Ponta de Piedade but proceed with your walking. You will come across many of the deserted, or less crowded beaches I have mentioned. Somewhere in between this tour I would deeply suggest you take a quick (more or less) dip into the ocean.
Next day take a trip to Sagres and Cabo Sao Vicente. Sagres is located at the top of the cliffs and beneath is a beautiful beach, where water is actually noticeably cleaner than in Lagos. Enjoying some beach time is therefore a quite tempting option. Sagres is a very unique place and it can really be called the end of the world. The Sagres fortess is located at the cape and is completely, in every direction, protected by walls. All you can see around you is the ocean. Wander around this magnificent place and when you have absorbed the uniqueness of the place and the wonderful horizons ahead of you continue to Cabo Sao Vicente. There is frequent bus connection from Sagres to Cabo Sao Vicente. The cape is the most southwestern part of mainland Europe. It is actually quite similar to Cabo da Roca, the most western part of the Europe, which have I already written about. However, Cabo Sao Vicente is considerably less crowded. If you’re lucky you can catch a bus from Cabo Sao Vicente directly to Lagos. Connection is not as frequent as the Cabo Sao Vicente – Sagres one.
There are so many beaches in Lagos that you should spend at least one day there!
Here we have ended our discovering of Algarve region. If you enjoyed reading as much as I loved writing this post let me know in the comment! 😉
Until the next gathering, hopefully sometime soon.