Walking in the Algarve

From the coasts to the hills, the Algarve has thousands of kilometres of beautiful walking trails that span from the Spanish border in the east to Portugal’s version of Land’s End at Europe’s most south-westerly point.

Taking in two natural parks on the way, as well as beautifully rustic seaside scenes and hilltop vistas, walking in the Algarve can be something spectacular. It’s well set-up too, with the 300-kilometre Via Algarviana trail running from eastern inland Alcoutim to the western coastal tip at Cape St Vincent. This well-maintained path is suitable for cycling as well as hiking.

Or you could beat your own drum and make a track through forests of fragrant eucalyptus and cork, past the forgotten monasteries and castles of the Algarve.

A far-reaching path network

The Via Algarviana takes in outstanding areas such as the Costa Vicentina Natural Park of hills, marshlands and beaches, and the mountain ranges of Serra do Caldeirao and Serra de Monchique.

No matter where you’re staying in the Algarve there’s access to the wide-reaching trail.

If you’re holidaying in the Albufeira area, head north past Loule and the hills and cork trees of Serra do Caldeirao await you. Known for its abundance of bird varieties, you can join the Via Algarviana here and spot the fontes – traditional water sources that are dotted around the region, featuring intricate taps and fountains.

Or from Carvoeiro and Lagos, the thickly wooded mountain range of Serra de Monchique is within easy reach. Full of deciduous oaks and chestnut woods, a visit in autumn will provide some rich colours for your holiday snaps.

Head into the town of Monchique itself and you can visit the spa of Caldas de Monchique, where the Romans built baths to utilise the natural spring waters. Nowadays you can make use of them by indulging yourself in a thermal treatment.

If you’re up for a more vigorous walk, the highest point in the Algarve can be climbed at Foia to a peak of 902 metres. On a clear day, the views across both the south and west coasts are staggering. Full details of the trail can be found on the Via Algarviana website or the official route booklet can be purchased from Algarve tourist offices.

Short coastal walks

Even if you don’t want to veer too far from the coast on your Algarve holiday, there are plenty of beautiful walks that take you between resorts so you can explore your surroundings.

Alvor has an accessible boardwalk that passes across the beach and dunes, and in just over an hour you can be in Kite Surfers Bay to watch the colourful sails.

For a spot of bird-watching, take the short walk from Armacao de Pera across the dune boardwalk of Praia Grand beach towards Salgados.

You’ll pass two natural wetland areas where you can see rare water birds. It seems more remote than it actually is here, and there’s a kiosk in the centre of the beach where you can stop for refreshments.

The Algarve is known for its dramatic limestone cliffs and a good way to take them in is to walk along the Carvoeiro coastline. As well as the cliff and ocean scenery, there are a number of sinkholes along the route from when rain dissolves limestone over time and forms opening into caverns.

They’re safe to walk around as long as you stick to the right side of the wooden fences. Starting at Algar Seco, on the edge of Carvoeiro, head east towards Val Centienas and simply keep to the coastal path.

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