1. Cliff walk at Praia da Marinha
Arguably the most picturesque beach in Portugal; Marinha Beach and its surrounding cliffs are one of the things you must do in the Algarve. The beach is a stretch of soft sand surrounded by limestone cliffs and turquoise waters.
But the real highlight here is the path along the cliffsides giving you jaw-dropping views. Follow a 1.5-kilometer walk where you pass the Arco Natural, the so-called heart-shaped rock, which is actually an optical illusion towards the popular Benagil Cave.
2. Algarve’s beautiful beaches
The main reason for visiting the Algarve is the endless number of beautiful beaches. There’s something for every kind of beach lover, from protected coves with limestone caves to long sweeping white-sand bays. The beaches that lie close to Lagos are beautiful for swimming and relaxing but for excellent surfing, head a bit further out of town.
Praia de Dona Ana
One of the closest beaches to Lagos town, Praia de Dona Ana, is popular for locals and visitors. It’s a medium-sized yellow sand beach with beautiful calm turquoise waters shadowed by the Algarves’ token limestone cliffs.
Because the beach is sheltered and the water is calm, it’s perfect for snorkeling and swimming. What’s more, it’s described as one of the best beaches in the Algarve!
Portugal road trip
Praia do Camilo
A bit further up the coast from Dona Ana is the sandy paradise of Praia do Camilo. Discover its crystal clear emerald and turquoise ocean and the incredible rock formations that surround the beach. Over time, the weather has created holes in the cliffs, forming natural tunnels and archways through other beaches.
Praia do Vau
The city of Portimão owns its own set of incredible beaches. Mostly occupied by locals instead of tourists with many secluded hidden beaches to be found.
Besides Albufeira’s good party scene and a charming old town, it also has beautiful beaches to offer. Wide, beaches with relatively calm waters for a lovely swim. You might want to avoid the high-season (June – Aug) as these beaches will be packed with people.
3. A Day Trip to Ferragudo and Carvoeiro
Ferragudo is a charming fishing village that has kept its traditional charm with its whitewashed houses, narrow streets covered with flowers, and a fishing boats-filled harbor. Bring your camera because the town is very picturesque. It also is a great place to sit in the sun and enjoy some pastries. Ferragudo is a 40-minute drive east of Lagos.
The picture-perfect village named Carvoeiro lies 10 minutes away from Ferragudo. Carvoeiro’s small beach and its traditional houses are tucked away in between two towering cliffs.
Different from Ferragudo, Carvoeiro is very lively with a lot of good restaurants and shops. Tip: Get a fantastic lunch at Organic.
4. Benagil Caves
The otherworldly Benagil Cave is one of the unique places in the Algarve. The cave is created by natural erosion, with a worn circle in the ceiling providing a unique light incidence.
Visiting the cave is only advisable by SUP that you can rent at the beach or by joining a boat tour. Although it’s a very short distance from Benagil beach, swimming is inadvisable due to quickly changing tides.
5. Algarve’s rough West Coast
The fresh breeze and rough coastline of the West Coast of the Algarve are something not to miss. The enormous sand beaches are rougher and often much quieter!
Estrada da Praia
Follow the scenic loop named Estrada da Praia. The dirt road takes you along 10 different viewpoints indicated by letters ranging from A to J. The road is only accessible by regular cars and not allowed to access with a motorhome.
Praia do Amado
Praia do Amado is a huge sweeping bay backed by rolling green hills and earthy red cliffs. The high winds here make it a very popular spot for water sports fanatics, particularly for surfers, with many international surf competitions.
Not far away from Praia do Amado lies the stunning 3km long beach of Bordeira. Follow the wooden walkways across the flat cliffs and down to the wide, open beach. Because of its huge size, the beach always feels quiet and secluded.
6. Discover the Algarve’s surfing culture
Incredible beaches, high winds, and waves of the Algarve make it a hub for all kind of watersport. Most popular are surfing and kitesurfing, and there’s a ton of schools to choose from.
On the other hand, the smaller more protected coves around Lagos have beautiful calm water, perfect for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. This is a popular way to discover the caves and cliffs that make the Algarve famous. Not only that, but there is also the chance of seeing some amazing marine life, like dolphins!
7. Visit Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is one of the most well-known things to do in the Algarve. These rocky cliffs offer breathtaking views across both sides of the coastline, all the way down to Sagres. Enjoy the views, or descend the many steep stairs down to the water’s edge. However, the best way to admire the rock formations and caves is to see them from the water by joining a boat or kayak tour.
This tiny but charming surfers village Sagres is home to the most southwestern point of Europe. At this same location stands the impressive Cabo de São Vicente lighthouse. Sagres has a handful of sunbathing beaches, but it has rougher waves at most times of the year due to its location.
9. Shop Ceramics
If you don’t know Portuguese ceramics yet; They are beautiful. The designs are a blend of traditional and modern crafts and are available in any kind of color and design. Take gifts or even better: tableware for your own house. Our favorite place is Ceramica Paraiso. Note: Take cash with you as there is no option to pay by card. (Jan 2021)
How to visit the Algarve
Faro is the main airport in the Algarve, this is where you will arrive from any international flight to the Algarve.
To move around the Algarve easily, we highly recommend hiring a car or a campervan! A campervan is a great option if you want to save on accommodation, and have surfboards or other equipment to carry with you.
Best Time to visit the Algarve
September/October is the best time to visit the Algarve. It’s at the end of the main tourist summer season so things are much quieter and cheaper. This means you can enjoy the beauty of the coastline with few tourists but still have nice warm sunny days. Alternatively, April and May are a great time to visit too. Be aware that the water in Portugal is pretty cold all year round!
Where to Stay in the Algarve
The Algarve is a traveler’s paradise, especially for the ones who love to surf or spend time at the beach in the European summer. Because of this, there are lots of hostels, guesthouses, and Airbnbs for a very reasonable price throughout the entire south coast. (See all hotels here)
If you have a campervan in Portugal, there are lots of great spots to park up on the clifftops outside. Use the park4night app to find all campsites including reviews and amenities.
Salema Eco Camp
An absolute campsite gem where we personally spend way longer than intended was Salema Eco Camp. It’s a stunning hill and forest area with a relaxed atmosphere and a fantastic trendy restaurant on site. It’s advisable to book this campsite in advance as they are usually fully booked throughout the entire year!