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Algarve Road Trip Itinerary: 7 Days in Southern Portugal

Algarve Road Trip Itinerary

Portugal’s southernmost region is famous for its dramatic limestone cliffs, fresh seafood, and white-washed fishing villages. With more than 100 beaches, Algarve is a premier beach holiday destination in the summer. And in spring and fall, there’s no better place for coastal walking. To help you discover the best of the Algarve, we’ve put together this road trip itinerary, which combines our top experiences from two trips to the region. 

This one week Algarve itinerary is designed as a road trip because a car is very helpful in getting around the region. However, it’s a means to an end, not the end itself. 

Who’s this itinerary for? Our Algarve road trip route is for anyone who loves uncovering hidden gems, relishes walks by the sea, and seeks peaceful places to stay. 

How to Get to Algarve, Portugal

We recommend flying to Faro Airport. Faro is the capital of the Algarve region. The airport has many connections to Lisbon and other cities in Europe.

Driving in Algarve, Portugal

Driving in Algarve isn’t difficult. The temperament on the road is quite friendly (nothing like driving in Italy, or Germany). One thing to be aware of is the electronic toll roads. Portugal has a wholly electronic system that records your use of and payment for using a toll road. Because we rented our car in Portugal, the rental car company was able to activate (with our request) an automated method of payment (using a transponder device) for whenever we drove the A22. If you’re traveling with a foreign license plate vehicle, you can purchase and activate a prepaid toll card, or purchase pre-defined journeys online. For more info on toll roads and payment, read this article.

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Algarve Itinerary - 7 Days in Algarve, Portugal

Algarve Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1: Arrive in Faro, Ferragudo
  • Day 2: Trail of Headlands, Carvoeiro, Praia dos Caneiros
  • Day 3: Praia da Marinha, Benagil Beach and Cave, Praia Nova, Armação de Pêra
  • Day 4: Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo, Lagos
  • Day 5: Western Algarve, Burgau, Sagres, Costa Vicentina
  • Day 6: Olhão, Tavira and São Brás de Alportel, or Beach Day
  • Day 7: Faro
Resources to help you plan an epic trip to Portugal:
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Praia dos Caneiros, Algarve, Portugal- One Week Itinerary

Algarve Road Trip Map

7 Days in Algarve
Algarve Road Trip Destinations
  • Day 1: Ferragudo
  • Day 2: Trail of Headlands
  • Day 3: Algarve Beaches
  • Day 4: Lagos
  • Day 5: Western Algarve
  • Day 6: Historic Towns
  • Day 7: Faro & around
Ferragudo, Day 1 Algarve Road Trip Itinerary, Portugal

Day 1: Arrive in Faro, Drive to Ferragudo

Faro, Ferragudo Fishing Village

After arriving in the Faro Airport and picking up your rental car, drive west to Ferragudo.

Explore Ferragudo

Ferragudo is a whitewashed fishing village, situated at the mouth of the Arade River. Small fishing boats bob in the river and men grill fish outside. You’ll find that life here seems pleasantly sedate. This charming Algarve village retains its character with great ease. There are no tacky tourist shops or hideous megahotels here. 

The day you arrive, head directly to Ferragudo and explore the town on foot. As you explore the town’s windy and scenic streets, you’ll walk by several fish restaurants and snack bars. For seafood, head to A Ria or Borda Do Cais. A great non-Portuguese option is Sen Tonkin.

After exploring the town, you can continue walking to Praia da Angrinha and to Fort of São João do Arade

Stay in Ferragudo

Ferragudo is an excellent base for exploring Algarve for a few days. We recommend staying here at least 2 nights, though 3 would be even better. 

The best place to stay in Ferragudo is Caneiros Luxury House & Suites. This boutique hotel is located within walking distance to Praia dos Caneiros, Ferragudo’s most scenic beach and the starting point for the Trail of Headlands hike. 

We loved the comfort of our room, the professionalism of the staff, the overall design of the hotel, and our daily breakfast on the terrace. We have nothing but the highest praise for this Ferragudo accommodation. 

Book your stay at Caneiros Luxury House & Suites (booking.com). 

Look for accommodation in Ferragudo.

 
Trail of Headlands, Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal Road Trip

Day 2: Ferragudo to Carvoeiro

Praia dos Caneiros, Trail of Headlands, Rei das Praias

Walk from Ferragudo to Carvoeiro – Trail of Headlands

This almost secret coastal trail takes you from Praia dos Caneiros to the beautiful seaside resort town of Carvoeiro. This is a spectacular walking trail that isn’t well known, and therefore blissfully quiet. If you’re attempting this in summer, get an early start. You’ll be roasted in the midday sun if you leave any later than 8:30 am. In spring and fall, temperatures are mild, so you can start whenever you want. 

  • Trailhead: Praia dos Caneiros 
  • Type of Trail: Return, point-to-point (with taxi return)
  • Distance: 6 km one-way (12 km return)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time Needed: 2 hours one-way (5 hours return with lunch break)

Eat Lunch in Carvoeiro

The headlands coastal hike ends in Carvoeiro. Enjoy the town’s enchanting beach, and when you’re hungry grab lunch in town. For a healthy and fueling lunch option, head to Earth Café. To get back to Ferragudo, simply walk back the way you came. If it’s too hot, or you’re too tired, grab a taxi. 

Sunset Dinner at Rei das Praias

After a day out in the sun, it’s time to relax at Praia dos Caneiros. You can grab a drink at the one and only beach restaurant Rei das Praias and watch the sunset. If the price tag doesn’t scare you, we recommend staying here for dinner (reservation recommended). 

Stay in Ferragudo

Stay a second night in Ferragudo.

Book your stay at Caneiros Luxury House & Suites (booking.com). 

Look for accommodation in Ferragudo.

 
Armação de Pêra, Algarve Road Trip Itinerary

Day 3: Algarve Beaches

Praia da Marinha, Benagil Beach and Cave, Praia Nova, Armação de Pêra

Day 3 of your Algarve itinerary takes you to the most beautiful beaches in Southern Portugal. We recommend spending the day hopping between Algarve’s beaches. If you’re keen on walking, you can also add the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail to your itinerary. 

Praia da Marinha

This was our favorite place to swim along the southern Algarve coast. You’re sheltered by the golden limestone cliffs and the water is just glorious. It’s a short downhill walk to the beach from the parking lot. There’s also a small café located at the beach. 

Walk from Praia da Marinha to Praia de Vale Centianes

The celebrated Seven Hanging Valleys Trail starts at Praia da Marinha. Before visiting this beach, you could potentially walk the coastal trail to Praia de Benagil and even to Praia de Vale Centianes. If visiting Benagil Cave is on your Algarve bucket list, then consider walking here and renting a SUP, or kayak at Benagil Beach. You can only access the cave from the sea. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail summary:

  • Trailhead: Praia da Marinha
  • Destination: Praia de Vale Centianes
  • Type of Hike: Point-to-point / return
  • Distance: 5.7 km one-way (11.4 km return)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time Needed: 2 – 2.5 hours one-way (5 – 6 hours return)

Learn More: Seven Hanging Valleys Trail Hiking Guide

Praia Nova

With a view of the cliffside white-washed church of Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Rocha, Praia Nova is an especially scenic beach in the Algarve. If you love collecting seashells, you’ll be ecstatic when you get here. 

Dinner and Sunset at Armação de Pêra

Armação de Pêra is an old fishing village turned holiday resort town. The origin of the town’s name is a reference to the fishermen from Pera who used tuna nets (armação) to catch fish.

Upon visiting, head directly to the “Fisherman’s Beach,” where there’s a collection of small huts used by local fishermen to rest and store their equipment. The beach is littered in fishnets and boats, offering an authentic glimpse of this region’s oldest industry.

You can taste the fresh catch by visiting one of the seafood restaurants located along the beach. We ate freshly prepared Arroz de Marisco at Restaurante Bùzio (which changed owners and is now called Só Verão). Another seafood beachside restaurant is Arte Náutica. It has great reviews, though it’s pricey. 

Stay in Ferragudo

Stay a third night in Ferragudo.

Book your stay at Caneiros Luxury House & Suites (booking.com). 

Look for accommodation in Ferragudo.

 
Praia do camilo, Algarve, Portugal | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 4: Lagos

Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo

On Day 4, head to Lagos. Though Lagos is a tourist hot spot, it has many benefits including its location and plethora of dining options. From the center of Lagos, you have easy access to the striking beaches of Camilo and Dona Ana. 

Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo

When temperatures are mild, it’s easy to walk from Lagos to Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo. Unlike other coastal trails mentioned in this itinerary, the trail doesn’t cling to the coast the whole time. Sometimes, you’ll have to walk on sidewalks along the road, because part of the coast is inaccessible (fenced off). 

When we visited in November, we walked from Lagos to Ponta da Piedade and then continued along the cliff-top boardwalk in the direction of Praia do Canavial. If visiting in summer, I would prioritize beach-time over walking-time. 

Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade is a section of coastline located 2 kilometers from the city center of Lagos. The coastal landscape of caves, grottoes, and arches reveals what natural elements have sculpted over thousands of years.

We enjoyed walking the cliffs and taking in various vantage points of the area. We also walked down the steep staircase to the “beach” – which is a generous term for a platform that extends into the water. You can start a boat tour from the bottom of the staircase. There are also a lot of organized kayak excursions that you can book in Lagos.

Eat Dinner in Lagos

If you need a break from traditional Portuguese food, then Lagos will oblige you with its Mexican, Indian, Hawaiian and Chinese offerings. We love the burritos at The Green Room

Stay in Lagos

Budget | Hotel Mar Azul – This no-frills hotel is basic, but clean and comfortable. The location can’t be better.

Mid-Range | 3 Marias Guest House is a top-rated bed and breakfast in Lagos with a wonderful rooftop terrace. Rooms are simple, but extremely clean and comfortable. The breakfast is extraordinary.

Luxury | Casa Mãe is a superb hotel in Lagos with an on-site restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and garden. Rooms are airy and designed thoughtfully. This the perfect place to stay for a romantic getaway, honeymoon, or anniversary.

Look for accommodation in Lagos.

 
Burgau, Western Algarve, road trip itinerary

Day 5: Western Algarve

Burgau, Sagres, Costa Vicentina

Today’s all about exploring Western Algarve. Though famous for its ochre-colored limestone sea cliffs, Algarve (along with Alentejo) is also home to the wild, windswept coast of Vicentina. From Lagos, you can head directly to Costa Vicentina via Aljezur (40-minute drive). Or, you can detour first to Burgau and Sagres, before heading to the western coast (1.5 hours).

Burgau

Burgau is a picture-perfect seaside village west of Lagos. Take a swim, or grab a coffee here. 

Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente

Next, head to Sagres for lunch. Sagres is a surf-town replete with surf schools, surf shops, surfers… A lot of people love Sagres. Both times we visited, it was unpleasantly windy, so we’re not the hugest fans. Sagres does have a few restaurants and cafés to choose from. During our first trip to Algarve, we ate chicken piri piri and Babugem. On our second, we ate lunch at the traveler-friendly Laundry Lounge

If it’s not too windy, you could potentially do this walk from Cabo de São Vicente to Praia do Telheiro. 

Praia das Arrifana and Costa Vicentina

Dramatic and wild, Costa Vicentina is an impressive destination that often gets overlooked. Praia das Arrifana is a popular surf spot, but there are plenty of other coves and beaches that aren’t as well known. 

If you’re curious about Costa Vicentina and love multi-day hiking, consider trekking the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail. This is easily one of the best treks in Europe.

Stay in Lagos

Stay a second night in Lagos.

Look for accommodation in Lagos.

 
Praia de São Rafael - 7 days in Algarve, Portugal - road trip

Day 6: Beaches or Historic Towns

You have two options for day 6 of your Algarve road trip itinerary. Decide if you want another day at the beach, or if you want to explore some of Algarve’s most beguiling towns. 

Town Exploration: Olhão and São Brás de Alportel (Fall, or Spring Travel)

  • Head to Olhão early in the morning to experience the fish market. 
  • Visit Tavira
  • Eat dinner at Ysconderijo in São Brás de Alportel.
  • Stay the night in São Brás de Alportel.

Olhão

Olhão is a coastal town in Eastern Algarve. At the town’s waterfront, there are two market buildings (Mercados de Olhão). One building sells vegetables, fruits and spices, and the other houses the fish market – the largest in Algarve. As you enter the fish market, you’ll see a plentiful display of regional fish, including black scabbardfish, monkfish (tamboril), posta corvina, turbot (pregado), white sea bream (sargo), bream (dourada), sole (linguado) as well as dried codfish (bacalhau).

Tavira

Tavira is located east of Olhão. The town straddles the Gilão River and is a great place to walk around, shop, and dine. 

Stay in São Brás de Alportel

São Brás de Alportel is a rural town located in the Barrocal region of the Algarve. Tourism has minimal influence here, which is why we loved it. We recommend staying at Hospedaria São Bras, a charming bed and breakfast located in an old house in São Brás de Alportel. 

The best place to eat dinner in town is Ysconderijo. Make sure to make a reservation a few days in advance. We ate there during our first trip to Algarve in 2017 and drove an extra hour to eat there once again during our second trip. The quality is superb!! 

Look for accommodation in São Brás de Alportel.


Beach Day: Praia de São Rafael and Praia dos Arrifes (Summer Travel)

  • Praia de São Rafael is an especially gorgeous beach in the Algarve. From here, you can walk along the cliffs in both directions for some time. 
  • Next to Praia de São Rafael, you’ll find the unforgettable Praia dos Arrifes. This beach is enhanced by its sculpture-like limestone stacks and is a sensational spot for watching the sunset. 

Spend the night in São Rafael

São Rafael is part of the Municipality of Albufeira. Unlike the city of Albufeira, São Rafael is quite peaceful and lowkey. Because it’s a resort town, all the villas and houses are occupied seasonally. Therefore, it gets very quiet during off season months. And with that, nearby restaurants typically close down as well. So, we only recommend staying here between June and October.

We stayed at the Sao Rafael Villas, Apartments & Guest House. The guesthouse is dated, but the villas are lovely. From the villas and apartments, it’s a short walk to Praia de São Rafael and Praia dos Arrifes. 

Look for accommodation in Sao Rafael.

 
Faro, Algarve road trip itinerary

Day 7: Faro

On your final day in Algarve, make your way to the historic town of Faro. With its tiled streets and bustling shops, Faro is a great place to wander about for a few hours. If you’re flying in the late afternoon or evening, we highly recommend visiting the following places on route to Faro:

  • Church of São Lourenço
  • Monte da Eira for Lunch 
  • Loulé Town

After 7 days in Algarve, you’ll feel replenished and satiated. Good luck with your planning and let us know if you have any questions.


More Resources for Your Trip to Algarve:

 
Sagres, Western Algarve - One Week in Algarve
@moonhoneytravelers
  • Sunrise in the Karwendel Mountains.

The weather forecast predicted early afternoon thunderstorms, so we woke up extra early and started hiking at 5:30 am. Seeing the sunrise as we crested the Mandlscharte was like entering heaven.

After a long and difficult 9-hour stage, we arrived at @solsteinhaus in rain. Luckily, the thunder never came.

The highlight of this incredible day was meeting @clarazijlstra and @jaqi_sta - two brilliant and talented women who radiate passion and warmth! Hope to see you both again! 💛💛💛
  • Italian Dolomites Tip:

Skip Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) and Lago di Sorapiss and hike to Lago di Coldai instead for a crowd-free alpine lake experience.
  • The 6-stage Karwendel High Trail was one of the highlights of our summer. This hut-to-hut hiking trail traverses part of the Karwendel Mountain Range in Tirol, Austria.

Tips for hiking the Karwendel Höhenweg:

- Make reservations for huts 3-5 months in advance.

- Hike the trail east to west. It’s more common to hike in the other direction, but we think the trail unfolds more beautifully if you hike east to west.

- Hike to Speckkarspitze peak on Day 2 and Kleine Stempeljochspitze peak on Day 3.

- Bring climbing gloves for securely and comfortably grasping steel cables.

We’ll be publishing a Karwendel High Trail Trekking guide next week. Let us know if you have any questions about the route.
  • Kati and I decided to hop over the border to explore the Pala Group for a few days and we’re so grateful and overjoyed to be here.

This magnificent range has something for everyone: easy valley walks to alpine pastures, grueling peak climbs, via ferratas, and so much more. The Alta Via 2 traverses the range as well, which is making us miss our dear friends @susielambie and @jored7 who we met while hiking the AV1 last year.
  • On top of Slovenia. 

@feelslovenia @triglav.national.park
  • Eagle Walk Stage 22, Lechtal Alps, Austria.

The trail starts out gently, descending loamy terrain across grassy slopes.

After several water crossings, the grueling ascent to Grießlscharte commences. 

The hike up Langkar cirque is relentless and unforgiving! It feels like it’ll never end.

Luckily, the final stretch is semi-vertical and secured with cables, delivering you hastily to the Scharte.

As soon as we reached the ridge, we howled at the wind, feeling strong AF.

This trek was unforgettable! We hope more international hikers will discover the beauty and remoteness of the Lechtal Alps.