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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.


Renting a Car in Algarve

We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Portugal. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.

Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your can rental as early as possible.

Check car rental rates here.

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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
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Praia dos Caneiros, Algarve, Portugal

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, Algarve, 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. It’s a 50 minute drive.


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 serpentine and scenic streets, you’ll walk by several fish restaurants and snack bars. For seafood, check out 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. 

Midrange | The impeccably-run One2Seven offers a range of bright and clean double rooms and apartments in the historic center of Ferragudo. The aparthotel’s central location affords easy access to multiple restaurants, the Arade River, Praia da Angrinha, and Fort of São João do Arade. Guests love the swimming pool, fitness center, and terrace breakfast.

Luxury | 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 coastal 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. 

More options: Hotel Rural Brícia Du Mar (midrange), or Vila Castelo Parque (luxury)

Look for accommodation in Ferragudo.

 
Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

Day 2: Ferragudo to Carvoeiro

Praia dos Caneiros, Trail of Headlands, Rei das Praias

Walk from Ferragudo to Carvoeiro along the Trail of Headlands

  • Starting Point: Praia dos Caneiros 
  • Ending Point: Carvoeiro
  • Distance: 6 km point-to-point, 12 km out-and-back
  • Time Needed: 2 hours point-to-point, 4 hours out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

This almost secret coastal trail connects Praia dos Caneiros with the 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. 

Starting at the parking lot at Praia dos Caneiros, the trail leads East. Follow the yellow and red trail markers along the headlands. The trail affords wondrous views of sheer cliffs and hidden coves.

There aren’t many opportunities to access these coves by foot. However, the tiny Praia do Paraiso, just before Carvoeiro, is accessible by a steep staircase.


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.

Midrange | One2Seven

Luxury | Caneiros Luxury House & Suites

Look for accommodation in Ferragudo.

 
Sunset at Armação de Pêra, Algarve, Portugal

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

  • Starting Point: Praia da Marinha
  • Ending Point: Praia de Vale Centianes
  • Distance: 5.7 km point-to-point, 11.4 km out-and-back
  • Time Needed: 2 – 2:30 hours point-to-point, 5 hours out-and-back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The celebrated Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is the most popular day hike in Algarve and encapsulates some of the most impressive scenery in the region.

The 5.7 km trail stretches between Praia da Marinha and Praia de Vale Centianes. Though you can start at either end, we recommend starting at Praia da Marinha.

Highlights of the trail include Benagil Beach, Corredoura Beach, and Carvalho Beach. If you want to visit the famous Benagil Cave, you can rent a SUP, or kayak at Benagil Beach, as cave access is only possible from the sea. 

Alternatively, you can join one of these guided tours:

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. The beach is also strewn with seashells, an absolute dream for collectors and children. 


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.

Midrange | One2Seven

Luxury | Caneiros Luxury House & Suites

Look for accommodation in Ferragudo.

 
Praia do camilo, Algarve, Portugal

Day 4: Lagos

Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo

On Day 4, drive west 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 Praia do 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, 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.


Explore the Coast by Boat

Here are some guided excursions that start 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 is a no-frills hotel, offering clean rooms in the heart of Lagos. Stay here for the location and affordable room rate.

Midrange | 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.

More options: Boutique Taghostel (budget), Vi Mar Guesthouse (midrange), Lagos Atlantic Hotel (luxury), Vivenda Solmar (luxury), or Fazenda Viegas (luxury)

Look for accommodation in Lagos.

 
Burgau, Western Algarve, Portugal

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, Algarve, Portugal

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.

Midrange | Slow House d’Arco is a top-rated guesthouse with sparkling clean rooms and a well-equipped shared kitchen and dining area. Guests love the quiet, but nonetheless central location.

More options: B&B Panoramic Paradise (midrange)

Look for accommodation in São Brás de Alportel.


Tip: The best place to eat dinner in São Brás de Alportel is Ysconderijo. Make a reservation a few days in advance. We ate there during our first trip to Algarve and drove an extra hour to eat there again during our second trip. 


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. 

Stay in São Rafael

São Rafael is part of the Municipality of Albufeira. Unlike the city of Albufeira, São Rafael is quite peaceful and low-key. 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 September.

Midrange | We stayed at the Sao Rafael Holidays. The guesthouse is dated, but the villas are updated. From the villas and apartments, it’s a short walk to Praia de São Rafael and Praia dos Arrifes. 

Luxury | Sao Rafael Atlantico is the best accommodation in the area, with its modern facilities, sweeping sea views, private access to São Rafael Beach, and on-site restaurants. 

More options: Vila Channa – Adults Only (luxury)

Look for accommodation in Sao Rafael.

 
Faro, Algarve, Portugal

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, Portugal
@moonhoneytravelers
  • The best places to hike in Fall:

1. Tramuntana Mountains, Mallorca

2. Algarve Coast, Portugal

3. Costa Vicentina, Portugal - check out the Fisherman’s Trail

4. Dolomites, Italy - though it can always snow and the weather is unpredictable. 

5. Cornwall, England.

What are your favorite fall hiking destinations?

📍Valldemossa, Mallorca
  • Back in January, we traveled to Gran Canaria, the third largest island in the Canary Islands.

Because most visitors choose a single base for their trip to Gran Canaria, there isn’t a lot of helpful information out there about where to stay and how to plan a road trip. 

Of all the trips we’ve planned, this was the most difficult.

Luckily, we had three weeks to properly explore the island’s trails, towns, and roads.

We just published an excellent 7-Day road trip itinerary which connects the best hikes, beaches and villages across Gran Canaria. 

We know it’s early, but if you’re looking for a winter sun destination (late November - late March) with lots of hiking opportunities, check out our itinerary:

https://www.moonhoneytravel.com/gran-canaria-road-trip-itinerary/

Link in stories too.

📍Tejeda, Gran Canaria
  • Hiking through a Canary Island Pine forest in Tamadaba Natural Park. 

📍Gran Canaria
  • How to Spend 1 Week in Mallorca:

Day 1: Arrive in Mallorca, Sant Elm, La Trapa Ruins

Day 2: Valldemossa, Deià, Sóller, Port de Sóller

Day 3: Tramuntana Mountains Hike: Cornador Gran, Tossals Verds Circuit, or Puig de l‘Ofre

Day 4: Sa Calobra, Formentor Peninsula, Cala Bóquer, Port de Pollença

Day 5: Talaia d’Alcúdia and Platja des Coll Baix

Day 6: Cala Figuera, Cala Llombards, Caló des Moro

Day 7: Cala Pi, Palma de Mallorca, Depart Mallorca

The day by day itinerary is on the blog:
https://www.moonhoneytravel.com/mallorca-road-trip-itinerary/

📍Caló des Moro
  • For years, the Faroe Islands seemed like a mythical archipelago, a destination you couldn’t simply fly to. How could such a wondrous, unspoiled place be real?

It’s real and it’s unbelievable.

The Faroe Islands is made up of 18 volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, between Norway and Iceland.

These finger-shaped, treeless islands are defined by sheer sea cliffs, sculpturesque sea stacks, cascading waterfalls, rugged mountains, and darling fishing villages.

And let’s not forget the turf-roofed houses and puffins.

It’s been a dream come true to visit and hike here.

If you have any questions about the Faroes, don’t hesitate to leave a comment a below. 

📍@visitfaroeislands
  • Descending from the summit of Mount Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia.

🥾Hiking Guide:
https://www.moonhoneytravel.com/europe/slovenia/climbing-mount-triglav-pokljuka/

📍Julian Alps