Julie Itinerary, Portugal 6 Comments

Discover the charm of the Algarve by visiting its stunning golden beaches, exploring the picturesque towns, taking boat tours of Benagil Cave and Ponta da Piedade, surfing, hiking, and dining in the region’s finest restaurants. In this guide, we will show you how to combine the best of the region into an epic Algarve itinerary.

If you are planning your Algarve itinerary, there are multiple ways to do it. For those on a whirlwind tour of Portugal, you just may have a few days in the area. But if you are on a longer visit, you will have much more time to soak up the sun and the sights.

In this guide, we share with you the top experiences in the Algarve, how to organize them day-by-day, and then how to put this all together to create your perfect itinerary, whether you have 3 days, 5 days, or more.

Rather than listing one 3, 5, or 7-day Algarve itinerary, we list multiple daily itineraries. You can pick out your favorite daily itineraries and then string them together to create your perfect Algarve itinerary.

We will also share with you different ways to put this all together, to simplify your travel planning process.

Let’s get started.

 

Overview of the Algarve

The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal. To the north sits the Alentejo region of Portugal and to the west and south sits the Atlantic Ocean. A small portion of the Algarve borders Spain.

The coastline of the Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Golden beaches with their backdrops of cliffs, sea stacks, and caves make this region extremely photogenic and fun to explore. Relaxing on the beaches, hiking from town to town, and exploring the caves, both by land and by sea, will keep you busy for days.

The best place to stay in the Algarve is one of its central towns, such as Albufeira, Lagos, Portimão, or Carvoeiro. This is the best option for those with a shorter stay in the Algarve (2 to 4 days). If you have more time in the Algarve, you can split up your stay, spending a few days in the eastern Algarve and a few days in the western Algarve. You’ll do a little less driving but will have to pack and unpack once during your visit. More on this later.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail | Algarve Itinerary

One of many spectacular views along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Best Things to Do in the Algarve

The Algarve has all of the perfect ingredients for a beach holiday. Below we list the top experiences and you can read the more detailed list in our article Best Things to Do in the Algarve.

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

How Many Days Do You Need in the Algarve?

At a bare minimum, plan on spending at least two full days in the Algarve. This gives you just enough time to visit a few beaches, take a boat tour of Benagil Cave, walk the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, and visit one or two towns.

Of course, each day you add allows you to experience more of the Algarve. There are a lot of beautiful beaches to see and they never get old or repetitive.

For the best experience, 5 to 7 days in the Algarve makes a great holiday, and you’ll be able to see and do a lot in this region, plus have some downtime.

How to Get Around the Algarve

The best way to get around the Algarve is by car. This gives you the freedom to travel on your own schedule and get to places that are difficult to reach using public transportation.

There is a network of buses and trains but there are some limitations on where you can go if you only travel using public transportation. You can also use Uber or other ride share apps to get around or between towns.

If you want the freedom to travel on your own schedule, with the ability to reach quieter, off the beaten path towns and beaches, rent a car.

If you only have a few days in the Algarve and plan to visit a few popular towns and beaches, you can get by without renting a car. It will save you some money, but you will spend extra time on the buses and trains.

For more information about the bus, Eva runs most of the bus lines in the Algarve. Visit their website for timetables and pricing.

Trains connect the towns of Lagos, Portimão, Albufeira, Faro, Tavira, Vila Real de Santo Antonio and more. You can see the train timetable here and learn more on the official train website for Portugal.

Getting to and From the Algarve

The Algarve is easy to get to. High speed trains connect the Algarve to Porto and Lisbon. Faro, one of the largest Algarve towns, has an airport. And of course, you can drive to the Algarve.

Most likely, your visit to the Algarve is part of a bigger trip through Portugal. If this is the case, how you get to the Algarve will depend on where you plan to go before and after your time in the Algarve, and how you plan to get around Portugal.

If you are on a Portugal road trip and have a car, getting to the Algarve is simple. Here are driving distances and times from nearby cities to Albufeira (a town in the Algarve with a fantastic central location):

  • Lisbon: 260 km, 2.5 hours
  • Porto: 530 km, 5 hours
  • Évora: 205 km, 2.5 hours
  • Seville, Spain: 230 km, 2.5 hours

High-speed trains also connect the major cities in Portugal to the Algarve. If you are traveling through Portugal by train, then we recommend taking the train to Faro, picking up a rental car in Faro, and using the car to get around the Algarve. You can return the car in Faro and use the train to continue on to your next destination, or drive to your next destination (just be aware of the extra drop fee for dropping the car at a different location). Faro is the best place to rent a car in the Algarve (you will find the most options here).

Finally, you can fly into Faro. From Faro, rent a car or use public transportation to get around the Algarve.

Praia do Carvalho Algarve | Algarve Itinerary

Praia do Carvalho

Daily Algarve Itinerary Suggestions

Each of the itineraries below is a one day itinerary. From these, pick your favorites and then string them together to create the Algarve itinerary that best fits your travel style.

Day #1 Getting to the Algarve

This itinerary covers how to get to the Algarve from a few popular locations in Portugal, perfect for those on a longer trip through the country.

Basically, on this day you will spend the first half of the day getting to the Algarve. In the afternoon, you will have time to visit a beach or explore the town where you are staying.

Traveling By Car

In the morning, check out of your hotel in Lisbon, Porto, Évora, Seville, etc.

By rental car, you can drive directly to your hotel, or you can visit a beach or town and check into your hotel in the evening.

If you are coming from Lisbon, Évora, or Seville, you can be in the Algarve by noon. If you are coming from Porto (a 5-hour drive), you will reach the Algarve by mid-afternoon.

Traveling by Train

Here are the average train times from nearby cities to Faro (you can also take the train to Albufeira, Lagos, etc.):

  • Lisbon: 3 to 4 hours
  • Porto: 6 to 7 hours
  • Évora: 3.5 to 5 hours
  • Seville: 2.5 to 3.5 hours

Once you arrive in the Algarve, you can either rent a car or use the buses, trains, and ride share apps to get around.

Afternoon in the Algarve

If you have a lot of time in the Algarve (5 or more days), get settled in your hotel and explore the town/nearby beaches where you are staying.

If you only have a few days, and if you want to see as much as possible, visit one of the Algarve’s scenic spots that is relatively close to where you will be staying. Algar Seco (since it is quick to visit) or a nearby beach are good options.

Get settled into your hotel, have dinner, and get ready for a big day tomorrow.

Algar Seco Algarve Portugal | Algarve Itinerary

Algar Seco


Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Spend the day visiting some of the Algarve’s prettiest beaches and one of its most scenic towns.

Morning: Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade is a rocky promontory surrounded by secluded coves and beaches. It is often acclaimed as one of the Portugal’s most beautiful places to visit.

From Praia Dona Ana, you can walk out and back to Ponta da Piedade. This walk is 5 km (3.1 miles) that takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours. On this walk you can visit Camilo Beach and the Ponta da Piedade grotto, two of the top places to visit in the Algarve.

Ponta da Piedade Boardwalk

Ponta da Piedade boardwalk trails

 

Ponta da Piedade Trail View | Algarve Itinerary

The view along the Ponta da Piedade trail

 Camilo Beach Best Algarve Beaches | Algarve Itinerary

Camilo Beach

 

Ponta da Piedade Photo

Ponta da Piedade grotto

We cover this walk in detail (with a map and many more photos) in our guide to Ponta da Piedade, but here is brief overview of what to expect.

To do this walk, park at the lot for Dona Ana Beach. The Ponta da Piedade walking trail starts at the top of this parking lot.

You’ll walk a series of boardwalk trails with the option to take the stairs down to Camilo Beach and the grotto. Both are worth the stair climb.

I recommend starting this walk by 8 am in the summer, both because it can be challenging to find parking but also to miss the midday heat.

Midday: Lagos

Spend the mid part of the day in Lagos.

You can either walk to Lagos from the Dona Ana parking lot (it is another scenic walk on cliff trails overlooking Praia do Pinhao and Estudantes Beach that takes about 30 minutes) or drive and park in Lagos (Lagos Parque de Estacionamento de Lagos is a large parking lot near the train station and marina). If you walk to Lagos, later in the day it will be a long walk to your car, or you could use Uber or Bolt (this is what we did).

In Lagos, have lunch, stroll through the historic town center, see the Lagos castle, visit the Church of Santo Antonio, and visit Museu de Lagos.

Lagos Portugal | Algarve Itinerary

Lagos

Afternoon: Boat Tour of Ponta da Piedade

In the afternoon, you have the option to take a boat tour of Ponta da Piedade. It is a much different experience by sea. Your options include a short, one hour boat tour of the area or a more active and longer kayaking tour of Ponta da Piedade. We opted for the shorter boat tour and had a great experience. Make your reservation in advance. We cover the boat tours in more detail in our Guide to Ponta da Piedade.

Pinhao Fort Bridge

Praia dos Pinheiros


Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail & Marinha Beach

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is one of the most beautiful walks in Portugal. Most people do this hike point-to-point, which makes it 5.7km/3.5 miles and takes 2 to 3 hours.

On this walk, you will see Marinha Beach, Benagil Cave (from the upper cave opening), some of the most dramatic coastlines of the Algarve, and a handful of other beautiful beaches.

In our Guide to the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, we cover everything you need to know, from a step-by-step trail guide to arranging your transportation.

Marinha Beach Algarve | Algarve Itinerary

Marinha Beach, one of the first great views along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

 Benagil Cave Portugal | Algarve Itinerary

The view into Benagil Cave

 

Algarve Portugal

Views along the coastline

You should have a lot of free time this afternoon. Relax on Praia do Vale de Centeanes, Marinha Beach, another beach in the Algarve, or at your hotel.


Day #4 Gorgeous Beaches + Benagil Cave Boat Tour

This day starts off with one of our favorite beaches in the Algarve. In the afternoon, take a boat tour to see what is arguably the Algarve’s most famous sight, Benagil Cave. Then spend the afternoon on yet another gorgeous beach.

Morning: Praia João de Arens

This was one of our favorite experiences in the Algarve. In and around Praia João de Arens are cliffside trails that lead out to viewpoints overlooking the nearby beaches and coastline of the Algarve. And what makes it even better is that there were very few people here during our visit, giving this experience an off-the-beaten-path feel to it.

Praia João de Arens | Algarve Itinerary

The cliff trails near Praia João de Arens

 

Praia João de Arens Algarve

Praia João de Arens

A visit here lasts 30 minutes to an hour, longer if you spend time at the beach. For us, walking the cliff trails was the highlight. You will get beautiful views in all directions and the red sandy cliffs look different from many other places in the Algarve.

To get here drive down Caminho da Praia do João d’Arens. There is a large parking area on the left (Praia do Submarino Parking on Google Maps). You then walk 300 meters to get to the trails that run along the top of the cliffs. Parking is free.

Mid-Morning: Benagil Boat Tour

Benagil Cave, with its skylight and multiple cave entrances from the sea, is one of the Algarve’s most recognizable sights. Currently, the only way you can visit Benagil Cave is on a boat tour (visitors are no longer allowed to swim into Benagil Cave, although there is a chance this could change later in 2024…take a look at our Guide to Benagil Cave for updates).

On a boat tour to Benagil Cave, not only do you get to visit the cave, but you also get to see the stunning coastlines of the Algarve.

Benagil Cave Algarve Portugal

Benagil Cave

 

Algar Seco Rocks | Algarve Itinerary

Algar Seco from sea

 Paradise Cave Algarve Portugal

Paradise Cave, another cave you can visit on a boat tour of Benagil Cave from Portimão.

Portimão is the best place to take a Benagil boat tour because of the amazing cliffs you will see between town and Benagil Cave.

Sea conditions tend to be quieter in the morning and sometimes afternoon tours can be cancelled if conditions get too rough. And it’s entirely possible that conditions can be too rough for a few days in row, cancelling all boat tours for consecutive days (we cover this in our Guide to Benagil Cave). By taking a mid-morning tour, you will have great lighting for photos and a better chance that your tour will not be cancelled. We took a boat tour of Benagil Cave at 11 am.

This 2-hour tour from Portimão is our top pick. You will see the beaches, sea arches, and sea caves along the coastline, plus a visit to Benagil Cave.

This 2-hour tour from Portimão is similar to the one above, but you can pick a sunrise option (your best chance to have the cave to yourself, just switch the order of today’s sights) or a sunset option.

Midday: Late Lunch

After the boat tour, have lunch. One option is to have lunch right in Portimão.

Another option is to have lunch at Caniço Restaurant at Three Brothers Beach, where you will be going next. It has a very nice setting on the beach but gets mediocre reviews for its food and service.

Afternoon: Praia dos Três Irmãos (Three Brothers Beach)

This beach is a short drive from Portimão and not far from Praia João de Arens, where you were earlier today. Park at Parking Praia dos Três Irmãos.

Praia dos Três Irmãos | Algarve Itinerary

Praia dos Três Irmãos (photo taken from the cliff trail above the beach…Miradoura da Prainha)

 

Three Brothers Beach

This is another one of our favorite beaches in the Algarve since it ticks all the boxes: dramatic sea pillars and cliffs, lots of parking, several restaurants, and many more amenities.

On the east end of the beach, there are rock formations that are fun to explore. If you pass through the rocky tunnels, you’ll enter two neighboring beaches, Praia da Prainha and Praia do Ferta.

For a view over Praia dos Três Irmãos and Praia da Prainha, walk up the stairs at Praia da Prainha and follow the trails for aerial views of the beaches. You can return using those same steps or take the elevator to Caniço restaurant.

Dinner

One option is to visit nearby Ferragudo, a small fishing village, for dinner. Or have dinner in town where you are staying.


Day #5 Algar Seco, Carvoeiro & Silves

On this low-key day, you will visit just a few places in the Algarve. This itinerary gives you time to spend part of your day relaxing at your hotel or a beach. Alternatively, you can visit one or two of these sights on the afternoon you arrive in the Algarve or the morning of your last day in the Algarve.

Morning: Hotel or Beach Time

Spend the morning getting some R&R at your hotel or on the beach.

Midday: Silves

Silves is a small, hilltop town in the Algarve. It has a cool castle to explore and is a great place to have lunch. A visit here, including lunch and the castle visit, takes an hour and a half to two hours. This is a very hilly town, so you’ll get your exercise as you visit the city center.

We had a fantastic, healthy lunch at Parsley & Thyme, a small Indian restaurant with home cooked food and Vegan options. Just down the street, Mosaiko is a beautiful restaurant serving a fusion of Algarvean and Arab flavors.

Silves Castle | Algarve Itinerary

Silves Castle

Afternoon: Algar Seco & Carvoeiro

Algar Seco is a wonderland of tunnels, grottos, caves, cliffs, and windows to the sea. It’s one of the most photographed places in the Algarve, with its two cave openings and views of the Atlantic Ocean.

However, there is more to do at Algar Seco than photograph this picturesque cave. You can also walk down to the grotto and go cliff jumping, walk the boardwalk trails that run from Algar Seco to a viewpoint of Carvoeiro, and (the best part!!) explore the rocky coastline, where you can take some unique photos through cave openings.

A visit here takes about an hour. It is located near Carvoeiro. Learn how to plan your visit with our Guide to Algar Seco.

After your visit, you can stroll through the picturesque town of Carvoeiro or spend some time on its lovely beach.

Algar Seco

Algar Seco

 

Algar Seco Photo

Another cave at Algar Seco

 Algar Seco Boardwalk

Boardwalk trail that runs from Algar Seco to a viewpoint of Carvoeiro Beach

 

Carvoeiro Algarve Portugal

Carvoeiro Beach | Algarve Itinerary


Day #6 Western Algarve: Sagres & Costa Vicentina

Today, journey out to the western end of the Algarve. This is one of the biggest driving days in our Algarve itinerary, taking anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get here, depending on where you are staying.

Morning: Costa Vicentina

Costa Vicentina is often called the last wild coast in Europe.

Here, giant cliffs meet wide beaches. The waves are a lot larger than what you’ll see on the southern coast of the Algarve, since this coastline gets the full force of the Atlantic Ocean.

The beaches also look a lot different from the southern coast of the Algarve.

Bordeira’s Beach is a wide beach that is famous for its surfing, its boardwalk trail and viewpoint of the beach, and a nearby cove perfect for snorkeling.

Praia do Bordeira

Bordeira’s Beach

Praia da Cordoama is one of the largest beaches in this area. For the best view of the beach, visit the Cordoama Viewpoint (aka Miradouro da Cordoama). From this vantage point, you get 360° views of the beach and surrounding hillsides.

Cordoama Beach

Cordoama Beach

Spend the morning driving out to these two beaches. Those with an interest in surfing can go surfing at either of these beaches or take a surfing lesson.

Midday: Sagres

Have lunch in Sagres and then visit Fortaleza de Sagres. This fort sits on a promontory jutting out into the sea. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the full perimeter of the fort and along the way you get views of Praia do Tonel, Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça, and Cabo de São Vicente in the distance.

Sagres Fort

The view from Sagres Fort

Afternoon: Cabo de São Vicente

Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent) is the southwestern most point of mainland Portugal and mainland Europe. Since this is where the sun sunk into the sea at the end of the day, many people believed this to be the edge of the world.

Cabo de Sao Vicente Portugal

Sitting on the tip of Cabo de São Vicente is a lighthouse. On a visit here, you get stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and coastal waters. This in one of the best places in the Algarve to watch the sunset. You can time your visit such that you are here for sunset. If that doesn’t interest you, return to your hotel/town for dinner.


Day #7 Eastern Algarve: Tavira, Anchor Cemetery, and VRSA

This is yet another big driving day. Explore the eastern end of the Algarve, going a bit off of the beaten path.

Morning: Praia do Barril & the Anchor Cemetery

Praia do Barril is a long, white sandy beach that is home to an anchor cemetery, where you can see the old anchors used in the tuna fishing industry. It is located near Tavira.

Park at ‘Parking Praia do Barril,’ a large paid parking lot, or you can opt for the free parallel parking along the same street the parking lot is located.

To get to the beach, walk across the white pedestrian bridge. Once across the bridge you have two choices for getting to the beach. You can pay a fee and take the small train or follow the pedestrian path that runs alongside the train track.

It is 1 mile from the parking lot to the beach, and the train shaves off 70% of that distance.

The beach is a nice fine sand, there is a restaurant and a cafe, sun lounger and umbrella rentals, and you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and surf boards.

The anchor cemetery, Cemitério das âncoras, is located on the sand dunes behind the beach. There is a boardwalk you can follow that circles the anchors.

Anchor Cemetery Algarve

The Anchor Cemetery

 

Praia do Barril

Praia do Barril

Midday: Tavira

Have lunch in the lovely town of Tavira. Other things to do here include seeing the Tavira Old Bridge, visiting Castelo de Tavira, strolling through the old town, photographing Torre de Relogio, and seeing Capela de Nossa Senhora da Piedade.

Torre do Relogio Tavira

Afternoon: Vila Real de Santo Antonio

This small town is just about as far east as you can go in the Algarve. Going this far east is optional (alternatively, you can return to your hotel or spend time on one of the Algarve’s beaches).

The list of things to do in Vila Real de Santo Antonio (also called VRSA) is short. Basically, strolling through the town center and seeing the marina top the list of things to do in town.

VRSA Portugal

Vila Real de Santo Antonio

Vila Real de Santo Antonio

There is a nearby beach, but after seeing Praia do Barril and the other Algarve beaches, it is not worth going out to this beach, in our opinion.

Just outside of town is Castelo da Vila de Castro Marim. This medieval castle is interesting to see, however, we liked Silves Castle more. This castle feels a bit more rustic, but it also has the feel of an open air museum, with small museums, stables, and walls you can walk. Each August, a 5-day medieval festival is held here which draws well over 100,000 visitors.

Castelo da Vila de Castro Marim

Castelo da Vila de Castro Marim


Day #8 Ria Formosa & Faro

Today, visit Faro, the largest city in the Algarve, and take a boat tour of Ria Formosa, a protected lagoon and one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

Ria Formosa

Tours of Ria Formosa are done by boat. These eco-tours take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours and consist of a scenic cruise or a tour with several stops, that allow you to go hiking, visit the remote beaches, or have lunch in one of the tiny towns. It’s also possible to book the hop on hop off ferry and spend all day exploring the islands and beaches.

Ria Formosa

Ria Formosa | D. Ribeiro/shutterstock.com

You can take a cruise in the morning and then spend a few hours in the afternoon in Faro, or do this in the opposite order, depending on the cruise that you book. Some are only offered in the afternoon.

This one hour eco tour includes a scenic cruise through the Ria Formosa, starting in Faro. It’s one of the quickest, cheapest tours of the Ria Formosa.

If you want to visit Ilha Deserta (one of the top beaches to visit in Ria Formosa), you can book a ferry or boat shuttle as your round trip transportation. While in Ilha Deserta, have lunch at Restaurante Estamine.

This 3-hour tour from Faro visits several islands in Ria Formosa. This tour is on a catamaran.

Faro

Faro lacks the charm that you get in the smaller towns, such as Lagos and Tavira, but it is worth coming here to see the magnificent bone church. And since it is also a great access point to visit the Ria Formosa, you’ll be here anyway.

The Chapel of Bones, also called the Capela dos Ossos, is a small chapel located in the Igreja do Carmo church.

On a visit here, you will first enter the church. It is beautiful, with gold leaf covering the altar and side chapels.

To get to the chapel of bones, exit the church to the right of the altar. You’ll walk through a small outdoor courtyard to get to the chapel.

In this ossuary are the bones of 1,245 monks. The bones were moved from cemetery plots to this chapel, a common practice in Europe until recently. There are several other bone churches in Portugal, the one of Évora being the most famous.

Faro Bone Church

 

Visiting the bone church will take about 30 minutes. You can also stroll through the city center of Faro and have lunch or dinner here, depending on your Ria Formosa plans.

Faro


Algarve Itinerary Recommendations

To plan your Algarve itinerary, take your pick from the daily itineraries listed above. For example, if you have 5 days in the Algarve, pick your five favorite daily itineraries.

For recommendations on how to put all of this together, below we list sample multi-day itineraries, putting together the daily itineraries listed above.

These are just suggestions. Hiking may not be your thing, so you might prefer to swap the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail for a day cruising on the Ria Formosa.

3 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

If you only have a few days, here are what we think are the best experiences in the Algarve, especially for first timers.

Day One: Day #1 Arrive in the Algarve

Day Two: Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Day Three: Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail OR Day #4 Praia João de Arens, Three Brothers Beach, and Benagil Cave boat tour

4 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

Day One: Day #1 Arrive in the Algarve

Day Two: Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Day Three: Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Day Four: Day #4 Praia João de Arens, Three Brothers Beach, and Benagil Cave boat tour

5 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

Day One: Day #1 Arrive in the Algarve

Day Two: Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Day Three: Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Day Four: Day #4 Praia João de Arens, Three Brothers Beach, and Benagil Cave boat tour

Day Five: Day #6 Western Algarve (Sagres, Cabo de São Vicente, west coach beaches) OR Day # 5 Algar Seco, Carvoeiro, and Silves

6 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

Day One: Day #1 Arrive in the Algarve

Day Two: Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Day Three: Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Day Four: Day #4 Praia João de Arens, Three Brothers Beach, and Benagil Cave boat tour

Day Five: Day #5 Algar Seco, Carvoeiro, and Silves 

Day Six: Day #6 Western Algarve (Sagres, Cabo de São Vicente, west coach beaches)

7 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

Day One: Day #1 Arrive in the Algarve

Day Two: Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Day Three: Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Day Four: Day #4 Praia João de Arens, Three Brothers Beach, and Benagil Cave boat tour

Day Five: Day #5 Algar Seco, Carvoeiro, and Silves

Day Six: Day #6 Western Algarve (Sagres, Cabo de São Vicente, west coach beaches)

Day Seven: Day #7 Eastern Algarve (Anchor Cemetery, Tavira, VRSA) OR Day #8 Faro and Ria Formosa

8 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

Day One: Day #1 Arrive in the Algarve

Day Two: Day #2 Lagos & Ponta da Piedade

Day Three: Day #3 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Day Four: Day #4 Praia João de Arens, Three Brothers Beach, and Benagil Cave boat tour

Day Five: Day #5 Algar Seco, Carvoeiro, and Silves

Day Six: Day #6 Western Algarve (Sagres, Cabo de São Vicente, west coach beaches)

Day Seven: Day #7 Eastern Algarve (Anchor Cemetery, Tavira, VRSA)

Day Eight: Day #8 Faro and Ria Formosa

Best Albufeira Restaurants Portugal

Dining at the Windmill Restaurant in Albufeira

Where to Stay in the Algarve

This is one of the most important decisions you will make when planning your Algarve itinerary. Where you stay has a huge impact on how much driving you will do, how close you are located to the beach, where you will have dinner, and if you are traveling by public transportation, how easy it will be to get around the Algarve.

We stayed at Vila Balaia on the northern side of Albufeira for our entire visit to the Algarve (9 days) and loved it. We highly recommend this lovely, boutique property but for more suggestions, take a look at our guide on Where to Stay in the Algarve.

Best Places to Stay in Algarve

Vila Balaia

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in the Algarve?

At a bare minimum, plan on spending at least three days in the Algarve. This gives you just enough time to visit a few beaches, take a boat tour to Benagil Cave, walk the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, and visit one or two towns. For the best experience, a week or longer makes a great holiday, and you’ll be able to see and do a lot in the Algarve, plus have some downtime.

When is the best time to visit the Algarve?

Peak season is July and August. During this time, the Algarve is at is busiest. The beaches, hotels, and restaurants will be packed with visitors. For warm weather and lower crowds, the best time to visit the Algarve is shoulder season, the months of May, June, September, and October.

Are 3 days enough for the Algarve?

3 days is the bare minimum we recommend in the Algarve. This gives you just enough time to visit a few essential places (Ponta da Piedade, Benagil Cave, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Lagos, and Marinha Beach) all make this list. Each additional day you can add allows you to explore this long stretch of gorgeous coastline (you can easily spend a week in the Algarve and never run out of things to do).

What are the best beaches to visit in the Algarve?

The most popular beaches to visit in the Algarve are Camilo Beach, Marinha Beach, Praia Dona Ana, and Praia da Falésia. If you want to visit lesser known or beaches with fewer crowds, visit the beaches on the far eastern and western ends of the Algarve.


If you have any questions about how to plan your Algarve itinerary, let us know in the comment section below and we’d be happy to help!

More Information for Your Trip to Portugal

BEST OF PORTUGAL: In our article Best Things to Do in Portugal, we list 25 amazing things to see and do in Portugal.

ALGARVE: Get started with our Algarve Bucket List, which lists the best things to do in the Algarve. Learn how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most beautiful walks in Europe. Don’t miss our guides to Benagil Cave and the best beaches in the Algarve. Find out where to stay in our Algarve Hotel Guide, get a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira, and learn why October is the perfect time to visit the Algarve.

PORTUGAL ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Portugal itinerary, take a look at our 10 Day Portugal Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Portugal. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: Get more travel ideas in our article 10 Days in Europe itinerary, which has 10 itineraries for your next trip to Europe. If you have less time, we also have an article that lists 25 different ways to spend one week in Europe.

We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.

 

Algarve Portugal Itinerary

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 6

  1. Avatar for Marj
    Marj

    Hi Julie,
    We plan on renting a car in the Algarve (not sure if we are renting from Lisbon and driving down to Lagos or train to Faro and renting there). During my search for rental car prices, I read a few articles that mentioned certain roads/areas in Portugal are difficult to drive including the N125 in the Algarve. How difficult is it to drive this long road? We’ll be in the area 4-5 days and plan to drive most of it so just want to make sure it’s doable. Thanks for your input!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Marj. In our experience, N125 was very easy to drive and we also drove quite a bit of it. Google also routed us onto A22, the highway, when driving longer distances. I don’t know why people would write that they had a difficult time on N125, it is very much like most roads in Portugal and Europe and we found it very easy to drive it. However, to get into smaller towns or remote beaches, those roads can get very narrow, down to one lane in some spots for two-way traffic, but I don’t recall N125 being this way. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Marj
        Marj

        Ok, thanks Julie! We use your site for every trip we take so thought I’d get your thoughts on it since we’ll be driving in the Algarve for five days. Love this site and all the info/itineraries! Thank you!

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
          Author
  2. Avatar for Veranika
    Veranika

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you for your itineraries! We are travelling to Portugal this summer (using your itineraries, obviously), and will be in Algarve 4 nights. I’ve been studying your Algarve articles for weeks, and I am town between where to stay – mostly considering Lagos or Carvoeiro – but since there are a lot of things to do which all seem to be dispersed, we want a perfect central location considering we won’t be driving. Our list of things to git include 1) Visit Ponta Da Piedante (both by foot and boat, just like you did!) + Camilo beach since it’s right there 2) Spend time at the beach (Praya Dona Ana if staying in Lagos, or Carvoeiro beach, if staying in Carvoeiro) 3) Take a boat tour of the coast + Benagil Cave 4) Walk Algar Sec 4) Hike Part of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. I know this is a lot…. but I can’t prioritize these activities and really struggle to pick a location central enough from there attractions to be a short Uber drive away. Please help, thank you!
    Veranika

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Veranika. You can’t go wrong with either location. Lagos has advantages in that it will be super easy to get to Ponta da Piedade and since it is one of the larger towns, you will have a lot of restaurants to choose from and it will be very easy to get an Uber from here. if you are traveling by public transportation, it might also be easier to arrive in and depart the Algarve from Lagos. Carvoeiro is the place to pick if you want the experience from a smaller town and a smaller beach. You should still be able to get Uber from here as well and you will be within walking distance of Algar Seco. We recently had a reader write in on a different post that they had a great experience at Quinta do Ourives in Carvoeiro. It’s listed on our Where to Stay guide. But again, you can’t go wrong either way. Cheers, Julie

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *