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Algarve, Portugal travel guide

The beautiful Algarve region was on our list for a while now and after having to reschedule this trip 3 times, we finally had the opportunity to visit it…and let us tell you…we were totally AMAZED!

If you haven’t heard of this stunning region yet, let me introduce it to you a little bit.

Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. The “capital” of this region is the city of Faro, which is also going to be the starting point of your trip to Algarve if you are coming by plane, as it has an international airport. Algarve is the summer holiday hub for most Portuguese people but in the past years it became very popular amongst international tourists too :-).

Praia dos Três Irmãos

HOW TO GET TO AND AROUND ALGARVE

Faro international airport is the main (and only) airport of the region, so if you are coming here from outside of Portugal book your flight to Faro. If you don’t have any direct flights to Faro, you can fly to Lisbon or Porto and take a domestic flight from there to Faro airport.

If you are already in Portugal, you can just rent a car and drive to Algarve. From Lisbon it will take you around 2h30min and from Porto around 4h45min.

Your other option is to take a train or a bus (from Lisbon or Porto), which we don’t really recommend as anyway once you arrive to Algarve you will need a car to make the most out of your trip. You can rent one at Faro airport.

WHERE TO STAY

We booked our trip on the day of our departure in the middle of the summer season, so there were not many accommodation options and we ended up just booking a random hotel which was not bad but not nice either, so I won’t be recommending it. But we found it very helpful to stay around Portimão as it was halfway between all the places and beaches we were planning to visit. So I definitely recommend you to base yourself somewhere around Portimão.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The high season lasts from around the beginning of June until the end of September (July and August being the TOP months), however if you want to escape crowds, the weather during shoulder season in May or October is good too. We would say the only problem is the ocean temperature which is quite cold even during the hottest months of July and August :-).

Carvoeiro

BEST PLACES AND BEACHES TO VISIT

Praia dos Três Irmãos

Praia dos Três Irmãos was our ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE! The endless stretch of the golden sand, beautiful rock formations, hidden caves, stunning view points…and I could go on and on. We highly recommend you to come early in the morning (even for sunrise if you can) and enjoy the first couple of hours in this beautiful scenery without any people in it. To be honest, the most beautiful parts of this beach (rock formations, caves etc) were quite empty even throughout the day as most people stayed on the “long shore”.

The access to this beach is very easy, there is a parking which gets full during the day which is another reason for you to come early.

There are also a couple of bars and restaurants spread around the beach (most of them next to the parking lot) so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own food and drinks for the entire day.

Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade is the best place to watch the sunrise from! We have seen many pictures from this place before our trip, but once we arrived and have seen it with our own eyes, we understood that pictures or videos won’t ever do justice to this place!

There are several viewpoints around the area and we recommend you to just walk around and find them all. It’s crazy how the same place can have so many different views.

Access to this place is also very easy. There is the main asphalt road leading to a parking lot.

Praia do Camilo

Another beautiful beach which is great to watch the sunrise from. It is actually right next to Ponta da Piedade (15 min walk or 3 min car drive away) so you can combine it into one sunrise mission just like we did :-).

We have also seen a sunrise SUP tour which starts near Praia de Dona Ana and goes through Praia do Camilo until Ponta da Piedade.

You can find the sunrise SUP tour here: https://www.getyourguide.com/lagos-l2896/lagos-stand-up-paddleboard-tour-to-ponta-da-piedade-caves-t403432/

Access to this beach is once again very easy and it has a quite big parking lot, however during the day it gets full.

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is one of the most famous Algarve beaches and we totally get why…it is beautiful! However when we visited, it was FULL of seaweed.

We understand that seaweed is natural and we don’t mind when there is a little bit of it on the beach, however here it was too much. You couldn’t go in the water and it had a very bad smell too.

Seaweed is not permanent and it goes away as it comes so it is good to check online upfront. The best tip to find out if there is currently sea weed or not is to use instagram stories. You will see what people posted in the past 24h 🙂 or you can obviously ask around if you know some locals. This tip is obviously valid worldwide and not only in Portugal.

Portugal doesn’t really have a problem with sea weed (like for example Tulum, Mexico) but in rare cases it can happen and it can totally ruin your holidays. Imagine booking an all inclusive resort thinking that you will just relax on that one beach next to the resort and it turns out to be like this…full of seaweed. I don’t think you would like that :-). Take this just as a heads up for planning your beach holidays.

A very famous and beautiful spot close to Praia da Marinha is the “heart shaped rock formation” which you might have seen somewhere on instagram. It is around 20 min hike/walk from the parking lot of Marinha beach. We haven’t done it ourselves as to be honest with you, we were super tired, but would definitely love to visit it once we come back to Algarve 🙂 I think it’s pretty cool.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by P O R T U G A L (@explorar_portugal)

Access to this beach is once again very easy and there is a big parking lot. However as it’s very famous, even the big parking lot gets full quickly. When we passed by at first, there were policemen and they closed the entire street towards the beach as the parking was full. In the late afternoon they started to let people pass through again as there were also many people leaving.

Praia de Albandeira

Very close to Praia da Marinha you can find another beautiful beach called Praia de Albandeira. As it is right next to Praia da Marinha, it obviously had a lot of seaweed too so we decided not to stay on the beach, however we wanted to see the surroundings. There is a very beautiful arch called “Arco de Albandeira” which is a very famous photo spot. Because of the seaweed we haven’t taken any pictures ourselves so I am inserting one from instagram for the reference 🙂 .

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by algarve-portugal (@algarve_portugal_)

Benagil beach and caves

If you already did some research about Algarve, I am sure you came across the famous Benagil Cave. This remarkable seaside cave with a distinctive hole in its roof is reachable by boat, kayak or SUP. There are some people that swam there from Benagil beach, however it is not recommended as it can be dangerous.

Benagil beach was also full of seaweed so we decided not to stay there, but maybe there was no seaweed in the cave. We would love to do the kayak tour on our next visit to Algarve 🙂

Here you can book the kayaking tour to Benagil cave: https://www.getyourguide.com/carvoeiro-l2935/benagil-benagil-caves-kayaking-tour-t216270/

Praia da Bordeira

I had marked Praia da Bordeira on google maps, but we were not planning to visit it this time as we only had 2 full days in Algarve and as it’s on the west coast, we didn’t want to drive so far. However we had some time to spare so we decided to go there anyway and it was the best decision! It is a very different beach compared to all the ones on the “south coast” as the ocean is much more rough and the waves are crazy big! One of the places where you feel super tiny small compared to the nature and the world. It really looked like somewhere in Australia or Hawaii.

This beach actually is a surfers paradise however as we came very late, we haven’t seen them surfing anymore. On the beach there is also a small surfers shop which looked very cool 🙂

Another thing that surprised us about this beach are the endless sand dunes! Nothing like we’ve seen before! We actually stayed until the evening and watch the sun setting behind the sand dunes. It was such an awesome experience!

After sunset we headed back to the parking lot and as we walked towards our car, we have seen the parking lot full of camper vans and RVs. All of them parked next to each other enjoying some drinks, cooking dinner and playing cards while watching the beautiful sunset over Bordeira’s beach. It was such a happy and peaceful moment that I am so glad we had the chance to witness. On our way back to the hotel we talked about it and it made us so excited for the day we will go on our first ever camping trip :-).

The access to this beach is also very easy, however the parking is very small, so we suggest to come either early in the morning or late afternoon (like us). To park your car, drive completely to the tip of the cliff (end of the road). At first we made a mistake and parked next to the restaurant “O Sitio do Rio” and started to walk across the sand dunes, but then we saw the road going to the top so we turned around and went back to the car.

Praia dos Estudantes

This beach surprised us a lot. We actually expected it to be just a tiny beach with the famous bridge where everyone just takes a picture and walks away but in the end we ended up spending a couple of hours here as we really liked it.

This beach is located in the centre of the city of Lagos and if you are staying in Lagos, you can just walk here. We came by car very early in the morning and found a big city parking lot (there are a few around Lagos).

There are many boat tours companies around this area that offer catamaran or speed boat tours, sunset cruises and much more. We would have loved to go but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time. But we weren’t so bummed about it as we are sure we will come back to Algarve :-).

A little tip for breakfast/brunch in Lagos – head to Abigail’s Cafe.

Carvoeiro

Another stop on our itinerary was Carvoeiro. This little town with white buildings nestled on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean looked like from a postcard! The small town’s golden beach was beautiful too but it was the view of it that got our jaws to drop! :-). We had lunch on the beach in “Restaurante o Patio” where they serve fresh fish of the day and much more. We definitely recommend to make a quick stop in this tiny beautiful town.

Ferragudo

Ferragudo is probably one of the most beautiful and colourful villages of the Algarve region. The narrow streets, colourful buildings with handing flowers makes it so picturesque! We arrived here around midday and parked our car near the harbour. We went for a short walk in the harbour which was overlooking the town and took some pictures. After that we really wanted to just get lost in the town’s beautiful streets but it was almost 40 degrees Celsius and we honestly felt like fainting so we decided to go back to the beach. If you are visiting Algarve during hot summer months, wandering around towns is possible only early in the morning or in the evening so make your plans accordingly.

Other places and beaches in Algarve that we haven’t visited ourselves but in our opinion are worth mentioning are Praia de Dona Ana (beach), Praia do Ninho das Andorinhas (beach), Praia dos Arrifes (beach), Sagres (town), Burgau (town), Queda do Vigário (waterfall).

Some tours that you might be interested in:

Catamaran cruise: https://www.getyourguide.com/ferragudo-l100992/portimao-half-day-catamaran-cruise-to-benagil-carvoeiro-t382184/

Dolphin watching tour: https://www.getyourguide.com/portimao-l2091/portimao-dolphin-watching-benagil-caves-cruise-sunset-t420154/

We hope this blog post was helpful to you and you are gonna have a great time while exploring the beautiful Algarve region. For more pictures and videos check out our IG story highlight (Algarve) and our reels/feed posts. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment bellow or contact us via email or even better via Instagram @borntotraveldiaries. Thank you for your time and stay tuned for our next diary page 🙂.

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