Go World Travel is reader-supported and may earn a commission from purchases made through links in this piece.
The 150 km long coastline of the Algarve, Portugal is a perfect destination for a Mediterranean vacation. Its numerous beaches and coves of soft sand dotted with rock pinnacles and surrounded by cliffs are undoubtedly its main tourist attraction.
“Algarve” comes from Arabic. The Muslims called the region Al-Gharb al-Andalus (the west of al-Andalus). Its strategic geographic location and busy port made this region a world maritime power.
Today, it is a major tourist destination. Although tourism has changed part of the landscape and daily life in the south of Portugal, its people have preserved their authenticity.
The Algarve combines spectacular beaches nestled in cliffs with beautiful fishing villages and landscapes of wild nature. It is a place where the ochre colors of the rocks merge with the greenish-blue of its waters. Discover it for yourself with this spectacular road trip in southern Portugal.
4 Day Itinerary for Algarve, Portugal
On both sides of the Gilão River lies the coastal town of Tavira, between Castro Marim and Faro. It is crowned by a castle with a labyrinth of narrow streets descending from it. Hidden among these alleys are remarkable monuments such as the Church of Santa Maria de Castedo, beautiful squares and a Roman bridge.
Tavira is a riverside jewel that can boast of being one of the main historical centers of the Algarve. It has been a prosperous city thanks to the military and mercantile importance of its port, which now supplies the restaurants of the town. Here you will find all kinds of fresh fish and seafood.
Only 3 kilometers from the coast, Tavira Island is a small natural paradise of long virgin beaches that belongs to the Natural Park of Ria Formosa. It can be reached by ferry or on foot via the Pedras d’el Rei bridge.
The picturesque village of Cacela Velha sits 14 kilometers from Tavira. It is a small village where white houses with blue doors and windows adorn the streets.
Different civilizations have passed through here, from the Romans to the Christians and Arabs, all attracted by its strategic location. Cacela Velha is situated on the edge of the sea, surrounded by an unparalleled natural landscape.
From its fortress, Forte de Cacela, you can see the Praia de Cacela Velha and the sandbanks of the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve. This spot is especially beautiful when the sun begins to set.
Next to the Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunção is the typical bar of the village where you can enjoy delicious tapas with stunning views.
On the second day of this itinerary through the Algarve, you can visit one of the most charming beaches in southern Portugal. This small beach is sheltered by cliffs and rock formations that go into the sea, protecting it from the wind. Therefore, its waters are calm and perfect for a swim.
The beach consists of two parts and there is a man-made bridge connecting them. Crossing over you will discover a Roman-style bridge that connects two rock formations. This bridge is the most unique feature of the beach and was once part of the Pinhao fortress.
A short distance from the city of Lagos is this beach with crystal clear waters and a beautiful sandbank. To get there you need to descend a long wooden staircase from where you can see the beach and the rock formations that adorn the landscape.
In this corner of the coast, the rocky cliffs have formed an impressive landscape of striking shapes. The sea and the wind have created this picture of whimsical rocky escarpments.
The best way to admire this unique scenery is from the sea by hiring a boat or kayak. At sunset, the cliffs are lit with a gorgeous golden hue.
On the third day of exploring the Algarve, Portugal you can visit Sagres. This small town is located on a peninsula, surrounded by a picturesque coastal landscape. It is known for its beautiful beaches, perfect for water sports such as windsurfing.
On the outskirts of the village is Cape St. Vincent, forming the southwestern tip of continental Europe. In ancient times, this was a place of worship for Phoenicians and Romans. It was also a former base for Portuguese sailors in the 15th century and the last glimpse of land they saw as they departed.
Now the cape is dominated by a fort that rises above the cliff. It offers unbeatable views of the Algarve coast and the endless ocean. There is also a lighthouse with a museum inside that tells the story of Sagres’ role in Portugal’s maritime history.
Located on the coast between Lagos and Sagres is the fishing village of Burgau. Despite having a tradition and history linked to fishing, today Burgau lives mainly thanks to tourism.
However, it has managed to escape the large-scale development that has eaten up much of the central coast and still retains its charm.
This fishing village is a labyrinth of cobbled streets perfect for losing yourself until you reach the port and discover the beach of Burgau. This place of white fishermen’s houses and boats moored in the streets of the harbor will enchant anyone.
Chosen as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe, Praia Da Marinha is a long sandy beach bordered by a cliff. Its fame is well deserved, as its white sand and steep rocks transport us to paradise.
A long rock staircase leads us to this magical corner. It is advisable to go when the tide is low because when the sea rises there is hardly any space to stretch out your towel.
One of the most spectacular corners of the Algarve is hidden in Benagil. In this small fishing village is the beach of Benagil. This small, sandy area showcases cliffs and caves that the erosion of the sea has excavated around it.
There are more than 30 sea caves around the village, but there is one particular treasure that highlights above the rest: the Benagil sea cave. It is known as Algar de Benagil or ‘The Cathedral’ and is a circular grotto with a small sandy area inside. Being under its cliffs transports us to paradise as if we were in a movie.
It can only be reached from the sea as there is no land access. Therefore swimming or boating are your only options. The best way to explore is to can rent a kayak and visit both this cave and others that are in the surroundings. This place was quite calm until a few years ago when it went viral and everyone began to visit the cave.
Book This Trip
Start planning your trip to the coast of Algarve today. Get prepared with knowledge on insider tips on how to get around, hotel and VRBO accommodations, local restaurant reviews and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.
For the best flight deals, train tickets and car rental options, check out Omio Travel Partner.
Find more information:
Author Bio: Based in France, Lucia Otero Medraño is Spanish with a master’s degree in travel journalism. She has worked in the tourism sector but her true passion is to live enriching experiences and discover amazing places around the world and write about them. In her spare time, she likes to enjoy her second passion, music.