Algarve is known for its breathtaking cliffs, caves, crystal blue water, and golden beaches we just couldn’t get enough of this stunning place. With picture-perfect small villages to sea caves to delicious traditional seafood there plenty to see and do in this region of Portugal.
Here are 6 things you have to do when you are in Algarve.
1Take a boat trip and get up close with Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is one of the finest natural features in the world and it is one not to miss when you are in Algarve. It is one of those places you wouldn’t believe exists even when you are there. The dramatic rock formations and the deep turquoise and greens of the sea waters are simply stunning.
There are coastal paths across the cliff but the best way to explore this idyllic setting is by water, with many hidden caves and grottoes to explore. Looking at this unique rock formation from the sea really makes you appreciate its beauty. There may be some arches you may need to duck from in your boat to reach these hidden places but it is all part of the experience.
Keep an eye out for the ‘Elephant Cave’ – yes you guessed it! it is shaped like an elephant and is frankly quite impressive.
How to get here:
The closest town to Ponta da Piedade is Lagos. You can get to this dramatic headland by car, by foot or by the sea.
If you decide to drive, you will find a narrow staircase from the parking area ( make sure you have comfortable shoes on – there are 180 steep steps ) which will lead you straight down to the small cove where you will find fisher boats waiting for you. Hop on and explore this breathtaking paradise.
You can also take a boat from the marina in Lagos. Majority of the boat trips depart from this marina and you will find plenty of tour agencies selling tickets on the promenade.If you are one of the brave ones who decide to walk, Ponta da Piedade is almost 3km from the city centre of Lagos. It may be a long walk but it is certainly a beautiful one.
2Visit the picture perfect inland villages
To see the way of life that has disappeared from much of Europe, head up in the hills of Monchique. This region is dotted with pretty villages, small cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, citrus groves, olive trees and small farms. It is truly a tranquil experience and the traditional way of living here will make you step back in time.
The bustling market town of Loulé is filled with traditional architecture and history. The remnants of its Roman and Moorish past is immediately evident. Take a stroll down the cobbled side streets and every coffee shop you walk past you will see locals catching up on gossip over an espresso or find workshops with craftsman busily working. It has that true community feel.
If you are looking to go even further and explore some of the untouched traditional villages make sure you head to Querença and Salir. These are dubbed as the ‘sleepy towns’ where the pace of life is slow and relaxing but these are the regions real jewels. The houses are all whitewashed and picture perfect. You won’t find many tourists in these sleepy towns just the locals going about their daily life. It is a true hidden paradise.
How to get here:
The best way to reach any of these towns is by bus or car. Most visitors travel to Loule by bus. There are direct bus services from Faro and Albufeira to Loule if you are looking to explore deeper, buses run from Loule going to the smaller towns such as Salir.
To find out the exact directions make sure you download Rome 2 Rio app which will do all the work for you.
3Beaches Beaches Beaches!
One thing Algarve is known for is its sandy beaches and crystal clear water. With countless picturesque beaches along the coast, you will be spoilt for choice. The golden-hued cliffs set against the beaches are perhaps the most iconic natural beauty. Some of the best beaches in the Algarve region include Praia da Marinha, Praia da Falesia, Camilo Beach. For a detailed guide of the best beaches in Algarve have a look at our best beaches in Algarve guide.
4Fall in love with Ria Formosa
If you are one with nature then you will love this less explored treasures in Algarve, Ria Formosa Natural Park. This beautiful blue-green tidal lagoon has been named as one of Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.
Algarve’s quietest and the most secluded beach, Ilha Deserta beach is found here. This pristine beach is hidden away from the tourists, with just one building on the 8km coastline. It is also a haven for birdlife, between the months of August and March you are most likely to witness the migration of flamingos.
How to get here:
The closest town to Ria Formosa Natural Park is Faro. Ferries run regularly from ports in Faro or the towns of Olhão and Tavira.
5Explore the hidden sea caves
Algarve has many sea caves and unique rock formations due to the erosion from the sea but the two sea caves which are worth visiting in the region of Algarve are Benagil caves and Zorreira caves. These caves are only accessible by a boat or kayak, some daredevils even swim to these hidden caves.
What makes the Benagil sea cave extra special is the small beach inside this magical natural formation teamed with the wide opening above the grotto which brings in the natural skylight. It is definitely an Instagram worthy adventure.
How to get here:
The sea caves are only accessible by water. From Benagil beach you will find local fishing boats which go to the caves regularly, however, the operation of these fishing boats is all down the tides.
There are boat tours which depart from carvoeiro, Lagos, Portimão, Ferragudo, Albufeira and Vilamoura. One thing to keep in mind when booking these tours is that the big boats will not enter the caves and give you a chance to go inside so opt for the smaller ones if you are looking to get inside the sea cave.
6Eat like a local
Eat like a local when you are in Algarve. The cataplana is Algarves traditional seafood dish which is served in almost all restaurants. Steam cooked inside a copper dish the base is generally tomato, wine and garlic with a variety of seafood such as clams, mussels, prawns and white fish. It is must try when you are in Algarve!
Also be sure to try Portugal most famous and utterly delicious, pastéis de nata. These caramelized egg custard tarts are simply yummy!