Algarve travel guide

Flop off a flight to Faro and you'll find time shares and green fees but explore inland or along the southwest coast and the Algarve opens up to patterned rocks, organic farms and friendly people, far from the high rises of Portimão and Albufeira. In no time you'll be flitting from one rural village or seaside town to the next, stopping off for a seemingly endless tapas of tastes and smells on route. Restricted fishing allows sea bream and bass to regroup alongside sardines, cuttlefish and coral reefs whilst surfers skim over Atlantic waves before watching sun sets with a Sagres on cooling sand dunes.
Take a nine iron and shatter any preconceptions of the Algarve as you discover deserted beaches, Moorish villages and some of Portugal’s best preserved and wildest natural areas.
Away from the coast you'll find figs, foliage, oranges, olives and century old carob trees aligning undulating strips of tarmac to help create a multi-sensory experience, perfect for cyclists outside of the summer. Throw caution to the wind and explore an authentic Algarve that not many casual tourists know exists. Find out more in our Algarve travel guide.

The Algarve is..

as wild, beautiful and unrestrained as nature intended.

The Algarve isn’t…

all about sun umbrellas and golf clubs.

Algarve map & highlights

The Ria Formosa Natural Park, just east of Faro, lets you get back to nature with towns like Tavira and Olhão offering an authentic Algarvian ambience as opposed to the mass tourist resorts further west. Step back inland and you’ll find Loulé and Alte nestled amongst the hillsides of the Terra de Caldas with a criss cross of recreational trails and cycle routes to take you to the coast or the wooded hillsides of Alentejo. The entirety of the southwest falls within the Costa Vicentina National Park with surfer towns like Odeceixe, Aljezur and Sagres enabling access to cliff top walks and hidden beaches as well as octopus, starfish, anemones and squid making the most of the warm waters and lack of interference from mass fishing.
Ponta Ruiva Alte

1. Ponta Ruiva Alte

Named after the rather large terracotta coloured rock that juts out of the stones and sand on its southern side, Ponta Ruiva Alte is about as untouched and natural as you’re going to find in the Algarve and as such it’s pretty tricky to reach unless you’re heading down by 4x4. Located just a 10 minute drive from Sagres, Ponta Ruiva is one for the purists and well worth asking a local for secret directions.
Praia da Amoreira

2. Praia da Amoreira

Situated where the Aljezur River greets the ocean, about 9km northwest of Aljezur village, Praia da Amoreira is a gloriously wide beach that sweeps forward from steep sand dunes and provides a perfect place to play amongst the rock pools and warm lagoons left at low tide. A wooden boardwalk helps visitors descend from the cliff top restaurants and car parks and lifeguards are usually on hand during high season.
Praia da Arrifana

3. Praia da Arrifana

Golden sugar-coloured sand makes Praia da Arrifana a big draw for beach lovers with well-placed cliffs providing protection from the wind zipping off the Atlantic. Situated around 10km southwest of Aljezur village and adjacent to Arrifana fishing village, which has some good bars and restaurants, Praia da Arrifana is a popular surfers’ beach and also has some 12th century castle ruins, just for a change of pace.
Praia de Odeceixe Mar

4. Praia de Odeceixe Mar

The tumbling waves of the Atlantic are clambering over each other to reach the bronzed sands and rocky slopes of Praia de Odeceixe Mar, and rightly so. Popular with surfers thanks to the break at the River Seixe, and nudists at the secluded southern cove of Praia de Adegas, this Blue Flag beach is about a 4km walk from Odeceixe village with a handful of shops and cafes to compliment the seclusion.
Praia do Amado

5. Praia do Amado

Framed by darkly rugged cliffs, fine sand dunes and rushing white horses, Praia do Amado is one of the Algarve’s essential surfer hang outs and regularly hosts competitions as well as seasonal surf camps. Situated just south of Carrapateira village and accessible via a scenic trail above the cliffs, Praia do Amado is a beautiful location and perfect for watching the waves or exploring rock pools at low tide.
Praia do Telheiro

6. Praia do Telheiro

If you’re looking for wild, woolly and deserted then Praia do Telheiro, about 7km northwest of Sagres, certainly fits the bill with several good cliff side strolls from where to admire the Atlantic. At the moment there are no restaurants, shops or lifeguards but if you’re looking for a remote and natural side to the Algarve from where to watch surfers or revel in isolation then Telheiro's the place for you.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Algarve or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: amaianos] [Is/isn't: muffinn] [Map intro: Tolbxela] [Praia de Odeceixe Mar: muffinn] [Praia da Amoreira: Tiago J. G. Fernandes] [Praia da Arrifana: Cláudio Franco] [Praia do Telheiro: Consuelo Ternero] [Ponta Ruiva Alte: Gustavo Veríssimo] [Praia do Amado: Annabelle Orozco]