The Algarve coast is probably one of the most famous area in Portugal and was my favorite part to visit. There are so many different things not to miss so make sure to check this article out :
Where to stay ?
I would not recommend the place we stayed in Lagos as we didn't had a good experience. I would say better put a higher budget and have a well located clean place to stay.
For Faro we stayed at Faro Downtown studios. It is very well located in the city center. We had a beautiful duplex apartment very clean and well arranged with an amazing decor. We had big windows with tiny balconies getting you the Portugal living experience watching the life of the street go by from up there. Very charming and affordable ! To park your car you will have to try your luck in the car park spots in town and pay at the machine for the time you stay. Parking is quite inexpensive I think we paid around 10€ for the day.
Where to eat ?
In Lagos we tried the Goji Lounge cafe for breakfast, go early as it’s very busy for brunch, they have limited sitting and their menu is awesome. If you like bowls, smoothies and healthy food this is a spot for you.
At night time I don’t remember finding an awesome place to eat so you might be more lucky than us.
In Faro we took an apartment so we cooked ourself.
What to see ?
Park at the top parking, best is to arrive early to find a spot easily especially the ones in the shade they disappear very quick. If you arrive too late it will be hard to find a parking spot at all.
- Explore the beautiful city center and the paved streets
- Bring back beautiful specialties from Portugal at Mar d’Estorias, we regretted not bringing more from this place they have a variety of products and craft and we never found such a good shop afterwards.
Then head to the coast to see the beautiful landscape nature has to offer : use you car and drive along the coast as you want to explore. Most of the time you will have to park on the side of the road whenever you find a spot to reach the beach.
The Algarve coast is full of little coves and beaches. You will have plenty to explore. The most famous spots are :
- Praia do Camilo : with the famous staircase going to the beach this one is divided in 2 parts where you go through a little tunnel in the rocks to access the other beach. This spot gets deserted at the end of the day as the second tiny beach gets completely in the shadow and gets cold. The beach does get crowded during the day during summer months and if you want a nice spot you will have to arrive early. Or if you came for the view you can arrive later to see all the colorful umbrellas on the beach and snap a nice photo.
- Ponta Da Piedade : The most famous view of the Algarve coast ! You will have plenty to see here, from all the views along the coast over the pinnacles, to the little harbor to go on a tour. Walk around in the surroundings at the top there are plenty of views to experience.
- I would also say mind where you put your feet to not crush wildlife.
- Flying your drone is possible but I would not recommend it if it’s windy and if there are a lot of people around.
- All you need is love beach, one of the nicest beach on the coast hidden between the cliffs. It’s also an optional clothing / naturist beach. We didn’t know this and when we saw the “all you need is love” sign at the beginning of the hike to reach to beach and it didn’t alarm us 🤣. If you are with children or if you are uncomfortable with nudity then skip this one and go to the next beach. If you don’t mind or if you actually enjoy being naked on the beach then this is a place for you. We found this beach way less crowded (obviously) and beautiful. You can visit some caves but I would recommend doing it if the tide is not going up and if you are not claustrophobic as the waves can sometimes fully take the whole space you can end up having to hold your breath with your head underwater for a few seconds time to time. When you reach the other side to the hidden cave you will see a beautiful dome with a hole on the "ceiling" above a pool cave. Be noticed that it smells gas a lot as boat tours bring people in and the smells stays.
To fully explore the coast on the ocean side you can either rent a kayak or book a cruise with Oursea Yatchs. It’s a budget but you can enjoy the coast at your rhythm almost for yourself or your group for 1/2 day. We definitely plan on doing so next time we come.
- In general I would recommend experiencing this part of the coast fully, within different days to get the best of it and mix between beach time, boat / kayak / hiking / explore the city and so on. There are plenty of beaches we didn’t had time to see. Some of them are more hidden or require to hike a little bit to reach them.Simply make sure to always have water / hat / swimsuit and you are good to go !
Pay a visit to Ferragudo, this little village and the amazing view surrounded by the harbor. To snap the nicest shot park your car in Area Ferragudo and walk down to the harbor beach to have the city in the background. This is a spot I definitely missed doing and discovered too late. So don't make the same mistake and pay a visit to this magical place.
Benagil Caves :
Another very famous spot of the Algarve coast that we unfortunately missed. (Sometimes you just need to experience a place once to know your mistakes I guess).
Park at the top of the cliff and arrive early to have a spot. Take everything you need with you and go down the road to book a shuttle, they have specific departure hours to drop you at the cave. It gets very very busy as we arrived too late it discouraged us to battle through the crowd to see it. You also have the option to book a kayak tour or a Stand Up Paddle tour. There are hours to go with a smaller group and you will be able to visit the cave and the coast. I also received the advise to swim to the cave but I would not recommend doing it as the waves and current can crash you on the cliffs to go there, there have been a lot of accidents doing so. Also because you might have the strength to go but be exhausted on the way back and because it's busy with boats and kayaks and so on. For all these reasons I highly recommend renting a kayak / SUP and enjoy the caves and the coast not swimming. You will have access to some very remote beaches you can only access from the ocean. It’s really worth it.
- From the car park you can also explore the coast and hike the reserve for the most amazing views (you will see the ocean only access beaches I told you about). Bring a hat and some water and go explore the hidden views and beaches. Take your snacks with you to go further.
We heard so much about this place that we decided to stay 2 days. In fact 2 days is a little bit too much for this town. I would say 1 day to visit is enough. You can go around the city and enjoy the Igreja do Carmo and its chapel made with human bones. Stroll in the typical streets and admire the Storks on the monuments they are nesting there year around.
- If you have more time go island hoping, book a boat with Formosamar - Boat Tours to explore for 4h and get to learn about the lagoon / swamps and wildlife. You will visit the islands in the natural reserve. They make 2 stops, 1 in a very preserved island, and another stop on the bigger island on the other side for a longer break. This island is the locals gateway with their cute little beach houses for holidays. It was really cute and fun to be there.