Between beckoning beaches, enchanting caves, imposing rock formations, and historical heritage sites, the Algarve offers many things to do and places to discover. In this 7 days Algarve itinerary I have included the highlights of the most scenic destination in Portugal that you must visit.
Anyone who plans a European trip expects to find only beautiful historic cities and a lot of cultural heritage. But the truth is that it is also possible to find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And when you will visit the southernmost region of Portugal, the Algarve, you will agree.
Located between Spain and the Alentejo region, the Algarve is a European paradise full of history and modern amenities offering something for everyone.
With an average of 300 sunny days per year, the Algarve beaches represent one of the main touristic destinations in summer. Its rugged coastal scenery interrupted by extensive stretches of golden sand, a water temperature that is warmer than other regions of northern Europe attract both locals and international tourists alike.
And if you are still in doubt about whether or not it is worth including this region in your Portugal itinerary, you should know that besides being beautiful, the Algarve region is also one of the most budget travel options in Europe.
In addition, the traditional Mediterranean cuisine, the culture, and the friendliness of the Portuguese people are just as attractive as the landscape itself. And this is why this Algarve itinerary combines a little bit of everything the region has to offer.
7 days Algarve itinerary
To make the best out of your Algarve tour, I organized this itinerary considering the availability of a car. I also considered Faro, the capital of the Algarve, as both the starting and ending points. Later on, you will understand why I made these choices and why I chose Faro, Lagos, and Sagres as the base cities for the itinerary.
Algarve Itinerary Day 1 – Faro
After arriving in Faro and checking in at your accommodation of choice, take the opportunity to explore the charming historic city center. The most touristic part of the city is surrounded by the Faro’s ancient city walls (Muralhas de Faro), which protects the Old Town (Cidade Velha), where the Faro Cathedral is located.
You can still see the Faro Harbor and the Igreja do Carmo during your walk. For those who love museums, the Regional Museum of the Algarve is great for understanding the region’s history. In the surroundings, you will also find many bars and restaurants serving local cuisine.
I highly recommend A Venda, serving Portuguese tapas, the best way to try many typical dishes.
You will probably have spent a good part of the day exploring the city, depending on the time you arrived in Faro.
So, my suggestion is to finish the first day contemplating one of the amazing sunsets from Praia de Faro!
No doubt you will want to spend some time there admiring the spectacular scenery over the ocean. After that, get plenty of rest: the second day will be busy!
Algarve Itinerary Day 2 – Faro
On the second day of the Algarve itinerary, it is time to put your feet in the sand! If you look at the map of Faro, you will see a huge coastal lagoon, the Ria Formosa, bordered by several barrier islands.
Each one of these islands offers beautiful idyllic beaches. However, not all of them are easily accessible (the prettiest ones are not), so it is best to take a boat trip. You can choose to take a hop-on hop-off tour in which you can visit Culatra Island, Farol Island, and Deserta Island.
But if you are on a tight budget, you can take one of Faro’s municipal ferries directly to one of the islands.
And to end the day, nothing better than a typically Portuguese dinner! I recommend the Fontinha family restaurant, which despite being simple and hidden in the Montenegro neighborhood has much tastier food than many chic restaurants in the center of Faro.
With a full stomach, you can stop for a Sangria in Baixa de Faro before heading back to your accommodation.
Algarve Itinerary day 3 – Lagos
Now it is time to get in the car and drive west. Although not as big as Faro, the city of Lagos is one of the most famous in the region. It is also home to some of the best beaches in Portugal, so it is a must-see on the Algarve itinerary!
The tip is to start the third day in the historic center of Lagos. Even though it is small, it has a really nice vibe. You can walk along the main avenue all the way up to the Harbor. After lunch, it is time to explore the beaches.
On this first day in Lagos, I suggest visiting Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo. You will recognize the first one from the most common postcards of the Algarve and it deserves all the fame!
Nearby, the small Camilo Beach is perfect for spending more time relaxing. The third destination of the day is Ponta da Piedade. Although not exactly a beach, this site offers an indescribable view and a perfect option to watch the sunset.
Given the trendy style of Lagos and the many bars, this is also a great day to go out and have a drink in the city! With delicious Mexican food, The Green Room- Burritos & Cocktails is a great option if you also want a snack to accompany your cocktail.
Also, read | Where to stay in Lagos – Guide to the cutest hotels
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Algarve Itinerary Day 4 – Lagos
Close to Lagos, Lagoa is also worth including in your Algarve itinerary. The drive there takes less than 30 minutes, and it is where you will find Marinha Beach, which was once voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Take the opportunity to also visit Benagil Beach. From there, boats leave for Benagil Cave, known as the most beautiful cave in the world.
And if you are more adventurous, you can go on the 7 Hanging Valleys Trail. The hike is 3.5 miles long (one way) and guarantees some of the best landscapes in the Algarve. Although it might take a few hours to complete, it is a great alternative for those who do not want to go on a boat tour or want to save money.
Another interesting point to include in this day is the Carvoeiro Village, with colorful houses perched on the cliffs. This is one of the many fishing villages you can find around Lagoa where you can really connect with the local culture. If you have time, enjoy eating at some of the typical restaurants you find there.
Algarve Itinerary Day 5 – Sagres
Also known as Costa Vicentina, the Algarve West Coast is where you will find some of the most dramatic and wild cliffs.
This is why your first day in Sagres will be all about a breathtaking road trip.
The options of Algarve beaches on the West Coast are numerous. So, I recommend checking out a little bit of everything starting at Amoreira Beach and driving back to Sagres, stopping along the way.
Some of the highlights include the drive from Amoreira Beach to Fateixa Beach, passing through the lovely fishing village of Monte Clérigo with its little white houses sitting in between the cliffs. I suggest stopping at O Zé for a coffee break.
Once you have made it to Bordeira Beach, take the alternative route of Estrada da Praia along the cliffs to Amado Beach. Another spot I recommend checking out is the Cordoama Lookout. The view from up there is indescribable and you get to see Castelejo Beach as well.
On your way back to Sagres, where I suggest staying on the 5th day of your Algarve trip, be sure to check out the Gelateria Alice, Art & Heart. I promise you will not regret it!
Algarve Itinerary day 6 – Sagres
After so much exploring and driving along the West Coast, you might want to take it easier the next day. And if you want to vary a bit and you are interested in history, it is worth taking an excursion to the Sagres Fortress.
Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, Sagres Fortress is a must-see in the region. Dedicate at least an hour of your day to get to know all its relics, among them a wind rose over 130 ft high. Besides its undeniable historical value, the site also provides a privileged panoramic view of the entire coast and its incredible cliffs.
And to rest your mind and body, why not visit Beliche Beach? Protected from the wind by huge cliffs, this is one of the best surfing spots in Sagres! And if you are no that into surfing, you can still watch the locals shredding. Not to mention there is a delicious restaurant if you get hungry, the Terra Restaurant.
To finish your historic day on the Costa Vicentina, reserve the sunset for Cabo São Vicente, which is just around the corner. A little away from the tourist crowds, Cabo São Vicente is the most southwestern point in Europe.
Think of a spectacular place, full of giant cliffs surrounded by a deep blue sea. There is also a charming red lighthouse home to a small museum about Portugal’s maritime history. This will probably be one of the most memorable sunsets you will ever witness!
Algarve Itinerary day 7 – Drive back to Faro
Unfortunately, we have come to the end of this Algarve plan. I always use the last day of my travel itineraries to check out a place that I haven’t had the time to see before. And I recommend you do the same.
So, I put Sagres as the last base for you to decide where to stop on your way back to Faro. If you could not visit all the beaches or towns you wanted before, this is your chance.
A good tip is to explore Ferragudo. This pristine and scenic village is located approximately halfway between Sagres and Faro, making it a perfect stop for lunch, for example. A Ria serves the typical Mediterranean seafood but if you want a break of all the seafood, Fim do Mundo restaurant is a delicious Portuguese steakhouse.
But keep in mind, this Algarve itinerary is just a suggestion, an idea of how to enjoy the region in a week. Of course, you can make changes, add, or remove elements to your liking. Actually, let us know if I miss anything that you consider unmissable!
Unmissable things to do in Algarve
Very close to Faro, Olhão is a small town located in the middle of the Ria Formosa. The strong connection to the sea and fishing of this town is visible in the large municipal market, dedicated to the trade of fish, besides fruits, and vegetables.
It is said that this is where you can eat the best shellfish in the Algarve. Olhão is also the main harbor to access the islands around Ria Formosa. So, exploring Olhão before getting on the ferry can be an interesting alternative for the second day of this itinerary.
The best postcard of the Algarve and one of the most beautiful caves you will ever see! Be sure to go and plan to visit around noon, which is the time when the light enters the cave with greater intensity.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to reach Benagil Cave on foot. The only ways to access are by kayak, paddleboards, or boat, which you can rent or hire at Benagil Beach. However, there is also a way to see the cave from the top along the 7 Hanging Valleys Trail.
If you are traveling alone you can also join a tour. Here below are some options.
7 Hanging Valleys Trail
For those who like to walk and enjoy beautiful landscapes, this is an activity not to be missed. The trail is of low difficulty, it is well signposted, has protections and handrails and you will almost always walk on flat ground on top of the cliffs.
The trail is 7 miles long (round trip) from Marinha Beach to Carvoeiro, passing by Benagil Cave. Since the hike goes along the most popular beaches in Lagoa, it does not matter the time of the year you will always run into other tourists, making this a very safe trail for solo travelers.
And best of all, along the trail, you can choose to go down to several beaches or simply turn around and go back whenever you get tired.
Ponta da Piedade
One of the most beautiful natural areas in the Algarve, formed by cliffs and rock formations is located 2.5 miles south of Lagos. Its geographical features make it a pleasant place for photography and more recently for hiking, as wooden walkways have recently been built all the way to Canavial Beach.
The walkways run along the coastline, near the cliffs, for 1.5 miles in a landscape of sea and rock formations that leave you speechless.
When you arrive at the Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse, all you have to do is walk down the long stairs to begin to appreciate the extreme beauty of these natural caves.
Forte de Sagres
The Sagres Fortress is a huge building on the rock, at the tip of the cape, from where you can admire stunning views of Cape St. Vincent and the coast.
You can also visit the church of Nossa Senhora da Graça and the interactive museum of the Portuguese discoveries.
There is no need to book your visit to the fortress, although there is a small fee to enter and explore the grounds.
Useful practical tips to traveling to Algarve
When is the best time to visit Algarve?
The Algarve sea has icy waters all year round, which in summer are welcome due to the strong heat in the region. So, you might think the best time to visit the Algarve is in summer, June to August. But during these months, the tourist spots and parking lots are crowded, and accommodation prices go up.
This makes the months of May and September good options to escape the crowd and still enjoy the beach.
And although the Algarve is pretty much a desert, it does rain. The rainiest month is usually March with about 10 rainy days, which is actually not that much.
The rest of the year is ideal for those who just want to see the attractions and admire the views and landscapes. Or, of course, for those who want to surf since that is when the best waves arrive in Portugal!
Read more about the best time to visit Portugal
How Many days do I need to visit Algarve?
Who goes to the Algarve during summer, rarely stays less than a week. Seven days is the ideal period to get to know the beaches of this region and visit the cities. It is a region very rich in landscapes, beaches of different types, markets, commerce, and restaurants.
The list of tourist points to include in your Algarve itinerary is extensive and goes much further than just beaches. In other words, you can easily spend 10 days traveling around if you have the time.
Is Algarve Safe for a solo female traveler?
Portugal was voted the 4th safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index 2021. In 2020, the Algarve had the lowest recorded crime figures in all continental Portugal, second only to the Alentejo.
Of course, like anywhere else in the world, more touristy places require a little more attention to your belongings. But, in general, there is not much to worry about safety in Portugal since the existing problems are punctual.
How to get to Algarve?
The fastest way to get to the Algarve is by plane. Several low-cost airlines make this route departing from several countries in Europe with the final destination in Faro.
Another option, leaving Lisbon, is by car, it is only 172 miles to Faro and less than 3h of travel. It is also possible to arrive by car from Seville, Spain, it is 124 miles away and approximately 2h driving.
Just as it is possible to go by car from Lisbon or Seville, it is also possible to go by bus. From Lisbon, the journey takes around 4h to Faro and from Seville, the journey takes around 3h. And lastly, you can also go by train from Lisbon. The journey takes approximately 3:30h to Faro.
How to move around Algarve
I think the most asked question about the Algarve is whether it is possible to get to know the region without a car. It is not that the car is essential in your Algarve trip, but it definitely makes it easier to move around and stop at the places you want.
If you do not have a car, you can get around the cities by train or bus. Both options are not very comfortable and do not offer many options in their timetables, but they do the job and connect the main cities.
Keep in mind that the distances between one city and another are relatively long, between 30 minutes and 1h by car. The distances between the beaches are also not close enough to walk on a beautiful sunny summer day.
So, all in all, it is possible, yes. But I do not recommend it since the daily rate for a basic car in the Algarve is not outrageous, gasoline is cheap, the various tolls are mostly cheap, and parking lots are free. Not to mention all the freedom you would have to visit what you want, when you want, and at a faster pace, which will allow you to see more.
Rent a car
As I mentioned, to see these and many other attractions in 7 days with all the freedom a vacation asks for, it is essential to rent a car, since public transportation is not so efficient in the Algarve.
I recommend researching different rental companies. You can use an aggregator to compare rates such as DiscoverCar Rentals, which I always Recommend.
But be very careful about the rules when renting a car. Prefer the full/full style to avoid the refill fee and pay close attention to the type of fuel the car needs. And choose the zero-deductible insurance so if anything should happen you are cover.
If you pre-book your car on DiscoverCar Rentals, you can just book the basic fare, and then you can upgrade to full insurance directly with the
Keep in mind that gasoline in Portuguese is “gasolina” and diesel is “gasóleo”. Moreover, in Portugal, the toll is charged only on the highways and through radars. Plus, to make your life easier, consider hiring the ViaVerde service so you do to have to worry about tolls. Otherwise, you might have to visit a post office after your road trip to pay for them or pay extra attention to avoid the highways.
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Where to stay in Algarve (and best location)
As you may have noticed above, some of the main cities for you to use as a base are Faro, Lagos, and Sagres, all three strategically located.
Portimão and Albufeira are also cities with good hotels and commercial infrastructures. But I find them very crowded and almost impossible to park your car which makes them not so practical for those who want to go around more freely.
Where to stay in Faro
Using Faro as starting and ending points is ideal since the city has many more options of flights, trains, and buses than its neighbors Albufeira and Lagos.
Furthermore, staying in Faro gives you the possibility to explore the eastern region of the Algarve and the amazing barrier islands of the Ria Formosa. The best place to stay in Faro is without a doubt the historical center, which is basically the area around the harbor.
This is the busiest part of the city, as many of the cafes, restaurants, bars, stores, and sights such as museums and historic buildings are concentrated there. I suggest checking out Baixa Terrace Hostel and Stay Hotel.
Where to stay in Lagos
Staying in Lagos helps when visiting the most touristic spots in the Algarve, in Lagoa. It is also a nice stop between Faro and Sagres. Staying In Lagos, you will be also close to many attractions, including the beaches. Some of the best options are The Salty Lodge and the more traditional Marina Club Lagos Resort and Hotel Azul.
Where to stay in Sagres
Finally, located on the tip of the Algarve’s southwestern coast, the small coastal town of Sagres is the perfect base to explore Costa Vicentina, a much less touristic region than Lagos. For a long time, Sagres was considered the “end of the world” because of the huge cliffs over the sea that make us wonder what lies beyond the horizon.
For nature lovers, there are also some camping sites available. Depending on the type of accommodation, prices can vary between 20 and 400 euros per night. The price list is more expensive on holidays, weekends, and high seasons.
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About the Author
I’m Camila, an Oceanographer from Brazil which is where my journey began. My studies have taken me to unique places around the world since I was a teenager. I found in my academic career the chance to come across different cultures and languages while working as a scientist. By having lived in several countries I have been able to share my experiences as a travel content writer for the last 4 years and I still have plenty more to tell. I have a great passion for the outdoors and animals, especially dogs and seals (which, let’s be honest, are basically sea dogs!).