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Algarve is a coastal region of Portugal, with an average yearly temperature of 22°C. This perfect climate makes it the ideal destination for travellers all year round. Vacationers can enjoy swimming in the fresh, warm water or sunbathing on the golden sandy beaches in Olhão, at Algarve’s southernmost point. Today we bring you the best Algarve Itinerary for one week, two weeks and three weeks.
Introducing the Algarve
There’s more to this picturesque region than sand and surf. In fact, Algarve is one of the most diverse areas in Europe with a variety of landscapes including mountains and forests as well as quaint villages that date back to Roman times.
Dotted along the coastline are a number of traditional fishing villages and coastal towns, such as Faro, Lagos and Tavira. These are some of the most popular destinations in Algarve with an abundance of restaurants, bars, shops and historical landmarks to see. Further inland are the castle-topped hillsides and orange groves of rural Algarve’s hinterland.
The Algarve has a wealth of historical sites and natural wonders.
Travel in the Algarve
You will probably fly into either Lagos or Faro airport. Both airports are well served from the UK including flights by cheap airlines such as Ryanair.
The Algarve region is well served by National and International Network Railways. The largest railway station in the region is Faro, with a connection to Lisbon and the rest of Portugal. There are nine other stations along the coast between Lagos and Tavira, and six in the interior.
Algarve Itinerary 1 week
Although it is possible to visit 5-6 places along the Algarve coast in one week, I recommend that you narrow it down to two or three destinations to truly relax and enjoy the Algarve. Any more than 3 locations would be hectic and stressful. A suitable itinerary could be:
- Lagos > Albufeira > Faro
- Lagos > Portimao > Faro
- Lagos > Faro > Tavira
Lagos > Faro > Tavira 1 week Itinerary
Lagos – 3 days
Lagos lies at the north of Faro and is a modern city with stunning beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. Take a walk around the old town where you can see its Moorish Palace, King João I’s Castle and the Municipal Museum of Lagos. The setting is also perfect for an afternoon stroll or jog along its sandy beaches. It is also worth visiting its La Giralda tower which stands high above the coast in a location praised by many as one of Portugal’s most beautiful locations.
Faro 2-3 days
Faro is the largest city in the Algarve and is situated on a peninsula with stunning beaches on either side. The historic centre of Faro is still surrounded by its medieval walls which have the Norman Castle at its heart. Within its walls are many museums and galleries to discover including the Archaeology Museum, Fine Arts Museum, Marine Museum and Municipal Ethnography Museum. Aside from art and culture, there are also beautiful parks and gardens including the Jardim Raul Lopes, Parque Das Colinas and Jardim Susana Pintor.
Tavira – Day trip from Faro
Tavira is located between Faro and Lagos on Tavira Bay and it has been described as Portugal’s second capital. The town itself is large and full of character. There are many excellent beaches here with the main one being Praia de Tavira. This large, golden sandy beach is popular for windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing during the warmer months of summer. Other attractions in the area include Tavira Castle, Castelo de Castro Marinha and Convento da Graça.
Add ons – Portimao and or Albufeira
Due to the extensive train network, it is possible to do Portimao as a day trip from Lagos and Albufeira as a day trip from Faro. So if you are feeling particularly ambitious you could do all 5 of these destinations in a week.
Algarve Two Week Itinerary
With two weeks to spend in the Algarve it is possible to see 5 or 6 destinations and truly appreciate what each place has to offer, Our suggested two week Algarve itinerary is:
Tavira > Faro > Vilamoura > Albufeira > Portimao > Lagos
Day 1-2 Tavira
For this Itinerary, fly into Faro and head straight to Tavira. You will be able to spend two days in Tavira. Enjoy the Old Town on day 1 and take a trip to Santa Luzia and Barril Beach.
Day 3-4 Faro
You will then have 1-2 days to enjoy Faro. Choose to spend your time between the historic centre and museums, boat trips and Praia de Faro beach.
Day 5-6 Vilamoura
Choose to spend a day or two on the beaches of Vilamoura before heading on to Albufeira. Vilamoura is just a small town by the sea, but it has something for everyone – from a beautiful beachfront to golf courses and everything in between. You could spend your days hiking through the Serra de Monchique or lounging on its many beaches.
Day 7-8 Albufeira
The ancient port city of Albufeira is one of the oldest and most established seaside resorts in Europe. Located on the sunny south-west coast, this small fishing town retains a traditional charm and an authentic Portuguese character that makes it a firm favourite with locals and international visitors alike. With beautiful beaches, endless golfing opportunities, idyllic countryside villages to explore and much more besides, Albufeira is a truly diverse holiday destination.
Nightlife lovers will feel right at home in Albufeira, with a wide range of traditional cafes, bars and night clubs dotted around the town. The liveliest scene is on the stone-built Avenida Marginal, which features a range of restaurants and bars that provide entertainment of an evening. A close-knit community, Albufeira also offers numerous cultural activities throughout the year. The local people are keen to share their heritage with visitors and there are various museums and historical sites to visit while in town.
Day 9-10 Portimao
Portimao, Portugal is one of the youngest cities in the Algarve region. It was first populated during the 17th century as a fishing village when it was called “Olive Grove”. Portimao was classified on 6 November 1996 as a city but retains its local character of a small fishing village.
Portimao is primarily known for its beaches and has become a popular tourist destination since its early beginnings. The best beaches are: Praia dos Castelos, Praia da Adraga, Praia da Franca and Praia do Parque Urbano (Urban Park).
Day 11-14 Lagos
It’s great to have slightly longer to spend in Lagos as it has a long history and is famous for its seafood restaurants, fashionable bars and nightclubs, long promenade, and picturesque natural landscapes.
There are plenty of nice places to stay in Lagos with good affordable accommodation options like Abela Apartments or Camacho Apartments. It is also an excellent destination for those who love to party and want to live like locals. The nightlife is pretty interesting in Lagos and the best places to enjoy it are in the main square, along the beach and Rua do Pereiro. Fancy restaurants are also available but at a much more expensive price.
You can choose from many activities such as surfing, scuba diving, horse riding, boat tours, yachting to fill your days. Finally, you will be ready to head back to the airport.
A three week Algarve Itinerary
Three weeks in the Algarve will allow you to do the above two week itinerary with the following optional add ons:
So, a suggested 3 week itinerary could be:
Tavira > Olhao > Faro > Vilamoura > Albufeira > Silves > Portimao > Monchique > Lagos > Sagres
(with between 1-3 days in each destination)
Olhao, located on the southern coast of Portugal, is a flourishing fishing village. It’s surrounded by an ancient port and a lighthouse that was built in 1865. The town has developed over the course of many centuries, and it’s now become a popular tourist destination for people visiting Portugal because there are many things to do here.
The Portuguese people are known for partying hard, so Olhao’s Carnival is something worth experiencing at least once! If you’re into surfing or other water sports then this location offers ample opportunity to partake. Other popular pursuits include horseback riding or hiking in the nearby hills.
Loule is a quaint, scenic village that has been attracting people for centuries. So the town motto is “Waiting for You”. It isn’t hard to see why: Loule offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Portugal, making it a popular tourist destination. I have spent summers there since I was a child and now consider it my second home.
July is a fantastic time to visit because it’s when Loule celebrates its history, culture and heritage with their four-day festival called the Festa dos Santos Populares which runs from July 3rd to July 6th every year. The highlight of the festival is a parade of mounted riders through the streets of Loule, called Procession da Rua (Procession on the Street). All the equestrian groups in Loule have been asked to participate and just like with most riding traditions throughout history, they all dress up in boots and blue jeans or whatever they can find in their closets.
The regions best kept secret lies further inland at Monchique where stunning natural landscapes include vast forests which cover the mountain slopes. The trees reach heights upwards of 30 metres providing some welcome shade from the hot sun during summer months. Monchique’s lush vegetation, thick undergrowth and abundant wildlife make this region a true haven in the Algarve.
If you’re looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there’s no better choice than Silves. This family-friendly resort is situated just five minutes from the beach. The location offers an abundance of opportunities for exploring nature, as well as taking in beautiful views of Portugal’s southern coastline. It’s also home to many leisure activities, like golfing or mountain biking.
Sagres Algarve is a small fishing village near the coast of Portugal with a population of just over 1,000. One of the most famous exports from Sagres Algarve are its high-quality seafood, and an annual fish market is held in the town every Saturday.
The fantastic thing about developing your Algarve itinerary is that the destinations along the coast are extremely accessible and travel between destinations is usually no more than one hour. This makes it an easy and flexible itinerary. What is your perfect Algarve itinerary? I’d love to hear how you got on so please comment below!