The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal. Known for its numerous beaches, fishing villages, and breathtaking limestone cliffs. There is no doubt why this is one of the most popular summer destinations in the country. To help discover the best Algarve Road trip, we will be sharing a few itineraries with some of the most popular destinations that you won’t want to miss.
Planning Your Algarve Road Trip
Planning a road trip can be a lot of fun but also stressful, especially if you are in a foreign country. What do international travellers need to know before jumping into an Algarve Road trip?
If you are at least 18 years old and hold a driver’s license from your country, odds are you are good to drive in Portugal. US drivers have up to 185 days while visiting for use of their license without needing to apply for an exchange license.
Another thing to note is that most rental companies in Portugal require a tourist to be at least 23 or 25 to rent a vehicle from them. If you would like more information on driving in Portugal, check out our other post here.
Itineraries for Your Algarve Road Trip
Now time to get into the fun part. Talking about what to do and see on your Algarve Road trip. Depending on how much time there is to adventure, we have put together a few itineraries to choose from that best fit your needs. Check them out below!
7-10 Day Algarve Road Trip
Day 1 Faro
Faro is a great place to start off your Algarve Road Trip. There is an international airport to fly into and cars can be rented easily. To ensure you have the freedom to adventure along the road trip, renting an SUV is recommended to make navigating dirt roads easier.
Day 2-3 Albufeira
Albufeira was once a fishing town, but is now a popular destination for travellers planning an Algarve Road Trip. There are numerous beaches within walking distance around the city. Public transportation is available if you’d rather park your rental while venturing out into the city. Taking in a nice lunch by the harbour is a must!
Day 4-5 Carvoeiro
If you are looking for a boating adventure and exploring some caves then look no further than Carvoeiro. What used to be so small that it wasn’t even considered its own town now features one of the most beautiful beaches and boat tours. Just be prepared if you travel in the winter the waters might be too rough for a boat ride.
Day 6-7 Portimão
Boasting one of the most known beaches on the Algarve Road trip is Portimão. Praia de Rocha is easily recognisable by its small rock foundations just off the coast. With inexpensive public transit, this is another area that it would be easy to park your rental vehicle and explore on foot with the help of buses or trams.
The best things to do in Portimao include a walking tour of the old town, visiting Benagil caves and adventure sports such as Skydiving and parasailing.
Day 8-9 Lagos
One of the most popular tourist destinations Lagos will be sure to entertain with fantastic dining and breathtaking cliff views. Although Lagos is popular it still has the feel of a small fishing village that the region is known for. With beaches and trails to choose from there is no shortage of outdoor activities while exploring the area.
Day 10 Sagres
When thinking of Portugal surfing might not come to mind, but Sagres has plenty to offer with surf schools and surf shops. With more beaches to choose from and even a unique fort along the coast this is a beach lovers paradise. If the weather isn’t cooperating take a stroll through one of the ceramic shops for handmade plates, bowls, and more.
As you can see there is plenty to keep busy with during your Algarve Road Trip, if you have more time to spend enjoying the beautiful area continue below with some additional days’ worth of itinerary ideas.
Two Week Road Trip
If you are thinking about a two week Algarve Road trip, you could spread out your time in the Algarve to include some inland destinations such as Loule, Silves and Monchique. You could then end up with a day (or two) in Sagres at the end. Sagres is a beautiful destination with a coastal fortress and famous for its beer! A suggested itinerary could be the following….
- Day 1 – Faro
- Day 2 – Loule
- Day 3-4 – Albufeira
- Day 5 – Carvoeiro
- Day 6 – Silves Day Trip
- Day 7-8 – Portimão
- Day 9-10 – Monchique
- 11-12 – Lagos
- 13-14 – Sagres
Two weeks including Sagres and Lisbon
Alternatively, you could add on an extra few days in Sagres Lisbon if you would like to finish off in the capital. Simply follow the above 10 day Algarve Road trip itinerary and then add the following days on the end:
Day 10-11 Sagres
If you’ve got more than 7 days to spend exploring Portugal then we recommend spending an extra day in Sagres on the southern tip of the country. Following the extra time in Sagres it is time to head north towards Lisbon. The fastest way would be to take the E1, but if time is on your side head toward the coast and follow the western coast up to Lisbon for a more leisurely road trip stopping at coastal towns along the way.
Day 12-14 Lisbon
Once in Lisbon one of the must-see icons is the historic Torre de Belem which is an old fort from the 16th century and is constructed with beautiful architecture. If you plan to visit in the summer, be sure to allow time for Belem and include a visit to the Monument of Discoveries and Jeronimos Monastery. If old forts aren’t your style, take a ride on the iconic Tram 28 through the cobblestone streets of Lisbon for some great sightseeing and people watching.
Tips for a Successful Algarve Road Trip
One thing that can often be overlooked while planning road trips is having to deal with toll roads. Portugal has a variety of toll roads you may come across while exploring the Algarve region.
The easiest way to deal with the tolls is to use the electronic payment transponders. When renting a vehicle be sure to ask if they have a transponder that can be turned on during your rental to make tolls a breeze. If you are bringing your own vehicle to explore with, toll cards can also be pre-purchased to make the trip more efficient.
Depending on the time of year, be sure to pack the proper clothing so that you can enjoy any of those hidden gems along the way. Items that may be useful during your trip can include things like extra water, chargers for your devices, and even some Portuguese reference books.
Be sure to practice your hill starts to tackle the various terrains that you will encounter on this trip. You will come across many hilly windy roads and a lot of cobble stones in Portugal!