Walking in the Algarve
34 Coastal and Mountain Walks
A guidebook to 34 day walks in the Algarve. There are 24 coastal routes, including the Coastal Path between Porto do Mos (Lagos) to Sagres and a further 10 routes in The Serra do Caldeiraom mountains. The easy, graded routes vary from 2 to 17km. Stunning scenery is seen throughout, from volcanic hills to dramatic limestone escarpments.
SeasonsMild, sunny winters make walking ideal late September to early June. July and August are too hot (average temperature 27.5°C).
CentresAlbufeira (busy in summer), around Carvoeiro, Silves, Salir, Estoi, Tavira, Monchique, Cachopo
DifficultyNot strenuous. Vary in length from 2.5km to 17km, with max ascent of 500m.
Must Seenature reserves, rural life, history, coastal paths, Foia and Picota, Palacio de Estoi, Mata Nacional (Tavira)
For many years the Algarve has been overlooked as a walking destination, but away from the tourist areas, there are miles of spectacular coastline and a huge interior that has seen very few visitors. Here walkers will find a rich variety of scenery from volcanic hills to dramatic limestone escarpments, together with diverse local flora and fauna. All this, combined with an equable climate of mild sunny winters and long hot summers, makes the Algarve an ideal walking location.
This guidebook contains detailed route descriptions for 34 full and half-day walks, with some routes detailing both a full walk as well as a shorter option. They are, for the most part, well away from the main tourist developments, and due to poor public transport you will need car to get to the start of most routes. A lot of the walks are located to the north and west of Faro, and there are very few close to the Spanish border. This is because the coast is a series of sand flats that do not lend themselves to good walking, while inland the rolling hills have very poor access. The best walking is found a good 30 miles or so from the coast around Cachopo, and these are included in the guidebook.
Many of the walks in this guidebook make use of old mule or cart tracks, which until recently were the only means of communication between villages. Underfoot the going varies; some tracks have been covered in bitumen or asphalt, others are rough and stony. The majority of the routes aren’t particularly strenuous, ascents of 500m being about the maximum, and none could be considered difficult. Each walk varies in length between 2.5km and 17km.
The distribution of walks in this guidebook offers a good mix of coastal, mountain and inland scenery. The majority can be tackled by anyone of average fitness, and the grading used is based on the amount of climbing involved: an easy walk is a flat walk suitable for all the family, whereas a difficult walk (there are very few) would involve a number of fairly steep ascents and descents.
Preface to the Second Edition
When to Go
Where to Stay
Geology and Scenery
Birds, Wildlife and Protected Areas
Forestry, Agriculture and the Landscape
Notes for Walkers
Walk 1 Esteveira
Walk 2 Pontal, Carrapateira and Vilharinha
Walk 3 The West Coast
Walk 4 Bensafrim
Walk 5 The Barragem da Bravura
Walk 6 The National Forest of Barão
Walk 7 The Coastal Path – Porto do Mos (Lagos) to Salema
Walk 8 The Coastal Path – Salema to Sagres
Walk 9 The Slopes of Foia
Walk 10 The Monchique River
Walk 11 Picota
Walk 12 Ilha do Rosario
Walk 13 North of Silves
Walk 14 Parra
Walk 15 The Coastal Path – Benagil to Vale de Engenho
Walk 16 Amorosa–Torre Hill Walk
Walk 17 Amorosa and Zimbreira
Walk 18 Paderne Castle, Leitão and the Serra Grande
Walk 19 Esteval dos Mouros
Walk 20 Rocha de Pena
Walk 21 Pé do Coelho
Walk 22 The Hamlets around Salir
Walk 23 Querença and the Fonte de Benemola
Walk 24 Estoi
The Serra do Caldeirao
Walk 25 Casas Baixas: D. Quixote Walk
Walk 26 Casas Baixas: Fonte da Zorra Walk
Walk 27 Casas Baixas: Montes Serranos Walk
Walk 28 Feiteira: Cerros de Sobro Walk
Walk 29 Feiteira: The Reserve
Walk 30 Feiteira: Malhanito
Walk 31 Mealha: Vale das Hortas
Walk 32 Mealha: Masmorra
Walk 33 Mealha: The Burial Chamber of Pedras Altas
Walk 34 The Mata Nacional da Conceição and the Ribeira da Zambujosa
Appendix 1: Language
Appendix 2: Route Table
Appendix 3: Contact Details
The Algarve is covered by 14 sheets in the Carta Geografico do Portugal 1:50,000 series published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These maps unfortunately do not include the enormous changes that have occurred since then. Besides the large-scale developments along the coast many new roads have been created, especially since Portugal joined the EC. Some roads are completely new and cut across the countryside; others follow old paths and tracks that have been upgraded to drivable roads – none of these changes are on the maps. Similarly some paths and tracks that feature on these maps have disappeared altogether from a combination of disuse and encroaching vegetation.
The Algarve is also covered by 39 sheets of the 1:25,000 maps of Portugal produced by the Instituto Geografico do Exercito (www.igeoe.pt), Av. Dr. Alfredo Bensaude, 1849 – 014 Lisbon, telephone: +351 218 505 300, fax: +351 218 532 119. They cannot be bought in the Algarve, but are available in the UK through Stanfords (stanfords.co.uk). However, the series is not updated or revised on a regular basis, and some maps are very out of date.
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Walk 15: In addition to the small row of car parking spaces next to O Litoral there is now a vast car park (many hundreds of spaces) directly opposite. The approach to the Praia de Marinha now has a board walk set of steps down and up to arrive at the car park. Here you must turn R to walk through the car park to find the route continuation which descends towards the beach before reaching a fork where you turn slightly L to continue above the cliffs.
Walk 18, page 95:
Where the walk description says 'turn left, and walk down the road...' it should read 'turn right, and walk down the road...'.
In the final paragraph, it also says that 'the castle is above you on left' as you walk around it, by the river, but it is above you on the right. On the map the direction arrows for this bottom loop, around the castle, should be clockwise rather than anticlockwise.
The Algarve has long been a sun spot rather than a 'real' walking destination, but that perception is changing. Away from the overdeveloped coastline, the interior is unspoilt and has a great deal of variety to offer the walker who seeks it out.The 40 walks described are mostly graded easy to moderate, and of one to four hours duration. The author is a geologist who has lived in the Algarve since 1998 and her comprehensive introduction provides some valuable insights as well as much practical information. With regular flights to Faro, the region is very easily accessed.Walking World Ireland May/June 2006
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Julie Statham has been leading walks on the Algarve and throughout Portugal since leaving England in 1998. Julie is passionate about the environment and conservation and the potential of the Algarve for walking. She is constantly seeking new paths and trails – 'it's an obsession!' Besides her walking company she also runs a walking club for residents.View Guidebooks by Julie Statham