A Road trip to Algarve is an exciting experience. If you like beaches and beautiful landscapes, Algarve is the place to go for your next trip. There are many places to visit in Algarve and things to do around the area.
Algarve is located South Portugal, which is only 300 kilometers distance from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, to Sagres. And from Sagres, the most western point in Algarve to Andalucia in Spain, which is around 300 kilometers hitting the coast.
We did our Road trip to Algarve in October during our budget travel in Portugal and August. Obviously in August Algarve was crowded and in October, it was almost empty. The weather was still fine in October- not cold and not so hot as August. The weather is great in Algarve and I guess avoiding winter is always a great time to visit. Read here all the things to know before visiting Portugal!
During our road trip in Algarve in August and October, we were able to park our car next to the main attractions in Algarve. We were looking for beaches first thing in the day and also at sunset time. Beautiful cliff views and beaches with clear water in Algarve are waiting for you. Plus, it’s always free parking so you only have to take care of petrol.
Road Trip to Algarve Travel Guide
Best Time to Visit Algarve
If you want to experience the Portuguese cost at its warmest, the best time to visit Algarve are from July to September. However, you might want to avoid traveling in August since the summer holidays are the busiest and most expensive. You can do October to November and March to May. Click here to know more about the weather in Algarve!
How to get to Algarve by Plane
You can reach Algarve through international flights headed to Faro Airport. You can use airlines like TAP Portugal, Wizz Air and easyJet when going to Faro. Other options to Lisbon are traveling by car, bus or train to Algarve.
How to get to Algarve by Bus, Train and Car
Buses coming from Lisbon will take 4 hours to reach Faro and it costs €19. There are also buses coming from Seville in Spain which is €20 for 4-5 hours trip. By train, €25 from Lisbon and it will take 3 hours to reach Faro. By car, like we did from Lisbon, will take you around 3-4 hours depending on the traffic. We chose this way by car from Lisbon. We will tell you with detail our itinerary in Algarve from Lisbon to Seville in Andalucia, Spain.
Renting a Car, Van or Caravan
We suggest the best way is renting a car to move around Algarve since there is not much public transportation around the area. If you are traveling with a few people, it would be great to rent a van or a campervan. Prices are expensive especially in peak season which can go €120-160 per day. The most important thing is to make sure your motorhome is fully insured. You can actually compare static caravan insurance quotes from various brokers to get an idea of rates.
But, it will allow you to save money in the accommodation and allow you to sleep close to the best areas in Algarve which can be worth it. There are no parking fees around the main tourist spots in Algarve and you will get a space to park everywhere even in peak season. There are parking fees in the main cities like Faro, Lagos and Albufeira but only close to city center. You can always park far from those places and walk a little bit or you can also park in the malls.
Apps for your Road trip to Algarve
We used a few apps for our trip to Algarve. For maps and itinerary, we chose Google Maps where you can find all the directions, distance and driving time. We also used this app to find shops, petrol stations and restaurants.
For accommodation, mostly we used Airbnb and Booking apps to see what’s available around the area. We were booking last minute in October getting great deals and booking the day before in August to make sure we didn’t run out of accommodation and we could plan our itinerary in advance.
Apart from using apps, remember the best advice will be from other travelers doing the same things like you or even from locals around the area. So be chatty with people when walking around and don’t be shy to ask questions. We got the best advice for food and places to stay from other travelers in Algarve.
Things to pack for a Road trip to Algarve
We recommend you to bring all your beach accessories: towel, sunblock, snorkeling mask, underwater camera if you have, pocket wifi and small cooler so you can keep cold drinks anytime and fresh food to eat anytime. A small jacket will be great since sometimes it’s cold at night time, comfortable shoes for walking around so you can walk around the beaches. Since you are driving a car, you can bring your suitcase and small backpack to move around in your day trips.
Travel Tip: We recommend you to buy a big map of Algarve. Even nowadays internet is so useful and you will find all the information. It’s great to have a map that you can extend and point the places, beaches that you plan to visit during your day.
Bring a couple of blankets just in case you sleep in the car. Our first day we decided driving at night from Lisbon to Sagres. We just slept a couple of hours to wake up on time for the sunrise.
Route to follow in Algarve
We recommend you to start here and end in Sagres. From there you can head on the North for a couple of days if you have time and go back to Sagres. From Sagres you can visit Lagos, Albufeira, Faro and Tavira. Lagos and Faro is super touristic and the most beautiful beaches and cliffs are there.
Once in Tavira, there are islands that you can reach with boat trips. You’ll love the long beaches with clear water and white sand. It’s very close to Spain in Huelva and from Tavira, you will realize that beaches are more similar to Andalucia since it’s so close.
There are a few alternatives in the itinerary depending what you like more. If you prefer spending more time in the beaches. Or maybe you prefer walking around the old town in Faro and Lagos.
Our Algarve Itinerary
We recommend you to start your road trip to Algarve from Lisbon. Why from Lisbon? Since it’s easier to get to Lisbon an international flight from your country. Also, you will have plenty of places to rent a car, caravan or campervan for your road trip. Our choice was renting a car in Lisbon and we did this itinerary below. Make sure when renting a car that you have different points to leave the car and you don’t have to go back to your starting point.
Day 1 Lisbon to Sagres
If you drive from Lisbon to Algarve, it will take 3-4 hours. Our first stop was Sagres. It’s the westernmost tip in Portugal. Sagres is isolated from other places in the region. Landscapes are amazing in this area and we recommend you to come on time for the sunrise or sleep so close as we did in Cap San Vicente.
We almost found nobody around the cliffs even through we were there in August. There was just a few tourists sleeping in their cars or caravans waiting for the sunrise. The sunrise was really epic in the Lighthouse Cap San Vicente which is the most touristic spot in Sagres. Everybody goes there to visit. It can be windy and little cold during the morning even in summer. If you bring a jacket, you will be fine!
Since we were driving at night to Sagres because we spent the day visiting Lisbon, we drove from Sagres to Lagos around 40 minutes drive to find accommodation for resting the rest of the day. Since we wanted to take nice pictures early morning in Lagos, we wanted to make sure we go there first thing in the morning to Ponta du Piedade and see the beautiful beaches around Lagos.
Day 2 Lagos-Lagos
We decided to spend our day in Lagos, we woke up early morning to drive to Ponta du Piedade. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Lagos, and our favorite one during the trip. The views from the cliffs are amazing with the huge rock formations and the blue waters from the top. You can do sightseeing from the top and you can also go down and rent a boat to tour around.
If you go in peak season, it’s important to go first thing in the morning so you will avoid the tours. There would be buses bringing many people and tourists coming anytime of the day.
After exploring Ponta du Piedade, we decided to visit the beaches around. It was only a few minutes drive to find the beautiful beaches: Praia do Camilo and Praia Dona Ana. It can be crowded and maybe it will take time to park around the beaches. Praia do Camilo and Praia Dona Ana are crowded. But if you walk between the rock formations you will find a quiet spot where you can swim, take pictures and enjoy a couple of hours. To go down to Praia do Camilo will take a few minutes and same in Ponta du Piedade since it’s stiff.
Lagos is a beautiful town and it’s worth it to visit around. There are shops and malls to buy whatever you need for your trip. Also, there are bars and restaurants if you want to enjoy nightlife in Lagos. We drove until Praia dos Tres Irmaos from Lagos for watching the sunset and it was so beautiful. It was only 15-20 minutes of driving.
Day 3 Lagos- Albufeira
Day 4 Albufeira-Faro
Albufeira is a big town and you will find everything that you need for shopping and eating. We decided to spend the morning in Praia da Falesia. The beach is so long and you walk around a few kilometers. Also try to look for a good view from the cliff in Praia du Falesia because the landscape is amazing.
Praia du Falesia is only a 5-minute driving distance from Albufeira and very close to Olhos de Agua, which we mentioned is a must for sunset. It’s not very crowded and it’s inviting to spend the day. Also it’s one of the easiest for parking. So, we relaxed until noon and we drove to our next destination: Faro.
If you are in a hurry and you don’t have so much time for traveling around Algarve, you can get a flight or main transportation from Faro since Faro is the epicenter in Algarve. The old town is beautiful to walk around and nightlife in Faro is the best in Algarve. Faro was the place that we enjoyed going out!
Day 5 Faro- Tavira- Praia Verde
We spent the morning walking around Faro. We drove until Tavira around 30 minutes and we stayed a couple of hours in the beach and had lunch. From Tavira, we drove 20 minutes to Praia Verde which is a long, white sand beach and it’s full of people. Praia Verde is close to Spain, and you can decide to stay in this quiet town or go to Seville. The capital of Andalucia is a perfect place to spend a few days on and to finish your road trip in Algarve.
We drove from Praia Verde to Seville and we decided to spend 4 days. We really loved the city! It’s full of people, great to walk around and surrounded by many bars and restaurants.
Where to eat in Algarve
One of the things to know before visiting Portugal about the food is that everything is so delicious! It depends on your budget, but in general, Portugal is an affordable country. You can get meals in restaurants for $10 USD. Food is delicious, wine is tasty and the service is usually great.
If you want to budget and cook by yourself, you will find malls and shops every 15 minutes, driving your car to buy food and all the supplies that you need for your day. We will mention our favorite food to try in Portugal and around Algarve:
Coffee and Pasteis de Nata
A must-try pastry in Portugal is pasteis de nata. These delicious treats are available in most cafes and restaurants in Algarve where you can get it fresh from the oven. Pasteis de nata can be eaten any time of the day but is best enjoyed at lunch time or in the afternoon. We always stopped in coffee shops in the middle of our trip
Our favorite places for seafood were on the way where you can park the car and continue your trip after this. Cooked in a grill or in a frying pan, served with rice or corn, the seafood in Algarve is definitely something you shouldn’t miss. Prices start at €10-20 per person for dinner.
Algarve’s climate is great for wine production. They have sweet wines and you can have a glass when having diner for €3 in restaurants.
Activities to do in Algarve
Algarve is popular destination for surfing in Europe. You can enjoy the sport all year round, though waves are bigger in winter than they are in the summer. The waves in the South West are popular for their consistency, especially those along the Vicentina Coast like Arrafina, Beliche and Castilejo.
Kayaking is a popular activity to do in Algarve. You can rent a Kayak to explore around the caves. You can do by yourself or you can get a guide tour. The price for kayaking in a day tour is €30 hours for 2 hours. The most popular places for kayaking are Benagil and Ponta du Piedade where more of the tours will go. You can also rent kayaks on your own!
In the area of Albufeira and Lagos, there are tours for dolphin watching. Prices are around €30-40 for 2 hours. They usually departure first thing in the morning so maybe you need to book in advance.
Where to Stay in Algarve
There are a few options for your road trip around Algarve. Since camping areas where they charge €15 per person. A dorm in a hostel can cost as low as €12 while mid-budget accommodations go for around €35-40. A very comfortable room in a beautiful resort can go for as low as €50, while luxury suites start at around €70. These prices are out season. We chose Airbnb and local pensions in our trip.
Hope you liked our full road trip to Algarve guide. Please let us know in the comments below if you have questions or we have something to add to our Algarve itinerary. Feel free to share the blog post with your friends in your social media channels and you will help us a lot.
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