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Walking the Algarve: Our favourite routes

Walking the Algarve: Our favourite routesTalk of the Algarve and the mind of your typical tourist would turn to sunbathing, bright lights and waterfront cafes. Don’t get us wrong, these are all great selling points, but if you’re looking to get a true taste of this beautiful region, you need to lace up your walking shoes.
The Algarve is home to some of the best hiking and rambling routes in Europe, so it’d be rude not to make the most of them while you’re there. Below are some of our favourite paths to follow.

Seven Hanging Valleys Walk, Carvoeiro

A sea cave on the Seven Hanging Valleys walk. Image via Flickr under Creative Commons LicenceThe caves and cliffs that dot the Algarve coast are a sight to behold. Formed over millions of years, they’ve provided perfect holiday-photo backdrops for many generations of visitors. For careful and inquisitive ramblers, they also offer a beautifully scenic walking route.

The Seven Hanging Valleys route connects Vale Centeanes beach with the equally attractive Marinha beach a little further east. Take this one and you’ll find yourself following the coastline’s natural winding lines for around six kilometres – or twice that if you fancy coming back!

With such spectacular views on offer, you won’t want to forget your camera; just be sure to stop when you want to look. It’s a long drop if you get too close to the edge!

More information can be found on local tourism site carvoeiro.com, and the Rocha Brava Village Resort is a fantastic option if you need somewhere to stay.*

Trail of Tides, Carrapateira

Fancy something a little longer? Try the Trail of Tides instead. As the name suggests, this one also runs alongside the sea, but only for a relatively short section. For the rest, you’ll be walking inland to experience a variety of natural habitats, from dunes right through to pine forestry.

The Trail of Tides runs in a circle, covering a distance of 19 kilometres. It begins and ends in the beautiful village of Carrapateira – the perfect place to fuel up before the walk and rest when you finish. At an average pace, this one will likely take you about seven hours, so be sure to take plenty of food and water.

There’s plenty of information about Carrapateira on the Lonely Planet website, including a list of accommodation options.

Cerro de São Vicente Trail footpath – Image by KolfornCerro de São Vicente Trail, Paderne

Another circular trail, but this time completely inland. You’ll start at the beautiful Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Pe da Cruz, a 16th century catholic church in Paderne, before heading south to cross the Ribeira de Quarteira.

You’ll soon come across some stunning panoramic views of the largely natural landscapes ahead, before stopping at the ruins of São Vicente Windmill – a perfect photo opportunity. The trail runs through areas covered with quintessentially Mediterranean plant-life, including strawberry trees and overbearing oaks. You’ll also get to see the carob and citrus orchards.

As you head back in the direction of the starting point, there’s every chance you’ll spot an animal or two around the waterway; these areas are inhabited not only by fish, but also terrapins and otters.

The Cerro de São Vicente Trail stretches 11 kilometres in total, so expect it to take around three and a half hours, but allow extra time if you’d like to stop for a picnic!

Further afield

East coast of Madeira – Image courtesy of Cabo GiraoThe Algarve has so much to offer, but if you fancy using your stay in the area as an opportunity to explore more of Portugal, jumping on a boat to the island of Madeira is a great idea. Here, you’ll be able to climb the island’s beautiful coastlines, while also having the chance to play golf, scuba dive or surf. The possibilities are endless!

Other options include a road trip north to Portugal’s glorious capital city, Lisbon, or even an adventure towards the Spanish border, which is just 30 miles east of Faro.
All in all, there’s plenty to see and do in this beautiful part of the world, and a few chances to head further afield if you so wish. Be sure to prepare properly for any walks you have planned, and take plenty of water wherever you’re going – the Algarve can get pretty hot!

*A section of this walk suffered an arson attack in August 2016. A suspect has been apprehended and the path is usable through the affected area.

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