The Algarve region in Portugal’s southwest coast is considered a popular vacation destination in Europe. This region is relatively big with the coastline stretching for some 100 miles. There’s a lot to do in Algarve and it can be daunting trying to pick out what to do and where to stay. That’s why I’ve picked out 5 of the must visit sites in Algarve. I’m calling this list the Algarve sampler. This is for people who want to explore this region but don’t really have a lot of days to spend OR for people like me, who are not really into lying on a beach all day.
Must Visit Sites In Algarve
There are lots of towns in Algarve but Lagos remains a firm favorite. It’s considered the liveliest town in Algarve and the Old Town is definitely worth exploring. Lagos is proud of it’s seafaring heritage. Prince Henry the Navigator launched Portugal’s Age of Discovery from Lagos in the 15th century which catapulted Portugal’s presence on the world map as a dominant super power.
Stroll around the Old Town of Lagos. It’s compact and easy to navigate and is full of cafes, restaurants and shops. Try the local dish called Cataplana. It’s a seafood stew made in a pot called a cataplana.
Lagos is also close to the other places I’ve included in this must visit sites in Algarve list and makes for a great base to explore.
2. Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is close to Lagos. These rocky cliffs offer breathtaking, almost 180 degree views of the surroundings. You can either enjoy the view from up top of walk down the stairs to the sea.
3. Praia do Camilo
Praia do Camilo is a beautiful beach located near Lagos and a few feet down the road from Ponta da Piedade. It’s surrounded by incredible rock formations both on the beach and out in the water. It’s very crowded during the day though so go early morning for the best uninterrupted views or if you are seeking peace and quite.
4. Marinha Beach
Marinha beach and the cliffs atop the beach are an absolute must visit site in Algarve. While the beach itself is pretty with emerald waters and soft sand, the real show are the cliff side trail just above the beach. This 1.5 kilometer walk gives you some of the best views of all the rock formations below. Including Arco Natural, which is a rock formation that gives the optical illusion of a heart when photographed at a certain angle.
While you don’t need hiking shoes per se, you may want to wear sneakers when you hike up these cliffs.
5. Benagil Caves
I absolutely saved the best for last here! This is my top must visit site in Algarve! This coast of Portugal is home to many grottos and caves. However, the one that stands out the most is the Benagil cave. What’s unique about this cave is the natural opening on top of the cave that brings in sunlight in to it. While you can certainly view the caves from the shore, I think it’s also nice to see the caves from the sea as well. In fact, hoping on a boat may be one of the best ways to see this part of the coastline which is full of natural caves, sea stacks and rugged cliffs.
I did this tour and it were great! I recommend taking the morning tour before it gets too hot and the sea gets too rough. It was a fun boat ride along the coast. You will be fully soaked!
There’s kayaking in the area if you want to add an activity to your list of things to do!
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