A journey through the Algarve is as dreamy as it gets. Hire a car and watch the scenery unfold out of the window – it’s pure magic. You’ll pass dramatic cliffs, the shimmering Atlantic and a roll call of golden beaches. In between, there’s an equal measure of sleepy fishing villages and buzzy resorts to stop off at. Need we say more?
From Faro to Sagres, the distance is 72 miles, which is easy to tackle when broken down into small chunks over a number of days. Here’s our guide to the perfect road trip through the Algarve.
First off, Faro
Fly into Faro and pick up your hire car from the airport. To reach the city’s Old Town, it’s just a quick 15-minute journey so before you know it you’ll be wandering a maze of cobbled streets. The action is down by the harbour – pass under Arco Da Vila, a gorgeous neoclassical archway, and you’ll find yourself ambling towards the city’s cathedral. Back down at the front, you can enjoy cocktails with a view at Cosmopolitan Rooftop Bar or head for Se7e Pedras Wine Bar & Restaurant to devour Portuguese-style tapas.
All about Albufeira
The Algarve’s flagship resort is worth a stop – simply follow the A22 and you’ll be there in 40 minutes. See what all the fuss is about in the Old Town. Buzzing bars around this part of Albufeira aren’t hard to come by. Saunter along the winding cobbled streets and flit from one to the other. If it’s beaches you want, you’re in luck – there’s one slap bang in the middle of town. Follow a tunnel carved through the cliffside and you’ll find yourself on the sandy shores of Praia do Túnel.
Swing back onto the A22, this time in the direction of Alvor. This dinky resort may not be on your radar but it should be. Its tightknit centre is a warren of narrow streets, lined with bright houses painted in all colours of the rainbow. Tear your eyes away from the pretty façades and amble towards the waterfront. The scent of sizzling fish should lead you there! Restaurants are aplenty here, where you can take a seat and watch fishing boats chug in and out of the harbour. Cold drink and a steaming bowl of seafood stew? Yes please.
There’s a reason why people flock back to Lagos time and time again. This pretty favourite has stolen hearts with its good looks and good vibes. Get lost among the quaint street of the Old Town, where centuries-old churches stand shoulder-to-shoulder with cosy wine bars and atmospheric restaurants. Even when you peel off from the main drag, you’ll find more pretty mosaic-clad buildings. For a dose of nature, you’ll find Ponta da Piedade just a few miles out of town. There’s a stunning group of rock formations to admire but the jackpot is down by the lighthouse. Zigzag down the cliffside to get an up-close view of the hidden coves and swirling waves.
Sagres for your swan song
Last but not least, Sagres. From Lagos, it’s a swift 30-minute journey along the N125. Here you’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world – you’re actually in fact at the south westernmost harbour in Europe, where the Atlantic crashes into the cliffs. And that’s why surfers are drawn here in their droves. That and the pretty beaches and chilled atmosphere. What better place to finish off your holiday?
Posted: 19th Sept 2023.