The Algarve is undoubtably famous for its scenic, tranquil beaches and incredible golf courses. Yet beyond all that, the Algarve has so much more to discover.
The region is filled with an abundance of beautiful nature and wildlife, complemented by the 300 glorious days of sunshine per year. When travelling through the Algarve expect to be transported through an array of environments within the same region- from windswept coastal regions to the Algarvian Mountains- famous for its thermal springs of Caldas de Monchique, which are unique to the Algarve. On the coastline, there is an ecological system of awe-inspiring biodiversity – from native and migratory birds that stop enroute in their migration to and from Africa, to dolphins, crustaceans, and mollusks – which make up a large part of the region’s food. Visitors can enjoy the stunning natural environment on pleasant trail walks along the coast or inland, by birdwatching, horse riding, cycling, boat trips and visiting protected areas such as the Ria Formosa lagoon and Vicentina Coast Natural Park.
We have rounded up some of our favourite experiences where visitors can learn more about the abundance of nature the Algarve has to offer.
The Algarve is home to 395 bird species, including seabirds, shorebirds, ducks, and birds of prey. Naturally, this makes the area a hotspot for lovers of all things nature.
Bird watching is extremely popular in this region and large wetland areas such as Ria Formosa make for a bird paradise. Discover the natural beauty and incredible biodiversity alone, or follow professional guides available in the area to further expand your knowledge of the plentiful species inhabiting Ria Formosa. Recognised for its biodiversity and ecological significance, it’s one of the most important wetlands for aquatic birds, sheltering rare and threatened bird species. More than 200 bird species alone have been identified in Ria Formosa including the Greater Flamingo and the Grey Heron. Some of the best places for birdwatching here can only be accessed by boat, making this a fun adventure for all.
Another great spot for birdwatching is the Vicentina Coast Natural Park. Located in southwest Portugal, occupying an area of 895.7 km², it’s one of Europe’s most stunning coastlines. It is also one of the greatest biodiverse protected areas. Each autumn, thousands of birds, can be clearly observed while making their trans-Saharan journeys, which is an incredible wonder to see if visiting during this season.
Proactivetur organise bird watching and walking tours throughout the region. Their experienced team will take you to the best bird watching sites and will soon have you identifying species such as the rare Bonelli’s Eagle or the Spectacled Warble, like a pro.
Walking in the Algarve
The Algarve is the perfect region for great walks because of its fantastic scenery and unspoilt nature. There are many trails across the region with coastland or inland routes, enabling you to discover the Algarve in the most unique way. There is something for everyone walking through the Algarve. Some trails being beautifully leisurely such as Fonte da Benémola which takes you through stunning cane fields, and some being more challenging yet equally as beautiful such as the Rota Vicentina. This long hiking path stretches for nearly 450 km along one of the most beautiful and best-preserved coastal areas of Europe.
Discover the beauty of the coastline as you stroll along the ochre cliffs near Lagos in the southwest of the region. The trail has magnificent views over many of the region’s favourite beaches, remarkable grottoes and rock formations. A highlight of the walk is Ponta da Piedade, which is one of the greatest attractions of the Algarve and has been compared with the Twelve Apostles in Australia. Walking in this area is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Algarve.
For those looking for a personalised tour, Portugal4U® provides a variety of incredible guided walks from “back to nature” experiences, to mountain trails with fun activities included in each package. The ‘Discoveries and Lighthouses’ tour takes you through the beaches of Ponta da Piedade and D. Ana Beach with an hour boat trip along the incredible coastline, passing by the Cave of Love and the Arch of Triumph. This adventure takes around 6/7 hours with the package costing £47.
A useful website for inspiration on where to walk, popular trails, long distance routes and tour companies is http://www.cyclingwalkingalgarve.pt/en/
When it comes to stunning coastlines and unique culture, few European destinations deliver quite like the Algarve. What better way to appreciate your surroundings than an incredible viewpoint?
The region is full of incredible viewpoints, scattered generously across the coast and mainland, that can be reached through walking trails, bikes, and some up a lot of stairs! Foia in Monchique is the highest point of the Algarve, at 902 meters high, approximately an 8-mile hike to the summit. This unspoiled area has the lowest population density of the Algarve and represents a completely different world, where old traditions that can hardly be found anywhere else are still preserved, reflecting a more authentic and traditional side to the Algarve.
Another breath-taking viewpoint is the Fortress of Santa Catarina in Portimão. Built in the 17th century, it was one of the various forts built around this time to protect the area from raids of pirates. Walk around the battlements for yourself, enjoying an area so rich in history- there is even an old cannon providing a perfect photo opportunity. As well as this, the views from up high, gazing down on the marina make the journey very worthwhile.
A fantastic way to make an adventure out of these viewpoints is to hire a bike and buckle up for discovery! Companies like Bikesul offer bike hires and even guided tours- from inland tours where you can enjoy the countryside of the Algarve, to riding along the coast among cliffs and beaches. Starting at £13 per day, this is the perfect addition to any adventure.
For further information on the Algarve, please visit www.visitalgarve.pt