The western Algarve offers a glorious mix of coastal, mountain and inland landscapes. The varied geology produces a rich diversity of scenery from granite mountains to dramatic limestone escarpments and sea cliffs, all greatly complemented by the local flora and fauna. Experience this journey with Ramblers Walking Holidays.
We stay in two contrasting centres on Portugal’s south coast. From historic Silves we enjoy a levada walk beside the Rio Arade, which passes through orange and lemon groves, and exploring the old town. Another day will be spent in the hills of the Serra de Monchique, offering outstanding views. Carob and olives are cultivated on farms and small holdings, along with oranges and other citrus fruit, pomegranates, almonds and an abundance of other produce. We visit local villages where working life continues as it has for centuries.
As we head to our second centre of Burgau, we’ll enjoy a fantastic coastal walk between Alvor and Portimão en route. Burgau is a quiet village with a selection of restaurants and bars to while away the evenings. From here we will continue our search for the hidden gems of the Western Algarve. A coastal walk will take us from Luz to Lagos, encountering some typical Algarvian villages as we go, and head to the edge of Europe, walking in the Parque Natural de Costa Vicentina, the most south-westerly point of Europe, and the last sight of land for explorers setting forth on their historic voyages.
You might like to take a look at our Algarve Odyssey holiday combining a week in Tavira, Pearl of the Algarve with our Hidden Delights of the Western Algarve holiday.
Fly to Faro and transfer by road to Portimao, taking approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on arrival time, we may have an orientation of the town. A relaxed dinner is taken at the hotel this evening.
Our walk today begins along a levada beside the Rio Arade and continues through the orange and lemon groves which are a feature of the landscape here. The Silves canal or levada runs from the Barragem do Arade to supply the rich orange groves of the river valley. We finish in Silves itself where we have time to explore this historic town. Approximately 12km (7miles); 3-4 hours; 0m Ascent/Descent.
Today we head into the hills of the Serra de Monchique. Our walk offers panoramic views of some of the most beautiful parts of the Algarve. The mountainous area of the Serra de Monchique stands in complete contrast to the rest of the Algarve. This is a green wooded area, decked in cork, chestnut, pine and eucalyptus trees. The day includes time to visit the town of Monchique. Here you will discover traditional skills and handicrafts still being practiced. The famous Medronho, distilled from the Strawberry tree, distinctive hand knitted sweaters and the unusual wooden chairs all suggest the character and uniqueness of this area. Morning Walk: Approximately 3.4km (2.1 miles); 1.5 hours; Ascent 120m; Descent 100m. Afternoon Walk: Approximately 9.5km (6 miles); 3-4 hours; Ascent 200m, Descent 500m
Today we will transfer to our next centre of Burgau. However we do have a full programme with a fantastic coastal walk taking in the superb sandy beaches and dramatic headlands between Alvor and Portimão, including the much photographed beach at Praia da Rocha, one of the best in the Algarve. After a lunch stop, we continue by foot, along the coast, walking to our next accommodation close to the small village of Burgau. Our luggage will be taken separately by coach, and those that prefer not to walk can also take the coach transport. Approximately 13.5km (8miles); 3-4 hours; Minimal Ascent / Descent.
We continue our coastal theme with a spectacular walk starting from the small village and resort of Luz. On this walk we follow a coastal path to Lagos, visiting on the way Ponta da Piedade where the famous sea caves are to be found and visited by many small boats carrying visitors from nearby Lagos. The walk finishes in Lagos and we will have the afternoon to sightsee in this attractive town that was an important Roman settlement called 'Lacobriga'. A variety of ancient Roman ruins remain, including the old slave market. The town centre, which is enclosed within 5th century walls offers a modern and well equipped marina that dominates the sea front and the town is now firmly positioned as a centre for tourists from all over the world. Approximately 12.5km (7.5miles); 3-4 hours; Ascent 100m; Descent 100m.
We head back inland for a walk that takes in the villages of Barão de São João and Barão de São Miguel. These charming, rural and peaceful villages are characterized by the typical white houses with a coloured band around the windows and doors. This and the traditional Algarve chimneys demonstrate the many years of Moorish occupancy of the area. Approximately 14km (8.5miles); 4-4 ½ hours; Ascent 150m; Descent 150m.
Our final day on the western Algarve fittingly culminates at Sagres, the most westerly point on the Algarve. This area of intensely dramatic cliffs, opening onto a vast horizon of sea and sky, was the last sight of Europe for the explorers setting forth on their fearsome voyages beyond the horizon. We can also visit Ponta de Sagres, a giant finger of rock pointing to the ocean, and Cap St Vincent. It was here that Prince Henry the Navigator established his fortress and began the “age of discoveries” sending ships to explore the world. Approximately 13km (8miles); 4-4 ½ hours; Minimal Ascent / Descent.
Depending on the flight time, there will be free time before taking the transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK.
See where this holiday travels to.
The Hotel Santa Catarina, a 3 star hotel close to Praia da Rocha beach in Portimão, offers a bar and restaurant, and is only a 10 minute walk from Portimão marina. All rooms are en suite with TV, minibar, safety deposit box, A/C and free wifi. With the beach being so close at hand, it is perfect for an after walk dip in the sea!
Located only 1km from Burgau beach the Quinta do mar da Luz offers a stunning cliff top location and wonderful views of the sea. Set in verdant lush gardens it offers a tranquil retreat after a day’s walking, where you can cool off in the outdoor pool (unheated) or relax with a drink at the bar. The bedrooms all include TVs, air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, safes and complimentary Wi-Fi. We take breakfast in the restaurant which is a great continental as well as English buffet breakfast.
Who of us, when reading the Greek myths, would not dream to see the mountain awing the ancient Greeks? Even these days Mytikas’s (Mount Olympus’s modern name) peak can be rarely seen as it is almost always hidden behind the dense clouds. Due to this reason, the ancient people believed Mount Olympus to be the place of residence of Gods, unreachable and invisible to human. Mytikas means "nose" and takes the name from its shape reminding of a human’s nose. Every proud-hearted Greek should at least once ascend the mountain; it is almost a duty, an unwritten rule, so to say, and numerous Greeks, sometimes in big groups, often ascend the mountains without wearing any special shoes or helmets.