HighlightsSelf guided walking | undiscovered Algarve | coastal scenery | Estoi | moderately easy walks | maps and commentaries supplied | four star hotel with pool | free day | excellent restaurants and local food
Description of Algarve self guided walking holiday, PortugalThis Algarve self guided walking holiday in Portugal is the chance to enjoy a week of relaxed, expertly crafted self guided walks through stunning landscapes and spectacular coastal scenery. You’ll be walking through areas of the Algarve unknown to most visitors.
Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, breath pure air heavy with the scent of herbs, see landscapes filled with wild flowers and walk with complete peace of mind, knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched and tested by us, so you can be sure you will not get lost. The enhanced sense of well being that a week of peace, fresh air, relaxing exercise, scenic beauty and close contact with nature gives you, will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed. In fact, 90 per cent of our clients return.
The walks in our programme are moderately easy and suitable for people of average fitness. A marked-up map is included in your pack, and comprehensive background commentaries highlight features of special interest, to provide an insight into the area’s history, culture and habitats. As this is a self guided holiday, you have the freedom to walk at your own pace, linger as long as you like over lunch, visit places of interest on the way, which are all detailed in our notes.
The Algarve has a typical Mediterranean climate and is suitable for year round walking, although the months between June and August are uncomfortable for walking due to the heat. This holiday is based in Estoi, a small, rural hilltop village only 10km from Faro. It’s worlds away from the well known tourist spots and resorts of the Algarve, with only a few shops, a bank, and a sprinkling of bars and restaurants.
Accommodation is in an elegant hilltop Pousada, a former palace, in the heart of Estoi. Unwind at the end of your walking day on the beautiful terrace, sipping a glass of something cool as you watch the sun go down. There’s also the option to stay at a more modest Casa de Estoi. You’ll be able to sample the region’s excellent authentic cuisine, both at the Pousada and in local restaurants at lunchtime, and cool off in the hotel pool or the sea.
|Day 1:||Pick up your hire car (not included in the cost) for your short drive to Estoi and your luxurious Pousada (20 minutes). Enjoy a drink on the terrace before dinner.|
|Day 2||Tavira and Ilha de Tavira (Easy: 7 miles/11.2 km)
An easy 7-mile route down to the sea to enjoy the cry of the gull and the salt-sea spray. Tavira, the ‘Pearl of the Algarve’, is architecturally-attractive, pictorially placed in a beautiful riverside setting complete with fishing boats and Roman bridge. Twisting cobbled streets, lined with blue-and-white tiled houses, reflect Tavira’s Moorish past as you wander the streets to explore an ancient castle with beautiful gardens. Pause for coffee and a traditional pastry, the ‘Pastel de Nata’, in the square. You will cross by ferry to Ilha de Tavira, the largest of the barrier islands, accessible only by boat. A memorable beach walk follows where you are at one with the ocean, the wind, the wild seabirds, the only sound that of the waves gently lapping over soft, warm sand. It feels like a deserted island, totally unspoilt. Visit a tuna-fishing village in the Rio Formosa Natural Park, a so-called ‘octopus capital’, full of colourful boats and fishermen’s huts. A seafood lunch is recommended today on the island.|
|Day 3||Fonte de Mesquita and Sao Bras de l’Aportel (Easy: 6 miles/9.4 km)
An easy, deeply rural route today, exploring the rocky countryside of the Barrocal at the foot of the great Serra do Caldeirao. This vast network of paths and tracks were all originally constructed to lead to the well or to a vegetable patch, a mill or a village. Some are very ancient and our routes actually date back to Roman times. Discover the wells and the threshing floor, cork trees and drystone walls and, everywhere you walk, an abundance of colourful flowers (depending on the season). Some of the houses you encounter in remote hamlets are very beautiful, immaculately white to reflect the heat of the sun and keep them cool inside. Some have saddle roofs for collecting the rain water; others, the more modern ones, are embellished with floral or geometric motifs.
Following lunch at a traditional restaurant, visit Sao Bras de l’Aportel’s old town with its narrow streets and fascinating buildings. Walk along a stretch of the Roman Road before finally visiting the fascinating Museo do Trajo housed in a beautiful 19th century mansion house, once the home of a wealthy cork merchant.|
|Day 4||Monte Seco Circuit (Moderate: 6 miles/9.4 km)
Set in the hills and valleys of the limestone Barrocal today's walk is a very scenic circuit in any season but particularly in spring when wild flowers carpet the ground. Paeoni and poppies populate the lower regions while the seemingly-dry hillsides abound with wild orchids. From the Ribeira de Algibre make your way up to the tiny hamlet of Monte Seco for a coffee at an authentic little bar. As you ascend further the views over the Algibre Valley will become increasingly extensive until finally you'll reach Monte Seco's summit at 1,000 feet. Here you may see buzzards circling above and most certainly you will find more wild flowers among the almond and olive groves.
Lunch today is late, at the Monte da Eira restaurant, near Loule where you can sit out on the terrace soaking up the sun and enjoying some excellent Algarvian cuisine. Return to the Pousada where you can spend the rest of the afternoon simply relaxing or, if you still have energy left, visit the important Roman remains at Milreu at Estoi.|
|Day 5||Today no walks are offered, allowing you to explore the village of Estoi and the locality. Or you may like simply to relax in the hotel, a wonderful location for sunbathing, reading under arbours and lunching under a large umbrella on the terrace with stunning views across the hills to the coast. There are also the Roman ruins at Estoi, just a short walk away. Alternatively, you may wish to visit Faro for the day, with its unhurried, historic charm and jumble of narrow residential streets and pedestrianised shopping area. You can either travel by bus, taxi or car. We recommend a visit to the excellent Archeological Museum. Or, if you love the sea, you can take a boat trip to the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa with its wonderful bird and marine life, flowers and islands. Faro is easily accessible, being only 10 kilometres from Estoi.|
|Day 6||The Two Rivers: Rio Guadiana and Ribeira de Odeleite (Moderate: 10 miles/16 km) We walk along the biggest and prettiest river of the Algarve at the Algarve’s unknown eastern-most end. Here you will discover one of the Algarve’s best hidden secrets, unspoilt quiet beauty, lush riverbanks, panoramic hills and unspoilt villages.
The Guardiana river marks the eastern boundary of the Algarve and the border between Portugal and Spain. At times the river bank will be only a stone’s throw from Spain. The river is tidal all this way and as far north as Mértola. This tranquil river valley is a very different world to much of the Algarvian coast: hidden away, silent, sparsely populated, and ever more remote the farther north you travel.
After lunching in the village of Foz de Odeleite, enjoying some authentic local cuisine, your route takes you along a second river, the Ribeira de Odeleite, bordered by richly cultivated fields and vineyards where the only sounds you will hear are the hushed flow of the river and birdsong, even the nightingale if you are lucky! Finish your day in the village of Odeleite following a long but totally satisfying day's walking.|
|Day 7||Praia do Benagil to Senhora da Rocha (Moderate: 7 miles/11.2 km).
Today enjoy exploring the essence of the Algarve’s famous Barlavento coastline, renowned for beautiful beaches backed by crumbling ochre cliffs and onamented with surreally eroded rocks, arches, grottoes and stacks. With the addition of a few fishing boats you'll enjoy a picture-postcard scene that couldn’t be anywhere else in the world. Make sure you bring your camera!
Needless to say today's walk takes you to the best of this region, from a tiny fishing village to a coastal path with a wealth of wild flowers including hyacinths and orchids, to spectacular beaches. Praia da Marinha is a superb sandy beach in a beautiful natural setting, perhaps the best in the Algarve with tall sun-trap cliffs, fishing boats and huts, everyone's favourite. Apart from a couple of restaurants and bars there are thankfully no other signs of development and, as long as these beaches remain accessible only to walkers, they are likely to remain so. The walk finishes at a tiny fishing village where a welcome icecream or cool drink amongst the fishing boats brings the walking day to a perfect conclusion.|
|Day 8||Departure for Faro airport and return flight.|
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of Responsible Travel