The Algarve consists of Portugal’s coastal towns and is considered one of the most sought-after destinations to visit in the world. The stunning scenery attracts Portuguese and foreigner travelers alike, and urges them to return time and time again. Along your journeys throughout the Algarve, you will come across the southernmost point of the continent, giving you bragging rights to say you’ve stood on the edge of Europe.
While the Algarve consists of many coastal gems such as, Faro, Albufeira, Monchique, Silves, Olhao and Tavira, a crowd favorite is Lagos. Complete with beautiful cliffs and sandy beaches, Lagos is a paradise in itself.
Each of these cities deserve their own 72 hours, however see below a complete guide for visiting Lagos and nearby Algarve must-sees.
While technically not a part of the Algarve, Sines is a stop worth taking! A sleepy sea town in the fall season, Sines is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy some tapas. If you get an early start on your day, take a quick stroll along Fishermen’s Trail, a seaside hike with stunning cliff views and beach access points.
Head back on the road for another hour or so and your memory of Portugal will forever be in scents. Wild eucalyptus and burning farm fields will continue to evoke memories of the Algarve for years to come. Upon arrival in Lagos, you’ll realize the coastal town is basically the love child of an Aussie surfer, Portuguese historian and German tourist. The city is like Lisbon’s cooler, younger sister who took a gap year to become a yoga teacher and work in a vegan cafe on the beach in Bali. Lagos has all the beauty and color of Lisbon architecture and street art with serious new-age hippie vibes. From delicious restaurants, vibrant street art and entertaining buskers, Lagos is full of personality.
We suggest a stay at the Casa Mae hotel, located near both the beach and historic center. Rooms range from classic vintage and boho chic to cozy minimalist design, and you’ll have the perfect setting to fully experience the Algarve.
Once you’re all settled in, hit the streets and grab a revitalizing fresh juice at Bora Cafe and take a stroll down to Rua Porta de Portugal, the town square filled with buskers, gelato stands, a merry-go-round and sea views. Once you’re refreshed, you can purchase the 5 euro combination ticket that allows you entry to the Mercado de Escravos (the site of the first slave market in Europe), Church of St. Anthony and the fortress, Forte da Ponta da Bandeira.
From the Fortress head down to the caved beaches to watch the sunset. Enjoy the warm Algarve colors melting behind its rocky perimeter. When you’re hungry again, head out to The Garden for dinner, an outdoor shabby-chic restaurant with a killer veggie curry.
After dinner, head around the corner to a surfers paradise, The Green Room, complete with a great selection of margaritas and even better live music. Try one of their many margaritas with some Milagro Tequila for a real Mexican flare. After a long day of traveling, head to bed and prepare for a day of relaxation tomorrow.
As promised, your second day in the Algarve is all about relaxation. Head over to The Owl Story book store to grab a good read for a day at the beach. The British-owned bookstore is centrally located and offers an amazing collection and encyclopedic knowledge of literature.
Once you have the day’s entertainment in-hand, stop by Coffee and Waves cafè for a quick coffee and açaí bowl. About 20 minutes south, you’ll find Tres Irmãos beach, a typical cave spotted Algarve beach, without the typical Lagos tourist traffic. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas or just pop your towel down strategically near a cave to provide a little relief from the sun when needed. Along the beach are a few restaurant options to choose from. Enjoy some Vinho Verde (green wine native to Portugal) and fresh fish before heading back to Lagos for the night.
For your final day in Portugal, take a drive slightly southeast to Silves. A medieval town with the old structure still in-tact, Slives is a quick 30 minute drive from Lagos. Upon arrival, park the car and start exploring on foot. On your walk up to the old town, you’ll come across some charming colorful streets lined with shops and cafes. Take a minute to look up. You may see one or two massive birds nest, common amongst the White Storks, known in Portuguese as “Cegonha-branca,” who fly from Africa during the winter months. Once you’ve reached the fortress, take a breather and enjoy the stunning views that have been used as look outs for hundreds of years. Next, perhaps you’d like to stop at the Archeology Museum for some history. On your way back down, visit the Municipal Market Silves and pick up some fresh fruit and nuts for the rest of your car ride.
Back on the open road for another 35 minutes to Porches Pottery. You’ll find incredible hand-made traditional Portuguese pottery and a delicious cafè attached. Sit down for lunch and pick up a mug or two to keep on your desk back home. With each sip you’ll escape reality just for a moment and find yourself smelling eucalyptus and sea salt.
With the day coming to a close, it’s time to head back to Lisbon and board your flight. Again, take the coastal route! I urge you stop along the way and take in the stunning mountain and ocean views before saying goodbye to Portugal.