A Walk through the Algarve
A Walk through the Algarve
This 10-day guided walk takes you on a journey through the natural beauty of the undiscovered Algarve exploring the full range of landscapes that this vibrant and varied region has to offer. Starting in the city of churches, Tavira, we'll head to the easternmost point of Portugal following the mighty Guadiana River, the natural border to Spain, before heading to the Barrocal (mid mountains). Explore the maritime history of Portugal and Europe in Lagos and Sagres, before we head out to the coast to be met by huge crashing waves and jaw-dropping views. The final 3 days of the trip are in the Serra de Monchique, the mountain range which offers fantastic views over the whole region.
With Tiago, our local guide, we'll walk along diverse landscapes from river paths and untouched coastlines to the Monchique mountain range. Spanish and green lavender grow in abundance with 25+ types of orchids, mystic thyme and flowering yellow broom. Overhead you can see Bonelli's eagles, sparrow hawks, black kites, azure magpies and golden orioles whilst flamingos make their home in the salt marshes. As autumn arrives, the Algarve is one of the best places in Europe to see the annual migration, and with autumn and winter akin to springtime in the UK, you can be sure of warm Algarvian temperatures from autumn right through to May.
We'll enjoy 3 very different hand-picked hotels, all with pools. The Pousada in Tavira is a wonderfully restored C16 convent. In Pedralva, the owner, Antonio Ferreira, bought the entire village and refurbished each house to create Aldeia da Pedralva; each hotel 'room' is in fact an entire house for you to enjoy privately. Your last nights are spent at the Villa Termal in Caldas de Monchique, where small individual hotel buildings and an atmospheric tapas bar create an almost Victorian village feel, with its town square as the focal point. The food in the region is simple yet delicious with daily fresh fish, cured hams, superb cheese and chourico that are as good as those from Spain or Italy. All of this is washed down by the fresh and fruity regional wines.
Whitewashed village of Odeceixe on the Algarve-Alentejo border CC Tony Lewis / flickr
Walking trails of the Algarve. above Amado Beach
Historic area in Lagos with Santo Antonio church
Beautiful Santa Maria church in Henry the Navigator's square Lagos
Arrive in Tavira, your base for the next four nights. Enjoy dinner (included) at the hotel this evening.
We go east, stopping at the town of Alcoutim with its 14th-century castle and small international ferry! We then head to Laranjeiras where we follow the Guadiana River, passing pretty white villages, almond and olive groves, climbing between holm oaks and stone pines to a wonderful picnic spot. It's then on through the Laranjeiras ravine full of tamarisks, lavender and carob trees, spotting golden orioles as we go. Today's hike - 6 miles (3 hours)
7 Springs of the Barrocal
Today it's up to the Barrocal to follow the 7 Springs route, a walk blending rivers, streams and springs, one of which, the Benemola, is one of the Algarve's most important water sources with 4 million litres of water discharging every hour. The flora is impressive with mystic thyme, yellow broom and Montpellier cistus. We stop in the village of Querenca with its pretty church and inviting bars and cafes. Tody;s hike - 6 miles (3 hours)
Ria Formosa Nature Reserve / Praia do Barril / Tavira
Today we head to Pedras d'el Rei for a morning walk along the salt marshes of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve and Praia do Barril with its interesting "anchor graveyard" and bizarre museum of the tuna fish industry! We return to Tavira for a free afternoon to explore the town, its monuments and many churches. Today's hike - 2 miles (1.5 hours)
Lagos / Sagres / Cabo de Sao Vicente
Our first stop is the old walled town of Lagos, with its warren of narrow streets which we can enjoy exploring before lunch (included). Then it's on to Sagres for a short walk around its 15th-century fortress, built by henry the Navigator, before we head to the southwest tip of Europe, Cabo de Sao Vicente, and its lighthouse. We end the day at the unique Aldeia da Pedralva, your base for the next three nights.
Amado Beach / Sinceira River,
Head out of the village to cross verdant green meadows and pass old farmhouses. The coast slowly appears and we're met by truly stunning views of the Atlantic. We'll then walk along Amado Beach, internationally renowned for its surf. From the beach we drop down to the valley floor to follow a lovely trail along the Sinceira River, passing through a green and lush landscape as we make our way back to the hotel. Today's hike - 9 miles (4 hours)
Alentejo: Fishermen's Trail / Odeceixe
Today's walk takes us out of the Algarve and into neighbouring Alentejo. We follow the Rota Vicentina trail alongside flower-filled meadows leading us to the Fishermen's Trail - this rugged coastline is quite simply mind-blowing - finishing at Odeceixe Beach, one of the most photographed in Portugal. Today's hike - 6.5 miles (4 hours) or 8 miles (5 hours)
Monchique / Medronho
Head to the mountain village of Monchique and enjoy a walk to the Monte de Lameira farm, for a view of life in a bygone era, stopping for a traditional lunch of local hams and tasty cheeses. Then it's on to the Medronho distillery where we're shown how the local firewater is made - a tasting is of course included! We'll then head to our 4 Star spa hotel in Caldas de Monchique, our base for the next three nights. Today's hike - 5 miles (2 hours)
The Walk of Views
From the hotel, a tree-lined track leads us through a series of dwellings before we're rewarded with 360° views of lowlands to the south and mountains to the north - on a clear day you can see as far as the Atlantic. As we reach Monchique, there's time to stop for a drink before returning to the hotel for chourico, bread-making and the best bit - tasting! Today's hike - 7 miles (4 hours)
The Route of the Mills
Our last walk takes us along the cobbled streets of Monchique to the 17th-century convent. Stop for lunch at a lovingly restored water mill and picnic under the shade of the trees whilst listening to the rushing stream which once powered the mill. To end our day we drive up to Foia peak, the highest point in the Algarve, for memorable views of the region and a look back at our journey. Today's hike - 6.5 miles (4 hours)
Depart Monchique on your independent flights home.
Villa Termal, Caldas de Monchique
The Vila Thermal is situated in Caldas de Monchique on the site of the only thermal waters in the south of Portugal. The five separate buildings give the place a village feel and along with its 18th Century architecture, it gives the appearance of a grand old spa town.
The hotel has a medical spa centre, indoor and outdoor pools, a cosy tapas bar and lovely main square to take in the rays of sunshine.
Aldeia da Pedralva , Pedralva
This is a magical place, a real find. Just 10 years ago the village of Pedralva was a ruin with houses just left to rot by owners who no longer wanted to live in the countryside. However, Antonio Ferreira, your host at the Aldeia da Pedralva, initially decided to buy a couple of houses, but eventually renovated 24 which have been beautifully restored to create 24 rooms. The village itself is surrounded by verdant nature parks and offers great walking and cycling possibilities. Food here is rustic Portuguese, simple in terms of ingredients but mouth watering in terms of quality, flavour and freshness.
Pousada de Tavira
The Pousada de Tavira, Convento da Graça, is located in the Santo Agostinho Convent, founded by Dom Sebastião in the 16th Century. This hotel centrally located in Tavira, perfectly combines its historic past with modern touches.
The guests at the Pousada de Tavira can enjoy the outdoor pool on the sun loungers under the parasols or read a book in the drawing room. It has a lovely restaurant and pleasant bar, the inner courtyard is a lovely place to sit and relax.
All rooms have a minibar, satellite tv, and balconies or terraces. Wifi is available in public spaces and some rooms.