The Algarve is myriad of towns and villages each with its own charms and usually a museum or two. Plus other attractions and points of interest. Accessibility may be a question about the algarve if travelling by public transport this article caters to that as well. If by car it is only approximately 1 hour 20 mins from the eastern most point to the Spanish border town of Vila Real de Santo António. So there and the excellent Castle nearby Castro Marim are all accessible from wherever you’re staying.For day trips and everywhere in between public transport will require more planning.
Back to this later but for now I’m just going to name and shame the wonderful places to visit in algarve.
Firstly if we start at the Spanish border and work our way along?
Ok sounds good so DAY ONE first stop is Vila Real de Santo António great small coastal town on the Spanish border . Excellent to combine with a trip to the amazing castle marim a few km away.A cultural centre usually showing an interesting exhibition and amazing old lighthouse tours possible if pre booked. Also an interesting history of tuna fishing and canning museum . Some nice sites along the quayside to the salt flats and overlooking the river across to Spain particularly from the castle walls.
Next the amazing grounds of the castle marim believe they do medieval re-enactments there on occasion . You could quite easily spend a few hours on the castle walls and grounds.Then perhaps pop back to the hamlet of Castro marim for an excellent value lunch a nice church and even a museum. The CASA DO SAL actually a museum of proverbs paintings unless you speak or read Portuguese you will have to guess the proverb.Difficult from the painting of which there are dozens either add to your fun or annoy intensely (did write in the suggestion box maybe also in English lady just shrugged !)
My second day out and is probably worth a day by itself is TAVIRA and has an article all to itself! But briefly comprises of a castle you can walk round. A church and a few interesting museums including the Islamic a museum. As well as a few other sites and the roman bridge and main square.
My third day out would be a choice of places including Saô Bras de Alportel mainly for the excellent Museo del Traje Algarve Costume Museum.
With its eclectic parts from fashion in the 1920s to cork making .An excellent contemporary art museum, complete with a coffee cake shop within the grounds .Well worth making a slight detour .It is on the road to our next port of call or to start with as I think three places is enough for one day. Perhaps the town of Olhão a small fishing town just outside Faro itself .With a couple of interesting museums and famed for street art.Simply ask at the tourist office they will pinpoint the murals on the map. Then its bustling fish market usually complete with buskers and raucous bartering. Either way then recommend off to
Garden of the Palace of Estoi. (actually the gardens which are amazing are gardens to a hotel). Luckily they let people access them for Free (might be polite to buy a coffee and drink it on the veranda ).Do check with the hotel at least the day before just in case they have a private function or wedding on worth a quick email or phone call to avoid disappointment .
From there it’s a shortish walk about 1km as you will see from the map to the truly amazing roman villa and temple Milreu. Surely one of the finest examples left and amazing open air mosaic floors and intact temple buildings and a small onsite museum .
DAY 4 should perhaps be day one the Algarve capital FARO and worth at least a day to visit , oh the speedboat trips !!
Obviously has an article to itself here.
DAY 5 and perhaps worth a whole article may get round to writing it is SILVES .Personally went for a day and stayed 10 days .Even though only two live entertainment venues lots of other interesting things to see and do .Particularly when the medieval festival is on second largest and arguably the best in Portugal. (dates vary but if planning to stay during festival week it’s like Malaga everywhere gets booked up quickly still could visit for the day not been but hear it’s amazing) .
So for the day we have one of the best preserved Medieval castles complete with museum and restaurant actually inside the castle grounds. An impressive roman museum .The Croix of Algarve Portugal to find the Casa da Cultura Islâmica e Mediterrânica (house of Mediterrean Islamic culture) .Then the cathedral which houses some artefacts and paintings .You could even take a bit of a country walk to an abandoned windmill the other not riverside of silves .Or perhaps partake in some local cuisine and or a boat trip from portimoa. To do the whole thing and then return to portamoa also on a solar powered boat and free sangria !
Day 6 Loule and san laurec just inland north east of Faro lies the picturesque market town of Loule. But first if coming from the west of the Algarve or Faro is Igreja de São Lourenço church with famous stunning tiled pictures interior. A must see if in the area. You could after also go into the small village of Almansil then head to Loule. Famed for its weird but wonderful algarve churches on the hill Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Piedad .
Complete with a small 16th century chapel at the front with just discovered paintings.(they were covered by dirt dust and smoke and other panels until discovered by chance within the last few years) .Then head back down to town to the castle yes you can walk on the walls and it houses an excellent museum Municipal Museum of Loulé.
inside the castle as well and just outside and opposite is a small chapel containing some stunning religious paintings. Perhaps before or after a visit to the bustling market Mercado de Loulé
Best day is a Saturday also try the cakes at one of the little cafes around , watch the world go by excellent patisseries. Perhaps walk it off with a trip to the municipal park and rugby club! Wondering round the historic centre is awash with churches and galleries. The ARCH Travessa acro do pinto,on the way to the Igreja Matriz de Loulé ou Igreja de São Clemente church. Which is luckily by this hidden GEM of a gardenGarden of Amuados.
To be honest unless you play golf (I don’t) !There isn’t much of interest and are mainly new built areas along the coast. Apart from the roman villa at Quetteria there’s not a lot of things until you get to Albufueria.Portimoa if you like shopping is the no1 locale in the Algarve but very little else.
So day 7 we are going to say Albuferia if you dig hard enough there are some interesting things to do. After all it does date back to roman times and then the moors were there till it was liberated so to speak in 1250 by Alfonso 3rd so has to be interesting ? Well its now primarily a coastal tourist town with beaches bars and more bars. But with a few points of interest (not many).In my opinion the municipal gallery is no1 as they have varying contemporary art usually Portuguese on display. Have been a few times and always interesting and different .
Worth a walk round the old town and in it is theMunicipal Museum of Archeology .Which is excellent and even has some exhibits findings right outside .Nearby is a sacred art museum in a church (passable) and several elevated viewpoints to watch the sunbathers from .Oh and another gallery from a local artist Samora barros .Great for the beaches but not for a day out but could tag it onto a day in portimoa .
Moving on to day EIGHT and more interesting obviously has an article to itself is Lagos ! Is worth it but in brief with museums castle and 1000s of years of history .Plus amazing boat trips to caves or dolphin watching has a lot to offer for a day trip
Day Nine takes us right across to the most easterly point in Mainland Europe. As you might expect a lighthouse complex at Cabo de San Vincente cape of st vincent. (are buses from Lagos).
Worth an hour looking round and for sure and perhaps the nearby fort Fortaleza de Beliche.
Then perhaps a stop to look around Sagres/( the beer making has moved to Lisbon but still available in the various bars and restaurants). More of a back to nature vibe than nearby Lagos and boasts a few attractions of its own. Namely Fortaleza de Sagres a short walk from town along a peninsular. Then perhaps back into town sample the local cuisine a visit the port and admire various churches en route .
DAY 10 dependent upon your speed schedule etc you could possibly then head to the amazing hilltop town of Aljezuer. (a hidden gem of a place ) and in my opinion worth a full day (are direct buses from Lagos). It has an array of mapped route walks ranging from short around the town to out into the amazing countryside.( through farms) .Also one medium length recommended walk there is a map right by the bus stop . For a small town it has a lot going for it and even a castle .Castelo de Aljezur which has plaques around explaining its history and amazing 360 degree views from the top. Obviously so the defenders could see anything coming from miles around and any direction so not taken by surprise !
Through the town itself there are a few museums including Museu Municipal de Aljezur with a lovely curator !oh and the museums is of interest too then the church Iglesia da Misericórdia. With an amazing collection of sacred art and artefacts on two levels and also an included guided tour of the church !! they open specially and give you a backstage so to speak tour.
There are also two other museums in the town painting museum Casa-Museu Pintor José Cercas and Museo Antoniano.
Which dependent upon your schedule maybe worth investigating.
Upto you really how you plan and tour and as stated for public transport the best guide has got to be algarvebus.info .
It also contains cryptic notes as to the possible pitfalls and perhaps even extra walking required.
DAY 11 I haven’t been so cant comment ! but just give the info
Is ZOOMARINE aqua park there are others along the coast. Just this one got the most reviews and is close to also not been ! Sand City Lagoa – Festival Internacional de Esculturas em Areia Giant sand sculptures ! Both in the same area and perhaps combine the two.
Day 12 well as im not a beach person that is up to the individual i prefer to head inland a bit and the wonder that is MONCHIQUE. Only recently discovered by tourists it now boasts many fine Ceramic workshops artisan places. Even the Bongard family have moved their from Ferragouda and set up there. Building and relocating an amazing pottery sculpture park and mini museum worth a visit itself.
Aside from that their are other attractions the Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro a pleasant 15 min walk from the centre (uphill). You may even be able to walk around inside a few people seem to be living there. Plus some chickens might be polite to tip the busker or resident/s a euro !Also back in town is the church Igreja Paroquial de Monchique as well as many interesting shops and pottery artisan studios. Which seem all free to enter and have a wonder roun. Many murals and street art statues and gardens.
The best viewpoint with benches and set in a raised platform and small gardens is this one. You could even walk up mount FOIA Algarves highest point. I know i will one day perhaps best to speak to the tourism office first. But it is possible and signposted somewhat from near the convent upwards takes about two hours ! If by car you can drive up and park on the summit. Have a walk around their are shops and cafes and a small community living there.