The natural beauty of the Algarve is incomparable, with its lovely sandy beaches and breathtaking orange cliffs. But in between all that are the most picturesque towns and villages of Portugal. The charming town of Ferragudo is known as one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal. Despite its modest size, it has charming streets, gorgeous sandy beaches, and magnificent hikes to explore. During our camper trip through Portugal, we stayed there for five days and enjoyed the friendly rural village life as well as stunning beaches. As there are many great things to do in Ferragudo, it is the perfect place to visit the famous Algarve in Portugal.
Let this blog help you discover this hidden gem in the Algarve. Fall in love with Ferragudo and make it your base during your Algarve trip!
How to get to Ferragudo
The village of Ferragudo is on the Algarve coast in Portugal. The peaceful, picturesque hamlet is located adjacent to Portimão, which is a rather unappealing town. On the other side of the Arade River, Portimão has lost almost all of its charming and historic buildings. The only reason people are still visiting is because of its beaches. But we’d choose Ferragudo over Portimão any day since it also offers both equally stunning beaches and one of the most lovely villages in the south of Portugal.
Other nearby towns are the beach town of Carvoeiro and the castle town of Silves. Ferragudo is thus ideally located in the center of the Algarve, making it an ideal base from which to explore the rest of the region.
The river Arade, which flows into the sea between Portimão and Ferragudo, is a favourite base for many fisherman’s boats at night. This provides a lovely, picturesque view of a white city against a slope with boats bobbing in the water in front of it.
Ferragudo is approximately an hour’s drive from Faro’s international airport. With a rental vehicle picked up at the airport, you can get to Ferragudo in no time. A rental car is also suggested because although staying in this charming beach hamlet is nice, we encourage you to discover the rest of the Algarve from here. The town is not well served by public transportation, although there is a train station in Portimão.
Where to stay in Ferragudo
We loved Ferragudo as a great location from which to explore the Algarve. We stayed here for four nights while driving through Portugal in our camper van. With a camper, you may camp on the river bank with a stunning view of the village, especially during the sunrise. While many tourists do not have their own sleeping facility, the town has a lot to offer even in that case.
Update: we learned that shortly after our stay, wild camping at the Ferragudo river bank got prohibited. Read our blog post about wild camping in Portugal to learn more about where you can camp for free with your camper van.
The best place to stay in Ferragudo is Vitor’s Village with beautiful apartments, a beautiful palm-lined swimming pool and the layout of a small village. Vitor’s Village is located on the edge of Ferragudo town. Though the Ferragudo beaches are only a short walk away, you might want to visit the Atlantic beaches on the Algarve coast as well using the free shuttle bus service of Vitor’s Village.
8x things to do in Ferragudo
#1 Explore the charming streets
The lovely town is the ideal location to stroll about and take in the peaceful Portuguese village life. Make sure to take in the beauty of Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, the town’s main square. There are several restaurants where you can sit down with a drink at one of the terraces to enjoy the sun.
Stroll around the rest of town and make sure you have your camera ready for its picturesque streets. The Ferragudo roads are paved with cobblestones and the village is made up of white homes with colorful doors and shutters. In every season, roses and other vibrant blooms adorn the streets, adding to Ferragudo’s attractiveness. It is a postcard-pretty sight and you’ll soon understand why this is often called the most beautiful town in the Algarve. Expect some climbing since the village is nestled on a hillside.
#2 Visit the church and the viewpoint
The tiny church of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição is located on the outskirts of Ferragudo, high up on a hill. It’s a cute little white church in an exceptionally lovely location since you have views of both the Arade River and Portimão on the other side. It is a spectacular vista, especially at sunset, when the sun sets behind Portimão.
#3 Relax at one of the Ferragudo beaches
Ferragudo is also home to those lovely golden beaches, for which the Algarve is known. Praia da Aingrinha and Praia Grande are both at the village. The fortress of Ferragudo separates them, but you can walk from one beach to the other at low tide past the castle.
Praia de Aingrinha is, in our opinion, a little less idyllic than Praia Grande. This city beach is made up of rickety fishermen’s huts constructed of corrugated iron and is mostly located on the river, where you are less likely to swim than at the stunning Atlantic sea.
Praia Grande is a lot larger and is located on the sea, with several beautiful rock arches. Visiting the rock arches in the morning, before others flock to the Ferragudo beaches, is one of the best things to do in Ferragudo. The Kalu Beach Bar can also be found here and we highly recommend you to have some drinks there.
After that, there are even more excellent sandy beaches: the Praia da Infanta, the Praia do Molhe, the Praia do Pintadinho, and then the Praia dos Caneiros. You’ll have to walk a bit from Ferragudo to get to these beaches.
#4 Hike the Trail of Headlands
The Algarve is packed with beautiful hikes, so we did one almost every day. One of our favorites is the Trail of Headlands which starts in Ferragudo on the Praia do Molhe.
The 6-kilometer trail is marked with red-yellow signs, although it is difficult to get lost anyways. Because this walk covers the Algarve’s beautiful rock cliffs, following the coastline during the entire hike. You pass the Ferragudo lighthouse. There are large sinkholes where the sea enters beneath the rocks, as well as a historic look-out tower known as Torre da Lapa and stunning rock formations.
The Trail of Headlands ends near Carvoeiro, where you can catch an Uber back for 6 euros. Make sure to bring your swimsuit with you, because on the hiking route are some of the Algarve’s most beautiful and peaceful bays and beaches.
We highly recommend you do this trail. When temperatures rise in the summer months, you might not feel like going on a hike. But this one is definitely worth it. Make sure to start as early as possible, when temperatures are still low, and bring enough water with you.
#5 Admire the Castelo de São João do Arade
The Fort of Arade crowns the peak of Ferragudo and is located on a rocky hilltop. Even though you can’t visit the castle, admiring it from the outside is one of the things you don’t want to miss out on during your Ferragudo stay.
The castle was erected in the seventeenth century on this favorable position at the mouth of the Arade. After conditions improved throughout Portugal and along its coast, there were no longer any troops stationed at Castelo do Arade, which fell into ruin.
It was sold in 1900 and ended up in the hands of a rich Portuguese poet who had the castle restored and furnished to his liking. It was declared a monument in 1975, but little has been done with that designation since then.
The castle is closed to the public and has been abandoned for years. Fort of Arade may be admired from the beach though, where you can see how it is constructed on a huge rock and almost seems to emerge from the rocks.
#6 Take a boat trip to the famous Benagil Caves
The most well-known sight in the Algarve is located near Ferragudo. The beautiful Benagil Caves, with a hole in the roof, were carved into rocks and cliffs along the coast not far from Ferragudo. These caves can only be seen from the sea, thus a boat trip or canoe excursion is required to visit this famous sight.
A number of tour operators offer boat trips to the Benagil Caves from Ferragudo and even more from Portimão. These trips usually last around two hours and take in other sights along the coast such as other sea caves.
#7 Explore the castle town of Silves on a day trip
Silves, the castle town of the Algarve, is only a short drive from Ferragudo. It’s about 20 minutes’ drive from the coast to Silves, which is a little more inland.
The city, when you enter it from the west end, has a breathtaking sight of Silves. The castle is perched on a hill overlooking the ancient city and city walls, while the modern city is located lower down around the hill. It’s a wonderful view and well worth stopping at for scenic views along the route!
In Silves, stroll through the medieval city, where narrow lanes create a perplexing maze of beautiful views, white-washed homes and cobblestone squares. The castle and cathedral in Silves are two of the city’s most valuable sights, and they’re both well worth seeing.
#8 Hike to Ferragudo lighthouse
The Farol da Ponta do Altar is Ferragudo’s lighthouse, located on a sea cliff just outside the town. The historic lighthouse is not a traditional high tower, but a kind of white school building with orange roof tiles and a bright red dome on the top.
The original lighthouse was built in 1893 and is still operational today. You can easily reach this location by driving from the village center of Ferragudo, since you can park your vehicle directly next to the lighthouse.
The two sinkholes adjacent to the lighthouse are also worth seeing. The sea has carved two large holes in the rocks, where you may hear the waves raging against the shore with tremendous power and noise.