The best hiking trails in Portugal can be found in the southern region of the Algarve, which is not only jam-packed with charming villages and picturesque towns, but also has some of the best walking trails in Portugal. The lovely rocky coast, peaceful bays, shady pine forests, and other beautiful natural features are best appreciated on foot. The Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail is the most memorable trek, a multi-day hiking route that goes almost along the entire coast. However, for most travelers, this may be excessive. Fortunately, there are also numerous – and extremely numerous – shorter hiking trails. We went on a lovely nature hike in the Algarve with our 8-month-old daughter every day for a month. With a small one in a slingshot or on dad’s neck, a shorter walk is more pleasant, so we researched the shorter half-day hiking trails in the Algarve.
For this blog, we’ve chosen the top 15 Algarve hiking trails, including some of Portugal’s most beautiful cliff walks and walks through stunning nature reserves!
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#1 Pontal da Carrapateira
- 19 kilometers, but with shorter options
- at Carrapateira on the west coast
One of the most impressive walking trails in the Algarve is the Pontal da Carrapateira on the west coast of Portugal. Also known as the Trail of Tides, the hike revolves entirely around the dramatic coastline in this part of the Algarve. The Atlantic Ocean crashes into spectacular cliffs here and the waves in this western part of the Algarve are a mecca for surfers. There will be surfers in the water on numerous parts of this route, braving the enormous waves.
The walk follows the coast for most of the first stretch, with lovely vistas from the viewpoints at the cliffs. If you’re up for it, the walk is 19 kilometers long; if you’re not, there’s a shorter option where you at least visit this section with those breathtaking views. There are two ways to shorten the hike. You can walk just one loop of the route, which is shaped like an eight with two loops. There’s also a dirt road midway through the loop, where you can turn around and reduce the length of the walk even more.
#2 Castelejo Environmental Trail
- 3.5 kilometers
- at Vila do Bispo
A short walk through a lovely nature reserve is located not far from Praia do Castelejo. The walk is little more than three kilometers and begins at a picnic area near the beach. After passing through a lovely pine forest, you reach a valley. The valley was formed by water that traveled through the landscape and reached the sea, so the valley extends from the Castelejo nature reserve all the way to the beach. You may look as far as the sea from this portion of the trek, which offers a magnificent vista.
Tip: take a swim in the ocean after the hike. Between the rocks, the Praia do Castelejo is picturesquely positioned and has unique black rock formations.
#3 Lilac Trail
- 6 kilometers
- at Barão de São João
The Lilac Trail takes you to the Barão de São João National Park, which is a bit farther inland in the Algarve and not far from Lagos. Where the route first runs along a wide road with some cars passing by, you soon enter a lush green forest with pine trees. Something you would not expect in the Algarve, famous for its sandy beaches. The sculptures, which are accompanied by Portuguese poems along the trail through the forest, are a great addition to the walk. At last, you will come out from the shaded forest to an area with impressively huge windmills.
#4 The Ponte da Piedade hike
- 10 kilometers
- near Lagos and Ponte da Piedade
- part of the longer Fisherman’s Trail
The Ponte da Piedade, located near Lagos, is the symbol of the Algarve. You simply can’t visit Lagos without seeing these rocks south of the city. This is a beautiful rock formation with golden yellow rocks that create lovely arches and pointed summits in an appealing blue sea. You may look down from the viewpoint, but going down the stairs gives you the best view of the Ponte da Piedade.
The best way to see this icon is to go there on foot from Luz. You begin in Luz and make your way to the Ponte da Piedade before continuing into Lagos’ historic core.
Take an Uber from Lagos to Luz. This is approximately € 7. Luz is a lovely little town with a fine sandy beach. From here you climb to the rock plateau Rocha Negra. It is a tough climb, but from the plateau you have a phenomenal view of the Praia da Luz and the rocky coast. The path then brings you from the Rocha Negra peak along the coast to Ponte da Piedade. You have the beautiful blue sea and orange rocky coast as a backdrop while you walk. From Ponte da Piedade, you walk along the rocky coast to the viewpoint at Praia do Camilo. Then you walk the last part to the old center.
#5 Rocha Delicada Trail
- 6.1 kilometers
- from Mexilhoeira Grande train station at Portimão
The Rocha Delicada Trail is one of the few Algarve trails that can be done without a car and by public transport. The route begins at the Mexilhoeira Grande train station, which is near Portimao. There is an information sign on the platform with the itinerary of the trail and some information about the area. The route loops along the lagoon of the Alvor River. Another Algarve trail, the Passadiços de Alvor, is located on the other side of the river. The section at the lagoon, roughly halfway through the journey, is gorgeous to see. You’re likely able to spot flamingos here and bird watchers should bring their binoculars since this is a popular nesting area for birds.
If you have a rental vehicle and particularly enjoy this middle section, you may also skip the remainder of the trail. You may reach the lagoon by driving all the way to it in your automobile and parking there, where you can walk the middle portion of the trail.
#6 The Passadiços de Alvor
- 4.5 kilometers
- Praia do Alvor at Portimão
This hike mainly follows the wooden boardwalks of the Passadiços de Alvor and is called ‘Ao Sabor da Maré’ (or ‘At the whim of tides’). The walk is near the coastal town of Portimão. At the Praia do Alvar, a lovely natural reserve has been established where the river Alvor reaches the sea and you may enjoy one of Portugal’s longest sandy beaches before or after your walk. The lagoon, wetland, and marsh are all home to a variety of birds. A wide sandy beach and sand dunes protect the lagoon and wetland, which is home to many birds breeding in a saltwater marsh.
The Alvor Walkways, also known as Passadiços de Alvor in Portuguese, are a series of boardwalks that run through the dunes, along the beach, and down the riverbank. The walk of 4.5 kilometers follows these wooden walkways and mixes them with dirt roads to form a lovely short trail through this sand dune region. The river here, close to the sea, is subject to the tides. We went there during low tide and were able to walk on the riverbed.
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#7 Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
- 6 kilometers (or 12 kilometers round trip)
- between Praia do Vale de Centeanes and Praia de Marinha
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, or Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos in Portuguese, is the most well-known trek in the Algarve. The hiking route passes stunning cliffs, seaside views, rock arches and viewpoints on Portugal’s beautiful coastline. The spectacular Algarve coast is home to this 6-kilometer (or 12 kilometers if you return to the start) hike along the rugged coastline. This hiking trail is marked with the usual yellow-red markings that indicate almost all southern Portuguese trails, though we did find them somewhat hard to find this time. That’s not an issue, since you know the path will eventually follow the coast and thus it’ll be impossible to get lost.
The highlights along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail are the spectacular vistas, including rock arches, lunar landscapes and jagged cliffs. You’ll also pass the Alfanzina Lighthouse, a pine forest, several picnic areas, viewpoints with seats and a variety of sinkholes where you may view or hear the sea rushing in.
Sights along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail are primarily the spectacular views. You pass a lighthouse, a number of sinkholes where you can see or hear the sea rushing in and impressive rock arches. The trail passes Praia de Benagil, famous for the Benagil Caves, which can only be reached by water. A boat trip or canoe excursion is therefore the only way to see the caves, unless you are an extremely good swimmer and dare to swim from Praia de Benagil to the caves. During the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, you walk past the hole in the roof of the caves – you’ve probably seen it on photos – and you can take a look from above into the caves.
Bring your bathing suit since the gorgeous sandy beaches along the route are difficult to resist. We visited Praia do Carvalho, a lovely white-sand beach shaped like a crescent moon. This beach is accessible via a stairway cut through the rock, making this beach a unique attraction.
Read more: an extensive travel guide for the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, including a map.
#8 Carvoeiro Boardwalk
- 600 meters
- at the Alco Seco viewpoint in Carvoeiro
We actually almost skipped visiting the Carvoeiro Boardwalk – also known as the Caminho do Algar Seco – after reading it was only 600 meters. Make sure you don’t make this mistake, as this is one of the most impressive short walks of the Algarve.
This mini hike is not about the wooden ‘boardwalks’ that run along the coast here, but about the spectacular vistas along the way. The wooden boardwalk leads along the most impressive cliffs of the Algarve. To get the best view of that coast, there are two places with stairs leading down the cliffs.
Those stairs descending down the cliffs are the attraction of this walk. They allow you to experience the rocky coast of the Algarve in a unique way. There is no other place at the Algarve where you’ll get to climb the orange cliffs like here in Carvoeiro! There are stairs, paths and tunnels carved out the golden rocks. You’ll enjoy viewpoints overlooking the sea, you’ll see the waves rushing between the rocks and you’ll climb on and through the rocks to reach the best viewpoints.
You’ll go into tunnels, through arches and down and up the rocks to get to the most beautiful parts. There are multiple nooks and crannies to explore, creating an adventurous experience between the Algarve cliffs. As if that isn’t enough, you can also take a dip in a natural rock pool. This waterhole is at the Algar Seco, the cliffs at the end of the boardwalk. The sea has carved out a pool between the rocks for centuries. The sea was very rough when we visited in winter, offering a great spectacle with waves crashing in. But during the summer months, this is actually a great spot for a refreshing dip.
Read more: our travel guide about the Carvoeiro Boardwalk and Algar Seco Caves.
#9 Trail of Headlands
- 6.5 kilometers (or 13 kilometers round trip)
- between Praia do Molhe (Ferragudo) and Praia do Paraiso (Carvoeiro)
The Trail of Headlands, also known as the Caminho dos Promontórios in Portuguese, is a great off the beaten track alternative for the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk. Though the Seven Hanging Valleys is one of the most famous hikes in the Algarve, few people know about the Trail of Headlands. This great alternative has equally beautiful vistas, as both hikes are centered around the iconic orange rocky coast of the Algarve.
The red-yellow signs along the path of more than 6 kilometers provide precise directions, though it’s hard to get lost on a cliff walk along the coast. This hike runs all the way along the spectacular rock cliffs between the picturesque Ferragudo and beach town Carvoeiro. You pass the Ferragudo lighthouse, large sinkholes where the seawater flows in under the rocks, the ancient lookout point Torre da Lapa and beautiful rock formations. The walk ends near Carvoeiro, where you can take a Uber or walk back to the starting point. Make sure to bring your swimsuit, as you will pass beautiful bays and beaches along the way.
Read more: our travel guide for Ferragudo in the Algarve.
#10 Praia Grande Interpretation Trail
- 5.5 kilometers
- at Armação de Pêra, not far from Albufeira
This trail in the Algarve’s heart is a pleasant short walk near Albufeira. The trail heads along the Praia Grande, where you can walk both on the sandy beach and on the adjacent pathways. At first, a wooden decking trail leads you through a saltwater marsh and salt marshes, where you may spot several uncommon birds. If you enjoy birdwatching, you should also visit the bird hide at the Lagoa dos Salgados (translated: the Salt Lake). Even if you aren’t a birdwatcher, it’s fascinating to observe this unique environment with so many birds. Especially flocks of pink flamingos!
After the pathways, you’ll walk across a large sandy beach and through the dunes. Take off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes here. Then you’ll walk along sandy pathways, first walking by the beach and then passing through a meadow with a flock of sheep.
This short hiking trail may not be the most spectacular walk in southern Portugal, but it is a wonderfully peaceful and flat route with beautiful beaches, dunes, nature, and special landscapes. We were also able to view a lovely sunrise while here, which made the hike an even more beautiful experience.
#11 Paderne Castle Trail
- 3.5 kilometers
- at Paderne
The tiny village of Paderne is located northeast of Albufeira. Here you may take one of the Algarve’s nicest short hikes, where you don’t visit the beach for a change. The Castelo de Paderne is the main attraction during this hike, as you might guess from the name. You may visit the old castle ruin on the hilltop for free. The castle’s distinctive feature is the use of taipa as a construction material. This is a combination of mud, lime, and chalk that forms a local type of concrete.
You walk along the riverbed, which is typically empty, from the castle ruins. You cross it via an ancient bridge that may have originated in Roman times. There was once a mill near that bridge. The ruins of the old windmill may still be seen. After the bridge, follow the riverbed back to a watermill named Moinho de Água de Paderne. At the mill you have to cross the riverbed again to return to your starting point. You should not use the rickety wooden bridge and you should not wander too far, but you must follow the path through the iron gate in between.
Is this one of the Algarve’s most impressive trails? Certainly not, but if you have the time, this hike further inland for variety is really nice.
#12 Falesia Beach Trail
- 4 kilometers
- at Vilamoura
We couldn’t discover any information about it online, but we were able to verify its existence using Google Maps. According to the comments, the trail was supposed to be beautiful, so we were instantly excited. We studied all of the reviews to figure out where the trail started and ended. It was well worth our efforts: the Falésia Beach Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in Algarve and probably our favorite!
The Falésia Beach Trail runs along the orange rocky coast along Praia da Falésia, so it’s not possible to get lost during this hike either. You walk from the starting point towards the coastal village of Vilamoura, while having the beach of Falésia on your right the whole time. At various places you can also descend from the rocks to the beach, so be sure to bring your swimsuit to take a dip in the sea.
The rocky coast of the Algarve is stunning, but it is famous for its orange cliffs more the west than this trail. The trail is located in the area between those orange cliffs in the west and the Ria Formosa mudflat region in the east of the Algarve. You can see white and orange rock formations in beautiful shapes. It’s like some kind of beautiful moonscape. This trail is therefore really one that you do not want to miss on your tour through the Algarve.
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#13 The Ludo Trail and Sao Lourenco Trail in Ria Formosa
- Combine the Sao Lourenco trail and Ludo trail
- 7 kilometers for the Sao Lourenco Trail only
- in the Ria Formosa nature reserve near Faro
The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is located between the coastal towns of Faro and Tavira in Portugal’s Algarve, which is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. The west-coastal Algarve is home to orange cliff formations and charming bays with sandy beaches, while the east of Faro features a maze of waterways, islands, and peninsulas. This area near Faro is part of a beautiful nature reserve, the Ria Formosa.
You’ll find one of the most beautiful and frequented areas of the Ria Formosa just west of Faro, near the international airport and Praia da Faro. The Ludo Trail and the São Lourenço Trail are two popular hiking routes that pass through here. It’s odd to us that there are two distinct hiking routes rather than one continuous trail. The two are in good alignment, and they make a beautiful round trip together.
The trails wind throughout the lagoon, with the Ludo Trail concentrating on saltwater swamps and the São Lourenço Trail focusing more on wooded areas and golf courses. The most memorable part of the trip for us was the stretch along the Ludo trails. You may see a lot of water birds while trekking through this marshy and wetland environment. We observed several flamingos in different areas of this Ria Formosa section on each of our two visits. The trail passes a salt production region with salt flats, pink lakes, and huge white salt mountains. It’s a very beautiful and special place in the nature park where you see fewer people than at the swamps.
#14 Barril Beach Trail
- 3 kilometers round trip
- from Taviro to Praia do Barril
Near the picturesque town of Tavira and in the heart of the Ria Formosa nature reserve with its swamps, water birds, mudflats and salt flats, you’ll find mostly water and wetlands. There are some islands close to the Tavira coast with ferry services to cross the wetlands and visit the island beaches. There’s only one way to go over the wetland without using the ferry: Praia do Barril.
A drawbridge spans the water here, after which you take a short walk to the beautiful beach. Children will love this hike. Or they will love skipping this hike, as there is a little tourist train bringing you from the drawbridge to Barril Beach. We loved walking though and enjoyed the beautiful wetland surroundings. The Ria Formosa is home to a wide range of birds, making this walk especially appealing to bird lovers.
Even if you are not a fan of birds, the large sandy beach on Tavira Island that you will discover at the end is sure to make you smile. Don’t miss the Cemitério das âncoras, the cemetery of anchors, which sits dramatically along the coastline here. It is a reminder of the fishing hamlet that formerly existed here. They were not boat anchors, but they were utilized to keep the tuna fishing nets on the seabed secured. This is said to be a one-of-a-kind and less hazardous method of catching tuna for this region, which has been used in Roman times. As the amount of tuna in the sea decreased, the fishermen in Portugal had to give up their jobs. Their anchors have remained on the beach ever since.
#15 Nature Discovery Trail
- 3 kilometers
- at Olhao
The visitor center Centros de Educação Ambiental of the Ria Formosa Natural Park is located near the fishing village of Olhão. The visitor center has more information about the nature reserve. However, the short walk is what draws most people to this location.
You’ll also see many water birds in this section of Ria Formosa Natural Park, such as flamingos, as there are many freshwater swamps attracting birds. You’ll also walk through dunes, along a freshwater lake and between the pines. You will pass bird hides, Roman remains, and an ancient water pump that was once driven by a donkey.
Don’t forget to check out the Moinho de Maré de Marim mill, which is powered by the tides. There were hundreds of these tidal mills in Ria Formosa before, but this is the only one that survives. On some days, you may also go inside the mill, where there are explanatory boards about how it operates.