The Algarve is Portugal’s resort region along the southern coast. Known for beaches and golf courses, Algarve encompasses 16 towns within the region, including Faro, which is the largest city and hub of the Algarve. Tourism is very important in the Algarve, and makes up the bulk of the economy in summer.
Over seven million tourists visited the Algarve in 2017. Seafood and agriculture are also important industries here. If you are planning a visit to Portugal’s Algarve region, we have some of the best day trips, both within and around the Algarve.
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Seville, Spain is a popular day trip from the Algarve, or vice versa! Seville is the capital of Spain’s Andalucia region, and is the heart of flamenco dancing. Seville has many attractions you can see on a day trip, including the Seville Cathedral and Real Alcazar Palace. Wander the various plazas in Seville, admiring Moorish architecture and sampling delicious Spanish food.
There are guided tours to bring you from your Algarve hotel to Seville, or you can take a bus from Faro, which takes from 2.5-3 hours. Of course, driving your own car will give you the most flexibility for your day trip. Do keep in mind that Seville is one hour ahead of Faro, so you will lose time on arrival in Spain.
Another interesting day trip from the Algarve is to visit Gibraltar. Best known for the Rock of Gibraltar, the island was settled by Moors in the Middle Ages, but has been a British territory since the 18th century. You can still see remains of the 14th century Moorish castle, and the 18th century tunnels from World War II.
There is a lot to see and do in Gibralter, from nature to history and culture, so it’s a great day trip from the Algarve. Reaching Gibraltar from the Algarve requires passing through Spain, and onward to Gibraltar, which is not part of the EU. Keep in mind border crossings can be lengthy, in addition to a long drive from the Algarve, so a bus tour is recommended for the least difficult approach.
The capital of Portugal is a must for anyone wishing to visit Portugal. You may prefer to stay in the Algarve and visit Lisbon on a day trip. There are five daily trains that run from the Algarve to Lisbon, taking anywhere from three to five hours for the journey. Lisbon is a lovely city, with much to offer tourists: culture, cuisine, scenery and affordable options for all budgets. There is much to see in Lisbon, including the Lisbon Castle, Torre Belem, Jeronimos monastery and riding the famed cable cars.
Fatima is home of the Sanctuary of Fatima, a pilgrimage destination for Catholics. It’s one of the most important Virgin Mary shrines in the world, as this is where three shepherd children claimed they were visited by an angel in 1917, in six individual incidents. The site became an important pilgrimage destination almost immediately, with 2 million visitors in the first year.
The Sanctuary of Fatima celebrated a 100-year anniversary in 2017, and two of the children were canonized by Pope Francis. If you wish to see Fatima on a day trip from the Algarve, be prepared for a long journey. You will need to reach Lisbon first, then take a bus for another 90 minutes.
This town in the Algarve is a fun day trip destination if you are staying elsewhere in the region. At the harbor, you can watch colorful fishing boats setting or emptying their nets, or in the mornings you can observe the fish auction. The Fortress of Sagres remains from the 15th century, along with a 16th century chapel.
The main draw to Sagres, however, are the beaches. Surfers flock to Sagres for the waves, but the remote location within the Algarve means Sagres remains less developed than other resort areas. This gives Sagres a laid-back, unpretentious feel with casual dining and quieter streets.
In the Western Algarve is Lagos, a city with beaches and history that make it a popular destination within the Algarve. Dramatic cliffs at Ponta de Piedade offer amazing views of the headlands, while the city holds an 18th century church and a castle.
The town center is rich with history and lined with cobblestone streets, which you can wander at your leisure. The combination of history and culture make Lagos a popular day trip within the Algarve, especially for travelers staying at modern resorts, who also want to experience some of the local culture.
For Algarve visitors wanting to experience some nature, consider a day trip to Ria Formosa. This area has been a nature reserve since the 1970’s and is now a National Park and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. Ria Formosa extends 60 kilometers along the coastline of Portugal, and contains many islands, canals, swamps and beaches that harbor local flora and fauna.
There is also a visitor’s center with interpretive trails. There are many nature trails and you can even camp at Ria Formosa if you’d like. There are ferries or water taxis to take you to various islands within the nature preserve.
Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site best known for Roman history and the Temple of Diana. Evora has an amazing assortment of Roman, Gothic and Baroque architecture throughout town. The walled village is quite small and easy to get around. Evora also sits in a region well known for wine and food, so foodies will love a day trip to Evora. You can reach Evora by bus in about 3-4 hours from the Algarve.
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