A guide to hiking in the Western Algarve.
Below is a home-made guide to some of my favorite walking & hiking trails in Lagos and the Western Algarve. These instructions are no substitute for a tour with me: My hikes are hands-on adventures that take us off-the-path completely to explore the secret backcountry of the coastline, beaches, cliffs, views, and landscapes you cannot get to on your own. As well, a tour with us is about more than just hiking: There's music, storytelling, learning, laughter, team building, food, wine, and much more. Below, in contrast, is a simple guide to a few accessible, well-marked trails in the area that you do not need a guide for, and that compliment a guided adventure with us. There is something here for almost anyone, and on any time scale. You will enjoy!
LOCAL LAGOS HIKING
The most straightforward hiking you can do from Lagos is right out your front door.
The coastline in Lagos is beautiful and can be explored easily by foot. You don't need a guide, and you can't get lost. Just keep the water to your side and you will find all sorts of surprises, including secret beaches, coves, and lookouts.
Allow 2-3 hours, depending on how much stopping and beach-ing you do along the way.
If you are looking for more, continue on to the next town over, Luz, another 1 hour walking, then, take a bus or taxi back to Lagos.
No experience of the Algarve is complete without experiencing the wild West coast, and the best way to do it is by foot.
There is a long distance walking path that runs along the West Coast called the Rota Vicentina. The trails are well marked, easy to follow, and bring you through some truly awesome scenery. The website is helpful and informative.
There is one great full-day 5-7 hour hike, and several half-fay 3-4 hour hikes.
To get started, just read below!
WEST COAST HIKING
WEST COAST FULL DAY HIKE:
There is one section of the trail that I recommend most, and it can be done with or without a car. It's a full day of hiking, 20km or 5-7 hours, and cannot be shortened, but it is mostly easy walking, and it will give you a great introduction to the many amazing landscapes of the Algarve's West coast: along the tallest sea-cliffs in Portugal, through valleys, farmland, pine forests and fields of wild flowers, all the way to the End of the World.
The route is the Vila do Bispo » Cabo de S. Vicente route, taking in the Telheiro Beach Side Circuit along the way. You can take the bus or drive to Vila do Bispo, then follow the route all the way to the Cape of St. Vincent, aka the End of the World, the most southwestern point in Europe. Make sure to take the extra side trail I mentioned above so you don't miss some of the best parts! It's all on the website.
It will take a full day, so pack a lunch, snacks, plenty of water, and your spirit for adventure, and be ready for high winds and cold temperatures along the way, all year long.
Once you reach the end of the trail, at the Cape of St. Vincent, you'll have to continue walking along the cliffs another 6 km to get to Sagres. There is a single paved road from the lighthouse at the end of the Cape that leads straight back to Sagres. As you walk it, however, try to find the tiny dirt trails that zig-zag along the clifftops to your right (south), instead of walking along the paved road. They provide much better views! You can't get lost here, either: Sagres will be visible in front of you the whole time, and the road is never far away, so just get adventurous and discover the Sagres coastline as you wander your way back to town.
You could always try to hitch-hike back to Sagres, instead of walking, as well. All of the cars passing along that road will be tourists, so they are friendly and open to helping other travelers.
From Sagres, grab the next bus back to Lagos or Vila do Bispo, and sleep soundly that night!
WEST COAST HALF-DAY HIKES :
The best half-day circular hike that I highly recommend is the Odeceixe loop. This one is most easily reached with a car, but you can also put in a little extra effort to take the bus to Odeceixe (about 1hr 15min) and do a little extra walking, and you will not regret it. Odeceixe is definitely one of my favorite beaches in the Algarve, and the trail that starts there brings your along colorful sand dunes atop amazing, dark black cliffs. It's very wild and beautiful part of the coastline, but it's also easy to follow and not too strenuous. This one takes about 3 hours and will loop you right back to the village of Odeceixe to get your car or a bus back.
Another great hike is the Bordeira Loop. You'll need a car to reach the starting point, the beautiful village of Bordeira, worth a wander on it's own. Then head through the hills and pine forests until you emerge at a dramatic stretch of coastline. Walk along the cliff-tops and colorful sand dunes. If you look carefully, there are some ways to get down to the wild beach below. Eventually, you'll return to town in a big circle.
An easier adventure to have that is not strenuous, brings you to some amazing coastal scenery, and can be walked or driven (along bumpy dirt roads, but suitable for almost any car), is the Carrapateira loop. It's really beautiful and a great part of the coastline. If you want to walk it, it's a few hours of easy walking with great views and lots of opportunities for exploring the coastline, and it will circle you right back to your car. Or, you can drive it slowly and pull over here and there to take in the views, do a little exploring by foot, etc. There are two beaches at either end of the route that are just awesome and worth checking out: They're called Amado and Bordeira.