Algarve Itinerary: Road Trip or Without a Car on Southern Portugal Coast

Algarve Itinerary: Road Trip or Without a Car on Southern Portugal Coast

Algarve itinerary – can be done as a road trip or without a car using public transport.

I have this thing for beaches. As an Asian, I was often disappointed when I visited beaches in Europe because none of them ever compared to the beauty of the beaches of Asia. This changed when I visited Portugal’s Algarve coast.

So what’s so special about the Algarve? The magic isn’t just about the beaches, but the rock formations that surround these beaches. These rocks create stunning caves, pillars, arches, and hiking spots.

Algarve's stunning beaches - Camilo Beach in Lagos
The Lovely Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

The beauty of the Algarve Coast isn’t just limited to one destination, but many of them have something special and unique to add.

For instance, the laidback vibes of Lagos with its interesting hiking spots and beaches, the lesser-known Carvoeiro has interesting caves, one of them is the Benagil cave which looks like a secret paradise.

I personally didn’t enjoy Portimao, but I will leave my recommendations in the detailed itinerary for Algarve below.

Inside Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal
Inside Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

This itinerary for a road trip in Algarve is flexible because it can be modified to one week or even three weeks. I have marked some destinations as optional and have given a range of the number of days that you can spend at each destination.

It is very easy to travel within the Algarve with trains or buses for solo travelers. But if you are traveling with another person or more, then it makes more sense to rent a car and explore the beauty of this stunning region at your pace.

Praia da marinha, Algarve itinerary, Portugal
Praia da marinha, Algarve itinerary, Portugal via Unsplash

If you have just seven days, skip the places I have marked as optional and only visit the remaining. Another option would be to stick to the lower number of days in some of the destinations.

If you have more time to explore the Algarve Coast, then go ahead and do all the destinations mentioned on this itinerary.

Starting Point for Algarve Road Trip

Faro old town - Cidade Velha, Algarve road trip itinerary, Portugal
Faro old town – Cidade Velha, Algarve road trip itinerary, Portugal

The most obvious starting point for the Algarve itinerary is Faro because that’s where your flight will land. From Faro, you can travel through Algarve via trains or buses very easily. I did that and I loved how easy and convenient it was.

Alternatively, you can rent a car from Faro and start your Algarve road trip from there. If you have just one week in Algarve, then just pick two destinations that are mentioned below and do them well.

If you have to pick just two destinations for your Algarve itinerary, then I suggest Carvoeiro and Lagos. They are the best and have the most stunning beaches, caves, and viewpoints.

Algarve Itinerary

Faro – 1 day

If you arrive in the Algarve by air, you will land in Faro. Some people skip Faro and go directly to the next destination. However, I spent two nights here – one when I arrived in the Algarve, and one when I was leaving. I had an amazing time on both occasions.

Faro, Algarve itinerary, Portugal
Faro, Algarve itinerary, Portugal

So, is Faro worth visiting? It depends on how you arrive and what you like. Let me explain below.

If you are landing in Faro in the second half of the day, then it is a good idea to rest for a day here and enjoy the relaxed old town. Book a pretty room with a view of the old town as I did. Go for a walk in the city center, find a restaurant with outdoor seating, and enjoy a relaxed meal.

For those who are renting a car, you can directly pick it up from the airport in Faro and arrive at the next destination within a few hours.

Admiring Azulejos in Faro, Algarve, Portugal
Admiring Azulejos in Faro, Algarve, Portugal

If you can’t get enough of Portuguese old towns with old buildings, then you will love Faro because it has it all. And it isn’t as crowded as Porto or Lisbon. For those who like to walk around, Faro can be explored in less than a day, and below is how I suggest you do it.

Faro Marina (Sunset Time)

Faro Marina - view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal
Faro Marina – view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal

Faro Marina is a lovely area where you can walk, enjoy the cool breeze in the evening, and perhaps spend some nice moments sitting on a bench in a gazebo.

There’s live music in restaurants that are around Faro Marina and this area is alive with locals and travelers alike. My hotel – Suites Aliança was right here with a direct view of the Marina, Arco da Vila, and Igreja de Santa Maria.

Arco da Vila

Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha, the Algarve
Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha, the Algarve

Where to click the best photos in Faro? For me, it was at Arco da Vila. The arc forms the perfect photo frame and the backdrop of the old town looks lovely.

Arco da Vila connects Faro to the Old Town – Cidade Velha. This arch is a Portuguese national monument and dates back to the 19th century.

Cidade Velha (Post Sunset and Dinner)

The streets of Cidade Velha - the Old Town in Faro, Portugal
The streets of Cidade Velha – the Old Town in Faro, Portugal

The old town of Faro is small but super charming. There are many open-air restaurants and some of them are surprisingly affordable with excellent seafood.

I suggest you spend your evening walking around in the Cidade Velha area and then eat a memorable meal in an open-air restaurant.

Tavira & Ria Formosa Natural Park

Ria Formosa in Algarve, Portugal
Ria Formosa in Algarve, Portugal

Make a day trip to see the lovely lagoon with a group of islands and six inlets that make the Ria Formosa Natural Park. You will see Salt Pans, Flamingos, and more. Spend a few hours in Tavira and enjoy the Sandy beaches and Tavira Castle.

Eat Fish at Taberna Modesto 

My meal in Taberna Modesto, Faro, Portugal
My meal in Taberna Modesto, Faro, Portugal

If you’re in the Algarve and you’re not a vegan, then you will love the food scene here. Portuguese food is flavourful, and with the availability of fresh seafood, the eating options are endless.

I have a thing for researching viewpoints and local restaurants in pretty settings that aren’t overhyped or over-expensive. With that research, I suggest you try Taberna Modesto, which is in the old town – of Cidade Velha and it has outdoor seating.

I found this restaurant because it was suggested by a local. I loved the fish, green wine, and also chocolate mousse. I enjoyed every bit of it and also the setting.

Where to Stay in Faro

The bedroom room in Suites Aliança, Faro, Portugal
The bedroom room in Suites Aliança, Faro, Portugal

I stayed in two places in Faro and the one that I absolutely loved was Suites Aliança. It was a cute old-school Portuguese building with newly furnished suites inside.

My room was right next to Faro Marina with a lovely view of the city center. The window from the balcony opened up right on top of an old street next to Arco da vila.

I was right in the middle of everything and loved my balcony during the day in Suites Aliança. I highly recommend this place for your stay in Faro.

Albufeira – 2 days (optional)

Albufeira city center - Algarve itinerary, Portugal
Albufeira city center – Algarve itinerary, Portugal via Unsplash

Albufeira is Algarve’s most visited destination and it is a little more upscale as compared to Lagos. You can call it a “resort town”. It has a very active nightlife with a strip that’s dotted with bars.

I have mentioned Albufeira as an optional stop on your Algarve itinerary because a person like me would pick Lagos over Albufeira if short on time.

Albuferia is also visited by a lot of families, and there are multiple attractions specifically for family travelers here.

Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia in Albufeira, Algarve Itinerary
Praia da Falésia in Albufeira, Algarve Itinerary via Unsplash

Falésia beach is a massive beach that’s clean and super beautiful. You need to climb down stairs to reach it but it is worth the effort because there’s a backdrop of red rocks.

The golden sand, turquoise water, ocean breeze, open spaces, and warm-colored cliffs make this beach stunning. At times the waves can be quite high, but otherwise, it is usually friendly for children.

There is a restaurant on top of the stairs with a bar. You can book a sunbed on Praia da Falésia for around EUR 15, and sometimes EUR 30 for the whole day.

Praia do Peneco / Praia do Túnel

Praia do Túnel, Albufeira, Algarve road trip itinerary
Praia do Túnel, Albufeira, Algarve road trip itinerary via Unsplash

Praia do Túnel also called Praia do Peneco, is Albufeira’s main beach near the town center. There is a 20-meter tunnel that leads to this beach through the rocks. This tunnel starts from the town square and ends at the beach – how cool is that!

Peneco beach gets busy during the peak season as compared to the above mentioned Praia da Falésia, but if you spend a couple of days in Albufeira, you will end up visiting this beach at least once because it is close to the main town center.

Praia dos Pescadores

Praia dos Pescadores in Albufeira, Portugal's Algarve Coast
Praia dos Pescadores in Albufeira, Portugal’s Algarve Coast via Pixabay

Praia dos Pescadores is the most visited and photographed beach of Albufeira, perhaps because it is close to the city center. There’s a backdrop of white houses against yellow-golden sand.

Pescadores is a typical touristy beach with shops, bars, and beach sports options. There’s a lot going on at this beach, so it is perfect for families with small children.

If you spend a day or two in Albufeira, you will no doubt end up being in the old town at some point, so you will also visit this beach because it is right there.

Bar Hopping at The Strip (Rua da Oura)

Albufeira’s old town isn’t relaxing or charming like that of Faro or Lagos but is loud with many bars. The street that’s lined up with loads of bars is called Rua da Oura, or just the Strip.

Over the years, Albufeira has gained a reputation as a somewhat party destination, so I have included it as an optional spot for those who seek a lively bar scene. You will mostly find British and Irish tourists in the bars here.

Praia do Castelo

Praia do Castelo, Albufeira, Algarve itinerary - Portugal
Praia do Castelo, Albufeira, Algarve itinerary – Portugal via Unsplash

If you want to get away from Albufeira’s headache areas (errm, the city center), then you will love escaping to Praia do Castelo.

It is a quaint beach with golden sand, and clean water but the main beauty lies in the cliffs. The rock patterns are unique and some of them have an opening through which the water flows.

The rocks on Praia do Castelo provide shade in some areas, so you will manage just fine without an umbrella.

This is a secluded beach but it is easy to reach here in a rented car just 10 minutes from the city center. There’s a parking spot nearby. If you don’t have a rented car then try to call a taxi to reach here.

Castle of Paderne

Do you like visiting old buildings that are in ruins? If yes then the castle in Paderne is for you.

Paderne is 16 kilometers away from Albufeira, so it makes sense to visit this place only if you have a car. This castle is on a hill in Paderne.

The Castle of Paderne isn’t preserved and is open just once a week but you don’t need to go inside to enjoy it.

Pack enough water and wear comfortable shoes because you are going to want to walk around this castle and enjoy the sights. The walk goes along the river and up the hill.

There’s some vegetation along the path and lots of wild thyme. There is a spot here from where you can see the old Roman bridge.

Carvoeiro – 2 – 4 days

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave
Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

Carvoeiro is Algarve’s most stunning destination that no one talks about. The lovely Benegail bay with a hidden beach is right here and so is Marinha beach, which is often said to be one of the prettiest beaches in Europe. But still, those lists just mention “the Algarve” but hardly ever Carvoeiro.

Compared to Albufeira, Carvoeiro is calm and relaxed. I’m very sure that when I return to the Algarve, Carvoeiro will be my base next time.

Cove beach Carvoeiro, Algarve itinerary, Portugal
Cove beach Carvoeiro, Algarve itinerary, Portugal via Unsplash

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (sete vales suspensos)

Sete vales suspensos OR the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Algarve, Portugal
Double Sea Arch at Sete vales suspensos OR the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Algarve, Portugal via Flickr

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is an unmissable hike stretching 6 kilometers in Algarve. There are multiple viewpoints and each is stunning. It takes around 3-4 hours to complete if you do the full trail with detours. It can take double if you make more stops.

This trail goes on top of Praia da Marinha, which is often ranked as the #1 beach in Europe. It also goes on top of the Benagil Cave, so that you can look at the hole that’s on top.

Ever seen the famous photo with a heart-shaped opening in cliffs with the ocean? It can be captured on sete vales suspensos trail with a particular angle. Look for a double sea arch of Marinha beach, that’s the top of the heart for you.

Sete vales suspensos or the Seven Hanging Valleys trail isn’t difficult, so people of all ages and sizes can do it. If you do it during the hottest part of the day, it will not be easy. Make sure to carry sun protection, a hat that won’t fly off with the wind, enough water, and a snack or two.

The starting point of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail is near Praia do Vale de Centeanes and ends near Praia da Marinha. There’s no official parking near Vale de Centeanes, but many people park in residential areas.

Alternatively, you can directly drive to the other end of this hike, which is at Praia da Marinha and there’s a big parking area. This way, you don’t have to do the round hike and do it just one way and drive back to your room.

Route of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Algarve, Portugal
Route of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Algarve, Portugal via Flickr

You can park your car at Praia da Marinha and walk 10-15 kilometers to reach the starting spot. It obviously makes sense to arrive as early as you can so that you find a decent parking spot. I’d say you start before 9 am.

The hike is well-marked with red and yellow stripes. You will see a lot of signposts.

If you’re doing this hike to click photos, be prepared to take small detours and wear comfortable shoes that aren’t slippery.

I did hike in most of the Algarve with flip flops and I saw many people who did the same, but it isn’t the smartest thing to do. There’s gravel so your trainers are recommended.

There are a number of places along the Seven Hanging Valleys trail where you can take a break to walk down to the beach and swim. This trail goes through a few beach towns if you want to stop for a drink or food.

There’s a nice restaurant near the lighthouse called Jardim do Farol, where you can stop for lunch.

Kayak or SUP to Benagil Cave

The stunning Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal
The stunning Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

Benagil Cave Beach is a paradisical beach that’s hidden in a cave, and the only way in is by kayaking, or on a paddle boat.

I visited Benagil Cave from Portimao, but I realized during the tour that it was closest to Carvoeiro. I have a detailed post about visiting Benagil Cave, but I’d like to summarize it here.

If you’re doing the Seven Hanging Valleys trail that’s mentioned above, then you can make a stop on Praia de Benagil and rent a kayak or a paddle boat to visit Benagil cave. If you aren’t able to do it alone then book a tour as I did from Portimao.

Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal
Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

Alternatively, you can also try to reach here from Praia da Corredoura but I’m not very sure about the kayak rental options there.

Don’t try to swim to Benagil Cave. This swim looks easy but it is surprisingly difficult and at least two tourists die every year when they attempt to swim to Benagil Caves.

Here’s a link to the tour that I did from Portimao. I personally didn’t rent my own kayak from Benagil beach (Praia de Benagil) but I know some people who did.

If you are not confident about kayaking here on your own then by all means book a tour too. It can get a little tricky kayaking here because of the rocks and you can hurt yourself pretty bad if you don’t have kayaking experience.

Algar Seco Cliff Walk (caves)

Algar Seco Caves Carvoeiro, Algarve
Algar Seco Caves Carvoeiro, Algarve (CC BY SA) via Flickr

This is the main boardwalk of Carvoeiro with a network of caves, holes in the rocks, and views. These are a series of interesting cliff formations that look like they belong to Cappadocia.

This Algar Seco Cliff walk begins near Capela de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação and goes on top of Algar Seco Cliffs.

This walk is short, will take you 10 minutes if you don’t stop for photos, and is also wheelchair accessible. But to reach the base of the Algar Seco cliffs, you will have to climb steps so that part isn’t wheelchair accessible.

A Boneca, Algar Seco Cave Walk, Carvoeiro, Algarve itinerary
A Boneca, Algar Seco Cave Walk, Carvoeiro, Algarve itinerary CC BY SA via Flickr

The most popular spot on this hike is “A Boneca”, which means a doll. It is named so because two cave arches look like the eyes of a doll. You can actually look out of the doll’s eyes onto the ocean. Look for Point de vue da “janela da boneca” on google maps.

Miradouro da falésia do Carvoeiro is another stunning viewpoint with an observation deck on this walk.

Relax on Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha, Algarve road trip, Portugal
Praia da Marinha, Algarve road trip, Portugal via Unsplash

Praia da Marinha is iconic and is often said to be the most beautiful beach in Europe. It is actually in a small town called Caramujeira but you can easily reach there by bus from Carvoeiro in 30-40 minutes. Of course, driving would be faster.

Praia da Marinha is special because of its dramatic rock formations, clear water, and plenty of golden sand. The stunning double arch rock makes the heart shape from the top looks even better when you’re looking at it from the beach because of the turquoise water.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal
Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal

The rocks divide the beach into three sections. If the tide is low then you can easily climb over or you have to swim around.

Marinha beach also has a handful of beach bars, restaurants, and WCs. So not only it is stunning, but it is also comfortable in every way.

If you start the Seven Hanging Valleys trail early, then you have plenty of time, in the end, to relax on Marinha beach. So if you plan your time well, you can maximize your experience.

Marinha beach, Algarve road trip itinerary, Portugal
Marinha beach, Algarve road trip itinerary, Portugal via Pixabay

I’d still say that you do both these things on separate days. Take out an entire day for the Seven Hanging Valleys trail with a detour to kayak to the Benagil cave. Get back to Benagil Beach and finish the hike to see the double-arched rock from the top.

Yes, you can end up on top of Marinha beach at the end of your hike but you won’t have enough time left to do this beach justice. Then spend an entire lazy next day on Marinha beach.

Lagos – 3 – 5 days

Lagos is famous amongst travelers, but don’t let that put you off. It is worth all its hype. For me, it is the BEST destination in Algarve.

One of the many hiking viewpoints in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
One of the many hiking viewpoints around Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

You know me, I like mostly low-key places but I don’t want to skip places that are known for their beauty just because they are popular. When I travel to highly visited places, I usually find a way to avoid crowds.

Lagos did not disappoint me in any way. The beaches are stunning and there are many of them. Some of them can only be reached by hiking so aren’t crowded at all.

Apart from the beaches, Lagos has a lovely old town with buildings covered with Azulo. The hiking opportunities are insane and as a result, so are the viewpoints. The restaurant and bar scene is fantastic but yet one can find an affordable place to sleep in one of the quieter neighborhoods.

I spent a week in Lagos and it wasn’t enough. I visited a new beach every day and hiked to new spots and I wish I had spent at least a month here.

Ponta da Piedade Sunset Hike

Ponta da Piedade is one of the most famous viewpoints in the Algarve. It is a wooden walking path that goes on top of rocks with the sea below.

Sunset at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal
Sunset at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

If you spend a few days in Lagos, make sure you come here for at least one sunset experience. I come back here every single day and sometimes even twice.

When you hike to Ponta da Piedade, you will notice that there isn’t just one viewpoint here but many possibilities. Ideally, you’d want to find a spot from where you see the sun go down and see a bit of one of the beaches underneath the rocks.

Hiking in Lagos - View of the Camilo Beach, Algarve
Ponta da Piedade Hiking in Lagos – View of the Camilo Beach, Algarve

I did find a perfect spot for watching the sunset with a stunning view in the Ponta da Piedade area and I mentioned the exact details in my Lagos travel guide post.

Praia do Camilo

The beaches of Lagos, Algarve - Praia do Camilo, Portugal
The beaches of Lagos, Algarve – Praia do Camilo, Portugal

Camilo beach is the most beautiful beach in Lagos for me. You have to climb down a hundred steps to reach Camilo beach and it is worth every bit of effort.

Praia do Camilo is divided into two parts. You can reach from one part to another via a cave that’s on the beach. No, you don’t need to swim through the cave but just walk through. Another way of moving from one beach to another is by swimming.

The Lovely Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
The Lovely Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Camilo beach has super interesting rock formations and overall both parts of this beach are tiny compared to the other beaches of Lagos.

Because it is stunning, Praia do Camilo can get very crowded so I visited this beach at 9 am and it was empty. I left at 11 am and that’s when the crowds started coming in. For the best experience and photos, arrive here early or late.

The arch at Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
The arch at Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

If you’re in Lagos for a short time and are looking for the best place to click loads of photos for Instagram, then Camilo beach is the place. There are multiple photo opportunities and the best ones are from the top as you start climbing down the steps to reach the beach.

Make sure you click a few pictures under the arch on the first beach of Praia do Camilo. I did and those pictures turned out great.

Dona Ana Beach

View of Dona Ana beach on the way from Pinhão, Lagos, Portugal
View of Dona Ana beach on the way from Pinhão, Lagos, Portugal

Praia Dona Ana is massive, easy to reach, has a bus stop nearby, also can be hiked to from the nearby beaches, and has rock formations – so it has everything it takes to be popular, and it is.

Dona Ana beach is a little more than 1 KM away from Lagos City center, so it is reasonably close for a visit from most of Lagos.

Dona Ana Beach, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Dona Ana Beach, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Pack some snacks and spend a lazy beach day on Lagos’s legendary Dona Ana beach. If you are a bit of an adventurer, then arrive here by hiking from the nearby Praia do Pinhão or Praia do Camilo. Both these hikes will give you stunning views.

Visit Aqui Há Gato to eat Prawns

Food at Aqui Há Gato restaurant, Lagos, Portugal
Food at Aqui Há Gato restaurant, Lagos, Portugal

As mentioned in the earlier points, I love to find smaller restaurants that are local and are known for their excellent food. Aqui Há Gato was one such find, and it was so good that I ate here every single day.

Lagos city center has a lot of restaurants that cater to tourists, and some of them are overpriced, overhyped, and stressful to visit because of the crowds. Aqui Há Gato is in a residential area and they had a board outside in Portuguese which I translated using Google and it said they have the best prawns in Lagos.

True to their word, the prawns were excellent and the vibe was super comfortable. I regret not eating here on my last day because I decided to try a well-known seafood restaurant close to the city center.

Day trip to Monchique

Sagres – 2 days (optional)

Cabo Sao Vicente - the “end of the world”, Sagres, Algarve itinerary
Cabo Sao Vicente – the “end of the world”, Sagres, Algarve itinerary via Unsplash

Sagres is on Algarve’s western tip and is an offbeat surfing destination on Algarve Coast. If you like to visit places that are under the radar, then Sagres is for you. Expect to see barren landscapes like no other nearby destinations in Algarve.

Just like the nearby Lagos, Sagres also has towering limestone cliffs over the sea. The beaches are pristine because not many tourists visit Sagres. More than that, you can also visit a unique fortress in Sagress.

Cape of St. Vincent

Ever wanted to stand at the edge of the world? This is it. Truth be told, this is the westernmost tip of Europe, so it is the edge of Europe.

Cabo de Sao Vicente, Sagres, Algarve itinerary
Cabo de Sao Vicente, Sagres, Algarve itinerary via Unsplash

Stand on the steep cliffs at Cabo de Sao Vicente with an unobstructed view of the Atlantic ocean, and admire the rugged and slightly dangerous beauty of this spot that will take your breath away.

The drive to Cape Saint Vincent from Sagres town will just take you 10 minutes. You can arrive here on a bus too, look for bus number 47.

When you arrive at Cape of St. Vincent, you won’t need to spend more than just a few minutes here because it is just one spot. There’s also a lighthouse here – Farol do Cabo de São Vicente, which was under renovation in 2022.

If you want a snack, you will also find a food truck here called “Letzte Bratwurst vor Amerika”, a German name that means “Last Roasted Sausage before America”.

Sagres Fortress (Fortaleza de Sagres) & Lighthouse

Views from Sagres Fortress, Algarve road trip itinerary
Views from Sagres Fortress, Algarve road trip itinerary via Unsplash

Fortaleza de Sagres is a 15th-century fort on top of the rocks. There are three natural cliffs that protect this fort. As a result, the views are spectacular. Look for the Cape Sagres viewpoint near Sagres Lighthouse.

The entry fee for Sagres Fortress is EUR 3 per person. If you enjoy history and viewpoints then this is definitely a unique fortress to visit. There’s also a church inside.

The walking area is pretty level, so you don’t need to climb anything for the view. Wear a hat because there isn’t much shade inside except in the church. There is plenty of parking outside.

A Voz do Mar (Eng. the Voice of the Sea) is a unique chamber in the Sagres fortress complex. It is a maze that’s the chamber of sounds because you can hear the sound of the waves against the rocks.

The maze leads to a narrow chamber that’s situated in deep with a cove and the sound gets louder as you go in.

Sagres Fortress also has Sagres Lighthouse inside the complex. The views around the lighthouse are lovely and you can see the typical grottos that are in Algarve.

Martinhal Beach

Praia do Martinhal is also a big wide beach with perfectly soft sand and views. You don’t have to climb down a lot of stairs to reach this beach, unlike many other beaches in Algarve.

Sagres anyway is low key so this beach doesn’t get crowded at all. As a result, the water and the sand feel very clean.

When it isn’t windy, Martinhal Beach is perfect for families. It is large and wide, but please check the surf report for information about how calm the waves are on the day you bring your children here.

There is also a small lagoon behind Martinhal beach.

Mareta Beach

Mareta Beach is a massive paradisical beach that attracts a lot of surfers. The sand is almost white and the water is very blue at its best. This sandy beach is surrounded by rocks.

The access to this beach is steep but is totally worth it. Even though it is used by a lot of surfers, the waves are usually calm.

There are beach bars, restaurants, and a decent car park. Mareta beach is in central Sagres so is the main beach but even then it doesn’t get crowded.

Praia do Beliche

Beliche beach is big, beautiful, and unspoiled. There are sandy dunes, small caves, and turquoise water. You need to climb steep steps down to reach this beach.

The rocks make arches right on the beach so you can stand under the arch and click some gorgeous photos. There’s a beach bar at Praia do Beliche where you can relax with a cocktail in your hand.

The water is usually cold, even in summer because of the Atlantic Ocean, but that’s with most of the beaches in the Algarve.

A lot of surfers visit this beach but it still remains empty. Like some of the other empty beaches of Portugal, clothes are optional here. There are plenty of surfing lifeguards at Praia do Beliche.

Algarve itinerary, Portugal - road trip or without a car - Pinterest
Algarve itinerary, Portugal – road trip or without a car – Pinterest

Algarve Itinerary FAQs

How many days do you need in the Algarve?

I’d suggest you spend a minimum of 5 days in the Algarve, but if you can’t then do at least a week in the Algarve.
My Algarve itinerary is pretty flexible and can be stretched to even two weeks in the Algarve. If you are a slow traveler, then you can spend longer in each location and extend it to a month in Algarve.

What is the prettiest place in the Algarve?

Ponta da Piedade by far is the prettiest place in the Algarve. I loved it so much that I came back here for every single sunset. It is actually a walk that goes over the beaches in Lagos.
You can walk around and find different viewpoints. One that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho was my favorite one. I share more information here.
Some would say that Benagil Cave is the prettiest. Yes, it is absolutely stunning but it is a small spot so if you spend 15-30 minutes here, that’s all. But I love the scale of Ponta da Piedade because there are so many viewpoints and possibilities.

Can you go to Algarve without a car?

Yes, you can. It is very easy to travel to and within the Algarve using just public transport.
You can fly to Faro from most of Europe, or take a bus or train to arrive here from different parts of Portugal and a few places in Spain.
I found trains to be super affordable and hassle-free. Buses are also convenient and have WiFi.

What is the most picturesque beach in Algarve?

Praia da Marinha is the most picturesque beach in the Algarve, it is close to Carvoeiro. The second best is Praia do Camilo in Lagos.

Algarve road trip itinerary - Southern Portugal Coast
Algarve road trip itinerary – Southern Portugal Coast

Algarve Road Trip FAQs

Is it safe to drive around Algarve?

Yes, it is. Portugal is one of the safest and easiest countries for a road trip in Europe.
Driving around in the Algarve is not only safe but also an excellent experience because of the views as you will drive along the south coast of Portugal.

Where to Start the Algarve road trip?

If you are flying to Portugal and renting a car, then the most obvious starting point is Faro. This will also be your starting point if you are driving to Portugal from nearby Spain.
If you are driving to the Algarve from Lisbon, then you can skip Faro, and start your Algarve road trip itinerary in Albufeira instead. If you want to drive faster, then you won’t be driving along the coast but you will get on A2 Highway.

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3 Days in Porto: things to do + Itinerary + Map [Portugal]

3 Days in Porto: things to do + Itinerary + Map [Portugal]

Porto (or Oporto in Portuguese) has it all to make it an epic travel destination. It is warm, has loads of history, insanely good food options, and plenty of viewpoints.

I had the chance to spend 3 days in Porto during one of my visits to Portugal in 2022. You know me – I’m a sucker for views. I also research like mad to spend my time well because I no longer travel full-time.

So, expect a lot of places with a good view in my Porto itinerary – cafes with views, restaurants with a view, and epic sunset spots.

One of the many stunning streets of Porto

Porto is more affordable than most of the cities in Western Europe when it comes to internal transport, restaurants and bar scene. I have a thing for seafood, books, pretty streets, and viewpoints (did I mention that already?), so in that sense Porto satisfied me in terms of what I look for in a travel destination.

What I loved about Porto is that this historical city is built on different levels. As a result, there are a lot of viewpoints. There are bars with views, historical buildings with views and many spots that you can find on Google Maps.

The viewpoints of Porto are marked as “Miradouro” on Google Maps – that’s the Portuguese word for a viewpoint. No matter where you go in Porto, you will find a “Miradouro” near to you if you look for it on Google Maps.

How to Approach our Porto itinerary?

Itinerary for Spending 3 days in Porto, Portugal

Most people who arrive in Porto will reach here by air at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO). Some will also arrive on a train or a bus from Lisbon or Coimbra or Algarve or other places. In that case, you may not have the full first day.

For each of the 3 days in Porto, I have created a map for you at the beginning of each day section. I made this map on Google Maps so that you can open it on your phone and start navigating right away. That’s exactly the way I travel.

Suggested: Exploring Lagos, the Gem of Algarve with beaches and viewpoints

This itinerary for 3 days in Porto has been made assuming that you would want to keep your first and last days light. If you are reaching Porto at night, then you may want to swap the first day with the second.

Porto has many levels, and many viewpoints

Depending on the season in which you are visiting Porto, you may want to change the order of the sunset and dinner points. Remember, the sun sets early in winter, so the sunset time is earlier.

If you visit in winter, then you should see the sunset (because it is early) and then eat dinner after. In summer, you can have an early dinner and then watch the sunset and then head out somewhere for a drink since the days are longer.

Day 1 in Porto (+ Map)

Evenings in Porto look like this

As mentioned before, I’m keeping the first day of the Porto itinerary super light because I’m assuming that you are arriving here during the day as most people do.

If you are reaching at night, then you can sleep and then swap the second day with the first one.

The first day has a little bit of walking, a viewpoint, an attraction, an amazing place where you can relax and eat a lot of food, and then a bar next to it with views.

All the places are super close to each other, so you don’t necessarily have to follow the same order that I have suggested.

The beauty of Porto at Sunset time via unsplash

I have first suggested sunset, followed by dinner and then drinks with a view assuming that you will visit in summer.

Alternatively, you can eat an early dinner first, then go to the sunset viewpoint and then after go to the bar with the views.

The restaurant opens at 5 pm or 6 pm (depending on the season) – so plan your time as per this and the sunset time for the season.

1) Bolsa Palace & Church of São Francisco

Igreja de São Francisco and Bolsa Palace are next to each other, so you can go from one to another. Both these buildings are in Porto’s historical centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I have included only two places from here on the first day and some on the second day to keep the itinerary manageable. Since you’re spending 3 days in Porto, you will have plenty of time for other landmarks too.

The Church of São Francisco or Igreja de São Francisco is an iconic Gothic style building of Porto and you shouldn’t miss seeing it.

Palácio da Bolsa is one of Portugal’s most important historic monuments, and offers amazing views of the Douro river. It is a neoclassical style building located in the heart of Porto. It is one of the national monuments of Portugal.

The only possible way to see the Bolsa Palace is through a guided tour and here’s the one that I recommend.

Click here to book Palácio da Bolsa Guided Tour

In this Porto itinerary over the course of three days, there aren’t a lot of buildings that I suggest you check from inside too, this is one of them.

2) Miradouro da Vitória (Sunset View)

Miradouro da Vitória Porto

As mentioned before, Miradouro is the Portuguese word for viewpoint, and Miradouro da Vitória is a nice one in Porto.

Unlike some of the other viewpoints, it is free and offers views over Riberia of Douro river, Luis Bridge, the Se and Bishop’s Palace. So, no need to stand in a line to get an entry ticket to enter.

Arrive on Rua da Bataria da Vitória to reach Miradouro da Vitória. The best part is that you don’t need to climb anything to see the view. The area is a wide plateau without too many tourists.

I suggest you arrive here a little before sunset to enjoy the changing colours. Don’t kick yourself if you miss the sunset, you can also enjoy this place when it is dark because all the buildings around will light up.

3) Best Seafood Dinner in Porto – Adega Bebe-Se Mal

I have a thing for local food, and I make it a point to find places to eat that are popular with locals and aren’t expensive.

A few years back I would have recommended you find such places when you’re actually there but things have changed because of internet.

While I’m waiting in the airports, or traveling on trains or buses, I spend time researching about some of the best restaurants that aren’t touristy, are rated very high and are affordable.

One such restaurant that I found is Adega Bebe-Se Mal. We ate the biggest seafood dinner and everything was delicious. We ate octopus, big prawns, mussels and a lot of wine. It was all under 60 Euros for the three of us.

Our timing was right when we visited this restaurant because we managed to get a table outside. I remember people starting queueing up for a table a little while after we had ordered.

4) Pinguim Café – Bar with a View

By now you probably know I have a thing for small places that are away from crowds and offer views. Pinguim Café is one such place. It is tiny, has a nice balcony and you can sit and enjoy your beer in a nice spot.

We just happened to discover this place by chance, just because we were eating dinner right across the road in restaurant Adega Bebe-Se Mal.

It would have been nice to watch the sunset from here, but at that time we were drinking wine and eating our seafood in the restaurant next door.

5) Walk on Ribeira (Riverfront) (Optional)

Ribeira in Porto – riverfront area

This point is optional, and is here for those who have a bit more energy left at the end of the first day in Porto. I have included Ribeira on the second day too, so don’t worry if you can’t do do this on your first day.

The restaurants in Ribeira, Oporto

Porto has a lot of historical buildings that you can see, but for me some of the most memorable moments were in front of Douro River as we were walking around the riverfront. The area is called Ribeira and it has a few bars that you can visit.

You don’t have to visit a bar if you don’t have to. You can just walk through this area, sit on a bench to admire the view and move on. You can also pack a few drinks or snacks from a supermarket and eat them as you sit in front of the river.

Day 2 in Porto (+ Map)

Igreja do Carmo and Porto’s historical center

Your second day in Porto will have a lot of things that this city is famous for – old cathedrals that are covered with Azulo (the famous Portuguese way of painting tiles), famous landmarks, pretty streets.

I have also included my favorite sunset spot in Porto. (Yes, I did promise a viewpoint for each of the 3 days in Porto)

1) Breakfast from a Bakery

Typical breakfast in Portugal – Pastel de Nata, other pastries and coffee

Start your day in Porto like a local. East breakfast with excellent coffee from one of Porto’s many historical bakeries.

Palstel de Nata is surely one of the favorite breakfast pastries and you will find them in every single bakery for around EUR 1 – EUR 1.5. A cup of coffee also costs around EUR 1.

I have mentioned Palstel de Nata in almost all of my Portugal posts, it is a simple custard tart that always tastes good. It comes in some other variations too. I ate it for every single breakfast for my three days in Porto and so did all of my friends.

I don’t want to mention a particular bakery because there are so many of them all over the city. We had actually picked up a bakery based on TripAdvisor reviews but on our way there, we noticed many other interesting bakeries that looked historical, busy and stunning.

The amazing pastry shops of Porto

So don’t get hung up about going to a particular bakery, find one closest to your room and enjoy your breakfast before you set out to explore the town.

If you eat a typical puff pastry for breakfast with coffee, most likely you won’t get hungry for lunch at mid day, but you can eat a late snack at around 4 pm, so that you can walk on the bridge, watch the sunset and then enjoy a late dinner.

2) Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo’s famous tiled side facade

Igreja do Carmo has baroque architecture and a super famous side facade that’s covered with blue Azulos. Azulo is the famous ceramic tile of Portugal which you will see on all the historical buildings.

This particular Church features a lot on Instagram because of people love clicking a picture here with the blue tiles. You can explore this from the inside if you want. The fee was around 2-3 Euros to see the interiors.

You can walk around Igreja do Carmo, the surrounding area is massive and there are some interesting sights. There is also Rua da Catarina, a famous shopping street which I have included for the third day.

3) Livraria Lello (Optional)

The famous Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto

Livraria Lello is a bookstore that is more popular than it should be because of Instagram. It is a tiny bookstore with a few levels and some people say that it is the most beautiful bookstore in the world. For me, that’s not true because Cărturești Carusel in Bucharest won my heart.

There is a rumor that J.K. Rowling was inspired by this particular bookstore when she was writing the Harry Potter book series. Don’t believe it – it’s not true.

You know me, I’m a die-hard Pottehead and I fell for this “fake fact” but later I researched and got to know that this isn’t true at all.

In fact, I found out that JK Rowling tweeted that the place where she wrote some parts of Harry Potter was a coffee shop called Majestic Cafe, which we have included in the third-day itinerary for Porto.

Moreover, the time that I visited Livraria Lello, it was overflowing with people. On all the three days in Porto that we spent, there was always a massive queue of people but we knew we had to visit it and we did on the last day.

Even though we all had booked our tickets to enter. Most people visited this bookstore for a picture, but how can you click a half-decent picture with 100 other people around, right?

So, if you visit Livraria Lello without any expectations then you may just enjoy your time there. Also, don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t visit this place during peak season and peak hours. So, don’t visit late in the day in August, that’s the busiest travel month in the whole of Europe.

It costs EUR 5 to enter Livraria Lello. They say you have to book a time slot but you can do it right there if the slots are available.

I booked my time slot for entering Livraria Lello before and I had to still stand in line. If you see a very long line, then walk away because the visit won’t be fun when the bookstore is full.

4) Walk Through Porto’s Historical Centre

Porto Cathedral views

Porto’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and you will see many iconic buildings and churches here. I have mentioned a few of them here so you can walk through this area and see some of the attractions.

Walking around in Porto’s center is like being in a museum. Yes, the buildings are interesting but for me, it was all about the little things – like the tiles, the old residential apartments with balconies, pastel streets, etc. I’m sure you will feel so too when you spend 3 days in Porto as I did.

Me admiring and photographing Azulos in Porto

Walk around and see Praça da Liberdade, Rua das Flores, Rua Santa Catarina (shopping) , Rua heróis de frança (with cod-fish snack shops).

The pretty residential buildings near Porto Cathedral with a grandma on the balcony

Personally, I like to photograph interesting buildings from the outside and I don’t go inside all of them. I pick maybe one or two maximum and see them from the inside. Instead, I spend the majority of my time in a place with a view or in a nice local restaurant. This is my way, but you are free to do as you wish (of course)

4.1) Torre dos Clerigos & Church

Torre dos Clerigos is a tower in West Baixa. You can go on top of the Torre dos Clerigos for a view of Porto. To reach on top, one has to climb 240 steps but for many people, it is worth the climb.

Torre dos Clerigos can be a good landmark for you if you get lost. But nowadays everyone knows they can use Google Maps.

4.2) São Bento Train Station

São Bento Train Station

São Bento is the name of a historical train station in Porto, which is also called Saint Benedict station. Even if you aren’t getting on the train, I recommend you take a quick look inside the train station because the entry area is gorgeous.

We actually arrived here by chance while exploring Porto’s historic center on foot on our first day. We ended up clicking a lot of photos here and creating some video reels for Instagram.

4.3) Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral is a super stunning building that looks great from the distance but also offers incredible views when you’re there.

Porto Cathedral

Out of all the historical buildings and churches that I saw in Porto, this one stood out because of the views. I also enjoyed looking at the residential buildings around with small balconies, where usually a grandma would stand and look down.

5) Relax at My Coffee Porto – Coffeeshop with a view

My Coffee Porto – Coffeeshop with a view – Porto itinerary

There’s also something special about my travel itineraries. I include some hard-to-find places that are amazing and offer great views.

If you are anything like me, then you love coffee with a view, and I recommend My Coffee Porto, it is a place that you would want to visit over and over again during your 3 days in Porto.

Based on the time of the season, your dinner will be after you watch the sunset, so now would be a good time to grab a sandwich or a soup or pastry with a coffee at My Coffee Porto. If you are lucky, you will get a table with a lovely view of Porto and river Douro.

There is a reason why this coffee shop is rated high and I’d love for you to experience it.

6) Walk on the Dom Luís I Bridge

The Dom Luís I Bridge of Porto

Try your best to get to the Luis Bridge at least an hour before sunset. If you are doing a sunset Port Wine tour, then of course you should arrive even earlier.

Walking on the Luis bridge is an experience because you will see unmatched views. This kind of reminded me of Prague’s Charles bridge because there was so much happening here.

Me on the windy Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto

Keep in mind that no matter how warm it is in Porto, it will be windy on Luis Bridge and you will need a jacket. Even in peak summer, we needed our jackets here and we wished we had not worn skirts!

View from Dom Luis bridge, Porto

There is also a metro train that runs on Luis bridge which adds to the madness because the bridge is also open to pedestrians.

People often walk on the train tracks on the bridge, and then the security officers remind them that it is dangerous. The train also stops on the bridge, so if you want you can get on it and get off directly at Jardim do Morro.

7) Sunset from Jardim do Morro

Jardim do Morro Sunset view

Jardim do Morro sunset spot in Porto is completely worth all its hype. We spent three days in Porto and it sucks that we only visited this spot our last evening. The view from this spot was unbelievable.

Yes, this spot does get crowded to the extent that there’s no place to even stand, but that didn’t matter to me because the view was unbelievable.

The crowds won’t spoil the view because the main view is on the other side of the river and the people gather on one side.

The crowds at Jardim do Morro

Honestly, you don’t even need to get completely inside Jardim do Morro or completely on top. Just find a stop near the railing from where you can see the sun go down to enjoy the spectacle of colors on Porto during the golden hour.

Miradouro da Serra do Pilar, Porto itinerary

Another viewpoint option here is Miradouro da Serra do Pilar, which is a little higher up. It is right opposite Jardim do Morro. In our experience, it was even more crowded than Jardim do Morro, but I’d like to mention this to you as an option nonetheless.

I have said this before and I am mentioning this again, in case you didn’t read it properly before. Even though August is the warmest month, keep in mind that the walk to this spot will take you over the Luis Bridge and it gets super windy. Don’t do this without a jacket or a sweatshirt. Even our denim jackets weren’t enough to keep us warm because of the cold wind on our neck/chest area.

8) Ribeira (Riverfront) – Dinner & Drinks at O Muro Antigo

Ribeira (Riverfront), Porto

After enjoying the sunset, you can surely eat dinner near Jardim do Morro but in my experience, there were only luxury restaurants around.

For us, it made more sense to go back to the other side because the walk isn’t that long. The area that I’m suggesting for you here is Ribeira Riverfront, which was already suggested as an optional place on day 1 of these 3 days in Porto itinerary.

In order to get back from Jardim do Morro to the other side, you can walk on the Luis Bridge again, or you can just take a train. You don’t have to walk all the way back if you don’t want to. The station is right there and it is called “Jardim do Morro”.

Ribeira is also a part of Porto’s historical center, which you explored during the day. But the riverfront lights up beautifully at night. Yes, it has a lot of history but is also a hotspot for bars and restaurants.

As you walk through Ribeira, you will see the sparkle of lights on the old buildings on the other side of the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia. Check out the Placards mounted here to know more about the history.

For dinner, I suggest a restaurant called O Muro Antigo, which is a little affordable as compared to the others and offers views. It is a family-run restaurant that’s operating since 1983. As per their website, this restaurant offers late hours, outdoor seating & hearty Portuguese meals.

Day 3 in Porto (+ Map)

A relaxing day in Porto looks like this

Your third day in Porto is lighter as compared to the previous day. If you like traveling at a fast pace, then I have included a few more optional things for you.

1) Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls)

Capela das Almas in Porto

Our hostel was right next to Capela das Almas and we couldn’t help admiring how beautiful this chapel is every time we walked by.

2) Rua Santa Catarina (street)

Rua Santa Catarina – Porto’s shopping street

Rua Santa Catarina street is near Bolhão and is a shopping street where you will find a lot of interesting small shops on the street.

If you like to pick up interesting handmade things that are unique to your destination, then this spot is for you. Not every shop offers unique items though, some are commonly found in souvenir shops in touristy corners.

3) Mercado do Bolhão

What’s the best way to experience a city like a local one? Go visit one of the local markets that’s famous for fresh produce.

I’m not talking about the markets that are geared towards tourists but the ones where locals go and buy their daily or weekly food articles.

Mercado do Bolhão is a multy level iconic market in an interesting neo classical building. There are vendors that sell flowers, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and also freshly cooked quick bites.

If you are saving money, you can grab a quick bite here for lunch. Else, I recommend another interesting place close by for lunch, which was JK Rowling’s favorite place as per her tweet.

4) Majestic Cafe for Lunch

Majestic Cafe caught my attention while I was researching about Livraria Lello’s reality about being JK Rowling’s place of inspiration. It was mentioned in a tweet by the author that she never visited Livraria Lello, but instead spent many hours often in Majestic Cafe.

Don’t go by the casual name, Majestic Cafe is a highly ornate cafe with high ceilings, chandeliers and carved wood. You can find a selection of soups, salads, pastas, fish, sandwiches, cakes and pastries here.

Majestic Cafe is a bit on the pricier side but is an experience that some of you would highly enjoy.

It is a historic cafe that’s super popular so gets very busy during breakfast or brunch time. This is why I have suggested it for lunch so that you miss the breakfast crowds.

If you would like to save money, then by all means grab something to eat at Mercado do Bolhão (the point before) and enjoy a coffee at Majestic Cafe.

4) Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso (Church of Saint Ildefonso)

Church of Saint Ildefonso

I have mentioned a lot of Churches in this list. I am not asking you to go inside each one of them or even most of them. I suggest them as a landmark that you can view, admire and photograph from outside. Perhaps even walk around or go inside if you have time.

We liked that the Church of Saint Ildefonso wasn’t as crowded as the famous blue wall of Capela das Almas. Moreover, I found this building to be very pretty and it is easy to capture a good photograph of it.

The Church is mostly covered with blue Azulos and the result is eye catching. You can go inside for just 1.5 euros and see the view from top of one of the towers.

5) Relax at Jardim Marques de Oliveira & Porto Library

Cool down for an hour or so in Jardim Marques de Oliveira, which is Porto’s oldest municipal park. You will find many statues, a gazebo, and a fountain. Buy a drink or two from a supermarket and sit on a bench here and enjoy your afternoon.

You will see flowers, and a few groups of locals enjoying a game of cards here. If you are lucky, you might see a peacock too.

If you are a bookworm like me, you will enjoy a quick visit to the nearby Porto Library (Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto).

The library building was once a monastery and was built in 1833. Keep in mind to stay quiet in the library and not go overboard with photography because a lot of people visit here for research and work.

6) Miradouro das Fontainhas (Sunset Time)

This area is a little low key if you compare it to the Porto city centre. You will find smaller bars and bakeries from where you can buy Sagres beer and eat codfish cutlets (Bacalhau).

I remember we spent barely 3 euros per person for snacks and beers in this area as we sat on a table near the river to enjoy the view. Walk around this area and you will see some amazing spots for a scenic view near the river.

Get to a local beer and snack shop, find a table by the river and enjoy a few peaceful moments with Bacalhau and beer. You will see a lot of locals here unlike the Luis bridge area.

7) Port Wine Tour with Fado

Porto’s Port wine is famous and so is Fado. Port wine is a darker wine which is not usually dry and as a result is sweeter on the tongue.

Fado is a Portuguese Blues music style which will be an experience that you will remember if you like music. You can combine the two and do a tour to experience them both.

Click Here to Book the Port Wine + Fado tour

I recommend a tour at Caves Cálem, which is near Jardim do Morro. This tour is one of the most popular ones in Porto because most of the others are full-day tours.

This tour starts at 6:30 pm in summer and 6 pm in winter. The duration is 75 minutes and costs EUR 23, which includes wine tasting. This tour sells out very fast, so if you want to do this then book as soon as you can.

8) Eat The Famous Francesinha Sandwich at Café Santiago

Imagine if you skip a few meals and then the only food option to eat is a sandwich, what would it look like? Most likely it would have a lot of layers of meats, cheeses, and sauces. This is exactly what the famous Francesinha sandwich looks like.

Francesinha is Porto’s famous sandwich that has layers of meats, melted cheese, an egg on top, and a special Francesinha sauce on top of it. Because it is so famous, I decided I needed to experience this once during my 3 days in Porto.

As a person who isn’t into meat, I did not enjoy this sandwich that much and was full after just 4 bites. But I did see people around me who were completely digging it.

Why am I recommending this sandwich to you if I didn’t enjoy it? It is a famous food of Porto I’d still like to recommend this sandwich to you because it most of the people around me seemed to enjoy it.

If you are like me and meat isn’t your best friend, then try a vegan version of this sandwich. We were just too lazy to walk to the vegan restaurant for this but if you plan well, then you can.

Optional Adds ons for Porto itinerary

Douro Valley Tour + Pinhão Viewpoint

Porto’s Douro River

If you’re spending 3 days in Porto, maybe you want to relax and sit back on one of the days and let the tour guides take you around on a boat. If yes, I have a very good suggestion for you.

A popular thing to do in Porto is to do a tour of the lovely Douro Valley. Most of the tours take a full day and include lunch and wine.

If you are lucky, you will get a chance to admire the view from Pinhão, which is a famous spot for admiring the landscape. Below are a bunch of Douro Valley Tours that are worth checking out:

  • Douro Valley Tour with Wine Tasting, Cruise, and Lunch: This is a typical day tour of Douro Valley that includes a visit to two wine estates, a river cruise, lunch, and a view from Pinhão. This tour starts at 8:15 am and lasts for 9.5 hours.
  • Douro Valley with a boat tour, wine tasting, and lunch: This highly rated tour is for 9.5 hours. This tour also includes pick up from the hotel at request, or you can meet the tour guide at Vila Nova de Gaia. This tour includes 1-hour cruise of the Douro river, lunch, wine tasting at two places, and also Pinhão. The tour starts at 8:15 am.
  • Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Tastings & River Cruise: This is a 10-hour tour that includes a visit to two wine estates. It also includes a lunch and a cruise on the Douro river. You can request a pick-up from your hotel. This tour also includes a stop at Pinhão for the view. This tour isn’t much different from the one above, and also starts at 8:30 am.

As you can see, there isn’t any difference in what is offered in each tour, it is just that the tour operators are different so you can book just any, depending on the availability.

The first one is a GetYourGuide original tour, so it is guaranteed to have better tour guides.

Other Port Wine Tours

Port and Douro Wine Walking Tour with Tastings: This is a 3-hour tour that includes a visit to three wine houses at Vila Nova de Gaia. In total, one would get to taste 10 different port wines.

Closing Thoughts on 3 days in Porto, Portugal

My Porto itinerary has been created based on my visit in the summer of 2022 when I spent 3 days here. It wasn’t a solo visit, but we were in a group of three.

We instantly fell in love with Porto because of everything that I have mentioned above over and over again – food, viewpoints, bar scene, historical buildings, and affordability. I hope you enjoy Porto too, the way we did.

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Things to do in Faro, Portugal [Algarve’s Entry City]

Things to do in Faro, Portugal [Algarve’s Entry City]

Faro is a lovely little historical city in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is the entry point to Algarve because it has an airport. Faro is used as a base to explore Algarve’s other beach destinations like Lagos, Albufeira, Portimão, Sagres, Benagil Cave, Vilamoura, etc.

I have this thing for old Portuguese buildings, town centers, and family restaurants with chairs on the sidewalks so I highly enjoyed my time in Faro. In some ways, Faro reminded me of Lisbon, but thankfully it is tiny and isn’t as touristy. But it did have some of the things I loved about Lisbon.

If you’re wondering how many days you need in Faro, then the answer is two. If you are in Portugal for a short time, then you can reduce this time to one day. It all depends on how you enter Portugal.

If you’re wondering if Faro is safe for solo women travelers, then the answer is yes. Faro is where I landed before I headed off to Lagos. And this is where I came back a day before I flew back home to Germany. As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe in Faro and overall it was a very easy destination in every way.

Here are things to do in Faro, Algarve’s entry city.

Walk around in Faro & admire Azulejos

Walking around in Faro was a fun experience because I saw some interesting old buildings, artwork and azulejos. Azulejos are painted ceramic tiles that are everywhere on older Portuguese buildings. I fell in love with these tiles the first time I visited Portugal.

Sometimes they are just around the doors and windows but at times I saw the face of the walls covered with them. I photographed at least 20 different ones in Faro.

The time I visited Faro, the city was blooming with Jacaranda flowers. I could see purple flower petals on the streets and the air smelled nice.

Here’s an important tip for walking around in Portugal – the old town streets are wretchedly slippery. Be careful with your shoes and wear the ones that are least likely to slip. A friend’s friend fractured her ankle because she slipped.

In my next points, I talk about specific areas of Faro that you can discover by walking. But I’d still like to recommend that you don’t limit your walking to just those sections because I saw so many interesting sights in the most random places too.

An Old Building in Faro, Portugal

Stop at a nice place for a coffee and Pastel de Nata and enjoy the warm weather that Faro is known for. I loved every bit of my time there and you will too.

Arco da vila

Arco da vila in Faro, Portugal

I have this thing for photographing arcs, and this one had the most perfect background of the old town street behind. It kind of reminded me of Prague’s arches where one can see the old town except it wasn’t as crowded as Prague always is.

Arco da vila is a city gateway that leads to the old town. It is right next to the Algarve Tourism office. This arch has a bell on top with a clock under it. This highly ornate arch dates back to the 19th century and is a national monument.

Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha

I asked a stranger to click this photo and it turned out decent. The light was perfect as it was just after the sunset with a warm hue of street lamps in the background. This spot was so empty at this time, it felt unreal.

I saw some massive bird nests on this building near the clock. I think they were vulture nests. I also saw vultures that were standing and sleeping here at night – was a strange sight.

Cidade Velha (the Old Town Area)

The streets of Cidade Velha – the Old Town in Faro, Portugal

Cidade Velha is not the name of a place or a church but it means the old town. Faro’s old town is lovely in every way and what’s even special is that it is small and not busy.

Cidade Velha is the historical center, Centro Historico with well-preserved 18th-century architecture. Walking around here in the evening was one of the best things to do in Faro. Don’t do this during the afternoon unless you don’t have any other time because it gets hot.

Cidade Velha with Igreja de Santa Maria in the background, Faro, Portugal

Take some time in the evening before or right after the sunset to walk around Cidade Velha to enjoy with pretty lights.

The evening breeze makes it a pleasant experience and you can also find a restaurant with outdoor seating. Check out my restaurant recommendations at the bottom of this post.

At the end of the Cidade Velha, you will find Arco de Repouso. Just the way Arco da vila is the entry point of the old town, Arco de Repouso is the exit point – or the other way around depending on your direction. It isn’t as special as Arco da vila.

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo & Capela dos Ossos is the full name, which isn’t so easy so just keep Igreja do Carmo in your head. This is the most famous church of Faro which was completed in 1719.

Capela dos Ossos – the Bone Chapel inside Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Portugal via Pixabay

The Capela dos Ossos (the bone chapel) in the Igreja do Carmo church can be accessed through the church for EUR 2 entry. It is decorated with the skeletal remains of over 1,200 former monks. Yes, you can actually see their skulls and bones used as tiles. It is a very strange sight.

Igreja do Carmo doesn’t have wheelchair access or baby stroller paths.

Mercado Municipal (Faro Municipal Market)

Inside Mercado Municipal, Faro, Portugal

I have this thing for local markets and Faro did not fail me. I entered Mercado Municipal without any expectations but I wanted to buy everything. There was a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, honey, flowers, pastry, bread, and many other things.

Mercado Municipal – Faro’s municipal market, Portugal

Mercado Municipal is a modern building and is air-conditioned. It is a good place to pass your time and people watch. No, not in a creepy way but to experience the culture.

Faro Marina & Jardim Manuel Bivar

Faro Marina – view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal

Faro Marina is the scenic dock area with I love Faro sign. This was right next to my room at Suites Aliança, so as soon as I got our of my room, I had an opportunity to walk around here.

Jardim Manuel Bivar, Faro, Portugal

There’s a Musicpavillion, Jardim Manuel Bivar, and a children’s playground next to the Faro Marina. Walk around here and you will see some musicians busking. Some are good and they stand next to restaurants with outdoor seating.

Banco de Portugal building near Faro Marina, Portugal

You will also see the stunning Banco de Portugal building in this area. That’s closer to the street than the actual marina.

Igreja de Santa Maria

The view from Igreja de Santa Maria, Faro, Portugal

Igreja de Santa Maria is the church that I saw from my balcony at Suites Aliança, which appeared to be right behind the Arco da vila. It also has a few bells on top, like Arco da Vila. In reality, it was much farther and I realized it while I walked through the old town, Cidade Velha.

A local told me that it is possible to go to the rooftop of Igreja de Santa Maria, and he highly recommended that I do it at sunrise to see the view. But I did not want to wake up at 5 am on my vacation. I’d still like to mention this to you, in case you want to experience this.

Igreja de Santa Maria has two chapels, a garden with a sun clock, and the rooftop that I mentioned before. You need to pay EUR 3.5 to enter. The interiors are lovely but keep in mind that I recommend this place mostly for the views.

Ria Formosa Lagoon

Ria Formosa in Algarve, Portugal via Pixabay

Ria Formosa Lagoon is close to Faro, are a group of islands and six inlets that collectively form the Ria Formosa Nature Park. This lagoon was recognized in 2010 as one of Portugal’s 7 natural wonders.

The wetland of Ria Formosa Lagoon islands, channels, marshes, and sandbars between the beaches of Garrão and Manta Rota. If you are into birdwatching, then you should keep Ria Formosa on your list. My friend went kayaking here and saw flamingos.

There are restaurants in Ria Formosa by the sea and also the white city of Cacela Velha with a fortress that you can climb for a view.

I have handpicked a few tours for you to experience Ria Formosa:

  • Ria Formosa Islands Catamaran Tour: 4-hour catamaran tour that includes a stop at Farol and Deserta islands. EUR 35 per person.
  • 4 Islands, 4 Stops in Ria Formosa Catamaran Tour: 4-hour catamaran tour that includes a stop at Deserta Island, Farol Island, Hangares, and Culatra Island. You will also have the option to have lunch in a typical restaurant on Breech Island – the cost of lunch is not included in the tour. This tour costs EUR 35 per person.
  • Ria Formosa bird-watching tour: Get on an eco-friendly solar boat for a 2-hour bird watching tour. The tour costs EUR 30.

The above tours are by GetYourGuide – it’s a company I personally use for tours and have always had an excellent experience in terms of booking, service, and tour quality. I only recommend the companies that I personally use,

Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro, Algarve, Portugal via Pixabay

This is the main beach of Faro. If you’re going to visit the other destinations in Algarve, then this beach will not be special for you. However, if you have time and/or if you aren’t hitting Algarve’s beaches then make sure you visit Faro’s main beach – Praia de Faro.

This sandy beach stretches for a few kilometers and doesn’t tend to get crowded. It is very close to the airport so is a good place to stop right before you leave Faro in case you need to check out early but your flight is in the evening.

Experience Fado

Fado is Portuguese Blues and if you like live music then you should try to experience it while you’re in the country. Fado guitar recitals near the tourism office are popular in Faro and they cost just EUR 5.

Where to stay in Faro (my Hotel recommendations)

When I travel solo, I usually book a bed in a hostel to save money and make friends. But in Faro, I decided to book an entire hotel room for myself because they weren’t expensive and I found some really stunning ones.


The bedroom room in Suites Aliança, Faro, Portugal

This hotel was actually the best hotel experience in Portugal for me because it had everything. It was in a beautifully preserved old building with stunning new interiors and fittings. I’d call the interiors Art Deco.

My room was comfortable with a nice bed and air conditioner. This hotel also has a kitchen with all the appliances that one can use.

The best part for me was the reading room and the view from the window. It looked directly onto the old streets! I think that’s the room I enjoyed the most while I was here. I used it for Yoga, and reading and made a few videos.

Click here to book SUITES ALIANÇA

The location was perfect because this hotel is next to Arco da vila so you have the entire old town at your feet. The main bus station is also nearby, it is on the other side of the hotel. Faro marina is super close and you can see it from the terrace.

Rate Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun Hotels

My room at Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun Hotels, Faro, Portugal

This is a basic hotel in Faro that’s close to everything. The train station is just next to it so that was a big relief. My room had a super tiny attached toilet and shower. My room also had an air conditioner, which is much needed in Portugal’s summer months.

Click here to book Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun

I decided to eat breakfast here and it was just 5 euros. It was pretty basic and I enjoyed it.

Restaurants in Faro:

I spent two nights in Faro, so I got a chance to try out a few restaurants. Here are the three that stand out:

Taberna Modesto for seafood

My meal in Taberna Modesto, Faro, Portugal

Taberna Modesto was recommended to me by a local and it was perfect in every way. The vibe was perfect because it is in Cidade Velha, the old town. There is outdoor seating and an amazing atmosphere. I was here alone but the romantic vibe made me miss my husband.

I love fish and seafood in general, so I loved the menu here. I wanted to order everything because there were so many varieties of freshly caught fish, prawns, octopus, and crabs. I eventually decided to order one of the fish, which arrived with potatoes and broccoli.

I also drank green wine, which is something I tried for the first time in Portugal. I thought the price was for one glass but for that, I got a small bottle – wow. I ate chocolate souffle too. I was surprised at how affordable my meal was as compared to the rest of Europe.

Chelsea for breakfast

My breakfast at Chelsea, Faro, Algarve, Portugal

What do you look for in a good hearty breakfast? For me it is avocado, fruit, eggs, and coffee – I had all of that in Chelsea.

I ordered Eggs Benedict which arrived on sourdough bread, avocado, chia seeds, and hollandaise sauce. They also had smoothies, salad bowls, pancakes, and many other delicious things. I also enjoyed my orange juice and soy milk cappuccino here. I packed Pastel de Nata for the way and they were super delicious.

Apart from the above two, there are three more restaurants that I wanted to visit but didn’t. They are:

  • Cidade Velha Rooftop: This restaurant was recommended to me by Google and looks like the rooftop area has an amazing sunset view. I did not go there but I’d like to mention this to you.
  • Namastey Indian: It is an Indian restaurant that I wanted to visit but I decided to eat the local specialties so skipped it.
  • Chefe Branco: This was recommended by someone on a travel forum because they have local specialties.

Getting around in Faro

You don’t need anything like a rental car to get around in Faro. Yes, if you want to explore the rest of the Algarve then a rental car will help you but in Faro, you can just explore everything by walking or by hopping on to an E Scooter.

Faro Airport

Faro airport to the city center is just 5 kilometers. I was told that I could get bus 16 from the airport and it drops off in Faro itself. But I decided to take a taxi instead because I landed late and I didn’t want to wait for the bus.

Faro Train Station

Faro train station is small. I noticed a big queue for tickets and I was nervous since I was there just 10 minutes before my train to Lagos. But luckily I found out that I could just buy the tickets on the train so I didn’t have to stand in line.

Faro Bus Station – Terminal Rodoviário Faro

Faro bus station is 3 minute’s walk from Faro Marina. From here you will find buses that leave for other destinations within Algarve. I traveled on train and bus both in Algarve. The trains are faster and better since you can stand up and walk around. The buses are decent too and the one I was on had very good internet.

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How to Reach Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal (Practical Info + Kayaking + TIPS)

How to Reach Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal (Practical Info + Kayaking + TIPS)

Information about how to reach Benagil Cave, Tips, and Practical Travel Info.

Imagine a beach that’s hidden from the rest of the world because it is in a cave. A perfect beach with soft golden sand that’s partially lit because of the hole on the top of the cave. That’s Benagil Cave in Algarve.

Beaches are special but hidden beaches are more than just extra special. I am happy to say that I have visited quite a few because I always try to find one such beach when I visit a beach destination. When I do, I feel like a character out of the Beach movie.

Inside Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Algarve’s Benagil Cave beach is one of those extra special ones. The only way in is by kayaking or paddle boating, which obviously adds a more elusive touch to this already amazing place.

Benagil Cave has a hidden beach, where a little light falls dramatically because it has a hole on the top.

The dramatic light inside the Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal via unsplash

Where is Benagil Cave?

Benagil Cave is near Carvoeiro, which is a cute little resort town in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is between Portimão & Albufeira. It is 55 KMs away from Faro, which is the Algarve’s entry point because of the airport.

Where to Stay to visit the Benagil Cave

If you visit Algarve, then most likely you will set up your base in Albufeira, Lagos, Tavira, Sagres, or Portimão.

I picked Lagos because it is seriously stunning, has a low-key vibe, and historical old town. My second choice would have been Sagres or Carvoeiro. These three should be included in every Algarve itinerary.

If you want to be close to the Benagil cave, then you can pick Carvoeiro for your base. But it is a little upscale in terms of hotels as compared to the other destinations that I mentioned above.

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

I did not want to stay in Carvoeiro because I wasn’t looking for a resort destination but a place that had a bit of everything – beaches, hiking, viewpoints, restaurants, history, and a certain vibe.

But, it doesn’t mean Carvoeiro isn’t nice. It is and I am leaving it for another trip when I visit Algarve again.

If you don’t want to stay in Carvoeiro too, then you can easily make a day trip to see the Benagil Cave with a rental car or a tour.

How to Get into Benagil Cave?

Reaching Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal via unsplash

The first thing you are wondering how do you get into Benagil cave. As mentioned before, there are only two ways:

  1. Kayaking,
  2. Paddleboarding

Do not swim to the Benagil Cave or the nearby caves that are collectively called Benagil Caves. The swim looks easy but it is surprisingly difficult so there are often accidents. Each year at least two tourists die while attempting to swim to Benagil Caves. Please visit with a kayak instead.

Boats bigger than paddle boats and kayaks aren’t allowed to offload people near the cave anymore, so if you visit these caves on a big tour boat, then you won’t be able to swim to the cave and walk on the beach.

Kayaking with my friend to Benagil Cave, Praia da Marinha in the background – Algarve, Portugal

In order to do reach the Benagil cave beach, you will either need to pick a tour or drive to Benagil beach and try to find a way to rent a kayak from there. I will talk about these options in detail below.

How to Pick your Benagil Cave Tour?

Picking the tour to see the Benagil cave, Algarve, Portugal

When you arrive in any part of the Algarve – be it Albufeira or Lagos or Portimão, you will see lots of shops in the main center or near the train or bus stations or in the Marina where they try to sell you a tour to see the Benagil cave.

The thing is, 95% of those tours will take you on a big boat, and big boats can only see the Benagil cave from outside. So, you will technically not visit the beach. You can’t leave the big boat so you won’t get to walk on the beach.

Me in Benagil cave and the kayak next to me (behind the rock)

The only way you can go on the beach is when you take a tour with kayaks or paddle boats or SUP. After a lot of research and reading reviews on hundreds of sites that we found on the internet, we found this perfect tour for us. It wasn’t from Lagos but from Portimão.

We were staying in Lagos but we reached Portimão in just 20 minutes with our bus. Portimão is easy to reach from anywhere in Algarve by bus or train.

Book Benagil Cave Kayak Tour

This tour was excellent. Not only we visited the Benagil cave, but we also visited some of the other caves around and they were all good. We also saw the famous Praia da Marinha, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal

We had a very comfortable catamaran with a toilet. We had a staff of four people with us on the board who were our guides and kayaking lifeguards.

Other Benagil Cave Kayak tour options

If the above tour is booked out or if you’re not going to be in Portimao, then I have handpicked a few more tours for you:

Is it difficult to kayak to Benagil Cave?

Kayaking isn’t difficult and you don’t need to know if from before to do it. There were many newbies with me and they did well. It was maybe my 15th time kayaking and I found this spot very easily. But I understand if you are nervous about it, I can sometimes be too.

If you do a tour then they will already give you instructions for kayaking. They will help you arrive on the beach by kayak, which in my experience is the moment when most people fall. Falling in the water isn’t something you should be scared of by the way.

The area around the Benagil cave is rocky (of course), so the only thing you should be scared of is falling out of your kayak and hurting yourself with the rocks. But, don’t let fear mess up your experience. A little bit of fear is ok for awareness so that you can keep yourself safe.

Kayaking vs Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Stand up Paddleboarding with Pure Magic - Achill Island, Ireland

Stand up Paddleboarding with Pure Magic – Achill Island, Ireland

Honestly, I prefer SUP over kayak because I find it much more fun to balance while standing. Kayaking is easier and is something I have done many times.

The only reason I booked a kayaking tour and not SUP is that I didn’t find a tour that started from Lagos or Portimão. Also, SUP tours are more expensive. But if I didn’t have any money or commute restrictions, I would have picked up this below tour.

Book Benagil SUP Tour

If you’d like to do stand-up paddleboarding to visit the Benagil cave, then check out this tour. This is a 2-hour tour that starts from Benagil beach and you can find one as early as 7:30 am, which is way before most people start to arrive here.

Not into Kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding? Try a Boat Tour

Benagil cave with the boat, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Ok, I get it. You don’t want to kayak or go on a SUP or even swim to the cave. You would rather experience the beauty of the cave from the water and the comfort of your boat. No worries, I get you and I can help you with a few tours where you can do just that:

Please note: that you won’t be able to leave the boat, make swimming stops or enter the beach inside the Benagil cave. If you want to go to the beach or swim, then book a kayaking or SUP tour.

The Best time to do the Benagil Cave Tour

Most of the tours leave in the morning at 10 am and 2 pm in the evening. Of course, most people opt for the 2 pm one. I did too because I don’t like to wake up early. But I urge you to book an earlier tour if you don’t have an issue with early rising as I do.

Can You Visit the Benagil Cave without a Tour?

Visiting Benagil Cave, Algarve

This is something that isn’t advertised but seems to be possible. Why should it be? After all, you can enter the cave on a kayak or a paddle boat without a guide. Actually, I didn’t find a way to do it, maybe because I didn’t try hard enough and I was in Lagos.

I did speak to two local travelers who rented a kayak from the nearby Benagil beach and arrived inside the Benagil cave. Of course, you will need to reach here first with your rental car.

Book a Rental Car

This option may make sense if you are already going to rent a car to travel within Portugal. In that case, you can arrive on Benagil Beach and try to speak like a local to find a place where you can rent a kayak from.

Visiting Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

But if you rent a car just to visit the Benagil Cave, then it may not be the best idea if you don’t find kayaks for rent on Benagil beach to visit the cave.

The cost of our tour from Portimao was 40 euros but the cost of the tour from Benagil beach is 35 euros. So the difference is just 5 euros and if you rent a car just for this, then you will probably pay a minimum of EUR 30 per day and add EUR 35 for a kayak tour from Benagil Beach per person.

Can You Swim to Benagil Cave?

Please don’t swim to Benagil Cave. As mentioned above, the swim is surprisingly difficult even though it appears to be easy. Each year minimum of two travelers die while they attempt to swim to Benagil Cave.

Where to Rent a Kayak for Benagil Cave?

I did a tour but you can rent a kayak from Praia de Benagil to reach Benagil Cave. If you aren’t confident about kayaking to Benagil Caves on your own, then here’s one of the tours that you can look at. For more tour options, look at the section above that’s named “Benagil Cave tour options”.

Final Thoughts on visiting the Benagil Cave in Algarve Portugal

Inside Benagil Cave – the kayaks and paddle boards

Visiting Benagil Cave may sound complicated but it isn’t. If you want to visit it then you shouldn’t let anything stop you. After all, there aren’t so many such places in the world. If you visit Portugal’s Algarve region then you should definitely do everything you can to visit the Benagil cave for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Things to do in Lagos Portugal (Algarve) – Travel Guide

Things to do in Lagos Portugal (Algarve) – Travel Guide

Travel guide for visiting Lagos in Algarve (South Portugal) with things to do, how to visit, and top tips.

What does a perfect summer vacation include for you?

Most likely beaches, a relaxed vibe, and maybe also some adventure sports like hiking, or kayaking. I’m sure nice warm weather that ranges from 20-30 degrees sounds good too.

Also, any good vacation can not be without amazing food and drinks, right? Throw in spectacular rock formations and you have got yourself a perfect package. That’s Lagos for you!

Stunning beaches, rock formations, hiking trails, viewpoints, mind-blowing food, and a super relaxed vibe – this is why I fell in love with Lagos.

Lagos is one of the many destinations in Portugal’s Algarve region. Algarve is famous for its coast. The beaches in Algarve are spectacular because of the rock formations that are all over in Algarve region.

Out of all the stunning places to visit in Algarve, I picked Lagos for my week-long solo trip not only because it is lovely, but also because it is a bit less visited than the other nearby places – like Albuferia, Portimão or Tavira that are jam-packed with British or German tourists.

Because of this, Lagos has somehow managed to retain a less touristy vibe even though it is part of many Algarve itineraries.

Lagos is a little further away from Faro, the main town of the Algarve. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to reach. Also, the most famous photos of the Algarve that you will see on travel brochures, most were clicked in Praia do Camilo of Lagos. We will talk about that beach later.

Fun Fact: There’s another place called Lagos and it is in Africa. It is the largest city in Nigeria and it is also called Lagos. As per Wikipedia, the Nigerian city Lagos was probably named after Lagos in Portugal

Every destination in Algarve attracts a different kind of crowd. Lagos is said to be a party destination because of bars, but I saw a lot of family travelers and non-party travelers there too.

I picked Lagos because it attracts a lot of solo travelers too, but I’m not a party traveler still, and Lagos was a perfect match for me. Another reason why I picked Lagos is that it has charming old buildings instead of ugly new construction. Lagos is an ancient maritime town after all, with more than 2000 years of history.

How to reach Lagos?

Super simple, there are a number of buses and trains from all of the nearby towns. I arrived here on a train from Faro. I didn’t need to book the tickets in advance, I could just buy them on the train and I paid EUR 7.50.

Train from Lagos to Faro, Algarve, Portugal

I left Lagos on a bus and I had to reach the bus station before to buy the tickets because they were selling out.

If you are here with another person, then I suggest you rent a car for an epic road trip in Algarve. When you split the cost then it won’t be so expensive and it will give you so much freedom of movement.

How to move around in Lagos?

Walking is easy because it is small. You can also rent a bicycle like we did or rent a car to make your life easy.

Now that you know how to reach Lagos, and how to move around while you’re here, let’s talk about the main topic – what to do in Lagos. I also talk about my recommended places to eat and stay at the end of this post.

Things to do in Lagos, Algarve

1) Ponta da Piedade (for sunset)

Sunset at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

Imagine a spot on top of the rocks from where you can see a beach, insane rock formations all around, and clear blue water below. Good news: there isn’t one but many of them here.

Ponta da Piedade means the point of pity and is one of the most famous tourist spots of the Algarve. If you are into viewpoints, then this is the place that you will want to come back to every single day. I sure did!

Due to the shape and slope of the rocks, there There are so many different viewpoint possibilities. I discovered something new here every day. There are multiple beaches below that one can see from some of the viewpoints.

A section of the rocks here faces the west side and that makes it perfect for sunset sessions. It is the part that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho – in case you want to find it. At this point, I have only posted photos of that particular section because that’s perfect for watching the sunset.

I visited Ponta da Piedade every day to find new spots but realized that there are MANY viewpoints, but the one that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho is the best for sunset. I will talk about more spots of Ponta da Piedade in the hiking section.

An easy point of reference here is the lighthouse. You need to walk a little further when you reach the lighthouse to find even better viewpoints.

So pack a snack, a drink, and a blanket so that you can stay here for a while. It does get a little chilly here right after the sunset. I visited in June and I had to carry a big jacket here every evening.

2) See the Beaches of Lagos Portugal

The beaches of Lagos, Algarve – Praia do Camilo, Portugal

When it comes to beaches, Lagos will wow you every single time. There are so many of them and each one is stunning because of the rock formations.

Some reaches are easy to reach but others aren’t. The hard-to-reach beaches aren’t necessarily better but they definitely have fewer people so there’s more room. You don’t have to visit every single beach but I did because I was curious to see what was there.

Honestly, every single beach is worth visiting but I’m sure that can’t happen if you’re there for 2-3 days only. In that case, I have done the work for you and I have tagged some beaches as “must visit” you in case you can’t visit them all.

2.1) Easy-to-Reach Beaches in Lagos:

Dona Ana (must visit)

View of Dona Ana beach on the way from Pinhão, Lagos, Portugal

Dana Ana beach is often called the main beach. Everyone who comes to Lagos visits Dona Ana at some point. It is easy to visit, beautiful, and excellent for swimming.

The beach is massive compared to many other beaches and there’s plenty of space to put your mat down and read a book. There are rock formations around and on the beach, that makes it an excellent photo spot.

Some beaches of Lagos have water full of seaweed but I didn’t see that on Dona Ana beach. There aren’t small pebbles or rocks, just a massive sandy stretch with interesting rock formations – so this makes Dona Ana a perfect beach for swimming.

Keep in mind that the water is colder than you would expect it to be because you’re swimming in the Atlantic ocean. 

Dona Ana Beach at night, Lagos, Portugal

There is a parking spot that’s close to the beach and a few restaurants. There’s also a bus stop that’s right outside the beach. The time I visited, this beach was pretty empty in the early evenings before the sunset.

Praia do Camilo (must visit)

Praia do Camilo in Lagos, Portugal

Praia do Camilo is the most beautiful beach in Lagos for me because I loved the rock formations here.

Keep in mind that you have to climb down a hundred steps to reach it, but the view after every 10 steps is worth it. Despite the 100 steps, I’d say the beach is sort of easy to reach because the steps aren’t steep and you don’t have to go on a hiking trail.

The way to Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarvel, Portugal

This beach tends to get crowded because it is lovely. Arrive here as early as 9 am and you will have almost the entire place to yourself. I did!

Praia do Camilo is divided into two beaches and there’s a cave that goes from one beach to another. How cool is that!

No, you don’t have to swim through the cave but you can just walk through because the cave is directly on the beach. There are also a few rock arches here where you can click stunning photos.

Praia do Camilo beach with a cave and a rocky arch, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Both the sections of Praia do Camilo are small, so obviously they tend to get crowded during the peak hours. There is a high-end restaurant on top with a nice view, so you can visit it for cocktails or a nice meal when you visit Camilo beach.

The Lovely Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

I mentioned before how some of the beaches in Lagos have seaweed or black algae but Camilo beach was absolutely clear about that. In fact, the water clarity was so good that I could also see schools of fish as I walked inside.

So, Camilo beach is definitely a must-visit beach because of its beauty and ease of swimming.

Porto Mós (must visit)

Porto Mós is a long stretch of sandy beach that you can reach without climbing. This beach is a bit outside Lagos city so you can come here by bus. The bus journey only took 3 minutes and the bus stop is right outside the beach entrance. I could have easily walked it but I didn’t.

If you’re visiting Lagos with family, then Porto Mós is the perfect beach because the water is good for swimming. There aren’t any rock formations on the beach but they are behind the sandy part, so they make a lovely backdrop.

The rocks behind the Porto Mós look a bit different than the ones on the other beaches. They have a layered look, like a fossil. They are stunning!

Meia Praia

This is the longest beach in all of the Algarve and you will see it as soon as you arrive in Lagos by train. It is 4.5 KMs long and it reminded me of the beaches of Goa because of its golden sand and a few beach bars. It stretches from Lagos to Alvor at Ria de Alvor.

Meia Praia beach is massive and hence never feels crowded. The sand is super soft and this beach again is excellent for swimming. There are a few restaurants and beach bars in Meia Praia – Bahia Beach Bar, Gavioto Restaurant, and Palmares Beach club to name a few.

Unlike some of the beaches in Lagos, you don’t have to hike or climb steps to reach Meia Praia. There are lots of parking spots and you can arrive here easily.

There are no rock formations on Meia Praia, just endless sand. For me, this beach was lovely but not as special as many others because I visited Algarve to see beaches with rock formations.

Praia do Pinhão

The Cave on Praia do Pinhão – Beaches of Lagos, Portugal

This is a small cove that’s near Dona Ana beach. There is a scenic route that comes from the city to Pinhão restaurant, after that you have to hike for just 3 minutes, and then climb down around 40-50 steps to reach the beach.

This beach has some interesting rock formations, caves, and arches. I visited it 3 times but all those times it was full of black seaweed and it wasn’t so easy to walk on some sections of the beach or to even think of swimming.

The good thing was that I found a stunning photo spot and had this beach to myself but this isn’t a “must visit” beach because you can’t swim here.

Praia dos Estudantes

Praia dos Estudantes – Roman Bridge – Lagos, Portugal via Unsplash

This is a small beach that’s lovely and has the famous “roman bridge”. You have to go through a tunnel from Batata Praia to arrive here and to see the old roman bridge. The beach is clean and good for swimming.

Praia da Batata

Batata beach is also near the city center and is usually busy.

2.2) Hard-to-reach beaches:

Praia do Canavial

Praia do Canavial in Lagos, Algarve

Praia do Canavial is right before Porto Mós but I’d say it isn’t easy to visit because the trail is hard to find for some people. The wooden path that comes from Ponta da Piedade also crosses Canavial, but you have to get off the wooden path in order to go to the beach.

View of Praia do Canavial from top, Lagos, Portugal

I was looking for this beach but I was lucky to find a girl who was on her way back from the beach and she described the trail to me exactly. I also met an older British couple that lived in Lagos and they said they had never heard of or been to this beach.

Praia do Canavial, Lagos, Portugal

The Canavial beach can be seen from multiple viewpoints and it looks lovely from all of them. But the best viewpoints are right before arriving on the beach, as you stand on top of the rock and look down at the beach.

Praia do Canavial is good for a swim because the water is shallow and doesn’t have seaweed. The beach does have some pebbles and but I didn’t mind them.

The time I visited, there were just 4-5 people on this beach in total.

Praia Santa Maria

Praia Santa Maria, Lagos, Algarve

This is a nudist beach that’s right after Camillo beach. I just found the trail by sheer luck because it was already my 7th time on the Ponta da Piedade boardwalk.

It isn’t easy to get to this beach at all. The hike to reach this beach gets very steep at the end. There was no one on this beach when I went.

I wouldn’t say this is a stunning beach, it was pretty average compared to the other beaches of Lagos. I did see a bunch of black seaweed in the water. But I think visiting a beach like this is not so much about the beauty, but it is about the feeling of reaching a hard-to-reach place.

Praia da Balança

Praia da Balança in Lagos, Portugal

This is actually one of the most stunning beaches in the “hard to reach” list that I found in Lagos. I actually found it on my last day in Lagos and I saw it from a viewpoint.

Praia da Balança is actually a small cove that’s surrounded by interesting rocks all around. The viewpoint wasn’t so far from the beach so I saw things very clearly. I saw blue water, a clean sandy beach, and rock formations.

I did see a few kayaks on the beach, so I thought it can only be accessed from the water. By the time I saw the trail that goes to this beach, it was already time for me to check out from my hotel. I had to run back so I left this beach for another visit.

Maybe it is a good thing I didn’t go because I was in my flip flops and the hotel staff told me later that it isn’t easy to reach this beach by hiking.

Praia do Barranco do Martinho

Praia do Barranco da Martinho view from Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

I love how this beach looks from up above. I actually went to the viewpoint every day from Ponta da Piedade that overlooks Praia do Barranco do Martinho, because of the perfect sunset.

The hike to this beach isn’t easy and also the hiking path is tricky to find. I didn’t find the path at all. I did ask the hotel staff member and he told me that the hike is very difficult because it is steep and goes from the other side of the boardwalk.

I did see reviews on Google Maps of those who visited, but some were clearly confusing it with another beach and were talking about it. If you visit Lagos, do visit and let me know if you end up on this beach. I’d love to feature you.

3) Hiking in Lagos

One of the many hiking viewpoints in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

One of the best hikes that you can do in Lagos is moving from beach to beach on the rocks that surround the beaches. You don’t have to stop on the beaches unless you want to take a break, sit and swim a bit. This hike will take you to some seriously stunning viewpoints.

The hikes aren’t difficult at all in Lagos. In fact, I did them wearing my flip-flops, but I recommend you wear shoes because flip-flops can be risky. I saw a lot of interesting flowers and I specifically remember the cactus flowers.

Start at Praia do Pinhão, from here you can walk on the rocks and move to Dona Ana beach. If you want, you can climb down onto Praia do Pinhão and see the two rock arches here.

When you arrive at Dona Ana beach, you can go on the beach or take the path on the rocks beyond the beach. The viewpoints from Dona Ana beach to Praia do Camilo are seriously stunning. There are many of them.

Hiking in Lagos – View of the Camilo Beach, Algarve

I wouldn’t recommend you take a break on Praia do Camilo because this is a beach that you should leave for another day. It is seriously stunning but you have to climb down a hundred steps to reach it.

The trail that goes after Praia do Camilo will take you to Ponta da Piedade, which is the most famous viewpoint of this area. The trail after Camilo beach is a proper wooden hiking trail with gazebos at prominent viewpoints.

One of the hiking viewpoints after Camilo Beach, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

You can get off the wooden trail if you want, I did because I was curious to see what else was there. But, I realized that the viewpoints are better marked on the wooden trails where the gazebos are.

After Ponta da Piedade, the trail will take you to the top of Praia do Barranco do Martinho. You can get out of the gazebo here to take a better look at the beach below.

If you stay on the trail, there’s another viewpoint that comes where you can see two beaches together – Praia do Canavial and Porto Mós.

The view of Praia do Canavial and Porto Mós on the hiking path in Lagos, Portugal

The trail further goes from Praia do Barranco do Martinho to Praia do Canavial. Get off the trail here to take a break on the beach. The climb down isn’t that tricky, I did it with flip-flops but it may take you a while to find the way to the beach. Luckily I met a girl who was just coming out of the beach and she told me where to find the trail to the beach.

After Praia do Canavial, the trail goes to Porto Mós Beach (Praia do Porto Mós). It is a massive beach and you can stay here if you want. There is a bus stop at Porto Mós from where you can find a bus to take you to the main city. Or you can just walk back, it isn’t more than 2 kms.

4) Lagos Old Town

Lagos Old Town, Portugal

Old Portuguese buildings are beautiful and this is why I don’t miss even a single town center when I visit Portugal. The town center in Lagos is lovely and it is full of Jacaranda, lemon and orange trees.

The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom when I visited. Also, the orange and lemon trees were fruiting. These trees made the already lovely streetscape even prettier.

Ever heard of Azulejos? I spoke about them in my Lisbon post too. They are ceramic tiles that are painted, and you can see them on many old buildings all over Lagos’s old town.

Get lost in the narrow lanes of Lagos’s old town. Explore the shops with unique handmade things and buy a few souvenirs. They aren’t expensive and are nicely made. I did buy a few small handmade toys for my daughter.

You can see the city walls of Lagos, the castle, Porta de São Gonçalo, and cathedrals. I did not have them on my mind when I visited Lagos old town but I saw them while walking around.

Find a nice street-side restaurant when you’re done exploring the city center. Sit outside and order a drink to cool off.

5) Rent a Bicycle to Explore Lagos

Bicycle rental at COAST Supply Co, Lagos, Portugal

Lagos is small and you can cover everything by walking, but it means a lot of walking. If you want to avoid that then get yourself a bicycle for a day or two to explore more that this city has to offer.

I rented my bicycle from a surf shop called COAST Supply Co in Lagos’s main town. I did it on my first day to get a sense of all that there is to see in Lagos. I’m happy I did because after that I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do during my stay one week here.

Keep in mind that Lagos is slightly hilly, so you will have to cycle up and down. This is why you may want to avoid the town center with your bicycle.

I had a normal bike but I recommend you get yourself a mountain bike so that your butt doesn’t hurt as much as mine did.

Cycling in Lagos will give you an insane amount of freedom to explore the city at a faster pace. If you like cycling then I highly recommend you do this. This is what I do when I travel solo and I did this during my weekend in Amsterdam too.

6) Visit Aqui Há Gato to Eat the Best Prawns in Lagos

One of the best parts of traveling is getting an opportunity to try new food. In that aspect, Lagos, or any part of Portugal won’t disappoint you.

Sure, Lagos has a lot of international restaurants and I did find an amazing Nepalese one where I ate momos, but some of my most memorable meals were in a small family-run Portuguese restaurant called Aqui Há Gato.

Aqui Há Gato isn’t in the busy town center, which is a relief. You can walk here from the main town – it will take you 15 minutes or drive here. I actually visited because there was a board outside that said they have the best prawns in Lagos. Of course, I went in because I love prawns.

When you visit Aqui Há Gato, order “the best prawns of Lagos” here – they are not mentioned in the menu but are written on a board outside. The prawns are massive in size and the portion is huge. They are buttery, garlicky, and full of flavor. They come with fries (or bread) and salad. I loved this meal so much that I came here every day.

I fell in love with the atmosphere here because I saw a lot of locals and enjoyed the sounds of Portuguese conversations. I always spent a long time here, drank coffee, beers, and sometimes caipirinha, and talked to the staff.

This restaurant isn’t just about the food, but also the vibe. I brought a few people to this restaurant who enjoyed the food as much as I did.

6.1) Other restaurants in Lagos

  • Sunrays Kitchen: Looking for a healthy wholesome meal in a pretty restaurant? Visit Sunrays kitchen. It is an amazing restaurant where you can find delicious meal bowls, kombucha, and coffee.

Momos at Momo Express restaurant in Lagos, Portugal

  • Momo Express: It is a small Nepalese restaurant in the city center. I visited it because I love Momos – a popular Nepalese snack.

Crab at Marisqueira O Perceve restaurant, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

  • Marisqueira “O Perceve”: This is a seafood restaurant. Visit it to eat lobsters, crabs, or any other food from the sea. I ate a big crab and I paid around 25 Euros for beer and coffee.
  • Additionally, visit any bakery and eat Pastel de Nata: the yummiest Portuguese snack and it is also a dessert. These egg tarts are simply delicious and they make the perfect breakfast.
  • Try Green Wine: I never knew of green wine but I tried it for the first time in Portugal. It is a little like white wine and is delicious. It goes well with fish.

7) Day Trip to Benagil Cave from Lagos

Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

There are a lot of day trip possibilities from Lagos, but one of the best ones is a visit to Benagil. So what is Benagil cave all about?

Imagine a hidden beach, that’s inside a cave that is open on the top for a little light that falls dramatically. The only way in is by swimming or kayaking – sounds good? That’s Benagil Cave.

The stunning Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

When you arrive in Lagos, you will see lots of shops in the Marina where they try to sell you a tour to see the Benagil cave. The thing is, those tours will take you on a big boat, and big boats can only see the Benagil cave from outside.

You can’t go to the beach that’s inside the Benagil Cave unless you take a tour with kayaks. There isn’t one from Lagos, but there’s one from Portimão and this is the one we booked. Portimão is easy to reach from Lagos by bus or train.

Book Benagil Cave Kayak Tour

This tour was excellent. Not only we visited the Benagil cave, but we also visited some of the other caves around and they were all good. We also saw the famous Praia da Marinha, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

8) Explore the Party Scene of Lagos

Lagos is also called a party destination. To be honest, I didn’t explore this side of Lagos much, even though I visited without my kid. But I’d still like to mention this point so that you don’t miss out on this.

The old town of Lagos has plenty of bars and pubs, so if you visit in the evening, you are sure to hear loud music and follow it.

Some notable bars and pubs are Zanzibar Lagos (highly recommended by a local), Beer & Co, Peppers, and Aficionado.

9) Kayaking, SUP, or Scuba Diving in Lagos

Kayaking in Lagos, Portugal

Lagos has many caves and hidden beaches and some can only be explored via water. Join a kayaking tour or get on a stand-up paddleboat (SUP) for a day of adventure.

Have’t done kayaking or SUP before? No worries! In my experience, both kayaking and SUP are easy sports and you don’t need prior experience to enjoy them. I also tried them for the first time while traveling and on tours.

I have narrowed down two amazing kayaks and SUP tours for you which will take you to some secluded beaches of Lagos:

  • Kayaking and Boat Cave Explorer Tour: EUR 35 per person, it is a 2-hour tour that will take you to the caves and beaches and caves of Ponta da Piedade with Kayaks. The advantage of going on a kayak is that you can enter some beaches where a normal boat can’t go.
  • Ponta da Piedade Kayak Tour from Lagos Marina: EUR 35, this 2-hour tour will also take you to the beaches and caves of Lagos. It is pretty much the same as the tour above, it is just a different operator.
  • Lagos: Stand-Up Paddle Board Rental: Rent a SUP for 4 hours for EUR 25 per person.
  • Guided Scuba Diving Trip for Beginners: EUR 99, this is a scuba diving trip for beginners, with 3-4 hours in the ocean.
  • Dolphin Watching & Snorkeling: EUR 40.50, 3.5-hour boat trip where they will take you to see dolphins. The boat will have snorkeling gear too, so you can grab it and jump in the water. A snack is also included.
  • Boat Cruise to Ponta da Piedade: EUR 22.50 per person, it is a 1 hour 15 minutes tour that will give you a chance to look at the beaches of Lagos from water. Pick this if you don’t want to do kayaking.

I highly recommend GetYourGuide because I have had an amazing experience booking tours through them. Bud I’d still recommend you read everything before you book.

10) See Bravura Dam

Bravura Dam is a peaceful escape from Lagos and the surroundings are lovely. It is 45 minute drive from Lagos’s main town, so this is one of the places that you can visit if you rent your car, or if you get an electric bike.

Get to Hello Goodbye cafe, and start your Reservoir walk from there. The complete hike will take you 2 – 2.5 hours. You will see the water, little hills and lots of greenery.

Tip, follow the road signs to “Barragem da Bravura” instead of following the Google Maps navigation.

Visit this place only if it is easy for you to arrive here. Don’t make an effort to be here and don’t rent a vehicle just to visit this place. It is lovely but isn’t worth so much effort.

Where to Stay in Lagos Portugal

Safari Beach Guest House:

When I travel solo, I usually research for days to find the perfect place to stay. After all, I’d be on my own and I want my trip to be as easy as possible.

I didn’t want a typical hostel with a loud party atmosphere, but also I didn’t want the entire room to myself because I wanted to find a possibility of making a friend or two. For me, Safari beach guest house was the perfect middle ground and I loved it. This is also a hostel but also a guest house so they have dorms and private rooms.

I stayed in a 4-bed female dorm and we had our own bathroom that was attached. The good this was that the guest house was away from the loud city center but closer to the beaches. So, the dorm rooms were quiet and I had a good sleep quality.

This place had a nice sitting area outside with a sun umbrella, a big living room with a TV, an airy kitchen with all the appliances, and even a washing machine.

The private rooms with balconies were upstairs and they looked lovely too. If I revisit Lagos, I will book one of the private rooms on top.

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2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary: Fall in LOVE with Lisbon, Portugal

2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary: Fall in LOVE with Lisbon, Portugal

It was my second time in Europe was when I got to visit sunny Lisbon. After spending months in Europe’s colder countries, Lisbon felt like a much-needed summer breeze that instantly made me happy.

Oh my god, the city is colorful – was one of my first thoughts. Wow, Portuguese people are so friendly and happy – was the second one.

Lisbon's beautiful streets

Lisbon’s beautiful streets

We arrived in Lisbon from Zagreb (Croatia), met the world’s happiest immigration officer, took an old school metro to the city center, and got lost on the streets.

Wow, are the trams really yellow? Yes, apparently that’s now an iconic Lisbon-ish image thanks to Instagram.

Lisbon's Tram 28 - 2 days in Lisbon itinerary

Lisbon’s Tram 28 – 2 days in Lisbon itinerary

Do you know what makes Lisbon even more special? It stands on seven hills, as a result, there are several slanted roads and multiple viewpoint possibilities.

The city is jeweled by incredible palaces and churches. Needless to say, we instantly fell in love with Lisbon. Yes, Lisbon is one of the most dazzling cities in the entire World.

With its incredible views over its famous collection of terraces known as miradouros, streets covered with pink, mint, and indigo tiles, and its gorgeous coast of the Atlantic Ocean, you will never want to leave here.

A colorful terrace in Lisbon, Portugal

A colorful terrace in Lisbon, Portugal

Most of the people arrive in Lisbon before they make their way to other Portuguese destinations like Lagos in Algarve or Porto, hence the visits are quick. If you are planning a short visit, I have created a detailed Lisbon itinerary for you to enjoy this city. Of course, it includes a lot of walking but you can take a metro or tram too and I will mention the options to do that.

I normally love visiting not just the famous scenic spots, and old buildings but also trying to find out about some arty or offbeat spots. This two-day itinerary for Lisbon contains a bit of both.

If you’re thinking of exploring Portugal beyond just Lisbon, then consider driving through the country.

We actually drove through the middle of Portugal to admire the hilly landscape and then drove along the coast. The sights are truly spectacular and so are the small local restaurants where you can buy a lot of snacks for cheap.

Check Car Rental Prices in Portugal

Arrive in Lisbon or Portugal and rent a car from there to explore the country. You can compare the car rental prices from different companies and pick the one that suits you the best.

Day 1: Typical Lisbon

Lisbon’s pretty streets – Lisbon itinerary

Get ready to enjoy one of the most epic sceneries and monuments of Lisbon. On your first day, you get to see the classic side of Lisbon, which creates the perfect opportunity to get to know the city better.

Don’t forget to wear your most comfortable shoes, because there are lots of incredible places to explore! Keep in mind that Lisbon’s cobbled streets can sometimes be slippery when you’re wearing the wrong kind of shoes.

Walk to Praça do Comércio (and Explore)

The most rewarding way to explore Lisbon is by walking. For any kind of self-walking tour, the best way to start exploring Lisbon is from Praça do Comércio, which is also known as the Palace Square.

praça do comércio - Lisbon itinerary

praça do comércio – Lisbon itinerary

Having one of the best locations, this square was once where the glorious Ribeira Palace used to stand.

Sadly, due to a massive earthquake, which was followed by a devastating tsunami and a fire that happened in 1755, most of the spectacular buildings of Lisbon were destroyed.

But today, thanks to King Jose I, Praça do Comércio is one of the most beautiful places in Lisbon.

praça do comércio in Lisbon, Portugal

praça do comércio in Lisbon, Portugal

Meaning the Trading Square in English, Praça do Comércio initially has government offices in charge of customs and the affairs of the port of Lisbon.

In the middle of the square, you will see the grand bronze monument of King Jose I, which was built in 1775 by one of the most famous architects of that era, Joachim Machado de Castro.

A little further, you can check out the magnificent 30-meter triumphal arch, which is called Arco da Rua Augusta. This little walk around this area is one of the many free things to do in Lisbon.

In the center of the arch, you will see the composition of Glory, which crowns with laurel wreaths Valor and Genius. On the other hand, this arch has famous historical figures, such as; Marquis Pombal, Vasco da Gama, Nuno Alvarez Pereira, and Viriat.

The square generally features characteristics of the Enlightenment era. It is known that King Jose I preferred not to restore the Ribeira palace because he wanted to focus on the clarity of the geometry of the square.

You can also admire this geometry from the bird-view photos of this area.  Another great part of the Praça do Comércio is that this square has the oldest cafe in Lisbon, which is called Café-Restaurante Martinho da Arcada.

Breakfast in a local cafe – Pastéis de Nata with Coffee

Breakfast in a roadside cafe in Lisbon

Breakfast in a roadside cafe in Lisbon

After a little sightseeing, it is time for breakfast! If you have a sweet tooth and love eating sweet pastries for breakfast, you will love the famous Portuguese Custard Tart aka Pastéis de Nata!

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

This Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon was originally created as a laundry product in the 18th century by catholic monks. At that time, due to religious habits, monasteries tend to use large quantities of egg whites for starching clothes, and the leftover egg yolks were used to make cakes and pastries.

During the Liberal Revolution of 1820, which prohibited religious orders, monks wanted to find alternative income sources. That’s why they started to sell Pastéis de Nata at a nearby sugar refinery.

After a couple of years, the monastery was closed in 1834, and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. And today, you can still buy one of the best Pastéis de Nata in the entire Lisbon.

There are only three family members who know the original secret recipe, but luckily you can buy this delicious tart in most bakeries across the country.

The best way to enjoy Pastéis de Nata is by drinking a hot shot of Bica on the side! Bica is Lisbon’s delicious espresso, which is another thing you should definitely try.

Update in 2023: I ended up visiting Portugal a few more times and enjoyed Pastel de Nata every single time. I enjoyed Pastel de Nata in Porto, in Algarve, in Coimbra, and also in Nazare. It tasted the same everywhere and was always good.

Take Tram 28 (If you’re lucky) to Alfama

Tram 28 in Lisbon - 2 days in Lisbon

Tram 28 in Lisbon – 2 days in Lisbon

One of the best ways to explore the historic parts of the city is definitely by using the tram. Lisbon’s trams were developed in 1914 to make it possible for residents to go from the central Baixa district to neighborhoods like Graca and Estrela.

The city used to have a lot of tram lines but they disappeared over the years due to an extended underground metro system. And today, there are currently only five tramlines left across the city.

If you want to use the tram, it is good to know that there are two types of trams; the historic Remodelado ones, and the modern Articulado trams.

The Remodelado trams are the yellow-colored trams that go through the narrow streets of Lisbon. And of course, the most iconic one is tram 28, which crosses the Alfama district.

The crowded wait for Lisbon's Tram 28

The crowded wait for Lisbon’s Tram 28

Due to this tram’s incredible route that goes past so many important sights and charming neighborhoods, it’s now used by tourists as a way to explore the city.

As in an ideal world, you can tour the city for just €2.90, if you buy a ticket onboard or €1.45 with a prepaid transport card. But since it is a very popular thing to do in Lisbon, you might have to wait up to an hour to take a ride. Honestly, I couldn’t bother waiting but if you have more patience than I do, then you should.

The tram usually comes around every 10 minutes and can only seat about 20 people, which means that even if you catch the tram, you will probably have an uncomfortable 7 km ride, squeezed with lots of people.

But if it is something that you want to experience, it is well worth it, because you will get to see all the incredible historical spots which are also highly photogenic.

On the other hand, if you want to burn the calories of Pastéis de Nata, you can walk the tram 28 route and enjoy the sights better by taking your time. And by the end of the route, you will reach the gorgeous district of Alfama!

Walk around in Alfama

Colors of Old Town Alfama – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal – photo by skitterphoto

Alfama is an adorable small district, which is located on one of the seven hills of Lisbon. Being the oldest and safest neighborhood in Lisbon, Alfama is still very lively.

Surrounded by a rich history and culture, you will not want to leave here. The locals are also the most helpful people in the entire World. Here, you can also sit and enjoy the neighborhood from plenty of local bars and restaurants, while tasting delicious and traditional Portuguese food!

Can't get enough of Lisbon's streets

Can’t get enough of Lisbon’s streets

Alfama can be explored easily by foot through its narrow alleys and a lot of staircases. It seems like you can easily get lost, but don’t worry because it is almost impossible as long as you walk down the district of Alfama.

Lisbon has many viewpoints

Lisbon has many viewpoints

The best way to start exploring is from the Castelo São Jorge, which is a very well-preserved castle. Also known as St George’s Castle, the castle stands on the highest hill in Lisbon, and it offers one of the greatest views over the city (that’s our next point).

After gazing through an incredible view, you can walk down the neighborhood, and eventually, you will get out at the bottom. But first, it is time to check out the Castelo de São Jorge!

Enjoy the View from Castelo de São Jorge aka St. George’s Castle

Castelo de Sao Jorge - view from Lisbon's St George castle

Castelo de Sao Jorge – view from Lisbon’s St George castle

If you want to get to know more about Lisbon’s heritage and history, Castelo de São Jorge is one of the best places to start with. Open 7 days a week, this castle witnessed many epic historical moments.

St George Castle in Lisbon

St George Castle in Lisbon

Having a permanent exhibition about the city’s history as well as guided tours, you can explore the castle and grasp the history in one and a half hours.

The guided tour includes exploring the castle’s battlements, a camera obscura, the museum, and the numerous hidden paths.

For visitors, the Castelo de São Jorge is a great attraction point because even though the castle was initially built in the 1st century BC, due to a major restoration performed in the 1940s, it is one of the best-preserved castles in the country.

And of course, due to its exceptional location, you can rest while gazing at the castle’s unique and majestic sight.

Getting to St George Castle in Lisbon - 2 days in Lisbon

Getting to St George Castle in Lisbon – 2 days in Lisbon

In order to reach the top, you will have to climb a lot of steps but the view is totally worth it. A lot of the steps are shaded but some aren’t so it is advisable to wear a hat. I didn’t and I felt the heat.

Sunset View from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte

A random viewpoint in Lisbon

A random viewpoint in Lisbon

If you want to watch the sunset from Lisbon’s highest lookout point, then head to the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte! This great terrace looks out over Lisbon, and it offers an uninterrupted 250-degree incredible panoramic view. Also known as Our Lady of the Hill, you can take some breathtaking photos over there.

Honestly, we just happened to reach here by chance and clicked some photos. It was only later we realised that this is one of the famous viewpoints in Lisbon.

Miradouro da Graça

Want to have a drink while looking at a view of the old neighborhoods like Mouraria, Alfama, Downtown, and 25th April Bridge? Then visit the hill of Santo André and check out the terrace of Graça, aka Miradouro da Graça. Here, you can find an open-air café where you can hang out with young locals, and relax a bit after traveling all day.

Dinner in Lisbon

Finally, it’s dinner time! In Lisbon, you can find both local and international chefs, which create unique and modern Portuguese cuisine.

You can basically have incredible meals anywhere in Lisbon, however, if you want a traditional meal, then there are some dishes that you should try out.

One of the things you should eat in Lisbon is Portugal’s beloved bacalhau, which is dried and salted codfish. If you feel fancy, you can order bacalhau à Brás, which is a shredded cod with onions, eggs, and potatoes.

While in Lisbon, you can have lots of fresh seafood like octopus, tuna, monkfish, shrimp, sardines, and clams as well. If you want to eat red meat, don’t forget to try the Alentejan beef with a side of Douro wines.

Eating in Lisbon - 2 days in Lisbon itinerary

Eating in Lisbon – Lisbon itinerary

Come Back to Your Hotel

After a delicious meal, you can come back to your hotel and rest, or get ready for an epic night out. If you still have some energy left, it is time to visit the Bairro Alto for a few cocktails.

Get to Bairro Alto for Lisbon’s Nightlife (Optional)

Having the highest concentration of bars and clubs, Bairro Alto is the place to visit if you want a great night out. Whether you like clubs or bars, you can find something for everyone.

Bairro Alto neighborhood is quite unique. Here you will see many car-free, picturesque narrow streets full of amazing restaurants and bars. Listening to the live music that pours from the clubs, you can either join one of the super fun pub crawls to meet new people, or dance till morning in Bairro Alto’s many nightclubs.

Day 2: Peaceful and Arty Lisbon

One of the many colorful streets in Lisbon

One of the many colorful streets in Lisbon

On your second day, you can check out the artsy side of Lisbon! After a quick breakfast, your first stop should be the Carmo Archaeological Museum.

Carmo Archaeological Museum,

In 1864, the royal architect Joaquim Passidónio da Silva created this space as a storage and display of important sculptures from old ruined buildings.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the museum incorporated a series of pieces of historical, archaeological, and artistic works from many different chronological ages, which date from Pre-History to the present day.

Today, you can find the ruins of a gothic church, the main altar, an eclectic collection of tombs, statuary, ceramics, and beautiful mosaics. Other interesting pieces to check out are the shrunken heads, South American mummies, a jasper sculpture of the Virgin Mary, Visigothic artifacts, and coins dating back to the 13th century.

Lunch in Mercado da Ribera – Gourmet Food Hall

If you are not sure what to eat, you have to head to the Mercado da Ribeira, which is an epic culinary market curation. The gourmet food hall of this market has 40 kiosks, which offer delicious meals from Michelin-star chefs for food court prices.

Since it is a great place for food, sometimes it is hard to find a seat. Here, you will find three levels, with plenty of fresh products as well. The ground floor is for the fish market, the first floor has meat products, and fruits and vegetables are on the second floor.

Cristo Rei

Christo Rei in Lisbon

Christo Rei in Lisbon

After the delicious lunch, the next stop is Cristo Rei! Resembling the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Cristo Rei is the statue of Christ with raised arms that bless the city. The monument was constructed in the 1950s to reverence for Portugal avoiding the Second World War.

The view from Christo Rei in Lisbon

The view from Christo Rei in Lisbon

Here, you can visit Cristo Rei’s 80-meter high viewing platform to check out the splendid panoramic views over Lisbon and enjoy many religious gardens and pilgrimage buildings as well. Keep in mind that the entry to the viewing deck closes at 6 PM. But don’t worry, there are plenty of viewpoints all around the statue.

LX Factory – Enjoy Lisbon’s Arty Side with Drinks and Dinner

And last but not least, you have to check out the LX Factory, which is an abandoned industrial site that was turned into a creative and gastronomic area! With its trendy shops and delicious food places, here is a must-visit place.

Located under the 25 de Abril Bridge, the LX Factory can be reached by trams or buses heading west from Cais do Sodre. After checking out the hipster shops, you can choose your dinner from many Japanese, Italian, and Portuguese restaurants. And also, don’t forget to check out its incredible rooftop bar for a drink and another epic view.

How to Get Around Lisbon

Inside Lisbon's Metro - 2 days in Lisbon

Inside Lisbon’s Metro – 2 days in Lisbon

When you arrive at Lisbon airport, you can simply take the metro to reach anywhere. Being very accessible, the metro is the main transportation system in Lisbon. You can also find many useful information and maps in English as well.

Make sure to buy a Lisboa City card, which will allow you to have unlimited use of the metro, bus, tram, and elevators in the city center.

Once you reach the city center, you can use trams as well. The taxis and buses, on the other hand, are pretty affordable and fast, but public transportation in Lisbon sometimes has strikes. That’s why it is better to plan your transfer to the airport if you are in a hurry.

On a ferry in Lisbon - itinerary

On a ferry in Lisbon – itinerary

We also traveled on a ferry when we visited Christo Rei and it was a memorable experience. Keep your mind open to using different modes of public transportation while you’re in Lisbon.

A Shiny Yellow VW Camper Van in Lisbon

A Shiny Yellow VW Camper Van in Lisbon

We often travel within Europe on our camper van but we avoid taking our ban inside big cities like Lisbon because of the parking situation. If you’re road-tripping in Europe then you may want to find a camping place or a parking place outside Lisbon so that you can explore the city using its easy public transportation.

Where to Stay in Lisbon?

Lisbon Gambori

Even though this place is a hostel, we booked a private room in Lisbon Gambori and loved it. It was close to everything – St George’s Castle, Alfama, and Praça do Comércio. We could just walk everywhere from here.

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