The top Southern Portugal adventure holidays can be found in the stunning Algarve. With varied landscape, beautiful coastline and enviable climate, the region attracts mountain bikers, surfers, golfers, walkers and sailors all year round. But what are the best Algarve activities?
Occupying the extreme south-western point of the European mainland, the Algarve is the rugged base of Portugal. It covers an area of 4,997 square kilometres and has around 200 kilometres of coast to explore. So you’ll find almost unlimited opportunities when it comes to adventures and activities.
Plus the Algarve is very easy to reach. Drive to almost any airport in Europe with your adventure gear, get cheap parking with Parkos.co.uk and find a direct low cost flight through Skyscanner. Either book a hotel, homestay or hostel and enjoy the best Algarve activities without spending a fortune.
As with most holiday destinations, the Algarve has its share of resorts and developments. But there is plenty of unspoilt coastline and countryside waiting to be discovered. Below are what we feel are the top adventure activities in the Algarve:
To avoid the crowds, head to the Western Algarve. Home to Costa Vincentina Natural Park. The hills, cliffs and secluded beaches of this region are perfect for walkers and cyclists.
The long distance Rota Vicentina walking path, is perfect for those wishing to explore the coastline. Trekkers and cyclists can navigate the 240km trail at their own pace. The route can be broken up into 13 sections, any one of which makes a great day walk.
Further inland, the Monchique mountain range is a haven for day hikers. With miles of footpaths connecting traditional villages in a stunning setting, this region is truly a hidden gem of the Algarve.
For those wanting a little more adrenaline on their day out, mountain bike paths criss-cross the Monchique hills. This includes many purpose built downhill tracks. And with the highest peak in the mountains reaching 902m, there is a lot of downhill on offer.
As you would expect from a region with over 200km of coastline, water sports provide some of the top southern Portugal adventure holidays. In most towns and resorts along the coast, you’ll be able to rent equipment for windsurfing and kiteboarding. So it’s always easy to get out for a day on the water during your stay in the Algarve.
But located between Lagos and Alvor, you’ll find the Alvor Lagoon. With great flat conditions in warm shallow water it is considered to be one of the best places to learn to kitesurf in Europe. And if you are in the Lagos area there is plenty of wave kitesurfing available too with Carrapateira well recommended.
Head to Lagos to experience some of the best surfing conditions the Algarve has to offer. Not only is it a fun town with exceptional local surf for all levels but it is a great spot from which to explore the west coast of Algarve.
Less densely populated you’ll find small towns and fishing villages set around pristine coves and beaches. The predominant north-westerly swell ensures great waves all year round. Check out this Lagos surfing review for more information.
Under the water scuba divers can explore an enviable collection of wrecks. Alternatively marvel at the rich marine life that is typical of the Atlantic.
Look out for tuna, barracuda, eels, rays and occasionally even dolphins. Fish cluster around the area’s underwater cliffs and reefs while coral and sea sponges create colour. Read this guide to Faro scuba diving from more information.
Of course, no list of the best Algarve activities would be complete without mentioning golf. There are approximately 36 golf clubs in the Algarve so you’ll never have far to go for a round. To make the most of it practice first with Golf Swing Systems, an impressive simulator you can use at home to improve your golf swing and technique.
The centre of the Algarve, between Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo has the greatest concentration of golf courses including some of the best in Europe. They combine links and fairways with cliffs, lakes and bunkers, providing some highly challenging courses.
For centuries this region has been a prime destination for sailors, and today is no different. Whether you’ve got your own vessel or are joining an organised trip, the calm waters and clear skies make sailing one of the best Algarve activities for getting out on the deep blue water.
Why not sail the entire coast of the Algarve?
Perhaps pick a yacht up in Vila Real de Santo António on the border with Spain. Then sail the southern coast passing Faro, Vilamoura, Albufeira, Alvor and Lagos before stopping in Sagres. There are no towns in Algarve on the Atlantic coast but you could continue up the Portuguese coastline for more adventures.
Above the water there are regular boat trips from Albufeira that sail alongside pods of common and bottlenose dolphins. You can also spot many seabirds and learn more about the coast and what lives in these productive waters.
One of the best dropzones in Europe is found at the Aerodromo Municipal de Portimão near Alvor. It is an excellent place to skydive with more than 300 sunny days a year. So bad weather rarely cancels skydiving in the Algarve.
So whether you want to seek out the best surf, cycle down a mountain, walk the dramatic coastline or just sit back and sip sangrias on your boat. The Algarve is one stop shop for all of your adventure sports needs.