Top 5 in the Algarve (via rental car & tent in the boot)
1. Off road cutting from Alte to Monchique
How many maps does it take to go off road in the Algarve? We had three with us of different scales. First getting lost in Sao Bras de Alportel, not finding the exit from town of direction we wanted, then driving along a very nice hilly road, which suddenly stopped in the middle of nowhere by Barranco de Velho, we then intended to cut across Funcho lake to reach Monchique via Picota. Drawn by the expectation of wonderful rolling hills, scenic roads along the lake, who will stop to check that the white line accross the lake may mean ‘through’ the lake with a 4 by 4?! Not dishearted by the big groves that cut into the graveled road from the big down pours the weeks before, I let the car, in snake like lines, avoiding rocks and deep looking puddles until we reached the beautiful view below… thanks local farmer man with his motorbike and my little Portuguese and knowing the word for bridge ‘ponte’ to save us the time reaching the end of an unpassable road. (although would have been a perfect spot for wild camping!)
2. Camp on cliffs at Odeceixe
Pass through Odeceixe, get to the beach and turn left. If you are not by caravan, carry on the road ahead that soon turns into a sandy and rocky path. Here, you can hear the breaking waves, the sunset setting a dramatic scene with red and blue lines across the sky and let alone to mention the stars. Cliffs and rocks and little beaches are waiting for you to be discovered and there are great camping spaces on the dunes, sheltered by reefs and bushes.
3. Get lost in the alleys of Olhao
The nature park east of Faro is georgeos – Parque natural da ria Farmosa. Olhao with its white washed houses is a great starting point to visit the sand dune islands. The alleyways quite narrow, don’t be afraid of getting guidance from a local man – it will all be fine. The rooftop coffee in the morning at Pension Bicuar will make more than up for it. And if you happen to be there off season drive to the nature reserve just east of Olhao for some bird watching and seismic water mills.
4. Stroll over Dunes at Carrapateira beach
Carrapateira like the beach next to Monte Clerigo or Praia Odeceixe has a river. Here however it forms a calm like lake that one will need to cross before passing numerous dunes.
5. Several 1 -2 hour walks from the Algarve trail book
- Nature discovery trail of the marim environmental centre (East of Olhao, picture below, p31)
- Paderne Castle Trail (Near Paderne p39)
- Castelejo environmental trail (Between Vila do Bispo and Praia do Castelejo, p17)
*Book: Guide to trails in the Algarve by Algarve Tourism Board.