Walking in Southern Portugal

For many years, the Algarve was one of the most overlooked regions of Europe in terms of serious hiking. Visitors came here to enjoy the whitewashed resorts, sandy beaches, clear waters and golf courses.

Fortunately, the perception of the area is now changing and more and more walkers are opening their eyes to the Algarve – Portugal’s southernmost region – as the perfect year-round walking destination.

Whether it’s an undulating walk along high cliffs, a meandering stroll along the salt pans of the Ria Formosa or something more challenging like the 300-kilometre Via Algarviana, the region is a paradise for keen walkers and nature lovers.

You don’t need to stray far inland from the bustling resorts to discover a very different Algarve: a landscape of rolling hills, dry orchards, cork forests and agricultural terraces. Walk along historic stone paths and pass through unspoilt villages which offer a fascinating glimpse in the region’s cultural heritage and rich culinary traditions.

The Algarve landscape can be divided into three distinct types: serra, barrocal and coast.

The serra describes the area of hills and mountains stretching across the Algarve’s northern border with the Alentejo. There are three distinct ranges: the Serra do Caldeirão, the Serra de Monchique and the Serra de Espinhaço de Cão. The Serra de Monchique is dominated by the Algarve’s two highest peaks, Fóia (902m) and Picota (774m).

The barrocal is the name given to the Algarve’s fertile agricultural region between the narrow coastal strip and the hilly uplands of the serra. Here historic paths meander between groves of olives and citrus and past orchards of figs and almonds. Ancient walls border fertile vegetable plots, still irrigated from wells first sunk by the Moors.

The Algarve’s narrow coastal strip (the littoral) is where most of the region’s tourist activities are concentrated. Nevertheless, between the resorts you can find many rich and diverse landscapes, including dunes, pine forests and saltwater lagoons. In the far west, the coastline becomes more rugged, with spectacular limestone cliffs, a notable feature to the west of Lagos. The Algarve’s western coast, north of Cabo de São Vicente, is known as the Costa Vicentina and consists of rugged, windswept cliffs punctuated by numerous small sandy bays. This is a region largely unspoilt by tourism and is explored more fully by another long-distance trail in the Algarve, the Rota Vicentina.

South Portugal

Walks in South Portugal


You can use these pages to browse for walks in specific regions, counties and areas. It is a good idea to narrow down your search to the most local area possible, as the list of walks for larger areas can be very long. An alternative way of searching is to use the Find a Walk tool.

We would like to include a short article for each of the areas on these pages. If an area has no article and you can send us a few hundred words about the area, pointing out its key attractions and other useful information, we would greatly appreciate it.