3 Day Itinerary to the Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve is a fabulous spot for relaxation, sunshine, good seafood and beach time! We spent the majority of our time on the sand or in the water, with stops here and there for local food. We didn’t have time to venture too far from the Algarve coast, but there are also great places to stay further inland within the region. There are so many beaches to choose from but rather than try to see them all, pick a few and spend quality time at them. My favorites from the Algarve region are included in the guide below.
A few things to know:
- We arrived to the Algarve region by train to Faro from Lisbon (see here for a 3 day guide to Lisbon) and picked up a rental car in Faro. We took an Uber from the train station to the car rental place. You need a rental car to get around to all the spots of the Algarve. You could pick up the rental car in Lisbon but tolls are very expensive so we found it cheaper (and more relaxing) to take the train to Faro before getting the rental car.
- All parking lots we parked at were free (thank you, Portugal!). Tolls were incurred driving between the big cities but can be avoided driving between the smaller cities. Google Maps tells you which roads are tolls and alternative options.
- Praia means beach in Portuguese
- My favorite beach was the Praia da Falesia – the color of the rocks was stunning
- Population: ~450,000
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Portuguese, English
Time needed: 3 days
1st Day: Faro to Lagos
We arrived to the Algarve region in the afternoon via Train from Lisbon (about 3 to 3.5 hours journey) and took an uber to a car rental place at the Faro airport. After getting your rental car, drive from Faro to Lagos (about 1 hour).
Settle in to your hotel. We stayed at a budget hotel: Vila Branca by Águahotels. It’s definitely a budget option but the people who ran it were very nice. Most importantly, our room was clean (and spacious). If you’re looking to splurge, there were many great boutique hotels and Airbnbs.
Head out for beach time at Praia Dona Ana – it’s a gorgeous spot!
After cleaning up from the beach, walk into town for dinner. Some great options include: Seafood at O Camilo, burritos at Beats & Burritos or The Garden which has a great setting. I can’t vouch for it but Three Monkeys looked like a fun spot for a drink.
Day Two: Lagos to Albufeira
After breakfast at your hotel (we grabbed pastries and fruit from the grocery store across the street from our hotel), drive to Praia de Benagil (about 40 min away) to see the famous sea caves!
We parked at a lot at the top of the hill above the beach and then walked down to the beach for our boat tour. We booked in advance and paid cash the day of the trip. The boat trip took us to many of the gorgeous caves that line the coast, including the famous Benagil Cave. Highly recommend this experience! It looks like now there are also kayak tours so check here for some of the highest ranked boat tours. You could also swim to the Benagil Cave from the beach but there is a lot of oil in the water from the boats and it’s safer to take a boat (plus you see more of the coastline).
After the tour, you can grab lunch at a restaurant nearby. We found them to be overpriced so ate snacks we had purchased from the grocery store that morning. Plus we wanted to get going because we knew the next destination was going to be a highlight: Praia de Marinha (about 10 min drive away). It’s ranked one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world and we could see why! Some days the water can be very choppy so be careful swimming. We didn’t see a lifeguard on duty.
After your beach time, drive to Albufeira (about 30 min; you can take the local roads to avoid the toll road) and check in to your hotel. We stayed at Velamar Budget Boutique Hotel – Albufiera and I’d recommend it! It’s in a great location and had a very nice (included) breakfast spread. The grocery store near our hotel (Intermarche) had a machine to make fresh Orange Juice, which was refreshing after a day at the beach! We stocked up on more snacks to replenish our supply. You could also consider staying in Vilamoura. It’s about the same distance to Praia da Falesia (highlight of day 3) but further East. We didn’t want the extra driving this day so opted to stay in Albufeira.
If you’re not too beached out, check out Praia da Falesia (about a 25 min drive away) for a beautiful sunset!
For dinner, consider going to Ambrosia Nectar – good seafood and the most amazing house dessert
Day Three: Albufeira to Faro
Start your day with breakfast at your hotel. Ours had the breakfast spread on the rooftop which was a nice way to start the day.
From here, go to Praia da Falesia for some more beach time. I think this is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen!
At this point, you can head back into town for a late lunch. We had to get to the airport for our flight out so opted to just enjoy snacks since we were still full from our big breakfast and head back to the hotel to shower. If you have more time, consider exploring more beaches – the Algarve is truly a special place and I’d love to return!