Visiting the Algarve? Why not explore beyond the beaches
Updated: May 21, 2022
Whilst we know that relaxing by a pool or laying on one of our beautiful beaches is no doubt for many their "perfect" Algarve experience why not consider exploring further inland the next time you visit?
There plenty of activities to experience that show case the beauty of the region, heritage, traditional practices. From simple walks or cycling, visiting a vineyard, an olive farm, a working salt mine or experiencing how cork is harvested through to the end product and more. We have listed a few that we feel will allow you to get to know the true Algarve and truly hope when you do visit us in the Algarve you will get to know a little bit more of the "Real Algarve".
Walking in the Algarve:
From our beautiful coastline to the hills, the Algarve offers unforgettable countryside to explore and for those wishing to do so on foot, there are endless opportunities.
Indeed the famous Via Algarviana, a walking route stretching for 300 km across inland Algarve, starting in Alcoutim, next to the River Guadiana, and finishing at Cape St Vincent, in Sagres. The route is divided into 14 sectors, none of which is longer than 30 km. Recharge your batteries between each stage of the route by staying at rural tourism properties. Try the regional cuisine, admire the local handicrafts and meet the artisans and locals.
If you decide to explore the region’s south-west coast, the Vicentine route lets you travel along more than 400 km of pedestrian trails between Cape St Vincent and Santiago do Cacém. Travel the Historical Route and visit the main towns and villages on a rural itinerary boasting several centuries of history and with a connection to the Way of St James and the St Vincent pilgrimages. Follow the Fishermen’s Trail, a complementary route along the coast. Explore the paths used by the locals to get to the beaches and fishing grounds. Another route worth exploring is the Cork Route in São Brás de Alportel. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn about the entire production cycle of this fantastic raw material. Start with the cork oaks and finish with the end product as it leaves the factories. Go walking and visit museums. Discover arts, crafts and the local cuisine. This route focuses on six themes: heritage, nature, rural life, traditions, innovation and knowledge.
Horse riding can be a wonderful way to explore the countryside when you visit a different part of the world and in the Algarve this for sure is true. The region offers such diverse countryside and we have chosen a selection of Riding Centres that give you a chance to experience very much difference aspects of our beautiful region: Adventure Riding , Aljezur: Situated in the Nature Park Costa Vicentina. Rides cross the Rota Vicentina, a national hiking path. Enjoy the most stunning surroundings, some of the cleanest beaches, beautiful mountains and breath taking views. Explore and fall in love with the West coast. For full details check out their website: Home | Adventure Riding (adventure-riding.com)
Country Riding Centre, Silves: Located at the foothills of the Serra de Silves, Country Riding Centre provides for all tastes, be it a gentle hack through the scenic hillsides with magnificent views across Silves to the Monchique Mountains, Portimão and beyond, or a gallop along the almost forgotten tracks through orange and lemon groves and eucalyptus forests, or even a swim on horseback in the lake. For full details check out their website: Country Riding Centre - Silves Tavira Equestrian Tourism, Tavira: A truly different way to enjoy and explore the amazing nature and beaches of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. For full details check out their website: Tavira Equestrian Tourism
Cycling in the Algarve:
With a personal love of cycling we feel there is no better way to explore the Algarve than on a bike and with stunning countryside and views to enjoy there is much which you simply could not reach or see in a vehicle. Whether you simply want to stay on accessible roads and lanes or are more adventurous with cycling and wish to go fully off road and onto the stone tracks and downhill paths you will never get bored. It would take a lifetime to explore them all. Cycling is incredibly popular in the Algarve so don’t be surprised if you see more than one fellow enthusiast while you are out on your bike.
There are many places to hire or even buy a bike in the Algarve but our personal favourite is Avalanche Bike Shop in Sao Bras de Alportel. When it comes to bike rental, why settle for less than the best? Offering their clients some of the best brands of bikes available - Mondraker, Bianchi, Focus, BH and Superior you won’t be let down by the quality of both standard and e-bikes in their extension range of rental bikes available. Known for their passion for quality and service - their experience is world class. None other than their own Jose Luis Duarte Salgueiro being the technician for all the bikes has recently come Second in the Men’s 55-59 Age Category at the 2021 Master's World Championships Downhill at Pra Loup. Rui Manuel Barros Da Cruz, owner of Avalanche Bike Shop came 16th in the Men’s 45-49 Age Category at the same event. Renting a bike in Algarve is an environmentally friendly way to get to know more about this extraordinary place. When it comes to choosing a bike, speak to them in person and they will advise you on the one that suits you best. Bikes can be delivered for free to the hotel or villa you are staying at within two hours of booking. They offer a full maintenance call out service whilst the bike is with you and will collect the bike again on the day of your choice. No problem with booking multiple bikes for the whole family or a group of friends. From just one day or for as long as you want, make an Avalanche Bike your choice of rental. To find out about the full range of bikes available visit their web site: Avalanche Bike Shop Algarve - Bike Rental (avalanchealgarve.com)
The Algarve with its exceptional climate is a great terroir for growing vines. The vines grow in a variety of soils including clay, limestone, sandstone and even some areas of schist and produce high-quality grapes. In the 1980's, the Algarve gained the status of demarcated Region for : Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. For any wine lover a visit to a vineyard is a wonderful way to find out the process from grape to bottle and of course to then sample, enjoy and then hopefully take a few cases away with you. We have chosen three vineyards that we highly recommend to you in different areas of the Algarve and with one you get to enjoy an Art Gallery too! Firstly, Quinta do Francês is a Family Estate, with 9 hectares of vineyard, nested in the hills of Silves, on the Odelouca River Valley. Upon your arrival at Quinta do Francês you can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding hills and all of the vineyard. It is said by some visitors that it looks like a small Douro Valley. To book a tour and to find out more about their wines visit their website: Algarve Wine | Quinta Do French Winery | Silves (quintadofrances.com) Next is, Quinta da Tôr, just in the hills above Loule is the little village of Tôr. Near the Roman bridge, you will find Quinta da Tôr. Get to know the history of the Quinta da Tôr family, learn more about their production processes and taste their wines while enjoying the magnificent view of the mountains. In a calm, familiar and sharing environment their aim is to bring home a little of their tradition. At the on site store you can choose the wines that you preferred so that you can appreciate it where and when you wish. If you prefer you can come to their lounge and enjoy a glass of wine while enjoying the astonishing vineyard view. You can bring your swimsuit and enjoy the on site pool!
To find out more visit their web site: Guided Tour & Wine Tasting | Quinta da Tôr (quintadator.com) Finally, for a truly unique experience then you should also visit Quinta dos Vales. Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate is a superb estate situated in the heart of the Western Algarve. From very humble beginnings this 44 hectare estate is now considered one of the best wineries in the Algarve with recognition from international organizations and visitors coming from far and wide. This estate is a place full of surprises. There is plenty in store for those who wish to delve into the world of winemaking or simply enjoy a nice day out exploring the history and natural beauty of the grounds. Art and wine have always had a close relationship and when you visit Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, you will also enjoy stunning sculptures in the grounds. In several garden locations there are exhibitions of well over a hundred pieces in different styles, materials and sizes. Art was a founding element of Quinta dos Vales, and continues to be at its core today. The artist behind the majority of these sculptures is actually the owner of Quinta dos Vales, Karl Heinz Stock. To find out more visit their web site: Quinta dos Vales - Wine Estate | Wines | Accomodation | Algarve | Portugal
Visit an olive oil farm:
Olive Oil - visit an olive oil farm
For any lovers of olive oil we highly recommend taking time out at least once to go and visit an olive farm. One such farm that we recommend is Monterosa Olive Oil Farm, Moncarapacho with 20 hectares of olive groves. To find out more and to book your tour visit the Monterosa Olive Oil Farm web site: Monterosa Page (monterosa-oliveoil.com)
Cork Tour Experience:
From the cork oak to the traditional factory, what better way than to discover the story and witness the processes of one of the most characteristic industries in the Algarve. You will never look at cork the same way! One of the most comprehensive tours and experiences that we have found and can recommend is with Algarve Rotas. Based in Sao Bras de Alportel. In 2013, Sofia Carrusca, created the Algarve Rotas company, which operates in the field of tourist activities for the interpretation and valuation of the local cork industrial heritage, the promotion of cultural tours, nature tours and develop workshops in the field of traditional arts and crafts improving new experiences to the customers. To find out more and to book your tour visit the Algarve Rotas web site: www.algarverotas.com
Dive into the only Portuguese Mine, which is below sea level and possible to visit!
The Salt Mine - Gema de Loulé opens its doors to the general public, where all those interested can during a 2 hour tour, discover the extraordinary world of the Sal-Gema underground mine with more than 45 km of galleries and dive into the only Portuguese mine that is below sea level that is open to the public
It's worth a visit so check out their website: MINA SAL-GEMA LOULÉ ROCKSALT MINE - Home (mina-sal-gema-loule.com)