In this article we share our motorhome route through the southwest of the Algarve, we recently traveled this route ourselves. The southwest of the Algarve attracts many more tourists than the eastern Algarve† The further west you drive, the more (surfing) tourists you will encounter. That is not surprising because here too the following applies: beautiful coasts, many bays and breathtaking cliffs. In other words, it is definitely worth exploring this area with a camper.
Also read: Motorhome route through eastern Alentejo | Undiscovered pearls in Portugal
NB! From January 2021, wild camping will no longer be tolerated in Portugal. But don't worry, there are more than enough motorhome pitches and campsites where you can stay, also along this route. For example, check the apps for this Park4Night of MotorhomeContact.
Table of contents
Motorhome route through the southwest of the Algarve
The start (or end point) of this motorhome route through the Algarve of Portugal is Faro. Faro is a city that we mainly knew from cheap airline tickets. The city is compact and easy to visit in a day. Like any Portuguese city, Faro has a beautiful church and a picturesque old town, where you can meander through the small streets. In addition, it is certainly worth visiting Praia de Faro. This piece of land is just past the airport. Due to the extensive beaches and surf vibe, it is bursting with camper vans. We have therefore – despite the forbidden sign – spent the night here.
Also read: Skyscanner | How to save (a lot of) money on flights
If you stay longer in Faro, it is definitely worth the Ludo Trail to walk, right through the nature reserve Ria Formosa. It took us about two hours to get here and, in addition to flamingos, we also spotted small turtles and spoonbills.
Also read: Must Sees in Portugal | Beautiful beaches, cities and culture
Alfa-Mar has perhaps the most impressive coastline we have ever seen. The most famous is 'Praia da Falésia': beautiful wide yellow beaches with 20 meter high cliffs of red/orange rock formations behind them. There are several well-maintained stairs that lead you to the beach, making it easy to walk around. You can even walk 6 kilometers along the coast, which will take you to Vilamoura. There is a forest area on top of the cliffs, so you can also enjoy a nice run. In addition, from this region to the westernmost area of the coastline, many surf schools are located, because the waves are ideal for wave surfing.
We ourselves stayed overnight at Parque Caravanas Acoteias motorhome; not the most sparkling place, but one with wifi and (laundry) facilities. And in addition, you are at the top of the cliffs via the back exit within 400 meters.
A little further inland is the village of Paderne, which is best known for the ruins on top of the mountain. Unfortunately, access to the ruin was closed due to corona but the walk getting there and around is more than worth it. Next to the ruins, the walk takes you over an old bridge and past an old water mill.
As a city for the Dutch, Albufeira is mainly known as a destination for graduation trips. But even if you travel with a camper, we recommend visiting the city for half a day. Many a beautiful and cute street is hidden behind the entertainment area and the view over the ocean from the cliffs is beautiful. The same day we drove to the nearby Praia Sao Rafael to spend the night there.
Praia de Sao Rafael
At the bottom of the road to Praia de São Rafael is a beautiful free car park. When you get out of the camper, you are on top of the cliffs within 30 seconds and within 1 minute you are on the beach. It is hard to imagine a nicer parking space.
From Praia Sao Rafael we set out for a day by bike to Guia. There are several wineries in this area. In addition, you can walk from Praia Sao Rafael to many other beach entrances to have new views of the cliffs again. And of course the sunrises and sunsets are beautiful here!
Armacao de Pera
An ideal coastal village to catch your breath from the beautiful cliffs. Stretched out along the coast and with a beautiful boulevard, it is a logical place for many retirees to spend the winter. We arrived there in the afternoon and parked the camper on the beach in a parking lot at the end of the village, where you could spend the night for EUR 4, including filling up with water.
From Armacao de Pera you can easily reach the starting point of the beautiful walking route Seven Hanging Valley Trail come (recommended!). You can walk 5.5 kilometers over (on top of) the cliffs here. The path is largely well marked. Because the route is 'there and back', it will easily take you 4 hours to complete the route. Along the way you can visit a hidden beach and get a drink in Benagil.
The town of Silves is located in the countryside and has a beautiful castle on top of the mountain. The streets around it are definitely worth a visit. A red walk has been rolled out through various streets in the center, making it easy to discover the most vibrant part of the city.
The fishing town of Lagos is the largest town in the western part of the Algarve. The city is bursting with terraces, so it's a great place to have a drink if you're tired of strolling through the small streets. At the southernmost tip of Lagos is 'Ponta da Piedade': a rock formation on the coast. Here we let the drone fly for some beautiful pictures.
A quiet bay with a beautiful beach, that is Salema in a nutshell. We spent quite some time at 'Salema Eco Camp – Surf & Nature' with the camper; a nice place to settle down, especially because it has a very relaxed atmosphere and offers the necessary amenities.
From here we made a bike ride to Luz. An excellent day activity and the differences in height make the 11-kilometer trip ultimately challenging and full-day. Salema is a great base to explore the area between Lagos and Sagres. Since the police enforce stricter rules against wild camping, the eco camping is a good basis to keep the feeling of freedom and you don't have to worry about enforcement.
The most south-western mainland point of Europe is the surfing spot of the west of the Algarve. It's bursting with camper vans and surf dudes #vanlife. The village itself is relatively small, but of course has the necessary (surf) bars. If you're not a surfer, it's especially worth visiting the lighthouse and fort if you want to soak up some culture.
That we for wereldreizigers.nl We consider it a huge honor to be allowed to blog in the near future! We will therefore regularly write about our adventures on wereldreizigers.nl and our own website. Do you want to read more from us? Then take a look at www.vandemics.nl or follow us on Instagram (@vandemics).
Hi, everything looks great. Thanks for all this beauty. We also want to move in that direction in 2023.
What time of year have you been there?