With so many trails throughout the region it can be difficult to choose which might suit you best – we have chosen two which offer different opportunities to enjoy the Algarve coast; one along cliffs and the other along a boardwalk.
Ferragudo to Carvoeiro along the cliffs
This trail is approximately 6kms long, one way, and can be started at either end.
We are starting at Praia do Molhe located on the outskirts of Ferragudo.
Taking about 3 hours, the trail passes along the limestone cliffs at a height ranging up to 365m.
The first point of reference after leaving the car park, above Praia do Molhe, is Ponta do Altar where a working lighthouse has been on site since 1893. Click here for more information on Algarve lighthouses bearing in mind that they are not currently open due to Covid restrictions.
Further along the coast, just off Praia do Torrado and Praia dos Caneiros, is Leixão das Gaivotas. An important breeding ground for heron, this rock is also a refuge for egrets and other sea birds.
Whilst walking along this coastal path you will see a variety of birds including rock doves, gulls, kestrels and even peregrine falcons. The weathered limestone offers a refuge to these birds as it is inaccessible to their predators.
Continuing past Praia da Afurada and Praia do Mato (beaches only accessible from the sea), Torre da Lapa is the next point of reference.
This watch tower has existed since the end of the 17th century and was renovated recently. It is understood from local documents that a fire would be lit (using flames at night and smoke during daylight hours) to warn the local population of threats from sea.
Moving on the path dips down and it was here, at Presa da Moura during the Roman occupation, a dam existed which created a reservoir for salting fish.
Passing many coves and inlets the final destination is the carpark above Praia do Paraíso, in Carvoeiro.
The flowering flora along the clifftops can be beautiful during the spring months. The scrubland is dominated by kermes oak and juniper bushes but wild thyme, dwarf palms and the evergreen mastic trees can also be seen.
Twisting amongst the sand dunes that separate a lagoon from the sea, this board walk has little elevation and opportunities to sit, rest and enjoy the view.
Ria de Alvor, the lagoon, is in fact an estuary of three rivers and is of prime importance to locals growing bivalves and of course migrating birds.
At the start of the boardwalk there are fishermen huts, attesting to local catches of fish and octupus and where during the day fishermen can be seen mending their nets and checking pots etc for the next foray out to sea.
The lagoon is tidal and allows visitors to watch the many water birds feasting on the rich crustaceans and molluscs. Heron, sandpipers and plovers are common visitors and one resident, the little tern, nests in the sand dunes themselves.
The walk is almost 5kms in total however, there are places where you can divert and shorten your distance.
Crossing over an inlet, running alongside the lagoon, dividing sand dunes and opening onto the beach this boardwalk is great for both a brisk walk and a saunter.
For those interested in trails, another coastal walk of interest might be the Trilho dos Pescadores, the Fishermen’s Trail. Alternatively there are two longer routes known as the Al-Mutamid Route and the Umayyad Route, click here for more information on these two.