I am a lazy writer and I guess I will always be one. There are so many things to write about my Europe trip and I have no clue which places to start with. This is the problem that happens when you have been to too many gorgeous places and you don’t know which one to start with.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Portugal – A gorgeous underrated country
- 2 Starting the write-up with a 3 day Algarve Itinerary:
- 3 Where is Algarve Portugal?
- 4 Places to stay for 3 days during your Algarve solo travel in Portugal:
- 5 How to Get to Algarve Portugal:
- 6 Hotels in Algarve Portugal
- 7 Hiring a car for your Algarve Itinerary for 3 days:
- 8 Things to do in Algarve Portugal Itinerary
- 9 Some FAQ’s answered for your solo trip to Algarve
- 10 Conclusion:
Portugal – A gorgeous underrated country
Many people ask me which was my favourite country this time around and I answer Portugal without any hesitation. I never realised how underrated a country Portugal was till I went there. Most Indians flock to the more popular neighbouring country, Spain due to a famous Bollywood movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ that released a few years ago. Did you know that Portugal is one of the top ecotourism destinations for 2017 selected by travel bloggers?
Portugal was my favourite country and it was my first solo travel to Portugal. Need more tips to plan your trip to Portugal. Check out this Portugal travel guide for some great tips.
Starting the write-up with a 3 day Algarve Itinerary:
Even though I flew to Lisbon, I thought I will start with an Algarve 3 day itinerarysince the number of Indians travelling to this beautiful part of the world is so less. It was very difficult for me to figure out where to stay and how to reach Algarve. I thought by jotting down my mistakes, you guys can avoid the same mistakes.
3 days in the Algarve is definitely not enough in my opinion. Many people ask me how many days in Algarve we should spend. It is difficult to tell. I only spent 3 days but in my humble opinion, you should spend at least 4 days in Algarve.
Find out my recommendations for Algarve tours
Before we go any further, find out my recommendations for the best Algarve tour.
Take a speed boat along the coast of Algarve
Where is Algarve Portugal?
So where is Algarve? The entire south coast region of continental Portugal is known as Algarve. It is a gorgeous coastal region full of magnificent cliffs, stunning beaches, hidden caves all coupled with crystal clear turquoise waters. Do you need any more reason to visit Algarve? You find some of the best beaches in Europe in this region.
So why did I choose Algarve? I was mesmerised by the photos and just decided to spend few days here. Now that was the easy part. But then I realised that it was going to be much tougher than that. Since it is the entire coastal region, I realised that there are many villages and resorts (150 beaches according to lonely planet) to choose from. Since I was travelling solo, I did not want anything too remote. But I also wanted some privacy and did not want to stay in a hostel here.
Places to stay for 3 days during your Algarve solo travel in Portugal:
So what are the options we have?
• Faro: Faro is home to the international airport as well as to a railway station and many tourists fly here. However, most people do not prefer to stay here since it is far away from all the popular beaches. The entire district is also known as Faro and you should not be confused between the two. Check out reviews and places to stay in Faro, Algarve.
• Lagos: Lagos is the party destination of Algarve and it is quite popular with the younger crowd. So it can get a little too overcrowded. Lagos is, however, more accessible compared to the other villages/towns. Lagos also has plenty of historic buildings since it was once a centre of the slave trade and the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
• Portimao: Portimao is another popular destination and is well known for its gorgeous beaches. I almost ended up booking a room at one of the hotels at the Praia Da Rocha beach. I only hesitated because I thought it would be too touristy.
• Tavira: All the above regions lie to the west of Faro whereas Tavira lies to the east of Faro. This is another historical centre and the beach here, Tavira Island can only be reached by ferryboat.
• Sagres: Sagres is one of the remotest towns in Algarve and is said to be the extreme south-west corner of continental Portugal. I had not read much about this place before I went to Algarve but most locals say it is a must visit and I agree. It is very popular with surfers.
• Albufeira: Also known for its beautiful beaches. However, I am not sure why but when I was doing my research, many people advised me to not stay in Albufeira since I was a solo female traveller.
• Lagoa: I ended up staying in the lovely village of Carvoeiro in Lagoa, Portugal in Central Algarve. One of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, Praia Da Marinha is located in this municipality. Additionally, the world famous Benagil caves are also located here and this is one of the reasons why I chose this area. Carvoeiro is also listed as one among the hidden European destinations you have to visit in 2022.
There are other options as well but these are some of the more popular areas in Algarve. Also if you like golfing, you can look at spending time at one of the many golf resorts in the region.
How to Get to Algarve Portugal:
I took a bus from Lisbon to Algarve. It takes approximately three hours and there are multiple buses to choose from. Most people prefer to fly into Faro international airport.
As usual, I got confused between Lagos and Lagoa. When the bus did stop at Lagoa, I thought I had to go to Lagos. When I was half way between Portimao and Lagoa (10kms between them), I realised that I had to get down at Lagoa, courtesy my GPS. I ended up getting down at Portimao. However, there were no cabs available and I ended up waiting there for a while. Finally, a cab driver came but he was already booked. He asked me to wait for 10 minutes and he came back after dropping his passengers. So I ended up paying 15 Euros for a cab ride that would have been cheaper if I had gotten down at Lagoa.
Hotels in Algarve Portugal
I stayed at Tivoli Carvoeiro. It is a 4-star hotel and has all the facilities that a normal resort should have. The hotel is really old and hence is in need of some major renovation. I still liked this place since it was quite clean and the hotel staff were really friendly. Also, view from the hotel is phenomenal and I would not trade that view for anything else in the world.
It is also dirt cheap for a hotel of its size and hence it was quite economical for me. Also, they made sure that they made delicious vegetarian dishes only for me. I initially thought that the beach was not accessible. But you can still get to the beach if you try hard enough. I even saw a wedding there, all because of that magnificent view.
Hiring a car for your Algarve Itinerary for 3 days:
Many people asked me if it is necessary to hire a car. It is definitely not required since bus services are quite frequent on weekdays. However, if you want to go beach hopping like I did, then it makes better sense to hire a car. The distance between all the above options is easily around 30 kms each way. It is not that expensive and you can get a good deal for 20-40 euros per day (including insurance). Most people hire a car from the airport whereas I hired one from a rental close to my hotel.
Driving in Portugal is definitely not that difficult. Only thing to keep in mind is that they ride on the other side of the road and that some of the drivers can be rash. However, it was quite easy for me to drive in Algarve and I had lots of fun driving in Portugal.
Things to do in Algarve Portugal Itinerary
Algarve is a beach destination and you can make your vacation a relaxing one if you want to. You can either laze around the whole day at any of the gorgeous beaches or you could go roaming in the historic towns to get a touch of history. I was here for 2.5 days and I spaced it out equally so that it would not be too hectic. There are tons of things to do in Algarve Portugal and I list some of the ones I did below.
The day I reached, I spent my time lazing around the pool (the hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool). Later in the day, when I realised that I could reach the beach if I wanted to, I hiked down and spent some time swimming in the ocean. It is difficult to get to the beach here since you have to drag yourself up on the way back. But fret not, there are two gorgeous beaches just walking distance from the hotel and that is where I spent most of my time in, over the course of the next two days.
I used to go every day for a morning swim at one of the beaches after a heavy breakfast. One of those days, I realised that I could do a speedboat ride along the Algarve coastline. This is a must do and I cannot recommend it enough. Seeing the coast from the water is such an amazing experience.
Even though we were supposed to start from near Vale de Centeanes at Carvoeiro, we had to go to Portimao that day to catch the speedboat. The reason given was that the ocean was rough that day and we could not take one of the smaller speedboats. The bigger speedboat could only dock at Portimao. So they took us to and fro to Portimao in a minivan. They charge you around 25 Euros from Portimao whereas it is around 17 Euros from Carvoeiro. So I guess they just wanted more money from us.
In spite of that, please do take one of the tours along the coastline and you won’t regret it.
Speedboat along some of the best beaches in Algarve during your Algarve itinerary – 4 days
So all of us (10 of us) are fitted with life jackets and then we begin a really fun way to see the coastline. Unless you see it with your own eyes, you would not believe how beautiful the whole journey is. The whole coast is lined with golden cliffs and gorgeous white sand beaches.
Another highlight is the innumerable number of hidden caves and coves. You are taken inside many of them based on whether your speedboat can get inside. This tour, however, does not allow us to go swimming in some of the coves. Even though many tours claim that they allow you to do this, I could not find a legitimate one and I doubt if this is legal. The tour guides are good and they keep giving you a good account of all the beaches along the coastline.
You take the boat ride from Portimao to a little after Praia Da Marinha and then you head back. Along the way, you see numerous people cliff jumping, fishing, hiking (there are some gorgeous treks for people who love to hike), sunbathing etc. Once in a while, the skipper and first mate decide that we are going too slow and decide to spice things a little bit. Have you ever had that feeling?
Going at crazy speeds, the waves crashing all around, as you sit there hanging on for dear life, all the while being completely awed by the beauty of nature. The caves are equally beautiful and when we went inside one of these gorgeous caves, we could hear or see nothing but our breaths and the waves crashing against the rocks.
Unfortunately, we could not enter Benagil caves that day due to the rough sea and we had to be content with seeing it from an angle. Soon we were back to Portimao and then taken by minivan to Carvoeiro. The whole journey including the waiting time takes around 4 hours.
Check out this experience of seeing Algarve caves by boat too.
Sightseeing in Lagos, Portugal
I drove down to Lagos in the afternoon. Lagos has a number of historical places to visit and I walked around the Centro Cultural Da Lagos for a while. Only when I got to the Canopy walk, I realised that I could have gone on Dolphin watching / Kayaking tours if I had reached a bit earlier. From there, I drove down to Praia Dona Ana beach and spent rest of my day there, spending most of my time, staring into the ocean. Most people end up spending 3 days in Lagos Portugal.
Praias Algarve – Praia Da Marinha Beach
I spent my morning at Praia Da Marinha beach the next day. It is a really gorgeous beach and is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. By then, I had made some friends at my hotel and I had a nice morning there, swimming with them in the sea.
I did not spend much time in the water since it was still a little cold for my liking. But you can sit there all day long, staring into the beautiful vastness. One good thing about going in May is that it is just starting to get touristy but you still get many secluded beaches to choose from. I only wish I could have gone scuba diving here but I did not plan in advance and hence missed my chance.
Everyone kept raving about Sagres and I knew I had to go there in the afternoon. It is around 65kms from Lagoa and around 30 kms from Lagos. The drive there is picturesque and as you drive there, you can see the climate changing. When I went, Sagres had a Moorish kind of stillness and the view from the Sagres point is spectacular.
It was fairly deserted and I was glad that I could walk around the entire place without much disturbance from others. I cursed myself for not carrying a jacket or a sweater since it was freezing there as opposed to the weather I was used to in Algarve. They charge you around 4 Euros to enter the Sagres point.
The drive back was equally calming and I went to bed content after a memorable 3 -day trip there. How I got out of Algarve is a story for another time but you already know that by the end of the next day, I was robbed and almost penniless in Madrid.
Some FAQ’s answered for your solo trip to Algarve
What is the best month to go to the Algarve?
Algarve is a beach destination and hence it is usually visited during the summer months. However, please note that the summer months of June- August will be crowded with tourists from Europe. I went in May and still ended up loving the place.
Is the Algarve worth seeing?
Algarve is definitely a must visit. Why, you may ask? The Algarve definitely has some of the best beach destinations in Europe and that is more than reason enough to visit Algarve.
How long do you need in Algarve?
With so many places to visit in Algarve, I would definitely suggest at least 4 days in Algarve. I would definitely love to go back and then stay for at least a week in Lagos, Algarve.
Is Algarve expensive?
It can be done on a budget if you are staying in one of the numerous hostels and taking public transportation. But most people come to stay in the fancy resorts on the coastline of Algarve and that can get expensive. Also, if you are planning to hop between the various beaches in Algarve, you would definitely need to hire a car rental or a cab which can get expensive. But inspite of this, Algarve can be relatively cheaper compared to the beaches of Spain.
How to get around Algarve?
I drove around Algarve and I believe that is the best way to get around Algarve. Algarve has a coastline of more than 150 kms and it can be relatively difficult getting around Algarve using public transportation. Yes, there are buses around the famous towns of Algarve, but you may spend a lot of time waiting for these buses.
Yes, Algarve can get quite crowded during the summer months but I still loved my time there. Being in the midst of so much beauty can sometimes be overwhelming.
If you are still not convinced, check out more reasons why Algarve should be your next travelling destination.
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Find my recommendations for guide books on Portugal.
Guidebooks for PORTUGAL
Traveling to Portugal and need more guidance on which books to read? These are our Portugal travel recommendations for you to read before you go.
Recommended: Portugal Travel Tips
Looking to book your trip now? Find some of my favorite resources I use while booking my trip. You can also find my travel gear here.
Book Your Flight
I am a Skyscanner fan when it comes to booking international flights. I use Makemytrip and Yatra for domestic flights.
Booking is my go to resource for booking hotel accommodation and I use Airbnb for booking my homestays. I also compare prices on Tripadvisor always.
As an Indian, I prefer ICICILombard and I am always insured when I am traveling outside India. In addition, I have used World Nomads and SafetyWing for some of my trips.
I do go on a lot of day tours especially when I am traveling solo. Depending on convenience, my choices are Viator or Getyourguide.
67 thoughts on “A 3 Day Algarve Itinerary in 2023 (Things to do, Road trip ideas, beaches to visit, tips)”
View from room is just amazing…
Yes the view was amazing. I just did not want to leave.
LoL I love your frankness. And obviously you're not THAT lazy of a writer because you wrote a lot of great advice in here. I didn't know there were such beautiful places in Portugal!
Great piece! I just booked my tickets to Portugal/Spain next summer so am bookmarking this for when we travel to the Algarve! Also about to head off to read about your experience in Madrid (eek!)
What a great guide and I wish I had seen this years back when I arrived in Lagos…only to find it was a bit much for me. Hopefully this helps others enjoy it. Love your photos and I definitely need to go back to Portugal!
I love the pics from the coast! And so detailed information, thanks!
Love your photos! I hope to add Portugal to my trip next time I'm in Spain or elsewhere in Europe 🙂
Such a beautiful area! Thanks for sharing your 'mistakes'. 🙂
Wow! Algarve looks incredibly stunning! It reminds me the landscape of the great ocean road!!!! Nice post!!!!???
Great Pics, especially the one from your your room: what a view! The getting confused between Laos & Lagos…adventures of travel!
I like your advice about hiring a car- the prices really are affordable and break down of things to do in the area. I think you packed a lot of lovely adventures into 3 days- would you like to spend longer?
Oh man, gorgeous photos! Now I have a serious need to go to Portugal. Thanks for sharing!
I agree that Portugal is an underrated country. I had a great time there but I only went to Porto and Lisbon. I will have to visit Algarve the next time I go. Your photos of the beach are amazing!
I had never even heard of Algarve until this post! You have definitely done us all a service by covering this city so thoroughly and beautifully. And I agree with the comments above- the view from your room looked amazing!
Thank you so much Miranda. I hope it was helpful for all of you. Portugal is a gorgeous country.
It is a beautiful place. Hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes.
You should add Portugal to your trip. I would definitely be going back.
I loved the coast experience. Thank you.
I am glad that I didn't stay in Lagos since I found it to bee touristy. I loved Algarve and would definitely go back one day.
Hope you have a great time when you are in Algarve next year.
Esther that was my first impression when I saw Praia Dona Ana beach as well. Thank you.
In spite of traveling all over the world, I am directionally challenged sometimes. Thank god for GPS. Else I would have gone all the way to Lagos before I realised my mistake.
I would have loved to spend more time in Algarve. Unfortunately I had a fixed itinerary and I had to leave. It is really economical to hire a car in such places since the distance between the various spots is more.
You should definitely go to Portugal. I loved Lisbon too.
I could not go to Porto this time around and I have heard it is a beautiful place. Would definitely want to visit one day.
That is surprising since it is a famous tourist place in Portugal. Portugal is so underrated and you definitely should go there. Yes the view from the room was amazing.
The view from your room looks insane! What a great post, now I want to go haha!
I was supposed to go to Portugal this summer but it didn't work out. 🙁 Your post makes me want to head there right now!
Yes the view was insane. You should definitely go soon.
You definitely should go the first chance you get.
Portugal is a beautiful country, often not considered by many people in search of relax, gorgeous environment and simple lifestyle, but having been there I know it can offer a lot. Probably the only thing is that Portugal is not so “prepared” to tourists, so it’s not always easy to find facilities or services that could be of advantage of travelers.
I did face some trouble in Algarve for transportation but Lisbon and surrounding areas were quite accessible.
We have several friends from Portugal and seeing your photos makes me wonder why we still haven’t hit them up for a visit. It’s so beautiful! Especially now that it’s so cold and grey in Germany, those beaches look fabulous. Sorry to hear you got robbed though!
You definitely should visit Portugal. 🙂
Wow, the Hidden Caves from Algarve awaken my curiosity and spirit of adventure. What I really like about this location is that it offers so many activities to chose from. I bet it’s pretty hard to get bored there 🙂
Yes it was hard to get bored here. So many things to choose from. 🙂
Wow that hotel looked incredible. I can definitely see myself laying around there catching some sun. Sucks that you missed your stop and had to wait a while though. I hate going to new places and not really knowing what I am doing, or places confusing me because it can really put a damper on the trip. It was fixed easily though so yay for that!
Yes, it was easily fixed in my case.
Wow, thank you for all this information and for the tips! Very helpful! Love your photos as well. Since Sagres was deserted, it sounds like a place I’d like, hehe. I got robbed in Madrid too btw… Sheesh!
So you know how it is to be robbed. 🙂 Sagres was gorgeous but definitely deserted. 🙂
Thank you for writing this. I always try and figure out the mistakes everyone else makes so I don’t have to follow in their footsteps haha 🙂 Portugal is at the top of my list for May, and your photos of Algarve may have sold me on it!
I went in May too and loved it. 🙂
Wow, these pictures are amazing. This was a great write up about the southern coast of Portugal. I feel like a lot of people don’t really know about it, but the views are breath-taking! My husband and I have been considering a trip to there soon, and I think you might have just finalized our plans! Loved your writing!
I really hope you get to go there soon. 🙂
I drove through Portugal a few years ago on a surf trip so I saw most of those beaches you talked about and they are all so beautiful!! Your photos of Bengalí caves are so beautiful and I’m really sad I missed that. ? Lovely post and photos!
I saw Benagil from the outside too. I hope to visit soon to see it from the inside. 🙂
We have so far only been to around half of the countries in Europe and Portugal is sadly still missing. Have heard so much nice about the country and especially the Algarve region. As you say, it is hard to distinguish a favorite when traveling as all places have something special. It is like I would go to Georgia for food and wine, to Slovenia for the picturesque coast and to the Baltic states for a short getaway. All places has something that we long to return for. 🙂
Regarding the missed bus stop, sounds like you did the mistake in a good country. Here in Sweden it would have cost a lot lot more for that distance and you would probably have ended up a lot further away from your stop. 🙂
I haven’t been to Sweden yet and I will definitely keep that in mind.
We have only been to two places in Portugal: Lisbon and Valença. They were stops on a cruise and we didn’t get to stay there overnight. I really want to go back to Lisbon to see more of the city and Algarve looks beautiful as well.
You definitely should go to Portugal again then.
I wish I had included Algarve in my itinerary. From your description it seems to be a great miss.
I am eager to see the coastline now from the speed boat.
The coastline is really gorgeous. 🙂
Fascinating read Soumya, and it only steels my resolve to visit Portugal and soon! And you are right about Indians flocking to Spain, even I have been there twice already 🙂
Somehow I never related Portugal to such natural wonders, this certainly opens up new exploration opportunities for me 🙂
After seeing it with my eyes, I know how many natural wonders are there in Portugal. I thought you keep going to Spain because of a special someone. 🙂
We were enticed by the pictures of Algarve when we planned a trip to Lisbon. Sadly we could not make to it as we could not afford to travel by bus for 3 hours as our kid very small. We ended up doing Sintra just half an hour train ride from Lisbon. Algarve is very beautiful indeed and less touristy, Praia Da Marinha is incredibly beautiful hope to make it some day soon 😉
Rashmi, hopefully you get to visit next time you are in Europe.
Incredible and just jaw-dropping views! I would love to see this amazing area 🙂 Portugal is such a interesting country to visit.
Hope you get to visit soon, Adam.
This is such a great guide! There is a direct flight from my town in the UK to Faro and I have always wanted to go because of the stunning scenery and amazing cliff landscapes. It’s good to know the options of towns to visit, as I am not a party person and i wouldn’t enjoy being base in such a place. I am more of a nature lover and I like tiny towns.
I like tiny towns too. I would prefer to have company when I am going to a party place.
Mindblowing visuals! The sheer colour of the water is intoxicating. And that verticla cliff looks straght out of movies. Could you jump off it?
There were lots of people who were cliff jumping. We saw them while we we were on the speedboat.
Portugal is indeed a gorgeous underrated country! Tivoli Carvoeiro hotel looks heavenly.
Crystal clear water and beach sounds perfect for holiday.
It was a perfectly relaxing vacation.
Lisbon is on my travel wish list for this year, but after reading this I might have to add on a few days at the Algarve. The coast line looks incredible. Definitely following your advice on renting a car, some of the beaches and coves look quite secluded and I can imagine it being difficult to reach with public transport.
Hotels in Algarve Portugal is beautiful! Thank you for this useful information!
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