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Algarve excursions in the south of Portugal, a wonderful region for hiking all year round

Photos by Daniela Giusti

The Algarve is a paradise for hikers, both for its mild climate, which allows hiking practically all year round, and for the abundance of trails. If you enjoy walking and the outdoors, but have just moved and don't know many people, don't worry as it's easy to join an existing group. Hiking is extremely popular and practiced extensively by both locals and foreigners.

The choice of trails is immense, suitable for a variety of tastes and physical conditions. Thanks to the geographical diversity, you can walk for hours in the flat area of the lagoon around the Ria Formosa nature reserve or you can climb to the highest peak in the Algarve, the Fóia which is located in the Serra de Monchique and reaches 902 meters.

Here is a short list of suggestions and in any case remember that the choice is immense and these are just a few examples:

  • the partially signposted path in the salt flats around Castro Marim. Starting from Venta Moinhos, it is an easy and flat route of just over 7.5 km that winds around orchards where local trees such as olive and carob trees grow, but above all where you can do a lot of bird watching. Not for nothing, this trail is on the list of "birdwatching hotspots".

  • the Barranco dal Lajes, a rather remote circular path that starts from Cabanas de São Bras de Alportel. This trail, despite its relative shortness and moderate difficulty, can take up to 3 hours to complete. It is interesting because it crosses the "cork hills", being the finest cork in the world actually produced in this area.

Some simple hikes, deceptively considered easy are always found in the eastern region and include Cerro de Guilhim and Cerro Miguel, both located near Faro. Once you reach the top of these hills, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the coast, but the price to pay is a very steep, equally breathtaking climb.

  • On the other hand, the Culatra Island Path is a path that will appeal to the less athletic as it is an easy flat path. The island can be reached by ferry from Olhão and once there you can enjoy the view of the ocean that meets the lagoon and kilometers of pristine dunes covered by sparse endemic vegetation.

  • Another ever popular tour is the 'cliffs', the cliffs that dominate the coastal landscape between Albufeira and Lagos. The trails are innumerable and all include some very rough and rocky climbing and spectacular sea views. The cliff paths are not suitable for children and people with reduced mobility, as they can get quite challenging, although for adults in good shape it is worth the effort. On these trails you can often reach secluded beaches where you can take a break to enjoy a well-deserved and refreshing dip in the ocean.

  • Further inland you can tackle the Paderne castle path or you can walk to the top of Fóia, the highest "mountain" in the Algarve. Despite the almost 1000 meters high, the Fóia path climbs little, in a light and easy climb and when you reach the top you can proudly tell your friends that you have reached the summit of the Algarve.

Further west is the Vicenza coast and its natural park. It is one of the best preserved coasts in Europe described as "one of the wildest and most spectacular territories, where nature has a strong character and creates landscapes of breathtaking majesty". The coast and park stretch out into the neighboring Alentejo region, and you can find a multitude of trails to explore for the weekend or even for a whole week.

As for the company with which to enjoy the excursions, for those who speak English, it is advisable to consult Guided Walks - Algarve - an organized group that proposes a new trail every month and which you can join by paying a fee of € 5 for each walk. Another Lagos group is Meetup - , but there are many more online.

When joining a group, you will usually only find a short online description of the selected trails, but you can find a lot of additional information online.

In any case, keep in mind the following: although hiking can theoretically be practiced all year round, in summer it is very hot and the best seasons for walking are autumn and spring. Winter is mild enough to allow walking, but check the weather report before leaving, because in the Algarve it rarely rains, but usually the rains are concentrated in late autumn / early winter and can be dangerously torrential. The month of February marks the beginning of a new season for walking and enthusiasts inaugurate it by following one of the many paths of the almond trees in bloom.

From October to April it is not too hot during the day and starting in the morning at a decent time you can reach your destination around lunchtime without risking sunstroke. When temperatures start to rise, it is highly recommended to leave very early to reach your destination before noon or even before 11am. It is not recommended to walk during the hot months of July and August, unless you want to risk severe dehydration. If you really don't want to give up hiking, you should start very early or very late (if you like night walks).

For more information on the trails, consult the official tourist guide of the Algarve, where you can find footpaths and even cycle tours - ; other footpaths can be found by following this link: , but the limit is only your imagination ... or your internet research skills.

Daniela Giusti

Retire in ALGARVE - A new Lifestyle in Portugal

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