The Perfect 3, 4 or 5 Days in the Algarve Itinerary

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by Emily Marty

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Famous for its balmy weather, dramatic seascapes, and laidback atmosphere, Portugal’s Algarve region has long been one of the country’s most romantic and desirable destinations among visitors. If you’re currently making an Algarve itinerary, you might be struggling to know how long to spend there, though – are 3, 4 or 5 days in the Algarve enough to do it justice?

While leaving this slice of paradise is certainly bittersweet, you can still have an incredible trip to Portugal’s southernmost region even if you’re only there for a few days. In this article, we’ll help you get the absolute most out of your time in the Algarve. 

How Many Days in the Algarve?

Wondering how many days to spend in the Algarve? The right amount of time for your trip will depend heavily on what you want to get out of it, as well as any budgetary considerations you might need to make.

It goes without saying that, the longer you’re in the area, the more you’ll be able to see; however, if you’re hoping to visit other parts of Portugal, too, then spending 3 days in the Algarve can be perfect for checking out some of its highlights before heading to another part of the country. 

With 4 days in the Algarve, you can mix things up a bit, so that you’re not just visiting the areas most frequented tourist destinations. This is a good amount of time for those travellers who might want to head off the beaten track a bit without devoting their entire holiday to exploring the region. 

Having said all of that, we recommend that you try to spend 5 days in the region if at all possible. This is the best way to truly get to know the region; there’s a lot more to it than seaside resorts, after all! Not only will a trip of this length give you sufficient time to explore the area’s inland highlights, but it should also make it possible for you to really let your hair down, too. 

After all, a big part of the Algarve’s appeal is its relaxed, laid-back feel. In many ways, it appears to be a place almost forgotten by time; what better place could there be to really relax and unwind during your trip to Portugal? 

Beyond that, its landscapes and culture are pretty unique, even in the Portuguese context. So, we’d argue that the more time you have to immerse yourself in the local cuisine and customs, the better.

Of course, this depends to an extent on what you enjoy and what you’d like to get out of your holiday, ideally. If you’re someone who prefers, say, fine dining or fancy restaurants, then the Algarve may not have quite as much to offer you as Portugal’s bigger cities like Lisbon or Porto

So, if this is the case, then you might want to keep your trip there on the shorter side. On the other hand, if you enjoy traditional, slower-paced living and gorgeous natural landscapes, then you’ll probably want to push for 5 days or so in the Algarve so that you can really make the most of it all! 

That being said, there is also plenty to do if you have 7 days to spend. You could opt to have a bit more relaxation time or you could explore more areas – such as the incredible Praia da Marinha and walking the nearby Seven Hanging Valleys trail.

Port of Portimao in the Algarve
Port of Portimao in the Algarve

Getting To & Around the Algarve 

One of the best things about visiting the Algarve is how easy the region is to access and navigate, even via public transport.

Much of the area is criss-crossed by bus networks and connections, making it easy to get to from other parts of Portugal (such as Porto and Lisbon) and even nearby Spain without too much hassle. You can view train and bus schedules here.

If you’re flying into the Algarve from abroad, you’ll want to land at Faro’s International Airport. As one of Portugal’s largest transit and travel hubs, Faro is well-serviced by both domestic and international flight connections, and plenty of budget airlines operate out of the airport, too. You can organise an airport pickup here.

And, what’s more, if you’re planning on visiting Spain as part of your trip, then you’ll easily be able to travel to Faro from Seville by bus. 

From Faro, you’ll find that there are decent bus and train links across much of the region, especially between the larger cities and towns so you can easily go on a day trip or two.

Most of the places you’ll be visiting in the Algarve are on the smaller side, and should be fairly compact and walkable – they’ll also have their own public transit in many cases, making getting around fairly straightforward. 

With that being said, some of the Algarve’s more remote destinations are trickier to reach via public transport alone.

For instance, while it’s possible to get to Sagres by bus, you’ll likely need to transfer at Lagos, and the journey will be significantly longer in many cases than if you’d travelled by car. Planning an Algarve road trip itinerary is, then, an excellent idea.

So, if you’d like to give yourself as much freedom as possible to see the Algarve on your own terms, then opting for a car rental is recommended – at least for part of your trip. You can browse to compare prices for car hire.

This will allow you to visit the places you want to far more easily than you’d be able to if you were getting around via public transport. It’s an especially good option if you’re eager to stay overnight in some of the more far-flung parts of the Algarve – and there’s nothing quite like an Algarve road trip! 

View from the mountains in Monchique
View from the mountains in Monchique

3, 4 or 5 Days in the Algarve Itinerary 

A trip to the Algarve is a fantastic opportunity to relax and unwind, as well as discover one of Portugal’s most idyllic and distinctive regions and the splendours of the Algarve coast.

Our suggested itinerary below covers many of the area’s best-known destinations, as well as some options that are slightly more off the beaten track. 

Day 1 – Faro 

Faro Cathedral (Santa Maria Cathedral)

The deeply historic, gorgeous Santa Maria Cathedral in Faro is one of the city’s oldest and best-known landmarks. It’s seen plenty of action since it was first built in 13th century, too – it functioned as a mosque previously and has been made one of Portugal’s National Monuments thanks to its significance. 

Cathedral of Faro
Cathedral of Faro

Faro Marina

Faro’s charming marina is a popular place for a stroll among both tourists and locals alike. Admire the palm trees while you take in the sights and smells of the Atlantic! It’s also jumping off point for various island tours such as this half-day tour or this half-day tour.

Capela dos Ossos/Igreja do Carmo 

If you have an interest in the macabre or bizarre, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Faro’s Capela dos Ossos. At the back of the gorgeous Igreja do Carmo (which is also worth checking out), the Capela dos Ossos is decorated with the bones and skulls of over 1,000 Carmelite monks. Spooky!

Arco da Vila 

This neoclassical archway joins onto the old Moorish wall that used to house the historic city of Faro. As one of the entrances to the old town, the gateway makes a real impression, as well as being an architectural gem in its own right.  

Praia de Faro 

What better place could there be for a picnic or splash in the sea than Faro’s gorgeous Praia de Faro? This sandy beach stretches as far as the eye can see and tranquil blue waters, this is easily one of the Algarve’s most beautiful beaches, and it’s worth making the trek from the city to visit it. 

Sandy Faro Beach
Sandy Faro Beach

Day 2 – Lagos 

Old Town and Igreja de Santo António 

Lagos’ old town is easily one of the most charming and quaint places in the whole of the region and not just the western Algarve.

With brightly-coloured buildings and cobblestones creating striking patterns across the ground, visiting is an absolute must when you’re in town. You can explore the streets, stop into a cafe or two, or enjoy lunch on one of the old town’s numerous peaceful squares. 

By contrast, the Igreja de Santo António is pretty bombastic – at least on the inside. Its interior is gilded extensively with gold leaf, making for a very striking contrast to the cathedral’s serene, simplistic exterior. 

Castelo dos Governadores/Lagos Castle  

While it may be one of the less popular tourist attractions in Lagos, the Castelo dos Governadores is still definitely worth checking out.

Constructed in a rugged, medieval style, the castle was probably built in the 12th century and now functions as a museum, where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the city. 

Old City Walls in Lagos
Old City Walls in Lagos

Ponta da Piedade 

Lagos is probably most famous for its beaches and their rocky cliffs and formations, and Ponta da Piedade is easily the most renowned of them all. It’s worth making the trek from central Lagos to visit – the cliffs, rocks, and grottoes that you’ll see here make up one of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations. 

Praia do Camilo 

This stunning beach, while perhaps not quite as dramatic as Ponte da Piedade, is very pleasant indeed, and is definitely worth exploring during your visit to Lagos.

You can wander along the sand, join a short catamaran cruise or a kayak tour, take a dip in the sea, or simply admire the incredible view while you enjoy a drink or a picnic. And of course, if you’re not a beach person there are other options such as taking a food tour.

Day 3 – Sagres 

Praia de Mareta 

Perhaps Sagres’ most popular destination for travellers, Praia de Mareta is a wonderful beach that’s especially favoured by watersports enthusiasts. Here, you can kayak and canoe, or kick back while you enjoy a beer in the Portuguese sunshine. The beach is dotted with bars and kiosks, too, which make for a great place to grab a quick drink or bite to eat. 

Praia de Mareta
Praia de Mareta

Cabo de São Vicente 

Once believed to be the literal end of the earth, Cabo de São Vicente is now recognised more for its jaw-dropping views and incredible walks. The picturesque lighthouse perfectly complements the sunsets here – do be aware that it can be quite windy at times, though, due to how exposed it is. 

Fortaleza de Sagres 

This quirky sea fort is probably one of Portugal’s most unique and distinctive fortifications. Combining the cliffs of Sagres with its single wall, the Fortaleza cleverly utilises a combination of manmade and natural features to protect the town – visitors can learn about the history of the place, as well as taking in the incredible views the fort offers over the Atlantic. 

Sagres Town Centre 

Enjoy a wander around the historic and relaxed town centre of Sagres. Here, you can sample the architecture and atmosphere typical of smaller Portuguese fishing towns. 

Day 4 – Monchique and Portimão


The picturesque mountain village of Monchique is worth driving up to – it’s home to thermal waters (which are said to be healing) and stunning views. If you’re a fan of hiking, you can climb up to the peak of Fóia to really take in the surrounding landscape. 

Village of Monchique
Village of Monchique

Nossa Senhora da Conceição 

Portimão’s Gothic church, Nossa Senhora da Conceição, is as famed for its gorgeous azulejo as it is for its incredible baroque-style altar. Being that it’s on the smaller side, it’s also a great place to come for some quiet and contemplation. 

Museu do Portimão

While definitely somewhat niche, Portimão’s museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the economy and heritage of the city through its fisheries industry. This is a place built almost entirely on sardines and canning, which you can learn all about as you walk through this converted cannery. 

Portimão Market

There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a traditional Portuguese food market, and Portimão market is one of the Algarve’s most diverse and varied. You can buy all manner of things here, from produce to clothes and much more. Note that the market is open on the first Monday of each month so an alternative option could be to join a wine tour.

Fortaleza de Santa Catarina 

The medieval fortress of Santa Catarina is free to enter – it’s definitely on the smaller side – but we recommend it for its atmosphere, as well as for the opportunity to learn about the military and naval history of Portugal. 

Fort of Santa Catarina
Fort of Santa Catarina

Day 5 – Albufeira 

Albufeira Marina/Boat Trip

Surrounded by eye-catching, colourful buildings, Albufeira’s mighty marina is worth visiting in its own right, but a big part of the appeal is the incredible variety of boat tours departing from this part of the city.

Some options that combine both dolphin watching and a trip to the Benagil Caves include this half-day tour or this half-day tour – this is a great way to see Portugal from the sea!

Praia da Falésia 

Hopefully, you’re not all beached out at this point of your trip, because Albufeira’s Praia da Falésia is easily one of the Algarve’s nicest beaches. Sheltered by its breathtaking orange cliffs, this beach is pristine and easily accessed; its stunning turquoise waters are just the icing on the cake. 

Albufeira Old Town 

With its quaint, bazaar-like feel, cute laneways, and patterned cobblestones, Albufeira’s old town is somewhere you can truly get lost (in a good way!). Explore the narrow streets and traditional shops and take in the atmosphere before stopping in at a local cafe for a snack or cup of coffee. You can also choose to end your day with some wine tasting or a sunset cruise!

Albufeira Beach
Albufeira Beach

Where to Stay in the Algarve

Lagos Avenida Hotel – This 4-star hotel is an excellent base for those looking for a waterfront oasis in the Algarve. Located in the town of Lagos, they have several great rooms to choose from along with a fantastic swimming pool and plenty of other amenities.

3HB Faro – Those looking for luxury while visiting southern Portugal will love this plush, 5-star hotel in Faro. They have countless amazing amenities for guests to take advantage of along with a range of beautiful rooms to choose from.

Pine Tree Apartments – If you’d like your own holiday home while visiting the Algarve, then these furnished apartments in Albufeira are an excellent choice. They have an array of different flats to choose from along with a great swimming pool on site.

Casa da Madalena Backpackers Hostel – Those looking for a hostel in the Algarve will love this highly-rated place in Faro. they have both private rooms and dorms available, a great social atmosphere and good self-catering facilities and common areas.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Algarve hotels!

The stunning Algarve is the perfect place to visit if you want to experience a laid-back lifestyle and sunny skies during your trip to Portugal. We hope that our Algarve itinerary lets you truly make the most of your time in this delightful part of the world!

Are you planning an Algarve trip? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Emily Marty

Emily is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, she is currently based in the UK. She enjoys exploring Northern & Western Europe and Southeast Asia and has a bit of a thing for islands in particular.

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