The best independent guide to the Algarve

The best independent guide to the Algarve

Day trips from Alvor; the best places to visit and towns to see in 2024

Alvor is a fantastic holiday destination, offering the perfect combination of stunning beaches and authentic Portuguese charm.

While it is easy to spend an entire holiday relaxing within Alvor, there are many fascinating towns and sights in the surrounding region. Popular places to visit include the historic port city of Lagos, the ancient Moorish capital of Silves, and the dramatic coastal scenery near Carvoeiro.

Day trips are ideal for more adventurous travellers who prefer exploring new places to spending days lounging on the beach. They also provide an opportunity to discover the real Portugal and its many wonderful sights.

To fully explore the Alvor region, renting a car is recommended due to the limited public transport options. However, for the determined visitor, it is only a short taxi, Uber or Bolt ride to Portimão bus or train station, from which the entire Algarve region is easily accessible.
This guide will detail the most popular day trips from Alvor and help you make the most of your holiday.

Silves Portugal

The mighty Castelo de Silves above the pretty town of Silves

The best day trips from Alvor

There are many enjoyable day trips from Alvor and some of the best include:
Lagos - A city rich in seafaring history and close to the spectacular Ponta da Piedade cliffs, making for a wonderful day trip. (Lagos guide)
Silves - A historic fortified town known for its impressive Moorish castle and insight into the rich history of the Algarve. (Silves guide)
Monchique and the Algarve Hills - Explore the towns of the Serra de Monchique hills and marvel at the view from the top of Mount Fóia. (car needed)
Zoomarine - A fantastic marine-themed water park that is fun for the whole family.
Praia da Rocha and Portimão - A lively resort town and a characterful port city; two very different destinations that are easily combined in a single day trip.
Ferragudo - A pretty fishing village sitting on the Arade River and close to pristine beaches.
Slide and Splash - Portugal's largest waterpark, and the place to go for a day of waterpark excitement!
Sete Vales Suspensos - A stunning 4km clifftop hike along some of the most beautiful coastline in Portugal. (Sete Vales hike guide)
Benagil Cave (boat tour) - Explore the dramatic coastline of Carvoeiro with a boat tour.
Sagres – At the far western tip of the Algarve, there are raging seas, vast beaches and dramatic natural scenery; however, a car is needed to explore due to its remoteness. (Sagres guide)

dolphin show at Zoomarine

The fantastic dolphin show at Zoomarine

Sete Vales Suspensos hiking trail

The Praia de Vale Covo at the end of the Sete Vales Suspensos hiking trail

Lagos beaches

The stunning beaches of Lagos

The map below highlights the best day trips from Alvor. The best towns to visit are marked in blue, the finest natural features of the Algarve are shown in green, and the theme/water parks are in yellow. Alvor is indicated by marker 4. (Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points.)

Towns for day trips (blue) 1) Sagres 2) Burgau 3) Lagos 4) Alvor 5) Praia da Rocha 6) Portimão 7) Ferragudo 8) Monchique 9) Carvoeiro 10) Albufeira 11) Vilamoura 12) Quarteira 13) Loule 14) Faro 15) Estoi 16) Olhão 17) Tavira 18) Castro Marim 19) Vila Real de Santo António
Natural sights (green) 1) Cabo de São Vicente 2) Ponta da Piedade 3) Benagil Caves 4) Praia da Marinha 5) Praia da Falésia 6) Ilha Deserta 7) Parque Natural da Ria Formosa 8) Cemitério das Âncoras (anchor cemetery)
Theme/water parks (yellow) 1) Slide & Splash 2) Aqualand 3) Zoomarine 4) Aquashow Park

The following section provides details of the best day trips from Alvor, with links to further in-depth guides. The first section lists the best day trips that can be easily reached by public transport, while the second section features the most popular day trips in the Algarve, but will require a car to visit due to their distance.

Day trip destinations that are easily reached from Alvor

The following day trips can be easily reached from Alvor by the use of public transport. The regional bus company of the Algarve is Vamus ( and the train company is Comboios de Portugal (CP -

Silves; as a day trip from Alvor

During the Moorish era (9th to 12th century), Silves was an important trading town and defensive stronghold that ruled over much of southern Portugal.

The town is dominated by a massive red brick castle, which is one of the best-preserved Moorish buildings in the Algarve. Below the castle are cobbled streets, an ancient cathedral, impregnable town walls and the slow-flowing Rio Arade.

Being slightly inland, Silves has barely been altered by tourism, retaining its distinctly Portuguese atmosphere. There are bustling cafes, a lively daily market and charming, cobbled streets.
Silves is the best non-coastal town in the Algarve and is small enough to be easily explored as a day trip.
Related article: Silves introduction

Praça do Município Silves Portugal

The Praça do Município at the centre of Silves, with the narrow gateway through the town walls

Sancho I Silves

The statue of King Sancho I, who laid Silves to a 3-month siege in 1189


Lagos is a city steeped in history and Portuguese charm, effortlessly blending its rich seafaring past with modern Portugal.

The city boasts a diverse array of attractions, from the ornate Igreja de Santo António church to the delightful Forte da Bandeira fort and lively Mercado Municipal market. Along with the historic sights, there is a modern marina and pretty streets packed with shops, restaurants and bars.

To the south of Lagos is the Ponta da Piedade, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the Algarve. The headland is formed from golden limestone cliffs that have been carved into unique features by the power of the ocean. These cliffs are best explored by a boat tour departing from Lagos marina.
Related articles: Lagos guide

Lagos Portugal

The pretty waterfront of Lagos extends along the estuary

Ponta da Piedade lagos

The crystal-clear waters of the Ponta da Piedade headland

Lagos marina

The modern marina complex in Lagos

Monchique and the Algarve hills (Car needed)

The highest point in the Algarve is Mount Fóia (902m), located within the picturesque Serra de Monchique mountain range. If you have a car, exploring this region can make for an enjoyable day trip.

The recommended route follows the N266 into the hills, with your first stop at the charming village of Caldas de Monchique. This village is famed for its hot springs (31°C), which are reputed to have healing properties due to the rich mineral content and a pH of 7.6. In Caldas de Monchique, spa hotels have been constructed over the springs, but there is a natural spring at Fonte dos Amores in the shaded forests, just as the N266 winds around the valley. This picturesque spot is also perfect for a picnic.

Next is the pretty town of Monchique, with the 16th-century Igreja Matriz church, the ruins of the Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro monastery and many wonderful viewpoints, such as the Miradouro de São Sebastião.

From Monchique, it is only a short drive to the summit of Fóia, with its spectacular view southwards over the Algarve and out to the Atlantic Ocean.

For the final part of the day, you could drive westwards along the scenic N267 as it twists through the rolling hills down to the village of Aljezur. Here you can visit the Castelo de Aljezur or take a short drive to the stunning Praia da Amoreira beach.

The magnificent panoramic views from the top of Mount Fóia


Zoomarine is one of the Algarve's top attractions, perfect for a fun-filled family day trip. This marine-themed water-park combines the best aspects of a zoo and water-park to offer entertainment, education, and adventure for all ages.

The main attractions include impressive dolphin and sea lion shows, bird of prey demonstrations, and tropical bird performances. For thrill-seekers, the park features water slides, flumes and a wave pool along with a relaxing beach area. Zoomarine also offers the Dolphin Emotions Experience, allowing visitors to interact closely with dolphins.
Simply a fun day out for everyone.


The beach area and flumes of Zoomarine

Portimão and Praia da Rocha

Portimão and Praia da Rocha make for a fantastic day trip, as they combine two very different aspects of modern Algarve. Praia da Rocha is an attention-grabbing beach town that knows how to party and guarantees a fun time, whereas Portimão is more authentically Portuguese, with hidden highlights that are well worth seeking out.

Portimão has a pretty waterfront that has been transformed from the warehouses and fish processing factories that once lined its docks. Within the town are grand plazas and bustling shopping streets, but the true hidden gems of Portimão are its fresh fish restaurants near the Ponte Velha de Portimão bridge.

Praia da Rocha is an energetic beach resort that combines a stylish marina and trendy beach clubs with the holiday fun of themed bars and lively nightlife. The beach at Praia da Rocha is one of the Algarve’s finest, and the many bars and restaurants make it an entertaining place to end a day of sightseeing.
Related articles: Guide to Portimão

The Convento do Colégio dos Jesuitas in Portimão

The scenic waterfront of Portimão, transformed from its industrial past into a vibrant promenade.

Praia da Rocha Portugal

Praia da Rocha is famed for its massive beach

The Convento do Colégio dos Jesuitas in Portimão

The Convento do Colégio dos Jesuitas in Portimão

Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente (car day trip)

Sagres is the most westerly town of the Algarve and is situated in a region of massive cliffs, vast beaches and raging seas. These powerful seas attract experienced surfers, and the town has developed into a hub for surfing, with numerous surf schools, beach hangouts and laid-back bars. The town may have a ramshackle appearance, but spend any time here and the unassuming, trendy vibe will become apparent.

For a day trip, Sagres offers a working fishing harbour, three stunning beaches, numerous hiking trails and a unique fort. The Fortaleza de Sagres covers the entire southern headland, with only the northern side conventionally defended by a wall, while the three remaining sides are protected by sheer cliffs. Inside, the fort can be best described as sparse, but as with everything in Sagres, the dramatic scenery is the main attraction.

A trip to Sagres is always combined with a visit to the Cabo de Sao Vicente, the southwestern tip of mainland Europe. Up until the 14th century, the headland was believed to be the end of the known world and the bleak landscape only enhances this once-held belief. The main attraction of the Cabo de Sao Vicente is the distinctive lighthouse that has the second most powerful beam in Europe, with its light being visible for 50km.
Related articles: Sagres guide

Cabo de São Vicente

The powerful lighthouse perched atop the cliffs of Cabo de São Vicente

Fortaleza de Sagres

The Fortaleza de Sagres with the Cabo de Sao Vicente headland in the distance

Sagres fishing harbour

The fishing harbour of Sagres lies on the sheltered side of the peninsula.

The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos

The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys) is one of the Algarve’s most stunning coastal hikes. This 5.7km trail offers breathtaking views of dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches and turquoise waters.

Starting at Praia da Marinha and ending at Praia de Vale Centeanes, the hike takes you through a range of diverse landscapes including limestone cliffs, natural arches and lush vegetation. Highlights include the iconic Benagil Cave and the picturesque Praia da Marinha. This moderately challenging trail is well-marked and suitable for most people.
Related article: The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos

Sete Vales Suspensos hiking trail

The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos passes many interesting cliff features


Ferragudo is one of last remaining unspoilt fishing villages of the central Algarve, and is a delightful place to visit. Within the village is a traditional fisherman's quarter, a charming harbour front and an abundance of Portuguese character.

The village lies on the sheltered waters of the Arada estuary on the opposite side to Portimão, with a ferry connecting them during the summer.

As it is only a small village, Ferragudo can be fully seen within an hour, however a day trip could be easily extended by taking in the beautiful beaches to the south. From Ferragudo there is a scenic coastal path along the Praia Grande beach to the picturesque Praia dos Caneiros.

Ferragudo Algarve

Ferragudo maybe small but it is delightful

Day trips a bit further out from Alvor

The following day-trip destinations are further away from Alvor, and a car is needed to visit them due to the distance.

Albufeira as a day trip from Alvor

Albufeira is the largest and liveliest resort town of the Algarve, making it an enjoyable destination for a day trip.

It has a reputation for drinking, parties, and over-the-top holidays, but it actually also has a charming old quarter, a colourful marina complex and pretty cliff-top walks.

The Old Town of Albufeira is centred around the original fishing village and comprises of whitewashed houses (now restaurants, bars and hotels) and cobbled streets that lead down to a magnificent beach.

If you do want to experience Albufeira’s party side, then head to ‘The Strip’, a street of themed bars offering all-day drink promotions, wild nightlife and comfort-food restaurants to help you recover from the night before.

Albufeira makes for a surprisingly good day trip, and a full guide of what to see and do in a day can be read here.

The pretty old town of Albufeira

The pretty old town of Albufeira

Albufeira  marina

The marina complex is where all of the boat tours depart from

The strip Albufeira

And of course, there are Albufeira’s nighttime shenanigans along the strip

Loule; as a day trip from Alvor

Loulé is a traditional market town and the ideal destination if you want to experience the real Portugal.

The highlight of Loulé is the daily market, which is housed in a building inspired by Moorish architecture. Within the market are a variety of stalls selling fresh produce, handicrafts and gifts.

Loulé has a pretty town centre, while to the south is a warren of cobbled streets lined with traditional workshops and whitewashed houses.

The best time to visit Loule is on a Saturday morning, when it comes alive with an additional two markets. There is a fresh produce farmer’s market hosted outside the covered market, and a bustling gypsy market on the edge of the town.
Related article: Loule guide

Loule Algarve

Loulé is a pretty place to visit as a day trip


Although often overlooked, Faro has a surprising amount to offer for a day trip.
The compact historic centre is encircled by medieval walls and contains a Gothic cathedral, a Baroque city hall, and the ruins of a citadel. The modern city centre lies outside the city walls and is filled with pleasant pedestrianised shopping streets and pretty plazas.

A unique attraction of Faro is the Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel), which has the bones of over 1250 skeletons lining its walls.

Faro lies on the edge of the saltmarshes and lagoons of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, and these mudflats are a haven for seabirds and small marine life. To explore the Ria Formosa, there are boat tours that depart from the harbour.
Related articles: Faro introduction

Faro Portugal

Faro's old quarter is delightful

Faro Parque Natural da Ria Formosa

The mudflats and water ways of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa as seen from the top of Faro Cathedral


Carvoeiro is a popular holiday destination that sits on one of the most stunning sections of the Algarve coast.

Here, the coastline is formed of golden-coloured cliffs, with small sandy beaches hidden in sheltered coves. Within the limestone cliffs, unique coastal features have been carved out, including sea caves, rock pillars and intricately-eroded cliff faces.

Carvoeiro is also a pretty village, with whitewashed houses hugging the cliffs and leading down to the largest beach of the region.

For your day trip, you could take a clifftop walk eastward to the Algar Seco rock formation, seeing the Boneca cave and the stunning Vale de Centeanes beach. An alternative is to join a short boat trip to the stunning Benagil Cave.
Related article: Carvoeiro guide

Carvoeiro cliffs and coastline

The stunning coastline to the east of Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro Portugal

Carvoeiro is a very pretty place to visit for a day trip

Boneca cave Carvoeiro

The view from the ‘Boneca’ or ‘Doll’ Cave, which is named as such due to the cliff face resembling a doll with two eyes.

Vilamoura and Quarteira for a day trip

Quarteira and Vilamoura are fascinating as they reflect the two extremes of the Algarve.

Vilamoura is unlike any other location in the region, as it was purpose-built during the 1980s as a centre for golfing and luxury yachting. Today, Vilamoura retains an air of exclusivity and refinement, and is the most sophisticated resort town of the Algarve.
Here you’ll find million-dollar yachts moored, minor celebrities playing golf and fine-dining restaurants surrounding the marina.

Quarteira is more residential, with a busy fishing harbour, and is a popular holiday destination with Portuguese tourists. The town is without the finesse of Vilamoura but is famed for its inexpensive seafood, where a delicious meal will cost the same as a single cocktail in Vilamoura.

Vilamoura and Quarteira are only a short walk from each other and can be easily combined in a single day trip.


The marina complex of Vilamoura


When tourists imagine the quintessential Portuguese town, they will be thinking about somewhere like Tavira.

This delightful town straddles the Gilão River and boasts over thirty churches, a castle, and cobbled streets lined with traditional tiled houses. There is no prettier town in the Algarve than Tavira, and being located in the much quieter eastern Algarve, it retains its authentic Portuguese atmosphere.

As well as being the finest town in the Algarve, Tavira is also close to pristine beaches. These lie along the seaward side of the Ilha de Tavira and are reached by a ferry.
Tavira is a long journey from the main tourist areas of the Algarve, but it is truly worth the effort. If you have a car, Tavira should be one of the first destinations you visit.
Related articles: Tavira guide

tavira as a day trip

Tavira has a pretty historic centre that includes a mix of Moorish-era buildings.

tavira place to visit

Tavira has a relaxed and slow pace, which is very different from the hectic central Algarve

Our most popular guides to the Algarve

Where to stay in the algarve
Top 10 Algarve
Albufeira guide
Lagos Portugal
tavira guide
Carvoeiro Algarve
faro guide
vilamoura Algarve
Silves Algarve
Praia da Rocha Algarve
Loulé Algarve
Alvor Algarve
Praia da Luz Algarve
Sagres Algarve
Vila Nova de Milfontes

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The best guide to Alvor

Where to stay in the algarve
Top 10 Algarve
Albufeira guide
Lagos Portugal
tavira guide
Carvoeiro Algarve
faro guide
vilamoura Algarve
Silves Algarve
Praia da Rocha Algarve
Loulé Algarve
Alvor Algarve
Praia da Luz Algarve
Sagres Algarve
Vila Nova de Milfontes
Where to stay in the algarve
Top 10 Algarve
Albufeira guide
Lagos Portugal
tavira guide
Carvoeiro Algarve
faro guide
vilamoura Algarve
Silves Algarve
Praia da Rocha Algarve
Loulé Algarve
Alvor Algarve
Praia da Luz Algarve
Sagres Algarve
Vila Nova de Milfontes