The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
Carvoeiro is a fantastic holiday destination, which is ideally situated for exploring the entire Algarve via day trips.
These day trips could involve discovering the rich seafaring history of Lagos, the buzzing atmosphere of Albufeira or the quaint fishing village of Ferragudo.
While most visitors to Carvoeiro come to enjoy the beach and glorious climate, there's also a wealth of fascinating destinations to discover as day trips.
This article will detail the best day trips from Carvoeiro, along with suggestions for farther flung destinations accessible with a rental car.
Insight: Carvoeiro has very limited public transport, so to get the most from the region a rental car is needed.
Related articles: Carvoeiro introduction – Carvoeiro beach guide
The best day trips which are close to Carvoeiro are:
2) Portimao and Praia da Rocha
If you're content to travel a bit further with a car, we recommend the following day trips:
2) Far western Algarve (Sagres, Cabo de São Vicente, Burgau)
4) Vilamoura & Quarteira
The map below details the location of the main day trips of the Algarve.
Towns for day trips are marked in blue, the best natural features of the Algarve are shown in green, and the theme/waterparks are in yellow. Carvoeiro is indicated by marker 9.
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 Carvoeiro, with links to further in-depth guides.
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.
Ferragudo lies on the sheltered waters of the Arada estuary, and to the south of the village are the golden sands of the Praia Grande beach and the picturesque Praia dos Caneiros.
Ferragudo is small and only takes a couple of hours to fully see, but during the summer, a ferry connects Ferragudo to Portimão, and they can both be visited as a day trip.
Related articles: Day trip to Ferragudo
Ferragudo is a joy to explore
Silves was the capital of the Algarve during the Moorish era (9-12th century) and the huge redbrick castle is a testament to the town's former importance.
Leading down from the castle is a charming Portuguese town of cobbled streets, traditional tiled houses and open air-cafes. At the foot of the town are the cooling waters of the Rio Arade, and this is crossed by an ancient Roman bridge.
Silves is far removed from the hecticness of the Algarve coastline and is a wonderful destination for your day trip.
Related article: Silves introduction
The Ponte Romana bridge was the original crossing point of the Rio Arade
The view over Silves
Praia da Rocha is a lively and vibrant resort town situated on one of the finest beaches of the Algarve. This is a modern resort town which buzzes in the summer and offers everything an enjoyment seeking tourist could want. There are sophisticated lounge bars, a stylish casino and riotous themed bars.
Portimão is a large residential city that sits inland from Praia da Rocha. Portimão has a surprisingly calm atmosphere and a scenic waterfront, which was converted from the former sardine fishing docks. This fishing heritage continues in the city's delicious and inexpensive seafood restaurants located near the Ponte Velha bridge.
It is only a short walk from Portimão to Praia da Rocha, and they can be both easily combined in a day trip.
Portimão sits on the Rio Arada
Praia da Rocha is famed for its outstanding beach
The peaceful town of Monchique is situated high up in the hills of northern Algarve.
This is a location to escape the hustle and bustle of the coastal towns, and the mountainous region is ideal for hiking, cycling or simply admiring the scenery. A popular hike is to Mount Fóia (902m) the highest point of the Algarve.
A short distance downhill lies Caldas de Monchique, a spa town renowned for its natural spring waters, heated to 30C and reputed for their healing properties.
There are many wonderful viewpoints and hiking routes near Monchique
Albufeira is the Algarve's largest and liveliest resort town, and makes for an exciting day trip..
There is a pretty old quarter, which manages to respectively integrate the numerous restaurants and bars within the historic centre. At the base of the old town is a wonderful beach, which is always a hive of activity in the summer season.
To the east of Albufeira is the new town centred around "The Strip", a chaotic street of themed bars and late-night clubs, which actively encourages excessive drink and general craziness.
If you are after a party focused holiday and want a big night out then The Strip is the place for you.
Related article: Albufeira introduction
Albufeira’s main beach on a hot summer’s day
The following destinations are a bit further from Carvoeiro, so a car is essential for these day trips.
Historically, Lagos was a centre for seafaring and exploration.
The city contains a diverse selection of tourist attractions, including the ornate Igreja de Santo António, the Bandeira fort and the Mercado Municipal.
The charming historic centre is full of cafes, shops and restaurants, while at the end of the estuary is a modern marina complex.
South of Lagos lies the Ponta da Piedade, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the Algarve. This dramatic headland formed of golden sandstone rocks has been carved into unique features by winter storms.
Related articles: Introduction to Lagos
The historic centre of Lagos and the estuary leading to the modern marina
The Ponta da Piedade headland is one of the finest natural features of the Algarve
Quarteira and Vilamoura are fascinating as they reflect the two extremes of the Algarve.
Vilamoura is unlike any other location in the Algarve as it was purpose-built during the 1980s as a centre for golfing and luxury yachting. Today Vilamoura retains the air of exclusivity and refinement, and is the most sophisticated resort town of the Algarve.
In Vilamoura, million-dollar yachts moor, minor-celebrities play golf and fining dining restaurants surround the marina.
Quarteira is more residential, with a busy fishing harbour and is a popular holiday destination with Portuguese tourists. Quarteira 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 day trip.
The marina complex of Vilamoura
Sagres is located on the far western side of the Algarve region. This remote fishing town lies in a wild and rugged region that boasts towering cliffs, vast beaches, and powerful seas.
These huge waves make Sagres a favourite for surfing, while the ramshackle appearance of the town conceals an underlying trendy vibe.
The untamed natural scenery of Sagres is very different from the tranquillity found in the rest of the Algarve, and is a wonderful day trip if you appreciate natures raw beauty or an outdoors person.
During your day trip, you will want to visit Sagres fort, protected on three sides by 30m high cliffs, and a visit to the Cabo de São Vicente headland.
Related articles: Sagres guide
The harbour of Sagres is on the sheltered side of the peninsula
The Cabo de São Vicente is the southwestern most tip of mainland Europe, and was considered the end of the known world up until the 14th century. This is a barren and dramatic landscape, with ferocious Atlantic waves battering the giant cliffs and the ceaseless winds prevent any meaningful vegetation from growing.
A visit to the Cabo de São Vicente will not be long, but you will want to visit.
Huge waves, massive cliffs and strong winds at the Cabo de São Vicente
For most tourists Faro is regarded as a transit destination, either flying into the city's airport or catching a connecting train, but there is a surprising amount to see within the city.
There is a delightful old quarter dating from the Moorish era, charming pedestrianised shopping streets and a pretty fishing harbour. An enjoyable half-day can be spent exploring the old quarter of Faro, with its gothic cathedral, castle ruins and city walls.
Faro's old quarter is delightful
The mudflats and water ways of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa as seen from the top of Faro Cathedral
Loulé is a bustling Portuguese market town and great location to first-hand experience typical Portuguese daily life.
At the centre of the town is a covered market (closed Sunday) with stalls selling local produce, handicrafts and fresh fish.
Surrounding the market are pretty cobbled backstreets, traditional houses and pleasant plazas. Loulé is an unhurried town with a distinctive Portuguese ambience and is a joy to explore.
On Saturdays, there is a large gypsy market held on the western side of the town and a large farmers market in the streets surrounded the covered market.
Related article: Loule guide
Loule is a pretty place to visit as a day trip
When tourists imagine the quintessential Portuguese town they are thinking about Tavira.
This delightful town straddles the Gilão river, and boasts 36 churches, a castle, and cobbled streets lined with traditional tiled houses. Departing from Tavira’s harbour are ferries to the tranquil beaches found along the seaward side of the Ilha de Tavira.
Tavira lies in the much quieter eastern Algarve, and is a long drive from Carvoeiro, but if you want to discover authentic Portugal you'll want to visit.
Related articles: Tavira guide
Tavira is bursting with character
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