If you love majestic nature, top-tier secret beaches, unique animal life, and a breathtaking summer playground, Algarve is the best place for you to be.
Famed for its epic coastline and picture-perfect whitewashed villages, this sunny Portuguese region has no shortage of tourist attractions— many of them still off the beaten track. There’s no better summer destination for lovers of nature and slow, healthy outdoor living.
Discover the coast of Algarve, Portugal
In the very south end of Portugal, Algarve sits where Europe meets both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea at once. With high summer temperatures and little rain, this region is the sunniest in the entire continent. Algarve has a long and storied past. Already inhabited in the Stone Age and with important Roman and Medieval Moorish history, Algarve was formed by a melting pot of cultures and travelers. Today, you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and colorful culture built over the centuries.
But the true gems of Algarve tourism are its beaches and nature parks. Surfers, hikers, and all outdoors enthusiasts have endless spots to visit.
The 3 best pro traveler tips for visiting Algarve, Portugal:
● Visit in the off-season: September and October are less busy than the summer months
and still have temperatures averaging 18-20° C (64-68° F).
● Book in advance: even in the less-frequented season, Algarve is popular. So book your
tickets, accommodation, restaurant reservations, and passes in advance— especially if
you’re visiting the southern Mediterranean coast.
● Get an EU residence permit: to truly enjoy everything Algarve has to offer you need as
much time as you can get. An EU residence permit allows you to stay in the region for
at least a year— no wonder the expat life thrives in Algarve!
Explore the nature parks of the Algarve, Portugal
While the beaches in the Mediterranean South are popular year-round, there are still hidden gems and little-known nature parks dotted all across the Algarve region.
1. Reserva Natural Caminho da Baleeira
Staying in the picturesque former fishing town of Albufeira, you might be afraid of missing out on the wilder parts of the Algarve. No need to worry though— only a short distance from the city, you can find this small but stunning nature park.
The Reserva Natural Caminho da Baleeira is perfect for day hikes, with winding clifftop paths leading down to secret cove beaches and clear waters. And from the scenic Ponta de Baleeira, you’ll get the best view of the beautiful Albufeira.
2. Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina
If you like wild places and a feeling of unfettered freedom, you’ll enjoy the rugged Atlantic coastline of this nature park. The steep cliffs of this reserve include the Cabo de São Vicente, whose lighthouse marks the furthest southwestern point in Europe.
Who’ll enjoy the Costa Vicentina Park? Hikers, undoubtedly— the Trilho dos Pescadores
(Fishermen’s Trail) is one of the most majestic trails in the world. Birdwatchers will be thrilled to see the rare coastal nests of white storks. And surfers will love the wide variety of secluded beaches with consistent waves.
3. Reserva Natural Ria de Alvor
Perfect for a family trip and people with limited mobility, this nature park invites the visitor to a leisurely walk, some time at a quiet beach, and even a spot of birdwatching.
You’ll find the Reserva Natural Ria de Alvor just south of the coastal Alvor resort. The park enshrines a unique wetland habitat holding mudflats, sandbanks, and a wealth of wildlife that makes it ideal for a fun educational outing.
4. Tavira Island
As part of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa but only a few hundred meters from the coast, the eastern island of Tavira is easily accessible by ferry or even on foot. This 11-kilometer-long island is home to pristine beaches, calm waters for swimming, and an enormous number of flamingos. With a camping park, a handful of restaurants, and even a naturist beach, Tavira provides the best isolated tropical getaway in the Algarve.
5. Serra de Monchique
Who said Portugal was only for beach trips? While not technically a nature park, the Serra de Monchique in the Algarve is the southwesternmost range of mountains in Europe. Its geologic formations are notable, with its tallest peak being Mount Fóia at 902 meters.
With unique plant species, ancient archaeological heritage sites, mountain hikes, waterfalls, and idyllic clear streams, the Serra de Monchique has nothing to envy its coastal neighbors. And if you’re a thermal waters enthusiast, you’re in luck: the laid-back town of Caldas de Monchique is a geothermal spa paradise.
The Portuguese region of the Algarve is the ultimate destination for lovers of nature and long sunshine hours. No matter the option you choose, exploring the nature parks of the Algarve, Portugal is the adventure of a lifetime.