What better time to re-acquaint yourself with the Algarve than in a fresh new blooming season? Nick Robinson of crosses the region from one side to another

There are so many ways to cross the Algarve… Some people use a bicycle, others use their feet and some other crazier types use a paddleboard. That’s me, I’ve done it twice on a SUP and both experiences were the best ever.

However, that is not what I am suggesting you do this spring – I reckon you should drive down to the east and aim to get to Vila Real de Santo Antonio for breakfast. Watch the sun slant over those roofs that have faced off Spain for so many years. Delve into the gridlike pattern of streets and sample some easy Portuguese breakfast in the square. There is absolutely nothing wrong with torrada and a galão (toast and a latte), but if you’d prefer the full works head over to The Grand House and enjoy a pre-booked breakfast.

A walk down the banks of the Guadiana River might be appropriate before continuing your tour westwards through the pine forests towards Monte Gordo. I’d suggest you move on towards Cacela Velha where there is a remnant of a fortress that once protected the Algarve from pirates in the 1600s. Built in Moorish times, it was reconstructed in the 16th century and helped protect Algarvians from the Barbary Corsairs.

Drive westward through Altura, an uninspiring town that explodes into life in summer, heaving with Portuguese tourists from up north. Great deals and typical food are found here along with calmer beaches and warmer waters due to the more gradual drop off into the Atlantic.

Tavira might be a great place to stop for a coffee. Tons of little spots are dotted along the Rio Gilão and whilst I enjoy Cafetaria Originato for their excellent coffee, many options abound. Tavira actually warrants a full day out with a possible ferry ride to the beach, lunch, coffee and medronho afterwards, but this is a whirlwind stop and we have a long way to go. Grab a lunch in Olhão, a lively, fun place to be with many foreigners gravitating to its busy social life. Check out Cestaria, and while you’re enjoying that lunch and marvelling at the sound of seagulls, the glittering Ria Formosa and people strolling past, spare a thought for the fact that you could have been enjoying a fantastic fish at À do Rui back in Fuseta. Oh well, you can’t do it all and you need to save some gems for the next time.

If you’re taking this mission seriously, and have dedicated a full weekend it should be nearing 3pm on Saturday. Find your car and head up through Pechão and Estoi before crossing the ancient Roman Road and joining the N2. This is the longest single road in Portugal and carries on for 740 odd kilometres up to Chaves near the northern Spanish border.

But now, São Brás de Alportel is far enough. Stop off for a leg stretch in the main square (if you can find a parking space) and then loop west along the N270 through to Loulé, one of the homeliest towns in the Algarve. It just feels good. Saunter around Loulé without missing the market. It’ll very likely be empty right now as Saturday morning is when it really buzzes, but that’s not where we’re going. Head for O Postigo, a small bar/café filled with culture and history that serves as a headquarters for the local biking community. On the calçada the members’ names are etched on the cobblestones.

Make your way south now and settle for a long walk along Quarteira’s promenade or around Vilamoura’s marina or just along the beach enjoying the sunset. We’ll tackle your Sunday outing next month!

Share This Story