The following trails are some of the best to take in the varied Algarvian scenery. There are many different landscapes within the Algarve – Mediterranean scrub forest, oak woods and riverine woodlands predominate in the upland areas, whereas karstic landscapes and rainfed orchards cover the Barrocal. The coast is characterized by cliffs, enclosed beaches and sandy coves in the west, and by dune systems, lagoons, and wide beaches in the east. Particularly important areas for endemic and rare plants include the Vicentine Coast, the higher elevations in Monchique and Rocha da Pena (see below). The Algarve is also very rich in animal life, particularly birds. The region’s many wetlands, especially its estuaries, reedbeds and ‘rias’ – like Ria Formosa and Ria de Alvor – play a vital role for fauna, as they provide food and shelter for important invertebrate, fish and bird communities. They serve both as wintering and breeding grounds, as well as stopovers during the annual migrations. Designated protected areas in the Algarve include the spectacular Vicentine Coast, the placid Ria Formosa Natural Park, the Castro Marim Nature Reserve, as well as the Rocha da Pena and Fonte da Benémola Protected Local Landscapes. In fact, approximately 40 per cent of the total area of the Algarve enjoys conservation status.

From West to East / Left to Right, the routes are:


Telheiro Beach Trail | Vicentine Coast Natural Park | Sagres | Western Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Vicentine Coast Natural Park; Telheiro’s geologic unconformity; rugged, beautiful coastal scenery; high cliffs; panoramic views; Vale Santo birding hotspot; endemic, rare or threatened plants; rich birdlife


Castelejo Trail | Vicentine Coast Natural Park | Vila do Bispo | Western Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Vicentine Coast Natural Park; rugged, beautiful coastal scenery; high cliffs; panoramic views; Mediterranean pinewood; endemic, rare or threatened plants


Pontal da Carrapateira Trail | Vicentine Coast Natural Park | Bordeira | Western Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Vicentine Coast Natural Park; rugged, beautiful coastal scenery; sombre cliffs; panoramic views; scrubland; traditional agricultural setting; quaint villages; seascape; endemic, rare or threatened plants


Alvor Boardwalk & Estuary Trail | Alvor Protected Landscape | Western Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Alvor village & Alvor Protected Landscape; gastronomy; Ria de Alvor birding hotspot; estuary and marshland; beautiful coastal landscape; beaches; rich birdlife


Seven Hanging Valleys Trail | Lagoa | Western Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: beautiful coastal scenery; high cliffs; panoramic views; beaches, including Praia da Marinha; boat tours; grottoes and sinkholes; karstic landforms; juniper botanical communities; Alfanzina lighthouse


Paderne Castle Trail | Albufeira | Central Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: traditional rural countryside; ruins of Moorish castle (12th century) made with ‘military taipa’; riparian gallery; Mediterranean limestone flora


Rocha da Pena Trail | Special Protection Area | Loulé | Central Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Rocha da Pena Special Protection Area; traditional rural countryside; karstic geology and karst topography;  endemic, rare and threatened plants; birdlife; panoramic views


Fonte da Benémola Walking Trail | Protected Landscape | Loulé | Central Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Fonte da Benémola Protected Landscape; traditional rural countryside; cultural end ethnographic features; riparian gallery; diverse ecosystem; stream, springs and wells; endemic, rare and threatened plants; birdlife;


São Lourenço Trail | Quinta do Lago | Central Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: beautiful coastal scenery; dune systems; barrier islands; beaches; endemic, rare or threatened plants; Quinta do Lago birding hotspot; rich birdlife; forested areas; gastronomy


Ludo Trail | Faro | Ria Formosa Natural Park | Central Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Ria Formosa Natural Park; traditional salt pans; mudflats; wetlands and water streams; marshland; beautiful coastal scenery; Quinta do Ludo birding hotspot; rich birdlife; chameleons; forested areas


Barranco das Lajes Trail | São Brás de Alportel | Serra do Caldeirão

HIGHLIGHTS: rugged, hilly terrain; cork oak forests; botanical species in spring; birdlife; cultural, natural and ethnographic context; Serra do Caldeirão


Venta Moinhos Salt Marsh Trail | Castro Marim Nature Reserve | Eastern Algarve

HIGHLIGHTS: Castro Marim Nature Reserve; River Guadiana estuary and salt marshes; salt pans; wetlands; Castro Marim birding hotspot; rich birdlife