The Best Viewpoints in the Algarve
A small village, lovely Odeceixe is tucked away in the northwest corner of the Algarve. The drive up north may be a bit long, but it is well worth it for the viewpoints overlooking its sheltered, horseshoe-shaped beach. Shallow and usually gentle, the small river that crosses this beach is perfect for swimming during the warmer months. Despite its beauty, Odeceixe still remains blissfully uncrowded when compared to other places in the region.
2. PONTAL DA CARRAPATEIRA
Pummeled by powerful Atlantic swells, this bleak but beautiful headland offers clear views of Bordeira Beach and the mighty ocean surrounding it. Here, the salty wind, the fast waves and the clear atmosphere will make you feel truly alive. Carrapateira is a place to walk around, take in the coastal scenery and meditate. This untamed spot is a magnet for surfers and for people that just want to nurture the proverbial deeper connection with nature. Visit in spring or autumn for the best sightseeing experience.
3. CORDOAMA AND CASTELEJO CLIFF-TOPS
A perfect location to admire the mixing of blues between sea and sky, these cliff tops are some of the highest and darkest in Algarve. If you look down from there, you´ll quickly realize that Cordoama Beach is the perfect place for an invigorating walk. When shrouded in fog during winter, the imposing rock faces are awe-inspiring with a touch of the spiritual. In summer, Cordoama’s wide, open spaces are a welcome relief for those seeking solitude and remoteness.
4. SAGRES FORTRESS AND CAPE ST. VINCENT
Sagres is a large headland that affords unparalleled views across the shore. However, other than the views, there is not much more to see. That’s a shame, because its Fortress may have been the place where Prince Henry the Navigator started the European Age of Exploration in the 15th century (thanks to Henry’s secretive nature, this claim is still disputed by some scholars). Past conflicts have damaged it, and the huge earthquake and tsunami of 1755 destroyed most of what was left of the walls. Admission costs a few euros, but the views can be quite rewarding. Nearby, further west, you’ll find another landmark (Cape St. Vincent) that also boasts an incredible history and enjoyable views. Again, try to visit these places in spring or autumn: you’ll avoid the crowds and be gifted dramatic waves, flocks of seabirds and colorful flowers.
5. ROCHA NEGRA
The dark and intimidating Rocha Negra is a remnant of an ancient volcano that erupted 70 million years ago. To reach this fantastic viewpoint, you will have to climb the massive cliffs (on foot) either from Praia da Luz or from Praia de Porto de Mós. The climb may be challenging, but it is well worth the time and effort. Located on one of the highest cliffs in the Algarve, Rocha Negra offers truly breathtaking views of the sheer rock faces merging with the blue-green ocean down below. The sea breeze, the marine birds, and the huge cactus on site give this scenic and quite dramatic location a very special character.
6. PONTA DA PIEDADE
An iconic promontory in Lagos, Ponta da Piedade is famous for its intricate rock formations and crystal-clear waters. You can hike along the cliffs to contemplate the various grottos and arches carved out by the sea, or take a boat tour to access the rocky inlets that have been cut deep into the core of the headland. Resembling a giant, crumbling ginger cake, Ponta da Piedade is a perfect place for sunset viewing and landscape photography.
7. FÓIA AND PICOTA
Located in the green mountains of Monchique, Fóia is the highest point in the Algarve. Here, at about 900 meters above sea level (2950 ft.), the vista extends all the way to the distant, glittering ocean that baths Algarve’s south coast. The viewpoint itself is not particularly captivating but the general area is fresh, pleasant, and quite different from the rest of the region (oh, and there’s also great restaurants scattered throughout Monchique). Nearby Picota doesn’t quite command the same sweeping vista as Fóia. However, it is steeper, prettier, and more forested than its higher sibling.
8. PRAIA DA MARINHA
Praia da Marinha is the gateway to one of the most spectacular coastal trails you’ll ever see. With the gentle waves bathing its ornate cliffs and the sun casting a golden glow on the surroundings, this place offers truly mesmerizing sunsets. In spring and autumn, Praia da Marinha is a wonderful spot to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take in the serene tranquility of nature. Unfortunately, the beach itself has become way too popular during the hotter months.
9. NOSSA SENHORA DA ROCHA
Boldly thrusting out into the sea like a gigantic dagger, this remarkable viewpoint is crowned by a little chapel whose origins can be traced back to Roman times. Beautifully framed by golden cliffs, on either side of the huge rock slab you’ll find two attractive half-moon coves where the sea looks especially inviting.
10. CACELA VELHA
The Arab poets who once inhabited Cacela Velha now give their names to the narrow alleys of this tiny village. Because its landscape is truly inspiring, it’s no wonder that they wrote beautiful poetry here. Located on the eastern end of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, Cacela Velha overlooks beautiful shallow lagoons and immaculate beaches with some of the warmest waters in mainland Portugal. Fish, shellfish and seabirds are plentiful. During high tide, small boats will be available to take you to the outer sandy rim that encloses the ever-changing pools and aquatic channels. With its picture-perfect setting and historical fortress, Cacela Velha is not to be missed – but, in summer, try to arrive early in the day as parking your car can be a bit challenging.
Alcoutim is seemingly a world away from the bustling south coast. Its 14th-century castle still keeps a watchful eye on the old rival and friend, Sanlúcar, the village’s twin on the Spanish side of the River Guadiana. Here, the stillness is only interrupted by the loud clatter of stork bills as the birds try to find a spouse…ah, and also by the screams of excited visitors trying out the only cross-border zip line in the world. Being quite long (it runs for 720 meters as it crosses the river) this zip line offers unique, adrenaline-infused views of the rushing landscape down below. Image: Limite Zero Alcoutim
And here are the best viewpoints in the Algarve. There are many other fantastic viewpoints, but this selection of special places will allow you to witness the natural beauty of the whole region from east to west, and from the interior to the coast. Enjoy!