In the fall, the weather on the Algarve coast is still quite pleasant and enjoyable, but that is far from being the only reason why you should explore this region at this time of year. Did you know that the Algarve is home to some of the best and most scenic walking trails and boat tours in the country? Autumn is the perfect time to also discover the picturesque and charming villages and towns. As prices drop (compared to summer) and the crowds disappear, this time of year becomes really attractive for those who want to explore this ravishing region, but with less people, less stifling heat and cheaper prices. Here we will show you the top 10 things to do in the Algarve in the fall!
Take a boat trip along Ria Formosa
Did you know that the Ria Formosa is considered one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal? This wetland has also gained great international importance. Made up of two peninsulas and five islands, this natural park and lagoon system extends for 60 kilometers between the beaches of Garrão and Manta Rota and occupies an area of about 18,000 hectares, encompassing several municipalities.
It is the wildest side of the Algarve coast, far from the crowds and the more urban atmosphere of some towns, and is full of canals, salt marshes, lagoons, beaches, dunes, marshlands, pine woods and agriculture fields. Here you will find a great diversity of ecosystems, flora and fauna. Exploring this beautiful place you will find numerous species of birds and numerous hiking trails. Fishing, salting and catching mollusks and shells are the traditional activities of the people living here.
To properly explore this wonderful area, in addition to the many walking trails, you can also take a boat ride that will take you through the calm waters and give you the opportunity to admire the idyllic landscape and many animals. In the fall, the lacking of extreme and suffocating heat will help you make the most of this trip.
Visit the Tavira Island
Several beaches of unique natural beauty, great restaurants and tranquility by the sea – this is what you will find on the Tavira Island, an island that is part of the Ria Formosa Nature Park, but deserves its own spot in the light. Located about 11 kilometers south of the city of Tavira, the island can be reached only by ferry and is known for its four paradisiacal beaches of incomparable natural beauty and quality.
The beach of Ilha de Tavira, for example, is considered by many to be one of the best beaches in the Algarve and is an extensive blue-flag beach, with fine white sand and calm transparent waters. It is the ideal place for you to work on your tan, but even if the weather is unfavorable at this time of year, you can always take the opportunity to walk along a short trail that will allow you to get to know the island. Plus, you can always have lunch in one of the many good restaurants - there is nothing better than an excellent fish dish with a breathtaking view in the background.
Once in Tavira, considered one of the most attractive towns in the Algarve, be sure to also stroll through the charming historic center and admire the old houses, visit the castle, cross the ancient Roman bridge, enjoy the many gardens and cafes, and taste the delicious local cuisine.
Do a hike along Serra de Monchique
As we have already shown you, at this time of year you can go for a very pleasant hike in the Ria Formosa. But along the Algarve coast there are many other places where you can put on your backpack, go for a walk and enjoy the astonishing views and fresh air. If you are a nature lover, the Serra de Monchique is a great site for you to explore on foot. You can hike the Serra de Monchique and enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery of sea and mountains, mixed with a vast area of whitewashed houses with their typical chimneys.
This mountain separates the Alentejo from the Algarve and is located between the Espinhaço de Cão and Caldeirão mountains. The highest point of this mountain, Foia, is the highest in the Algarve! It is also worth going up the mountain to Picota, for example. Walking along the different paths, you will be surrounded by lush, rich and varied vegetation. It is easy to understand why this area has been named the "Garden of the Algarve".
In the mountains, you will also find several mesmerizing waterfalls, and an important thermal complex called Caldas de Monchique, surrounded by a quaint park, dotted with large trees. There are also several viewpoints to explore, as well as valleys, ravines and fountains. This site is kind of a hidden jewel of the Algarve region, known for its thermal waters and amazing views. Discover the charm of this mountain on foot, or opt for a horseback ride or a bike ride. In the end, there is nothing better than relaxing with a thermal treatment.
Stand in the southwesternmost point in Europe
In the Algarve region, more precisely a few kilometres outside Sagres (also known as the Sacred Promontory), is the southwesternmost point of the European continent, which in ancient times was believed to be the end of the world. The windswept cape surrounded by the sea, Cabo de São Vicente, is of a wild and rare beauty and is considered one of the most legendary places in Portugal.
Today, this cape is known for its charming lighthouse, built over the ruins of a 16th-century Franciscan convent. It is worth watching the waves crashing against the rocks, while marvelling at the endless blue. Sagres can really captivate anyone with its towering cliffs sculpted by the sea and its beautiful landscapes.
In Sagres you can hike cliff paths, watch surfers perform their tricks in the rough sea, admire the lively, pretty fishing port, watch the sunset from the top of the cliffs and overall enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of great beaches in Sagres, but even in milder weather you can enjoy the spectacular views and learn more about the interesting and rich nautical past of Sagres and Portugal (the town was an important place at the time of the voyages of discovery). There are also many bars and good restaurants for you to indulge in the tasty local cuisine, and a quaint fortress, sitting atop a rugged headland, for you to explore.
Explore some incredible coastal treasures
Along the coast of the Algarve, there are plenty of amazing spots to discover, even in the fall. The famous Benagil Cave is definitely one of them. This huge cave with a hole in the “ceiling” that illuminates it, is characterized by its spiral walls in shades of brown, orange and yellow, and a small beach with turquoise waters inside. You can get there by boat and enjoy the rock formations along the way.
Speaking of impressive rock formations: Ponta de Piedade is also a must-see when in the Algarve. This natural monument in Lagos consists of cliffs and rock formations that make up for the perfect place to watch the sunset. It can be explored on foot or by boat - either way you will be amazed by the overwhelming scenery.
In Carvoeiro, there is another hidden coastal treasure, the Algar Seco. There are lovely golden rock cliffs, caves dropping into the sea and natural pools to admire, and a long wooden promenade to explore. Here you will find the famous “Boneca”, a rock that resembles a doll. It is a true nature’s masterpiece!
Do some dolphin and bird watching
If you are a nature lover, there are many ways to enjoy your fall holiday on the Algarve coast. Bird watching and dolphin watching are two great outdoor experiences that will allow you to discover the Algarve region in a different and unique way.
Given that Algarve has the richest avifauna of Portugal, there are plenty of sites where you can admire different species, while still getting to know the region (and without that scorching heat). The aforementioned Ria Formosa is a great place for this activity, and some of the best places to do so can only be accessed by boat, which in itself can be a very interesting and thrilling experience. Cape St. Vincent near Sagres, Ponta da Piedade in Lagos, the Alvor Nature Reserve and the Monchique mountain range are also great spots for birdwatchers.
The dolphin or whale watching activity will also give you the opportunity to go on a boat tour and explore the ocean wonders. The Portimão Canyon, the Ponta da Piedade, the St. Vincent Canyon in Sagres and the Albufeira region, for example, are good options for you to go and observe marine mammals. While on this adventure, you can also explore the spectacular caves and grottoes.
Stroll around the picturesque and charming towns of Algarve
Since in the fall the heat is less intense and you can already feel a pleasant breeze in the air, this is the perfect season to explore some towns on foot. Faro, the provincial capital of the Algarve, is one of the charming towns worth exploring. This bustling and versatile city features a tranquil fishing harbour and an interesting old town, dotted with some historic buildings, churches and whitewashed houses, and remains of medieval walls. The imponent gateway, the Chapel of Bones and the lovely cathedral are just some of the highlights.
Silves, once the most important town in the Algarve, is also a great place to explore on foot in the fall. This medieval town stands among citrus groves, lush green hills and vineyards, and features several attractions, such as the imposing, well-preserved medieval castle, the beautiful cathedral, the city gate, the archeological wall remains, the medieval bridge and the nearby vineyards.
Make the most of your time and stroll around other towns as well, such as Albufeira and Lagos. Albufeira, for example, has plenty of pristine beaches, but also an exciting nightlife and many squares dotted with quaint restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. You can wander around the meandering streets lined with whitewashed houses or relax by the marina – and the best part is that you escape the crowds at this time of year!
Lagos, an ancient marine town, is also a very interesting place to visit, as it houses one of the most beautiful natural monuments: Ponta da Piedade. There are also other highlights, such as the marvellous beaches, the zoo, the lovely marina and the pretty churches. You can wander around the old town, do water sports, admire the impressive rock formations, or even hike the Lagos Coastal Walk. It is one of the most visited towns in the Algarve!
These are just a few of the many towns worth exploring. Check out our Week in Algarve tour.
Enjoy the sunset at one of the ravishing desert beaches
At the beginning of autumn, the temperatures on the Algarve coast still allow you to go to the beach and take the opportunity to touch up your summer tan – and even if the weather is milder, it is always a good idea to take a stroll along the paradisiacal beaches of the Algarve, without the crowds that gather here in the summertime.
There are several heavenly beaches that you can explore, such as Praia do Camilo or Praia Dona Ana in Lagos, Praia do Vau in Portimão, Praia dos Alemães in Albufeira, Praia do Barril in Tavira, among many others. The beaches of this coastal area are ideal to watch the sunset after a day of exploring. Besides, the climate is still pleasant, so you can take advantage of the good restaurants with terraces to eat fresh fish or seafood outdoors.
Drink exquisite wines and visit the vineyards
The Algarve has much more to offer besides its amazing beaches and great climate. As this region is protected by the surrounding mountains, the countryside is characterized by stunning landscapes, and green fields and hills behind which numerous vineyards and wineries are hidden. The fertile soils and the rain-free, warm climate give rise to excellent wines - some of which are even nationally and internationally recognized!
The region is mostly known for the production of red wines, although some wineries also produce white wines. Portimão, Lagoa, Lagos and Tavira are the main towns that house celebrated wineries, where you can do a tasting and savor the soft, delicate flavor of the local wines, while learning more about how the wine is produced, from the vineyard to the bottle. You can explore the vineyards and let yourself be enchanted with the eye-catching scenario, as beautiful as that of the coastal region.
Discover the beautiful local craftwork
Porches, near the town of Lagoa, in addition to being a small and adorable village known for its great wine, is also famous for its traditional and original handicrafts. In the Algarve, you will find beautiful examples of local pottery art. In Porches specifically, you will find amazing pottery of Moorish majolica roots that is characterized by its blue tones. Here you will find tiles, crockery and other hand-painted decorative pieces that you can take home as a souvenir! Plus, on site, you can see how these potteries are made and painted.
In the Algarve region, you will also find a Cork Factory that is worth visiting, in order to get to know more about the local handicraft tradition. Located in São Brás de Alportel, this factory offers guided tours and creative workshops, where you can learn more about this emblematic industry and the importance of cork in the Portuguese market. You can follow the entire process of processing, from printing to the final product!