Alluring Algarve Guided Walking Holiday
8 Days, 7 Nights
Wonderful walking on Portugal’s sunshine coast along the Cape St. Vincent Natural Park’s dramatic coastline and in the Serra de Monchique
The Algarve region of Portugal is a premier holiday destination for the sun-seeker, the nature lover, the historian and the walking enthusiast. Once thought to be the spot closest to the edge of the Earth, this region of Portugal is ideal in the spring and autumn for walking when the weather is warm and the crowds have thinned. The walking is excellent along the spectacular and dramatic coastline that is Europe’s southwestern most point, Cabo de Sao Vicente (Cape St. Vincent) – and a few miles inland along the area’s highest peak, the Monchique Mountain range.
Explore the beautiful and rugged coastline which is a protected area preserving the coastline’s unique geology notable for limestone grottoes and rocky outcrops, as well as its distinctive flora and fauna.
Golden and pristine beaches interspersed beside sandy islands with ocean waters that come in every shade of blue.
The Monchique area offers excellent walking through forests and along the mountain ridges of the two highest peaks, Mt. Picato and Mt. Foia. The views are lovely and the lushness of the area contrasts with typical images of a Mediterranean climate.
The flowers in both spring and autumn are plentiful as are the masses of olive and orange trees (freshly squeezed orange juice is a daily staple), and strawberry trees that are used to produce the Portuguese brand of firewater. We are treated to sightings of pomegranate, persimmon, lemon, fig and almond trees and bushes, all in a day's walk.
The Mediterranean climate makes it ideal to walk in the spring and autumn – sunshine, warmth but not too warm and balmy nights.
Historic evidence is scattered throughout the region and along the trail that date back to Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, as well as evidence of Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, and Moorish civilizations.
The Portuguese are friendly and hospitable and they enjoy sharing their traditions and regional cuisine with visitors.
April 5, 2019 $ 1,500
October 18, 2019 $ 1,500
Accommodations & Meals
There are two hotel bases on this holiday – we stay four (4) nights in Lagos and three (3) nights at Caldas de Monchique.
Marina Rio Hotel in Lagos. This hotel overlooks the marina and is a short walk to the historic center. This family run hotel offers a relaxing place to spend a few days. All rooms include private bathroom, bathtub/shower, air conditioning, satellite TV, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi. Hotel facilities include a comfortable lounge, game room, sun terrace and a small heated roof top swimming pool.
Hotel Central at Caldas de Monchique is higher up in the lovely Monchique Mountains and just 30 miles from Lagos. Hotel Central features an outdoor pool with a bar/lounge area. All rooms are en-suite with a bathtub or shower, satellite TV, air conditioning, hairdryer and minibar. The Thermal Spas exterior, enclosed in the valley surrounded by lush gardens, completes the picture.
Breakfast is self-serve buffet and are full breakfasts including eggs, meats, cheese, cereals, yogurts, fresh fruit, rolls, juices, coffee and tea. Lunches are at your expense and we typically stop at local cafes when and where we can along the day's walk or we take a packed lunch -- there are many resources near to where we are staying and we will help locate a supermarket or deli.
Dinners for all seven (7) nights are three-course affairs offering regional specialties. In Lagos, we choose from a variety of excellent local restaurants near the harbor, and at Hotel Central in the Monchique mountains, we dine at Hotel Central’s restauran
Holiday Price Includes
Accommodations en-suite for seven (7) nights (based on double occupancy). Four nights at Hotel Marina Rio in Lagos and three nights at Hotel Central in Caldas de Monchique.
Breakfast each morning as part of your hotel accommodations.
Dinners for all seven (7) nights.
Transfers between the hotel and the Faro airport on arrival and at departure, and between our two bases.
Transport to and from each day’s walk.
Full program of guided walks with experienced tour leaders and professional local guides.
Personal touring services from our tour leaders who arrange all aspects of the holiday for you and are with the group every step of the way.
What’s Not Included
This is a land only holiday so your flight to and from Faro is not included. We are happy to assist you with providing flight information from your local airport.
Lunches and beverages are not included.
Spa facilities at Caldas de Monchique (massages, sauna facility and other luxury treatments).
Local tourism tax paid to the hotel in local currency (approximately 1 to 2 Euro per person daily).
There is a single supplement of approximately $225 for the 7 nights and will be quoted at the time of booking.
All walks are of moderate grade with good underfoot conditions. The terrain is easygoing, averaging 7 to 8 miles daily. Ascent primarily in the Monchique Mountains of a few hundred meters - nothing too strenuous.
While exploring the coastal areas from our Lagos base, we walk on Vincent Way, part of a nature reserve which extends from the town of Salema westwards around the coast at Cape St. Vincent itself and then northwards as far as Odeceixe on the way up to Lisbon on the western coast of Portugal. The nature reserve was established to protect and preserve the outstanding beauty of the coastline and also the region’s flora and fauna. We will have the opportunity to observe the unique and beautiful coastline cliffs and limestone formations, diverse populations of resident and migrating birds, varieties of wildflowers, and the many remnants of past civilizations that are present. From our base in Caldas de Monchique, there are numerous trails that wander through the ancient woodlands and cork forests, offering panoramic views of the Algarve region.
We walk starting at 9:30 and end about 3:30 in the afternoon which allows time left in the day to enjoy the beaches, the setting sun and the old town and port during our stay in Lagos or explore the thermal waters and spa while in Monchique. A selection of the guided walks on the holiday include:
Budens wetlands and cliff tops to Salema.
Carrapateira, Pontal head and Amado Beach.
Vila do Bispo, Barriga beach, Corduama Beach, Vila do Bispo.
The National forest of Barao.
Lagos, Praia da Luz, Burgau, Salema.
Foia Mountain in the Serra de Monchique.
Picota mountain trail.
Silves and the Ilha do Rosario.
Amorosa, Torre Hil circular.
Holiday Tour Leaders & Guides
Great Circle Route is pleased to be associated with Secret Hills Walking, our partner in Europe Walking. Secret Hills Walking has been in the guided walking tour business in the United Kingdom and Europe since 2002, and as walkers themselves, they appreciate and understand the requirements of a walking holiday. Great Circle Route develops itineraries focusing on walking/hiking, history, gardens and culture of the places we visit and we personally research, fully vet and coordinate all holidays with Secret Hills Walking to ensure our guests are completely satisfied. Our touring team comprises leaders from Great Circle Route and Secret Hills Walking and often we complement the team with local guides who are passionate and knowledgeable about the area and the walking routes.
The Western Algarve & Monchique Area. The coast west of Lagos, as far as Sagres, remains one of the least spoiled parts of the Algarve, largely thanks to the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina which prohibits large-scale building on the coastline west of Burgau. As a result, the resorts in this area remain low rise and low key. Most of the coast is linked by a craggy coast path and you can easily walk between many of the villages. Watch for the fishermen who are often precariously perched on a cliff ledge reeling in their catch.
Lagos is a lively and charming town, with a variety of restaurants, bars, shops, beautiful beaches and picturesque coves – suitable for all age groups. It is full of historical interest with its origins dating as far back as 2000 years BC when it was known as Lacobriga. Lagos has always had a seafaring connection, originally visited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians and then, during the 15th century, was the base for the 'voyages of the Discoveries' instigated by Henry the Navigator when trade between Africa and Portugal brought a great deal of wealth into the town. The older part of Lagos is still circled by the city walls that were constructed during the 16th century when it was the residence of the governors of the Algarve, and by the fort, Ponta da Bandeira by Batata beach is part of the 17th century fortifications that were added to protect the town. Behind it (on the opposite side of the road) is the Porta de São Gonçalo (St.Gonçalo’s gate) with a watchtower on either side and just to the right of this is the Governors' Castle (of Arab construction). Lagos is certainly full of history, but it is also popular due to its close proximity to the region’s best beaches. To the east is the long sweep of Meia Praia, while to the west – from Praia de Dona Ana to Porto de Mos – you will find the series of coves, caves and rock stacks for which the Algarve’s geologic diversity is evident.
Caldas de Monchique. Away from the coast and several miles north is the charming spa town of Monchique nestled in the foothills of the Serra de Monchique mountains. It is famous for its waters, which supposedly have healing properties, since Roman times. The Monchique Mountains are fun to walk and the areas’ wealth of plants and trees are very interesting. The hillsides are covered with pines, acacia trees and the famous cork oak trees, harvested to make wine corks and other cork products. The twin peaks of Foia and Picota loom over the lovely green valleys and make this superb walking country.
Further Travel Information
Getting to the Algarve holiday. The price for this holiday is land only and does not include flights from the United States (US) to Portugal. The hotel transfers included in the price are from the Faro airport. It is ideal to arrive in Faro by mid-afternoon to allow yourself a bit of time to relax. We can help research your options for arranging travel to Faro with the most convenient airports being Lisbon and Faro in Portugal or Sevilla Spain. (Lisbon is served by all major airlines from the US and is 165 miles from Faro. Seville Spain is 120 miles from Faro.) Airfare will cost between $600 - $1,500 roundtrip between the US and either Faro or Lisbon, depending on where your flight originates, the time of year and when you make your booking. Budget airlines from several European capitals may offer a better price if you are adding onto a trip to other European countries. Please note that the published holiday dates are the dates you arrive in your holiday area and not when you leave the United States.
Extra days and nights. If you are interested in adding any extra days and nights to your holiday to explore more of the area, and you would like our help, please let us know.
Passport and Visa Requirements for U.S. Citizens. Passports must be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the intended date of departure. It is further recommended that your passport have at least two (2) blank pages. Consult the U.S. Department of State’s website for the most current country requirements. No Visa is required for stays up to 90 days.
Weather. The climate in the Algarve Region of Portugal is typically Mediterranean with mild winters and hot summers – with Spring and Autumn the best walking climate with usually sunny days, highs in the upper 70s and lows in the high 50s to low 60s.
Official language. Portuguese is the official language and English is widely spoken.
Travel Insurance. Travel insurance for financial protection and peace of mind is recommended. Unexpected events before or during a trip may leave you with cancelled plans, delayed flights and missed connections, lost or damaged luggage, or unforeseen medical expenses. Therefore, we strongly recommend obtaining Travel Insurance to protect your travel investment. Companies that provide comprehensive policies include Travel Guard, Travel Insured International, Allianz, Travelex to name a few.
Sustainability. We support, where applicable, the concepts of responsible and sustainable tourism. Our trip will involve the use of in-country and local industries for all our visiting needs whenever feasible and possible.
Starting Location: Faro Airport
Ending Location: Faro Airport
Path Cuisine Clag