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Algarve 3 Day Itinerary - The Best Beaches in Portugal

Explore the best beaches in Algarve, Portugal with our 3-day itinerary. Discover hidden gems, stunning coastlines, and vibrant cities with our comprehensive guide to Algarve.

Praia da Cordoama
Praia da Cordoama

Portugal's southernmost region, Algarve, is renowned for its picturesque coastline, sun-soaked beaches, and warm Mediterranean climate. With its rich history, delicious cuisine, and welcoming locals, Algarve attracts over 5 million visitors every year to explore its hidden gems and popular attractions alike. With 155 kilometres of coastline, Algarve is one of the least densely populated areas in Europe. So seeing empty beaches in this one is nothing unusual - I’m totally fine with that.  Let's discover the top places to visit in Algarve, where every corner inspire with beauty and charm.


Is Algarve good for photography? - Check our Gallery from Portugal


Watch our YouTube video from Algarve

Discover the best of Algarve in this 5-day itinerary video, showcasing the top beaches Portugal has to offer.



Where's Algarve

Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is renowned for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. The two largest cities in Algarve are Faro, the regional capital, and Lagos, which is more vibrant and popular among tourists.


How to get to Algarve

The best way to reach Algarve from abroad is undoubtedly by arriving at Faro International Airport, located approximately 4 kilometres from the city center. Another convenient option to reach Faro is to take a train from Lisbon Oriente Station. The train journey between Lisbon and Faro takes around 3.5 hours. There are several trains available every day, making train travel in Portugal very convenient. We chose this form of transportation and can confidently recommend it.


Albufeira
Albufeira

Where to stay in Algarve

The top attractions of Algarve are spread along the 155-kilometre-long coastline. Several towns and small cities, like Albufeira, Lagos, Portimão, and Carvoeiro, are located along the coast. All these towns offer plenty of good restaurants and cafes, beach access, and numerous interesting spots worth visiting. The best way to choose a base is by targeting the locations you plan to visit. Since we planned to explore the entire coast from east to west, the ideal choice for us was to base ourselves in the middle, which ended up being Portimao. Here, we were close to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Algarve - Praia dos Três Irmãos, famous for its incredible rock formations, coves, and tunnels. Other popular places for tourists to stay are Carvoeiro and Albufeira. For those who prefer a city vibe, Lagos is a preferred choice.


How long to stay in the Algarve

The Portuguese coast of Algarve is known for its leisurely vibe, as many visitors enjoy spending their time swimming and relaxing on the beach. For tourists who decide to actively explore Algarve and see all of its most significant locations, it is recommended to plan a minimum of 3 full days for their visit.




How to get around Algarve

The bus network around Algarve is extensive and offers excellent connections to all the cities along the coast. If you're planning to visit only the charming little towns and the beaches outside of them, you'll be perfectly fine with the bus. Unfortunately, most of the incredible locations are further away from the cities, so after taking the bus, you would need to continue your journey with a taxi or Bolt. Undoubtedly, the best way to get around Algarve is by renting a car and driving on your own — this is the option we chose. We found car rentals in Algarve to be significantly more affordable than those on Madeira. Driving in Algarve is straightforward, with a paid highway along the coast connecting all the towns. We booked our car with Discover Cars because we always find the most suitable offers for our needs there.



TOP-5 Beaches in Algarve

The 155-kilometer coast of southern Portugal offers countless beautiful beaches to choose from. Undoubtedly, the best beaches in all of Algarve are Praia da Marinha, Praia dos Três Irmãos, Praia do Camilo, Praia da Cordoama, and Falesia Beach. These are the places I wouldn't want to miss during my visit to the Algarve.


Algarve 3-DAY Itinerary

Explore the best beaches in the Algarve, Portugal, with our 3-day itinerary. Discover hidden gems, stunning coastlines, and vibrant cities in this sun-soaked paradise of southern Portugal.


Praia dos Três Irmãos
Praia dos Três Irmãos

Algarve Itinerary Day 1 - Portimao - Praia dos Três Irmãos - Lagos - Cordoama Beach

Start the day by catching the sunrise at one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire Algarve: Praia dos Três Irmãos. The name of this beach literally means "Beach of the Three Brothers," referring to the three characteristic rocks on the beach. Praia dos Três Irmãos is very long, providing plenty of space to enjoy the beach in privacy. The most interesting features of Praia dos Três Irmãos are the unique rock formations, caves, and small coves that you can explore during low tide. While visiting Portimão, also visit its other beach, Praia dos Três Castelos. Although it is a bit less photogenic than its neighbor, it remains a great place for leisure activities in Portimão.



In the afternoon, set your sights to the west and visit Lagos, where you can explore the old town, the beautiful Lagos Marina, and the popular Praia dos Estudantes, famous for its Roman bridge. After checking out all the best places in Lagos, head further west to Sagres, an area known for its great surfing spots and epic sunsets. When we visited Cordoama Beach, we felt like we were traveling back in time. The beach was completely empty, except for a few freestanding campervans and RVs with surfboards attached to their roofs, parked on top of the cliffs. The atmosphere was very laid-back, and we enjoyed it a lot. As the sun began to set, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets of our lives. Ending the day at Cordoama Beach was one of our favourite moments in the Algarve.



Marinha Beach
Marinha Beach

Algarve Itinerary Day 2 - Marinha Beach - Carvoeiro - Albufeira - Falesia Beach

Algarve is a place where you can't miss a sunrise and we recommend you get up early on you second day to see the sun rise over Marinha Beach. Praia da Marinha is one of the most popular and picturesque beach in the whole Algarve. Located near the town of Lagoa, Praia da Marinha is a secluded cove with crystal-clear turquoise waters and golden sand. It is surrounded by tall limestone cliffs that offer a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean.




The beach is accessible via a long staircase that winds its way down the cliff face, offering stunning views of the coastline along the way. Once you reach the bottom, you'll be greeted by the calm waters and the peaceful sound of waves crashing against the shore. Praia da Marinha is a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. I suggest that you first walk up to the cliffs to find some interesting compositions for your pictures before making your way down to the beach - the views from the top are very impressive!


Algar Seco
Algar Seco

Carvoeiro Beach
Carvoeiro Beach

For lunch, we stopped in the picturesque town of Carvoeiro, surely one of the most beautiful fishing towns in the whole Algarve. The whitewashed houses with colourful painted walls right by the beach create a unique fairytale vibe. Just outside the town, we visited Algar Seco, a group of unique rock formations and caves with natural stone windows and balconies overlooking the sea. We spent an hour at Algar Seco, before we continued to our next destination. Although Algar Seco is a very unique place, we didn't feel it was a top spot in the Algarve. However, it's still a great location to visit if it's on your way.



Narrow streets of Albufeira
Narrow streets of Albufeira

From Carvoeiro, we headed east to visit the town of Albufeira. Albufeira is a tourist hotspot, and after experiencing it ourselves, we quickly understood why. The white walls and narrow streets, decorated with exotic plants and occasional paintings and tiles, made an incredible impression on us. Although Albufeira is quite touristy, with all the shops and local businesses targeting tourists, getting lost among its streets was one of the best things to do there.


Impressive cliffs at Falesia Beach
Impressive cliffs at Falesia Beach

We ended the day on Falesia Beach, in the eastern part of Algarve. Falesia is a very long beach at the foot of tall red cliffs, which make you feel like you're at the end of the world and there's nothing beyond. We spent our time walking the trails on the cliffs, looking for a nice place to watch the sunset, which turned out to be spectacular that day!



Praia do Camilo
Praia do Camilo

Day 3 - Praia do Camilo - Ponta da Piedade - Ferragudo - Benagil Cave

That day, we were able to visit two beaches at sunrise. Praia do Camilo and Ponta da Piedade are only a few minutes apart, so after spending some time at the first, we quickly moved to the second to capture some beautiful photos in the morning light. Once we finished taking photos, we returned to explore these locations in more detail.


Praia do Camilo is a cozy, picturesque cove with wooden stairs leading from the parking area right down to the beach. At low tide, you can even walk through a tunnel to the other side of the cliffs. Praia do Camilo is a fantastic place to visit in the Algarve.


Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade, on the other hand, feels like a fairytale harbour. Stone stairs zigzag down to a platform where you can access the water or park your kayak. The ocean is filled with large and small rock formations protruding from the water, creating a maze-like landscape. Ponta da Piedade might be one of the most unique places to visit in the Algarve.


Ferragudo
Ferragudo

On our way back, we stopped in the little town of Ferragudo, just outside Portimão, where we were staying. Ferragudo is called the most picturesque fishing town in the entire Algarve. Although I feel like I'm using the adjective "picturesque" quite a lot, the Algarve has many places worthy of this description. In Ferragudo, we spent some time walking through the narrow streets with colorful houses and tall fences that cut through the town like a maze. We even got separated and lost once, but it was fun exploring this town. By the riverside, we found an old boat where we took a few more pictures before continuing our trip.


Spend your afternoon exploring Algarve's number one attraction: Benagil Cave. Benagil is a large cave with a natural window in its ceiling. It is accessible only from the ocean, by boat or kayak. In 2024, there are some restrictions on visiting Benagil Cave to preserve the natural environment, so before visiting, make sure to check with your trip provider or rental company about the itinerary. We decided to skip this attraction as visiting the cave on a boat with hordes of tourists didn't appeal to us. Especially as in the Algarve, you can easily get many private moments if you explore the 155 kilometres of the Portuguese southern coastline.


Our Experience

After three intense days of not missing a sunrise or sunset, we spent one more day truly enjoying the beaches of the Algarve. We revisited places that had become our favorites: Praia dos Três Irmãos, where we spent half the day relaxing on the beach and recovering from our busy itinerary, and Praia da Cordoama, where this time we went to the cliff viewpoint to get another perspective of the place.


One thing I wish we had known about the Algarve is how important the tides are when exploring the hidden coves and caves of the Portuguese southern coast. Many places, such as the tunnels at Praia dos Três Irmãos, were inaccessible in the morning due to the water filling the space. We had to wait for the tide to drop to truly explore those areas.



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