With this Self-Drive sightseeing tour, you’ll explore independently the different landscapes of the Central Algarve.
Based in the heart of the most famous resort of Portugal, Albufeira, you’ll go way beyond the lovely beaches and the bustling nightlife.
Your road trip will introduce you to lovely villages along the seashore and through the ways of the less-known countryside.
The beauty of the Ria Formosa, a natural system on the Algarve coast, is one of the richest floras and faunas of Europe.
To round up your trip, you have an itinerary to the East Algarve, to meet the impressive landscapes of the Ria Formosa!
All over the Algarve, contrasts are present everywhere, from the towns that are still home to fishermen to the international centres with cosmopolitan shops and nights full of music and beautiful people.
From the seaside grand villas to the modest whitewashed houses, paved in hundred-year-old stones, next to cobblestoned roads winding through endless fields.
From the cosmopolitan Albufeira built by the Arabs, you’ll travel to Ferreiras, just a few miles away. The difference is striking. Here the houses still have the typical chimneys, parapets hiding terraces where figs are dried, and you find windmills and waterwheels.
In Vilamoura, past the golf courses and elegant houses, there’s an Environmental Park that represents, cherishes, and protects the local fauna and flora.
We’ll take you to Rocha da Pena, a haven of life for birds and plants, with stunning views over the ocean. We’ll show you Querença, the way we know it. Its name means affection, love, goodwill.
Albufeira lovely beaches. Albufeira has nearly 30 km of coast and it’s the Portuguese council with more blue flag beaches
We’ll tell where some of the best cork in the world comes from, in a surprising museum in the middle of São Brás de Alportel, up in the hills.
We’ll share the knowledge and the beauty of the Ria Formosa, ex-libris of the East Algarve, home to exquisite and unique wildlife, protected by a nature reserve.
Visit Moncarapacho and discover the traditional handmade souvenirs from the local pottery.
Don’t lose the opportunity to experience the views from Cerro de São Miguel, and discover the wonderful fauna and flora of this part of the Algarve coast in Quinta de Marim.
Don’t miss the exquisite regional dishes, from the sea and from the land, accompanied by excellent Portuguese wines.
Let us show you the best parts of the Central Algarve, and take home with you a different side of this welcoming country!
Individual arrival to Faro Airport and rent-a-car vehicle pick up. Drive to Albufeira.
Holidays in Albufeira, Algarve’s most popular resort.
Day 2 – Discover your Surroundings
We suggest starting this day with a wonderful journey through the contrasts of the Algarve. First, let’s take the time to explore Albufeira. This cosmopolitan town was built by the Arabs on top of Cerro da Vila, a cliff that is almost like a peninsula, an invincible position, which is why they called it Al Buhera (fortress). Before them, the Romans called it Baltum.
The 1755 earthquake destroyed practically all the buildings. The Church of São Sebastião and the Church of Sant’Ana, both dating back to the 18th-century, have some details that survived the terrible event.
As you leave Albufeira and begin your drive, in just a few minutes, you’ll find yourself in a very different sort of landscape, with small, friendly clusters of houses.
In Ferreiras, 5 km north of Albufeira, some of the houses still have the typical chimneys, parapets, and roof terraces. There, you’re taking the winding EM 395, where you can see windmills and waterwheels.
We recommend as you start driving south, to experience Vilamoura, not just for the well-tended golf courses and exquisite houses.
There’s an Environmental Park in Vilamoura, an ecological and landscape asset. The bittern and the purple gallinule are the stars of this ecosystem, where more than a hundred species of birds can be observed.
There’s also a museum and the Cerro da Vila archaeological site that offer visitors an imaginary journey through a 1st-century Roman villa.
Next, the blue and golden beaches of Praia da Falésia, Praia do Barranco das Belharucas, the unspoiled beauty of Olhos de Água, Praia Maria Luísa, and Praia da Balaia, before driving back to the hotel.
Sra da Rocha, a fishing harbour that roughly translates as ‘Our Lady of the Rocks, is a beautiful beach, which has a promontory with a beautiful old chapel on top.
Day 3 – The Hills Beyond the Sea
Today we invite you to know a different side of the Algarve. Away from the hustle and bustle of the coastal developments that have arisen next to the ocean, storks peer down from the chimneys of the ceramic kilns, and gentle streams cut their way through green fields.
Let us take you to Rocha da Pena, a colourful showcase of the beauties of the Barrocal. There are 390 plant species and 122 species of birds already identified there. In order to have a closer look at the area, we suggest that you take the time and wander through this landscape of dreams.
From here, continue to Querença. Older people say that Querença means affection, love, and goodwill. Located near two streams, the village is full of charm and beautiful views. In the main square, the Main Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of the Assumption) has a fine Manueline doorway.
As the day unfolds we’ll take you to São Brás de Alportel. Cork from São Brás de Alportel is among the best in the world and is used for the corks of the most famous champagnes. The cork oaks stand here majestically, with the strawberry trees growing in their shade – beautiful spontaneous small trees. Do not miss the chance to visit the Museum of Costumes and we promise that you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Springtime brings a burst of colours
Day 4 – Discover the Ria Formosa in the East Algarve
The day will drive you to the Ria Formosa, a system of lagoons of great natural beauty. It has been attracting visitors for ages, for the exquisite seafood, beautiful fishing villages, and fabulous beaches. From Faro, it extends eastwards for almost 60kms.
We suggest a wider circuit to access Moncarapacho. This small village beautifully surrounded by streets covered in pomegranate trees hosts Moncarapacho Pottery, a family-run craft business, producing traditional local pieces. This is an ideal place to find a souvenir of the Algarve.
There are a number of 19th-century and early 20th-century houses in the village; and the main church, dating back to the 15th-century, is an enlargement of the original Gothic chapel. The Parish Museum, adjoining the Chapel of Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit), contains a valuable collection of religious imagery from the 16th to 18th-centuries.
Don’t lose the opportunity to drive to the top of Cerro de São Miguel, 411 meters above sea level, from where one of the most beautiful views in the Algarve can be seen.
The Ria Formosa Nature Park covers an area of some 17,000 hectares, from Cacela Velha to Ancão, and provides an opportunity to discover the wonderful world of the fauna and flora of this part of the Algarve coast.
The Information and Interpretation Centre in Quinta de Marim, 1 km from Olhão, has a museum and exhibitions that are well worth visiting.
Cubic rooftops Olhao, a rare gem and a top place for a relaxing tour.
Day 5 – Individual departure or extra days
Rocamar Exclusive Hotel
Rocamar Exclusive Hotel (4****)or similar
Basking in the sunshine of the Algarve, a refurbished hotel, with the beach at your feet, the sea in the background, and all of Albufeira’s entertainment on your doorstep…
The Rocamar Exclusive Hotel has 88 rooms, 52 of them overlooking the sea and Albufeira’s beautiful beach. Enjoy the view, the comfortable bedrooms, and the hotel’s excellent location close to the beach and Albufeira city centre.
The hotel is only for adults.
4 nights in a standard twin room with a land view for two pax (4 stars hotel)
Single supplement available with a surcharge
Extra nights available on request
4 buffet breakfasts at the Hotel
Half-board available with surcharge (buffet dinner at the hotel without drinks)
Rental car vehicle (class A with ABS, 4 seats, and 3 doors)
Your car rental includes unlimited mileage, insurance (except Excess and TWL), and 24h Travelling Assistance
Rental car upgrade and extras available on request, with extra costs
Your information pack includes
Emergency contact numbers
General information about your holiday
List of the hotel(s)
Directions for arriving at your first hotel, if applicable
Detailed maps and route notes in your own mobile with App Routes & Maps (or detailed travel documents 1x per room)
Foreign Office Travel Advice
Any services not listed as included
Flights to and from Portugal
Meals, tips/gratuities, baggage, or personal insurance (except as outlined)
Admission fees to castles & attractions or events (except as outlined)
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