If you have been living here in the Algarve for some time, you may well have taken a wander through our natural landscape. Personally, I love walking and, for obvious reasons, I generally stick to the area I live in because it is easier and more convenient. I live in the hills around São Brás de Alportel and while I don’t traverse the official hiking routes on a daily basis, my valley serves as a fantastic route combining many different paths and combinations of walks. In all of the rural areas of the Algarve, this holds true and you can walk your own paths all over the region, exploring as you go.
Naturally you need to be prepared when setting off for a jaunt into the wilderness (no article on walking is complete without a few provisos!). So, take a reusable bottle of water, use good shoes, take your phone and know where you are going. Your phone can serve you with multiple uses: emergency contact, maps, tracking and recording the joy of your walk on camera!
Two more things: be aware of the occasional dog (more of a problem for cyclists actually) and if you’re walking close to the cliffs, be extremely careful near the edges.
Occasionally I do invest the time in a walking excursion or two and I had the pleasure of joining a walking group just east of Lagos near a town called Odiáxere.
The calm Sunday morning walk took us above the Algarve’s racetrack, near Portimão, and as the typically clear winter’s day warmed up, occasionally a faint far away buzz of highly tuned engines could be heard.
In comparison, the tranquillity of the walk was utterly peaceful as we traversed a burbling mountain stream. The chatter of the group could be heard as we crossed ridges and stunning views to the ocean and up to Monchique unfolded around us.
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail may be one of the busier walks in the Algarve, but that is for a jolly good reason: it could be the most spectacular walk you will ever do. Very recently it was named the Best Hiking Destination in Europe by online portal “European Best Destinations”.
Years ago, I used to live in Carvoeiro and on wild winter mornings when the ocean pounded away at the rocks below, I used to head out through Algar Seco and hike to the lighthouse and back. A few years later, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail was announced, fully signposted and marketed by the tourism board. It’s a romantic-sounding name and it certainly has helped many other people experience the pleasures of Benagil, Praia da Marinha and the astonishing Albandeira arch.
An inland jaunt up the flat-topped Rocha da Pena affords impressive views of the interior and gives you an excuse to explore Salir and the surrounding areas.
Rocha da Pena is a naturally protected area and, as a result, no wild boar hunting is allowed. When you are walking the area, look out for the ever-prevalent scuff marks of wild boars after they have been digging for succulent roots with their snouts (presumably the night before). I have seen a few wild boars on my jaunts but only from a car at night. Those chaps are pretty shy during the day.
The Guadiana River is another breathtaking place to walk. You have many options out on the eastern border, but a simple walking trip is to stop in Alcoutim, take the penny ferry across to Sanlúcar in Spain and walk north along a charming riverside trail. Go as a far as you feel like and then turn back and punctuate your day with a zip line ride across the river back to Alcoutim.
There are so many places to walk in the Algarve with so many different vistas available to you. I’d suggest you find some sturdy shoes and get out there and enjoy it! Many walking groups abound, so there is no need for you to go it alone. You’ll find evidence of those groups here in the Algarve Resident. Just for you, I have also compiled some useful links and resources (including the brilliant 2018 Guide to Walking Trails in the Algarve from the Tourism Board) on www.algarveaddicts.com/walks – enjoy yourselves!
By Nick Robinson
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Nick Robinson is growing a community which helps people explore the outdoors in the Algarve and assists people in moving to Portugal using online content. His blog, audio podcasts and videos are available for free on www.algarveaddicts.com