This post may contain affiliate links, please see the privacy policy for details.

Being an impressive natural destination, there is no surprise that there are a whole lot of fun, outdoorsy things to do in Algarve, Portugal. With jaw-dropping cliffs, pristine beaches, world-class surf, and outstanding hiking routes, there is plenty of fun to fill an active vacation with.

Camilo Beach (Praia do Camilo) at Algarve, Portugal with turquoise sea in background. Wooden footbridge to beach Praia do Camilo, Portugal. Wonderful view of Camilo Beach in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal.
Photo Credit: DaLiu/Shutterstock.

Outdoorsy Things to do in Algarve Portugal

Whether you visit the Algarve in winter or summer, the sunny region of southern Portugal makes for an epic outdoor destination, with over 300 days of sun in the year. Get ready to uncover all the outdoorsy things to do in the Algarve so that you can start planning your active vacation!

Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is, without a doubt, one of the best hikes in Portugal. Taking you across the golden cliffs of the Algarve coast, this is one of the best outdoor activities in the region.

The 6-kilometer one-way hike takes you from Carvoeiro to the mesmerizing Praia da Marinha which has been nominated the most beautiful beach in Europe multiple times.

Portugal Algarve Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, lighthouse Farol de Alfanzina, coastal walk.
Photo Credit: vane_hinausindiewelt/Shutterstock.

Along the rocky coastline, the path crosses sea caves, sinkholes, natural arches, and several beaches, like Benagil Beach, where you can kayak to the world-famous sea cave.

Though it only takes a couple of hours to walk one way, make sure you plan for several stops along the way, especially if you go during the bathing season. You should also wear good hiking shoes and a hat as well as bring lots of water and sunscreen.

The trail is exposed to the elements and while the sun can be unforgiving on a hot day, the winter months can bring a chill wind, so a windbreaker in your backpack is a good call.

Take a Boat Trip in Ria Formosa Natural Park

Ria Formosa Natural Park is located between Faro and Tavira in the eastern Algarve. Marshlands, saltwater rivers, and scrub make up the perfect home for biodiversity seen in only few other places.

There are 5 barrier islands protecting this flatland from the ferocious Atlantic Ocean. Going on a boat trip to explore them is a great way to learn more about the tuna fishing culture that once flourished in this area as well as the ecosystem that lives on land and in the water.

Fisherboats at the beach Natural Park Ria Formosa - Algarve - Portugal.
Photo Credit: Michael Schroeder/Shutterstock.

The protected area is home to one of the largest seahorse populations in the world and the barrier islands are home to some of the prettiest beaches in the country.

Sweeping sandy beaches line the outer side of the islands. Some are inhabited and others still have small fisherman settlements that invite tourists to try local food at their restaurants.

There are different places to take these tours from. The easiest is to join one of the Faro boat trips, but if you want to explore more of the eastern Algarve, head to Olhao or Tavira where there are daily departures to explore the barrier islands.

Some tours also include snorkeling in the summer, which gives you a unique opportunity to see seahorses.

Take a Boat Trip in Ponta da Piedade

Ponta da Piedade is one of the most stunning rock formations in the Algarve and while you can explore them from land, there are also many Lagos boat tours that take you there.

Ponta da Piedade - two boats with tourists between famous rocks in the ocean. Number one attraction in Lagos, Algrave, Portugal.
Photo Credit: Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock.

This is by far the best way to explore the rock formations as the boat tour takes you through natural arches and into sea caves, and the guide will show you different formations that have been named by their shape by fishermen.

You get a unique opportunity to see secluded beaches that are only possible to reach by sea. Other beaches, like Camilo Beach and Dona Ana Beach, might tempt you with a visit later on your trip.

Going on a boat trip is also a great way to see Ponta da Piedade if you do not have a car as it is a good 40 minute’s walk from Lagos.

Kayak to Benagil Caves

Nature lovers will fall in love with Benagil Caves, which is hands down one of the most mesmerizing sea caves in the country, if not in Europe. Also referred to as the cathedral, the giant cave opens up to the sea through two large openings divided by a large natural column.

Bengali Cave, Portugal. Ocean in the grotto.
Photo Credit: Azlan Stock/Shutterstock.

Inside, the fine-sanded beach is lit up by the sunlight flowing through a sinkhole in the cave ceiling making it look otherworldly. Benagil Cave is only reached by sea. Though it is close to Benagil Beach, it can be dangerous to swim there due to underwater swells, so the best way to visit is by kayak or standup paddleboard.

You can rent kayaks at the beach, but in the high season, it is recommended to book a tour in advance as this is one of the most popular activities on the Algarve coast. It is also a good idea to go early in the morning before the boat tours start crowding the cave.

Note that the boats are not allowed to drop off tourists in the cave, so they will typically stop in the cave openings so they can get a peek inside.

Insider tip: If you visit kayak and paddleboard you can enter the cave. To avoid all the boats in your pictures, the earlier you go the better your experience will be.

Explore the Countryside by 4WD

Adventure seekers will be happy to know that there are Jeep safari tours of the Algarve’s countryside that you can join for a different experience. These tours will typically take you on a thrilling ride through the Algarve outback through fruit plantations, idyllic vineyards, and old windmills.

Typical landscape of Alentejo, Barrancos, Portugal.
Photo Credit: Rui Leca/Shutterstock.

Visit traditional villages and get the opportunity to learn about local produce and handicrafts on the tour. If you prefer riding a buggy or a quad, there are plenty of options to explore the lesser-visited areas of the Algarve – the inland. No matter what vehicle you prefer, this is an adventure that will get your adrenaline pumping.

Take Surf Lessons

Portugal’s southernmost region is famous for its fabulous surf schools and epic waves. So whether you are a first-time surfer or you have learned the basics, the Algarve is a great place to learn. Especially on the western Algarve, there are plenty of beaches to learn to surf like Praia Monte Clerigo, Praia da Bordeira, and the beaches at Cabo de São Vicente.

Surfer at the Atlanctic ocean beach. Algarve, Portugal.
Photo Credit: joyfull/Shutterstock.

But especially in Lagos, there is a great community for aspiring surfers with plenty of beautiful beaches where you can practice. If you have already completed the surf lessons you need to feel comfortable on your own, you can rent all necessary gear and drive to the beaches yourself.

However, it is a good idea to make friends in the surf classes so that you can hang out with others of your level. Believe me, it will not be hard to find others with your passion; the Algarve is jam-packed with adrenaline junkies looking for the perfect wave.

Experienced surfers will also enjoy the western coast and beaches like Praia do Tonel and Praia da Arrifana are both popular surf spots.

Go Snorkeling

With so many limestone cliffs and underwater caves, there are so many amazing places to go snorkeling in the Algarve. There is also plenty of marine life to explore. In areas with rock formations like Praia da Marinha and Praia do Camilo it is particularly beautiful and easy to access great snorkeling spots straight off the beach.

Girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool.
Photo Credit: Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock.

But it is also fun to go on organized boat trips where you get dropped off at secluded snorkeling spots and secret beaches. The natural beauty of Portugal’s southern west coast is mesmerizing with its rugged terrain.

But even the East Coast is incredible for snorkeling, especially where marine life like seahorses are present in multitude. While there are plenty of guided tours to join, I would suggest purchasing your own snorkeling gear and taking it with you whenever you head to the beach.

Especially if you are traveling with sun seekers who are happy lazing at the beach all day, you can take advantage of the wonderful underwater world.

Bird Watching in Ria Formosa Natural Park

Bird watchers will be thrilled to know how diverse the birdlife is in Ria Formosa Natural Park on the eastern side of the Algarve. Particularly between Faro and Tavira, there are plenty of unique species and the natural park is in fact one of the most important resting stops for migrating birds between Africa and Europe.

A group of flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) in Ria Formosa (Portugal).
Photo Credit: Taniaaraujo/Shutterstock.

You can take guided birdwatching tours, or you can bring your own gear and head out on an adventure. It is easy to walk on the wetlands around Faro where you can take trails like the Ludo Trail and see different wading birds and other species hanging out in the salt marshes.

Even if you do not have the patience for bird watching, there are great chances of seeing flamingoes, especially in the winter months they flock up in the natural park making it exciting for any animal lover to witness the beautiful birds as they cover the natural space.

Go Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is one of the most fascinating things to do in the Algarve. With a varied underwater life and underwater caves, there is plenty to uncover under the water’s surface. If you are lucky, you can even experience dolphins underwater which is quite a unique experience, but definitely not guaranteed.

But there is also an artificial reef at the bottom of the ocean created by the (deliberate) sinking of four large ships. Now, they are home to a thriving marine life making it one of the top diving spots in Portugal.

Scuba Divers swim over coral reef with Clown fish in an Anemone.
Photo Credit: Rich Carey/Shutterstock.

Beyond that, epic places for scuba diving are by far Lagos and Sagres where you can unfold amongst colorful biodiversity, limestone caves, and tunnels, as well as underwater islands that are home to a variety of species.

The best time for scuba diving in the Algarve is spring and fall when the temperatures are mild and the sea is calm. In the summer, there are a lot of tourists and boats in the water, making it a crowded experience and in the winter months, the sea is rough and visibility low.

There are also plenty of diving schools in southern Portugal. Whether you are completely new to scuba diving or you want to level up your PADI certificate, there are plenty of options in Sagres, Lagos, and Portimão.

Dolphin Watching

The Atlantic Ocean is home to several species of dolphins, and the Algarve coastline is a great place to see them. While dolphin watching is never a guarantee of seeing dolphins, there is a big chance of spotting them in the Algarve. There are different boat tours, but the best option is to go on a trip with a marine biologist onboard to learn more about the dolphin species you might see and their preservation.

One short-beaked common dolphin jumps out the water with splashes and shadow is beneath it.
Photo Credit: Rob Jansen/Shutterstock.

On a trip like that, you will see how they track the animals and it makes it a lot more of an adventure than just looking for the animals. If you are lucky, you can experience them swimming around the boat and get a real close-up view of them.

Note that there is a ZooMarine in the Algarve where they offer swimming with captive dolphins. This is NOT recommendable for so many reasons, from the animals’ and your safety to the well-being of the animals.

Paddleboarding in Lagos

Lagos is home to some of the most spectacular views of rugged cliffs and glittering ocean making it one of the best places in the region to go paddleboarding. This is one of the best outdoor adventures for anyone wanting to experience these breathtaking coastal views from the bottom of towering cliffs.

Benagil Cave, Algerve, Portugal. beach and boards for SUP.
Photo Credit: iacomino FRiMAGES/Shutterstock.

You can rent a paddleboard in Lagos and venture out on your own or join a guided tour. This way, you are guaranteed to not miss any hidden gems along the way.

There are several secluded beaches and caves to investigate. Large rock formations dart up from the water’s surface creating natural arches and different shapes that have been named by fishermen for centuries.

With a guide, you will not miss out on any of these and they will tell you stories and fun facts about the different formations, like the Elephant and the Kissing Couple. One of the most beautiful places to go kayaking or paddleboarding in Lagos is Ponta da Piedade, where these rocks stand up to 20 meters tall.

Take a Buggy Tour of the Algarve’s Countryside

One of the most adventurous things to do in Algarve is without a doubt going on a buggy tour. There are different tours from short and exhilarating excursions through rough countryside to full-day trips taking you 90 kilometers around the region.

Farol de Sagres (Lighthouse of Ponta de Sagres) surrounded by spring flowers, Algarve, Portugal.
Photo Credit: mtphoto19/Shutterstock.

These trips will typically include lunch at a rural restaurant where you will be served local food, and drive up in the mountains, giving you the best of diverse landscapes in Algarve’s untouched outback. It is a great way to combine adrenaline with culture in one of the lesser-visited parts of this otherwise popular corner of the country.

Hike to the Highest Point in Algarve

Can you think of more adventurous things to do than hiking to the highest top of your destination? Well, the Algarve is not exactly known for its high mountain tops, but nonetheless, there is a top.

Fóia Peak is 902 meters high and offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and the coastline. A good place to stay when hiking to the top is Monchique, where you can start the hike.

Beautiful location view of the tallest mountain on the Algarve region, located on Monchique, Portugal.
Photo Credit: Mauro Rodrigues/Shutterstock.

While there are multiple trails to the summit, the most popular is part of the longer Via Algarvana, which takes about 2-3 hours round trip. It is easy to follow and easy to walk, but you should wear good hiking shoes, nonetheless.

Take some cash with you if you want to buy some refreshments at the top. There is a café near the top, next to the car park, where the less adventurous souls can drive their cars.

However, the walk to the top is well worth it, and the rewarding views will take your breath away. Even if it does not sound very high, it is still the highest point in the Algarve.

Ensure you leave no trace and dispose of any packaging you may be left with after the hike.

Enjoy All the Outdoor Activities in Algarve

As you can tell, there are plenty of adventurous things to do in the outdoors in Portugal’s southern region. And not all of it includes surfing and kayaking. Between the impressive coastal cliffs, walking routes, majestic wildlife, and epic surf spots, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The stairs down do the ocean at Ponta da Pidade in Lagos, Portugal.
Photo Credit: Daniel Majak/Shutterstock.

You are guaranteed to find an adventure in nature that fits your fitness level and need for adrenaline or not. There are many things to do in the sea, but also on land, the Algarve surprises with an array of fun ventures.

You Might Also Like

Linn Haglund

Linn Haglund is an avid traveler, travel and outdoors blogger, travel vlogger, and freelance writer who has based herself in the Iberian peninsula for the last 10 years. Her love for the Algarve led her to start the travel blog Amused by Algarve where she helps travelers navigate this breathtaking south Portuguese region.

You Might Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *