The Algarve is so much more than the sun and sea. In the little-visited East Algarve, it looks like time has stood still, and you’ll feel how good it is to slow down and live the good life with this carefully crafted Self-Guided Walking Holiday.
Each day’s walk highlights the contrasting landscape and wildlife of the region. This tour was put together for the enjoyment of those who have a special interest in rambling and nature.
Anchor cemetery in Barril Beach Tavira, a symbolic memorial to the near extinction of bluefin tuna within the Algarve
Tavira, the base of our walking holiday, is a lovely and quaint old-Portuguese charm, with over 30 churches, cobbled streets, and bougainvillaea-lined balconies. Its castle in the historical old town, the churches, and the typical houses provide cultural interest and special charisma. The River Gilão, with a workaday fisherman’s riverfront, runs to the azure lagoons of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Arguably the Algarve’s most charming town, in Tavira the fishing boats crowd the river Gilão and layers of history can be seen, from Phoenician excavations through Islamic-decorated doorways to Renaissance and Baroque flourishes. From the ramparts of the ruined Castle, look down over waves of triangular “hipped” roofs, spikes of lacework-white chimney pots, and the graceful domes and towers of the town’s 33 churches.
From Tavira, we prepared a set of walks to show you the incredible beauty of the area, the coastal and inland nature as well as the people and their ways of living.
Colourful typical houses in Tavira, a peaceful coastal town on the East Algarve.
The East Algarve countryside shows a tranquil landscape of whitewashed villages and groves of cork and olive trees. The Self-guided walks inland meander through charming green valleys, with birdsongs as a soundtrack. You’ll see few people and find peace. Lemon and orange orchards, almond trees, olive groves, and sleepy villages… Each walk is full of colour, plants, wildlife, and history and all are different with unique sights.
The Ria Formosa Natural Park covers 18,000 hectares. It’s a system of lagoons and islands and encloses a vast area of marshes, salt pans, creeks, and dune islands. The barrier islands are fronted by extensive sandy beaches and quaint typical fishing villages.
The Ria Formosa Natural Park is an essential area for migrating and nesting birds. The walks on this self-guided program will take you to the Park, where there’s a huge variety of wading birds and many other species. Flamingos abound and are a feast to the eyes.
In the East Algarve, the weather is good, people are friendly and welcoming, the nature is enticing, the food and wines are tasty and this program of walks is designed to give you the best of what this region has to offer, based on the charming town of Tavira. You’ll see a Portugal you’ve never imagined existed and that you’ll never forget!
Our self-guided walking holidays are thoroughly designed and include all the information you need, from detailed maps and route notes to a 24h hotline. The accommodation, airport transfers, and transports are included in the walking program.
Day 1 – Arrival in Tavira
Individual arrival to Faro Airport or Faro Train station.
Roman bridge in Tavira Venice of Algarve. The bridge itself is not of Roman origin. It was built when Tavira belonged to al-Andalus (the Islamic Domain of Iberia)
Day 2 – Cacela Velha & Cabanas Walk
An easy walk, close to the coast, starting in the beautiful old village of Cacela Velha, following tracks and quiet lanes to the picturesque old fishing village of Cabanas.
Here fishermen still continue their craft, mixing harmoniously with the visitors crossing to the island and the golden beaches. Here too you can rest, enjoy good food and drink whilst enjoying the sunshine by the colourful waterfront. Continue back to Tavira, through the saltpans where it’s possible to see an abundance of wildlife along with the traditional craft of salt extraction.
Walking time: 3h30; Distance: 14.1km; 8.7mi; Ascent/Descent: +65m/-66m; Min/Max Elev.: 2m/43m
Azure lagoons of the Ria Formosa Natural Park is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal not to be missed.
Day 3 – Cerâmica Walk
A beautiful walk going down a fertile valley, dotted with the occasional small family-operated traditional tile factories. Our walk passes through smallholdings where vegetable plots share space with olive, carob, almond, and fig trees.
This rich valley also has an abundance of orange and lemon orchards whose flowers perfume the air while the profusion of wildflowers delights the eyes. The walk takes us past the local beauty spot of Pêgo do Inferno and then brings us right back into Tavira and the hotel.
Walking time: 3h45; Distance: 15km; 9.3mi; Ascent/Descent:+146m/-282m; Min/Max Elev.: 6m/172m
Day 4 – Free Day
This is an ideal opportunity to relax and enjoy the attractions of Tavira and its surroundings. You can walk/tour independently, or visit local places of interest. From Tavira, there is a wide variety of sightseeing available (we can advise and/or recommend options according to your interests). In their free time, keen bird-watchers may wish to visit Castro Marim in the fens and marshes of the “Reserva Natural do Sapal”, famous for their flamingos, or enjoy other local sightseeing tours.
Castro Marim Nature Reserve, A haven for countless bird species, as the flamingos, regular visitors in this charming patchwork of green-blue marshes and crisp white saltpans.
Day 5 – Altura to Vila Real de Santo António Walk
A very enjoyable walk along the coast to the frontier with Spain. Start in the resort village of Altura and meander along small paths through the pine woodlands and along pristine beaches to reach the estuary of the Rio Guadiana that separates Portugal from Spain.
The walk finishes in the charming town of Vila Real de Santo António with a fascinating history and architecture.
From here, it’s possible to take the ferry across the river to the town of Ayamonte in Spain. You may want to enjoy some tapas or calamari in the many cafés of this attractive town!
Walking time: 2h45; Distance: 11km/ 6.83mi; Ascent/Descent: 11m/-20m; Min/Max Elev.: 0m/13m
Vila Real Historical Centre, a city founded in 1774, under the Enlightenment principles
Day 6 – Fuzeta Walk
A fascinating walk to the west of Tavira. Start in the fishing village of Fuzeta with its bustling waterfront, crossing saltpans full of birdlife, small hamlets with colourful houses and gardens, grand villas, and tiny small holdings to finish in Tavira.
You can stop en route at little cafés fronting the tranquil waters of the Ria or even lunch some wonderful fish and shellfish freshly caught that day!
Walking time: 4h; Distance: 16km/10mi; Ascent/Descent: 35m/-22m; Min/Max Elev.: 1m/27m
Barril Beach Train ride takes about 8 minutes and the journey is a bit more than 1 kilometre.
Day 7 – Santa Luzia & Tavira Island Walk
A real treat as you walk along with one of the finest beaches in the world and visit the small fishing village of Santa Luzia with its abundance of fishing boats bobbing in the gentle waters of the channel.
The cafés and restaurants here vary from simple to gourmet level and can offer all the local specialities.
Not just a day’s walking but a real day’s holiday as well!
Walking time: 4h15; Distance: 17km/10.51mi; Ascent/Descent: 21m/-21m; Min/Max Elev.: 0m/21m
Fishing boat in Santa Luzia, which fish for Octopus, then sold fresh in the small fish market.
Day 8 – Individual departure or extra days
At a convenient time transfer to Faro Airport or Faro Train station.
Maria Nova Hotel, Tavira
Maria Nova Hotel, Tavira
Maria Nova Hotel (4****) or similar
Located a 5-minute walk from Tavira’s bustling town centre, Maria Nova Lounge Hotel – Adults Only enjoys a quiet hillside location. Its modern rooms feature a private balcony with panoramic views. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools.
Maria Nova Hotel’s rooms are decorated with tiled floors, wooden furniture, and large windows. All rooms have a minibar, satellite TV, and an en suite bathroom.
The Bar Panorâmico offers an extensive list of cocktails and stunning views over Tavira.
You must be adequately insured to join our Portugal Guided walking holidays and Portugal Self-Guided walking holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday.
BeCool Travel has partnered with WorldNomads.com to keep you travelling safely. WorldNomads.com Travel Insurance is designed for independent and adventurous travellers, with coverage for overseas medical expenses, cancellation, baggage, and other expenses.
Please consult our Travel Insurance page, where you’ll be able to get more detailed info about insurance requirements and an immediate quote for your trip.