Via Algarviana: Discover the Authentic Portugal on Foot!

By Sierd van der Bij

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Via Algarviana: Discover the Authentic Portugal on Foot!
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The Algarve, located in the southern part of Portugal, is well-known to sun-seekers. Pleasant temperatures and beautiful surroundings ensure crowded beaches. However, besides beach relaxation, the region also offers magnificent hiking opportunities. Via Algarviana winds its way through the Algarve in fourteen stages, allowing you to savor tranquility, expansive vistas, and the scents of herbs and trees along the way. Are you ready to explore the other, quieter side of this region?

You won't encounter popular beach resorts like Faro and Albufeira on this journey, but you will have the chance to explore serene villages, where you can unwind after a day of hiking. You'll get to discover local crafts and culinary delights, and along the way, you'll stay in small-scale accommodations. And as for your luggage? It will be transported for you. Vamos lá!

What and Where is the Via Algarviana?

The Via Algarviana is a hiking trail spanning over 300 kilometers in the southern region of Portugal, also known as GR13. This route begins in Alcoutim in the east, and over fourteen stages, takes you westward, eventually leading to Cabo de Sāo Vicente, the southwesternmost point of Portugal.

The concept for a long-distance trail in the Algarve had been brewing since the late '90s, and in 2004, the development of the Via Algarviana finally commenced. In 2009, the route was officially opened, and to this day, there is an enthusiastic effort dedicated to maintaining the trails, signage, brochures, and an informative website.

The creation of Via Algarviana was largely funded with European resources, with a significant goal of promoting sustainable tourism in a region facing a declining population. Thanks to its picturesque route and well-marked paths, hikers have the opportunity to intimately explore the culture and nature of the area.

What and Where is the Via Algarviana?

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A significant driving force behind the creation of the Via Algarviana is João Ministro. Hailing from the Algarve, he has been engaged in various ecological projects in the region since the 1990s, always with a focus on sustainable (touristic) development. The Via Algarviana fits well into this context because it traverses an area that is relatively unknown, making it deserving of more attention. The Via Algarviana thus serves as a splendid example of ecotourism, proving that the unfamiliar is no longer unloved.

Via Algarviana 6133

Did you know that we can book all overnight accommodation for the Via Algarviana for you? Check out all our options here.

Is the Via Algarviana Suitable for Me?

Walking the Via Algarviana is an experience in itself. As mentioned earlier, you'll be strolling through the inland of the Algarve, where it's serene and tranquil. You can let your thoughts roam freely, and along the way, your senses will be awakened by the scents and colors of the surroundings. The daily distances are substantial, but fortunately, the elevation gains are limited. With the right physical preparation and mindset, the Via Algarviana is also suitable for you.

In terms of distances and limited elevation gains along the way, the Via Algarviana can be compared to the pilgrim routes to Santiago. However, you'll notice that it's hotter and drier on this journey than during the Camino, so carrying enough water is a must. One significant advantage of our Via Algarviana package is that your accommodations are arranged, and (part of) your luggage is transported to the next overnight stop.

We do offer other hiking options in Portugal as well. The Fisherman's trail in particular is worth checking out.

Is the Via Algarviana Suitable for Me?

When is the Best Time to Hike the Via Algarviana?

The stages of the Via Algarviana take you through the inland regions of the Algarve, not along the coast. Summers in the inland areas are hot and dry, with relatively little shade along the way. Therefore, the best periods for hiking are in the spring and autumn. From February to April, the landscape is in full bloom, and in the fall, the first rains arrive, turning the surroundings lush and green. Additionally, temperatures are not as high as in the summer, although it can still be quite warm until October.

Via Algarviana map and navigation

There are plenty of maps and guides to help you do the Via Algarviana or any other trek in Portugal. Below is a map with an overview of the route.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Via Algarviana with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

What Will I Encounter Along the Via Algarviana?

Barrocal

The stages of the Via Algarviana meander through an area known as 'Barrocal.' In this region situated between the Mediterranean coast and the higher inland, the limestone soil and the red Barrocal clay yield bountiful harvests. From vineyards to almond and orange trees, they are abundant.

Food & Drink

If you're a fan of delicious food and drinks, the Via Algarviana is the perfect place for you due to its fertile surroundings. Fruits, nuts, and olives are plentiful. There's also a good chance you'll be offered the local firewater, 'Medronho,' at the end of a meal. It's a strong spirit and a true South Portuguese specialty. Fortunately, there's a honey-infused version if you prefer a milder taste, just ask for 'Melosa.'

Flora & Fauna

While hiking the Via Algarviana, you'll come across many forests of cork oak trees, as the region is well-known for its cork production. Beyond cork, the area boasts a rich diversity of flora and fauna due to its unique ecosystem. Birds thrive in national parks, and a profusion of trees, shrubs, and herbs grow and bloom.

Authentic Villages

In addition to the natural beauty along the way, you'll also pass through charming places during the Via Algarviana. They're great for winding down your hiking days. The region is dotted with small villages, spread across farmland, along the coast, or nestled in the mountains. From the former capital of the Algarve, Silves, to the serene Monchique with its water sources (and spa), known already to the Romans, an authentic experience is guaranteed.

What Will I Encounter Along the Via Algarviana?

Hikes Around the Via Algarviana

In addition to the fourteen stages of the Via Algarviana, there are also connecting routes to and from these stages. Through one of these eleven connections, you can hike to or from your starting point on the Via Algarviana. These connections lead to places where public transportation is available, making it convenient for further travel!

Another delightful extra feature of the Via Algarviana is the supplementary audio routes. These consist of ten short hikes around the stages of the main route. Highly recommended if your legs still feel up to it after a day of walking. While hiking these audio routes, you'll learn about local flora and fauna, as well as history. For instance, in the fifteenth century, the Algarve was a significant launching point for exploratory voyages on the Atlantic Ocean and to the West African coast, often funded by Henry the Navigator. His crews discovered places like Madeira and the Azores from their base in Lagos.

Hikes Around the Via Algarviana

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your accommodation and luggage transport, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Via Algarviana, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

Where Will I Stay During the Via Algarviana?

You won't come across large hotel complexes along the Via Algarviana, and that's a good thing. It's worth noting that wild camping is prohibited, and there are no campgrounds along the way, so you can leave your tent at home. The rural surroundings and small villages mean that you'll be staying in modest accommodations on your journey, such as bed & breakfasts or guesthouses. These are often beautifully situated in natural settings or in one of the charming towns along the route.

Where Will I Stay During the Via Algarviana?

Via Algarviana: Itinerary and Daily Stages

In this journey along the Via Algarviana, you'll have the chance to explore peaceful villages where you can unwind after a day of hiking. With this 7-day package, you'll delve into the inland area of the Algarve and complete 5 stages of the Via Algarviana. Enjoy a serene and colorful environment that will awaken all your senses.

Day
1

Loulé

Today, you arrive in Loulé and spend the night in this town. Tomorrow, your Via Algarviana adventure begins, allowing you to start your walk refreshed. You'll have plenty of time to explore Loulé, including its covered market where you can find local delicacies and charming souvenirs. Wander through the narrow streets with white houses and end your day on a delightful terrace.

Loulé Coreto Guesthouse (Loulé)

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Loulé Coreto Guesthouse (Loulé)
Day
2

Loulé - Querença

Duration: 03:40 h
Distance: 12.6 km
Ascent: 360 m
Descent: 290 m
Today marks the start of the Via Algarviana! The first stage begins from the lovely center of Loulé. You'll walk out of the town along a few larger roads before hiking up hilly paths. Along the way, you'll pass colorful houses and olive trees. The stage gradually continues to ascend, and at the highest point of the day, you'll come across an old windmill – a perfect spot for a break. Afterward, you'll descend gradually, concluding the stage in the charming village of Querença, where you can relax after your first day of hiking.

Monte dos Avós (Querença)

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Monte dos Avós (Querença)
Day
3

Querença - Salir

Duration: 03:46 h
Distance: 13.5 km
Ascent: 250 m
Descent: 270 m
Continuing from Querença, we hope you had a restful night. Today's route takes you along brooks and springs, over paths with the typical 'barrocal' terrain characteristic of the region. You'll keep ascending and descending gradually along the way, ultimately finishing in Salir. From here, you'll continue on the official Via Algarviana tomorrow, which is equally as beautiful.

Monte Carrascal Guesthouse (Salir)

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Monte Carrascal Guesthouse (Salir)
Day
4

Salir - Alte

Duration: 04:33 h
Distance: 16.4 km
Ascent: 270 m
Descent: 320 m
Today's stage takes you past old water reservoirs, with fruit trees and the picturesque village of Benafim along the way, a great spot for a break. The route continues on to Alte, the day's destination. This charming place is renowned as one of the most authentic villages in the Algarve, so take your time exploring and find a nice terrace to relax on.

Alte Tradition Guest House (Alte)

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Alte Tradition Guest House (Alte)
Day
5

Alte - São Bartolomeu de Messines

Duration: 05:35 h
Distance: 20.5 km
Ascent: 290 m
Descent: 360 m
Today, the schedule includes the first of two longer stages, so start early and take your time on the way. You'll walk by orchards and encounter cork oak trees, a regional specialty. Along the route, you'll pass through small villages, perhaps finding a nice terrace for a break. This stage leads you to São Bartolomeu de Messines, a larger town in the region with all the necessary amenities to conclude another successful day of hiking.

Bartholomeu Guesthouse (São Bartolomeu de Messines)

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Bartholomeu Guesthouse (São Bartolomeu de Messines)
Day
6

São Bartolomeu de Messines - Silves

Duration: 08:04 h
Distance: 29.1 km
Ascent: 480 m
Descent: 590 m
Today's stage to Silves is the pièce de résistance, covering over 29 kilometers to your destination. After several days of practice, you'll be up for the challenge. Fortunately, you can enjoy the beauty of nature along the way, including a large dam called Barragem do Funcho. The stage continues over dark red paths and past orchards with expansive vistas. Your final destination is Silves, an ancient fortress town that dates back to the eighth century, during Moorish rule. If you still have some energy left after today, it's a charming town to explore.

Mosaiko 5 Suites (Silves)

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Mosaiko 5 Suites (Silves)
Day
7

Silves

After breakfast, our arrangement comes to an end, and you will depart by bus and/or train to Faro Airport or another destination in Portugal or beyond. If you have some spare time, it's worth walking through the steep streets to the upper walled city or visiting the cathedral, which once served as a mosque during the Moorish rule and has a serene atmosphere.
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How to get to and from the Via Algarviana

By Plane

Faro Airport is the sole airport in the Algarve, and to reach the starting point of the Via Algarviana, you will need to fly to this airport. Many airlines offer daily flights to Faro from various countries. Upon arrival, you can continue to the beginning of the trail in Loulé by train and/or bus. This journey takes approximately one hour from the airport.

At the end of your hike, you can travel back to Faro Airport, or another destination in Portugal or beyond, by bus and/or train. Getting to the airport will require one or two transfers in Pêra or Albufeira. Ultimately, you'll disembark in front of the departure terminal.

Packing List for the Via Algarviana

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

Safety tips for the Via Algarviana

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The Via Algarviana is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the Via Algarviana. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of Via Algarviana and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Via Algarviana.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Via Algarviana?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Via Algarviana and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Via Algarviana not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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