Exploring The Algarve: The Ultimate Guide For Women Travelling Solo

Girls Who Travel | Exploring The Algarve: The Ultimate Guide For Women Travelling Solo

Choose Your Base

Start by choosing a central base before beginning your solo adventure. Albufeira, Lagos, or Faro are popular destinations, each offering a unique atmosphere. All three options have easy access to what the Algarve offers. But choosing your base location depends on personal preference of where you would like to spend your down time.

Albuefeira is renowned for its lively atmosphere, bustling nightlife, and stunning beaches. I recommend this for the younger crowd. The days are busy, and the evenings are even busier! It is Algarve’s entertainment hub that showcases a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Lagos is for those who are up for adventure. Its historic charm shows off a rich history, with charming cobblestone streets, historic churches, and stunning beaches. Lagos also features hidden coves and dramatic cliffs along its rugged coastline that is perfect for boat tours or hiking.

Finally, Faro is the cultural capital of the Algarve, and it was my personal choice. Faro is for those who wish to relax and be at one with nature. Faro offers a blend of historic landmarks, cultural attractions, and modern amenities. Here, you can explore Faro’s Old Town with its medieval walls, cobbled streets, and gorgeous cathedrals. As this was my base, it was very easy for me to explore the nearby Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is a haven for bird watching, kayaking, and beach combing.

Algarve’s Coastal Gems

Embark on a breathtaking adventure exploration in the Algarve, where golden sand meets crystal-clear waters, cliffs, and spectacular skyscrapers. From secluded coves to sprawling beaches, each one holds its own allure and invites travellers to admire the beauty of nature’s works of art.

I spent most of my time exploring the breathtaking coastline of the Algarve. From hidden hills to spectacular rock formations, there is no shortage of natural beauty to be found. Two of my favourites would be Praia da Marinha and the Benagil Cave — both were just nothing devoid of postcard-worthy sights.

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is famed for its breathtaking natural beauty and iconic limestone cliffs adorned with lush greenery. This beach is probably my top-rated gem in Algarve as I swam in its crystal-clear waters and relaxed on the golden sand it offered. Here, you can also explore the many hidden sea caves and grottoes that dot the coastline.

Benagil Cave (Algar de Benagil)

The Benagil Cave is truly the most Instagrammable spot in all of Portugal. The awe-inspiring beauty of the Benagil Cave is known as the “eye” as it dons a stunning sea cave with a natural skylight. Most people would embark on a boat excursion to get here, but I joined a swimming group that is intended for strong swimmers only. The currents are strong, and if you aren’t an experienced swimmer, I wouldn’t recommend this option. It is definitely a photographer’s paradise, as you can capture the sunlight filtering through the cave’s opening, casting ethereal reflections onto the cave walls.

Some noteworthy spots include Praia da FalĂ©sia: a beach that brags miles of pristine sands backed by towering red cliffs, creating a striking contrast against the azure waters where you can take leisurely strolls along the cliff-top pathways. There’s also Ponta da Piedade which is renowned for its dramatic rock formations, sea arches, and towering pillars sculpted by the forces of nature. Lastly, Praia do Camilo, a hidden gem tucked away at the bottom of a steep staircase, offering a secluded and tranquil escape.

Delve into Water Activities

Travellers in the Algarve have a plethora of opportunities to immerse themselves in the region’s many aquatic adventures.

The most popular excursion of all would probably be surfing. Algarve’s Atlantic coast its popular for its excellent surfing conditions, catering to surfers of all skill levels. Destinations like Sagres, Lagos, and Praia da Rocha are popular among surfers for their consistent waves and stunning scenery.

You can also opt to take to the calm waters of the Algarve’s bays, lagoons and estuaries on a stand-up paddleboarding tour (SUP). This way, you can explore hidden beaches, slip into sea caves, and marvel at the unique coastal views. If you’re not too confident with your balance, go on a kayak tour instead.

One of the more memorable activities I’ve done is sailing on a boat and go dolphin-watching, as well as doing one of the many sunset cruises and sea cave excursions.

Of course, there are more adrenaline-fueled activities such as jet-skiing and parasailing. Experience the thrill of speed with a glider race along the coast of the Algarve, or fly high above the coastline and enjoy a birds-eye view of the Algarve coastline and cliffs on a parasailing trip.

Sample Local Cuisine

Whether you’re seeking a fine dining experience, a laid-back fresh seafood by the sea, or traditional Portuguese flavors in a charming setting, Algarve’s best restaurants offer something for every palate and occasion.

Girls Who Travel | Exploring The Algarve: The Ultimate Guide For Women Travelling Solo

Here are some of my top recommendations:

Vila Joya

Vila Joya has two Michelin stars and offers a culinary journey through innovative Portuguese-European fusion cuisine. You can enjoy dishes in a fine-dining setting overlooking the sea.

Location: Estrada da Galé, 8200-416 Albufeira, Portugal

Caniço Restaurant & Terrace

Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, you can enjoy delectable seafood dishes at Caniço. Nothing beats good food and a great view. Be aware that the restaurant is only open during spring, summer, and early autumn season. Ensure to book beforehand to check if it’s open!

Location: Aldeamento Prainha Club, 8500-072 Alvor, Portugal

Noélia & Jerónimo

This family-run restaurant in Cabanas de Tavira is beloved for its fresh seafood dishes, traditional Portuguese recipes, and warm hospitality, and will certainly create a memorable dining and authentic Portuguese experience for you. I recommend the Grilled Prawn from Monte Gordo served with Lime Rice!

Location: Av. Ria Formosa 2, 8800-591 Cabanas, Portugal

Henrique Leis

Lastly, another Michelin-starred restaurant, is owned and ran by its namesake Chef Henrique Leis. It occupies an elegant chalet that stands out for its meticulous interior and attractive terrace, where the Brazilian-born chef creates contemporary cuisine with its roots in classic dishes.

Location: Restaurant Henrique Leis, 8100-267 Loulé, Portugal

Join A Pub Crawl

As you are travelling solo, you’ll want to make some friends. One of the best ways to do this is by doing a pub crawl! It’s a great way to meet fellow solo travellers or just make friends in general. You can either do this on your own or join a pub crawl that normally starts from a hostel somewhere.

Girls Who Travel | Exploring The Algarve: The Ultimate Guide For Women Travelling Solo

Here is my suggested itinerary for a memorable pub crawl in the Algarve:

Start in Albufeira:

Kick off your pub crawl in Albufeira, the centre of Algarve nightlife. Head to The Strip, which is a busy street lined with bars and clubs. Here you can enjoy affordable drinks and live music at popular venues like Matt’s Bar, Wild & Co, and Le Club.

Explore Villamoura Marina:

Next, head to Villamoura Marina, where you’ll find bars and cafés overlooking the harbour. I enjoyed cocktails with gorgeous views at Purobeach Vilamoura! Make sure to pop in at The Irish Pub and Bliss Vilamoura to get that buzz going.

Visit Lagos Old Town:

Venture into Lagos Old Town, a charming area filled with historic streets and vibrant bars. I recommend sampling a craft beer at The Three Monkeys Pub, then sip cocktails at The Roof Bar, and finally dance the night away at The Star Bar.

Experience Faro’s nightlife:

Lastly, conclude your pub crawl in Faro, the capital of the Algarve. The busy streets of the old town and charming bars like O Castello and A Cappella is the perfect way to cap your evening. I may or may not have done a drunken karaoke night at one of the pubs there!

Hike The Trails

With its diverse terrain and breathtaking scenery, trekking in the Algarve gives a worthwhile outdoor enjoyment for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts alike.

Girls Who Travel | Exploring The Algarve: The Ultimate Guide For Women Travelling Solo

The Algarve offers loads of hiking trails appropriate for all levels and expertise. Be sure to choose trails that match your skill level and interests, whether or not you opt for coastal paths with panoramic views or inland routes through lush countryside.

Before starting, check trail situations, weather forecasts, and any advisories or closures. Some trails can be impassable at some stage in certain seasons, and some may even require you to present access to enter.

Weather conditions in the Algarve can change swiftly, mainly in coastal regions. Be prepared for surprising rain showers or strong winds by bringing appropriate clothing and rain-resistant tools. I also advise to wear clothing layers.

Here are some of my suggested hiking trails:

  • Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (Trilho dos Sete Vales Suspensos)
  • Rota Vicentina
  • Monchique Circuit in the Serra de Monchique mountain range
  • Via Algarviana

Safety Tips

The Algarve is generally safe. However, like all touristy places, caution needs to be exercised.

Stay vigilant, especially in crowded tourist areas, markets, and public transportation hubs, where pickpockets may operate. Keep your belongings secure, avoid carrying large sums of cash, and consider using a money belt or anti-theft bag.

Booze is really cheap and affordable in the Algarve, not to mention the whole of Portugal. Take it easy and drink responsibly, especially in the evenings. Make sure you have a designated driver or use alternative means of transportation such as local taxis or an Uber.

The Algarve enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially during outdoor activities, and protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

When swimming in the ocean, be mindful of strong currents, rough waves, and sudden drop-offs. Only swim in designated swimming areas monitored by lifeguards, and heed warning flags indicating dangerous sea conditions.

Relax And Enjoy The Algarve

With its idyllic beaches, peaceful countryside, and laid-back atmosphere, the Algarve is the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Whether you want to relax on the beach, indulge in spa treatments, or explore the cultural heritage of the region, the Algarve invites you to slow down, unwind and embrace the art of relaxation.

Girls Who Travel | Exploring The Algarve: The Ultimate Guide For Women Travelling Solo

Here, it is all-embracing of enjoyment, what with its many activities and excursions guaranteed to fill your day with fun and memorable experiences.

I, for one, cannot wait to be back.

Rachel Galvan

Rachel is an intrepid world traveller, lifestyle connoisseuse, and Girls Who Travel's resident beauty advisor. She is a lover of the ocean, flowers, movies, journalism, and has a penchant for medium-sized tattoos. When she is not busy with life, she writes stories of her globetrots as well as tips & tricks on how to make the best out of travelling.

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