After exploring the best attractions in Albufeira, it’s time to discover the surroundings. There are so many amazing day trips from Albufeira it can be hard to choose, so I’ve picked out the best ones here.
Get ready to explore historic cities, breathtaking natural landmarks, and some of the best towns in the Algarve.
Some of these Albufeira day trips can be done by public transport, but for others, you’ll need a car. The good thing is that it doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter in the Algarve, you can travel to these cool places equally!
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Day trips from Albufeira
One of the most obvious day trips from Albufeira is the capital city of Algarve, Faro. It’s often overlooked in the shadow of the more popular destinations on the Algarve, but it’s truly worth visiting and on a day trip to Faro you get the chance to see the highlights of the city.
There are a great variety of things to do in Faro from strolling around the enchanting old town with the astounding tiled cathedral to diving into Roman history and visiting ancient ruins.
But Faro is also one of the gateways to Ria Formosa Natural Park which makes it a great place to mix city and nature. You can go on a Faro boat trip to explore the barrier islands.
The easy Ludo Trail takes you across the saltwater lagoons and past salt flats in about 2-3 hours and is a lovely activity if you visit Faro in winter. But you can do part of the trail and still be lucky to see flamingos or other bird species.
Getting there: Driving from Albufeira to Faro takes about 45 minutes. You can also take the bus which takes about 55 minutes.
The tranquil fisherman’s town of Tavira makes for an unforgettable day trip from Albufeira. Also Tavira is one of the gateways to Ria Formosa and you can walk to Tavira island and explore the unique Anchor Cemetary on Praia do Barril.
Cross the Roman bridge, stroll along the river, walk the ruins of Tavira Castle and gardens, and see the town from a different perspective from the Camera Obscura.
Especially enchanting is the old fisherman’s quarter where the typical tiled houses line the narrow streets. The town is jam-packed with restaurants and bars and has a nice vibe that is calmer than the other popular Algarve towns.
How to get there: driving from Albufeira to Tavira takes about 45 minutes. You can park by the bus station or along the roads (but might have to pay.) There are no direct buses, so you’ll have to chance in Faro. The total journey can vary between 1 hour and 1.40 hrs.
One of the most underrated day trips Albufeira has to offer is to the fisherman’s city Olhão. The city was important for Algarve’s history as it was from here that 17 men boarded the 20-meter long fishing boat, Bom Sucesso, to cross the Atlantic to inform the exiled king in Rio de Janeiro that the French were driven out.
Today, you can see a replica of the original boat on the dock in front of Olhão Market, one of the most famous on the Portuguese south coast and one of the many reasons Algarve is said to be a perfumed corner of Europe.
With a strong history in tuna fishing, you can learn more at the Municipal Museum or by walking the Rua da Fábrica Velha behind the harbor where large murals cover the old fabric walls.
They tell the story of tuna fishing from the water, harbor, and all the way to the canning factories. The paintings are made from old photographs and some of the people are still alive today. In other words, this street is a huge pride to the locals and their history.
Yet one of the absolute best things to do in Olhão is to take a boat trip to see the barrier islands like Culatra island and Armona island.
How to get there: Albufeira to Olhão by car takes around 45 minutes. You can also take the bus, which takes approximately 40 minutes to one hour with a change of buses in Faro as there are no direct buses. Some journeys can take even longer.
Ria Formosa Natural Park
Going to Ria Formosa from Albufeira may not be the most promoted day trips. Albufeira is not one of the obvious towns surrounding the natural park. Yet, it’s one of the most astounding.
Ria Formosa is one of the most important wetlands in Europe and a central stopover for migration birds. The natural park stretches across 18400 hectares of land and has 5 barrier islands stretching along 60 km of coast.
You can either rent a boat from Albufeira or head to any of the gateway cities or towns like Faro, Olhão, or Tavira. From there, you can either take a boat trip to explore several islands, go for a hike, go bird watching, spot flamingos, or snorkel in the crystal clear water.
Some of Algarve’s finest beaches are also found on the barrier islands of Ria Formosa.
Getting there: Unless you’re getting a boat from Tavira Town or Olhão harbor, it’s highly recommended to take a car to get around to the different places in Ria Formosa. Alternatively, take a bus to Faro and from there you can change buses to get to either of the other destinations.
No doubt one of the absolute best day trips from Albufeira and one of the best things to see in Algarve is the astounding Benagil Sea Cave.
Recognized for its large sinkhole in the ceiling slipping the warm sunlight through to the beach inside is something you don’t want to miss.
Note that even though the proximity to Benagil beach makes it very tempting to swim, there are dangerous underwater currents that can be fatal. So do not swim to Benagil cave.
If there’s one day trip from Albufeira you should take, even with as little as 3 days in Algarve, it’s this.
Getting there: To get to Benagil Cave from Albufeira, you either have to drive to Benagil beach and park on the top of the cave or book a boat trip straight from Albufeira taking you to the cave. Note that you can only get to the beach by paddleboard or kayak as boats are not allowed to let tourists off in the cave. Book a boat tour here.
You should not miss out on Algarve’s ancient capital city, Silves. One of the must-visit towns that are not along the coast, but it hides so much rich history.
The highlight in Silves is no arguing the castle overlooking the terracotta rooftops. Not only was it one of the most important defense castles in its time, but it’s also one of the best-preserved castles in today’s Algarve.
Besides Silves Castle, you should visit the cathedral. Like so many others in the Iberian Peninsula, it was built in the same place where there used to be a mosque during Moorish rule.
Also the Archaeological Museum in Silves is well worth a visit. It’s a great way to learn more about the city’s dramatic history from Roman rule to Moorish times.
Getting there: Albufeira to Silves by car is only 30 minutes and direct buses take you there in approximately the same time.
Carvoeiro is one of the most delightful seaside towns to visit on a day trip. Albufeira is only half an hour’s drive away and the resemblance of the white houses climbing up the cliffside on the side of the beach is striking.
Yet, Carvoeiro has a small town’s charm, and with the colored lines on the houses, it wins the price between the two.
There’s no denying, Carvoeiro is one of the most fabulous day trips from Albufeira.
Getting there: Getting to Carvoeiro by car takes about half an hour. Unfortunately, there are no good bus connections. You’ll have to take a bus to Lagoa and from there, there are buses to Quinta das Andorinhas. This is about a 20-minute walk from Carvoeiro.
Loulé is another captivating town worthy of a day trip from Albufeira. The most prominent landmark in Loulé is the old defensive fortress that has a history from long before the current structure was erected.
All the way back to the bronze age, it was a defensive settlement and it kept playing an important role in the area through the next 2000 years of rulers. It was in the 700s that the Moors gave it its current shape.
But there’s more ancient history to be explored. Head to Cerro da Vila where you can witness ancient Roman ruins – a window into how the Romans lives were on the Algarvian coastline.
Further, don’t miss out on the stunning Market, probably the most beautiful on the Algarve, Loulé’s 1600s Almacil parish, and the Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
Getting there: Driving from Albufeira east towards Loulé takes about half an hour. There are also buses that take 50 minutes. You can find timetables here.
A day trip to Lagos from Albufeira is well worth it. One of the most popular towns among backpackers and surfers it’s vigorous and chill all at once.
The enchanting old town is jam-packed with bars, restaurants, and nightlife, yet it oozes history and charm. If you’re planning for a day trip to Lagos, don’t forget your swimsuit, because the beaches in Lagos are incredible with sea-carved archways, hidden caves, and rock formations erecting out of the crystal clear ocean.
Especially worth mentioning are Camilo beach, Dona Ana beach, and Praia dos Estudiantes.
Other than that, make time to see the jaw-dropping cliff formations of Ponta da Piedade just west of the town where you can also hike along the cliffs, take a boat trip, or meander along a boardwalk that is perfect for wheelchair users or families with babies in prams.
Getting there: Driving from Albufeira to Lagos takes 45 minutes and the bus is 1 hour.
One of the most astounding day trips from Albufeira is to the jaw-dropping Sagres cliffs. Sagres is the western-most corner of the Algarve and other than being famous for its good surf spots, you can enjoy breathtaking sunsets from the cliffs.
Visit Sagres Fortress and the lighthouse at Cabo de Sao Vicente. Sagres is also perfect to walk along the cliffs. There are trails in all directions, so try to stay on the trails to protect the natural space and by all means, stay away from the cliff edges. There are loose rocks and it can be extremely dangerous to get too close.
Getting there: The best way to get to Sagres is by car and it takes about 1 hour. Alternatively, you can take the bus to Lagos and from there, there are local buses to Sagres. But you can expect to use a few hours each way.
Reflections on Albufeira day trips
Even though these are just some of the many amazing day trips from Albufeira Portugal, I hope you got a few ideas for your Algarve itinerary.
The Algarve is jam-packed with astounding spots to explore and Albufeira is a great place to base yourself when seeing them no matter if you travel to Albufeira in the winter months or in the summer.
Make sure you respect the locals and leave no trace when you travel around the Algarve. Some areas are experiencing high pressure from tourism and we travelers have to do our part and leave as little negative impact as possible.
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