3 Days in the Algarve - Best Algarve Weekend Itinerary
For your next long weekend away, look no further than the stunning, sun-soaked Algarve region of southern Portugal! The small country known for its beaches and soccer players is also the home of quaint fishing villages on ragged limestone cliffs, sparkling blue oceans, and plenty of sun to go around making it an excellent option for a quick, three-day holiday.
With an abundance of towns to base your three days in the Algarve out of, look to famous Lagos for dazzling sandy beaches and the best hiking trails; Faro for shopping and history; or Albufeira for the partygoers and families alike. This small area packs a punch with something to do for everybody.
Getting Around the Algarve
This region of Portugal is one of those places that has magnificent scenery around every corner. With the drive from one end to another (Lagos to Tavira) being just over an hour, it is highly recommended that you hire a car and enjoy the freedom of cruising through the coastal towns yourself. Alternatively, if you prefer a little less hands-on kind of travel, book an Algarve tour or do a couple of pre-organised day trips! Both are great options for an Algarve weekend itinerary.
3 Day Algarve Itinerary
Day 1 in the Algarve
Welcome to sunny southern Portugal! Algarve is truly a destination for everyone with pristine beaches, charming fishing villages, and awesome theme parks, plus so much more. You’re bound to fit in something for everyone. Now let’s get started with your 3 days in the Algarve!
For your first morning in paradise, hop in the car and take yourself and your holiday party on a self-guided tour of the coast of Lagos! Bask in the spectacular limestone cliffs and glittering blue waters of the iconic Ponta da Piedade and Praia Do Camilo. Hot tip: ‘praia’ means beach in Portuguese!
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to get your steps in, take a hike on one of the many hiking trails the city has to offer! We recommend the moderately difficult but quick Ponta da Piedade Trail. Alternatively, you can go big on the Porto de Moss Cliff Hike. This 11km out-and-back trail is a favorite amongst travelers for the incredible views of the Atlantic coastline, and the ability to detour or change course to make it harder or easier depending on your strengths.
You’ve got a lot more of the Algarve to see, so after working up an appetite, stop in to Meu Limão for a quick Portuguese tapas lunch before setting off on a short drive to Carvoeiro – southern Portugal’s answer to Portofino or Santorini.
This town is a small, traditional fishing village with beautiful, whitewashed buildings set in the classic Algarve limestone cliffs. This is where you can take a boat tour to the Benigal Caves (a must see). Alternatively, if you’re with the kids, take them to the best waterpark in the region – Slide and Splash.
With a wide range of accommodation options, take your pick of resorts, hotels, and guest houses for a well-deserved night of rest, but make sure to squeeze in a traditional Portuguese seafood dinner beforehand! You are in a fishing village, after all!
Day 2 in the Algarve
It’s your second of 3 days in the Algarve! Wake up nice and early to take advantage of one of the best hikes in the Algarve – the Seven Hanging Valley Trails. Featuring more beautiful cliff-side walking, be sure to wear appropriate walking shoes, as this trail is a rocky one. At just under 12km, this moderate hike suits older children and adults, and you’ll be rewarded with copious caves and beaches to explore, plus a waterfall! Once back in town, grab a quick lunch on the go before jumping in the car!
If you’d prefer something a little more relaxing, head to the beach after breakfast. The small but very beautiful and aptly named Praia de Carvoeiro (praia means beach) is one of the best beaches in the Algarve. Naturally, it gets busy in the high season, so be sure to secure your spot early for a few hours of beachside leisure.
If you’d like a little mid-vacay change of scenery after lunch, head inland from Carvoeiro for 45 minutes, and you’ll find Sierra di Monchique – the Algarve’s spectacular mountain region with volcanic origins and home to Pico da Foia, the tallest mountain in Southern Portugal standing at just over 900 meters high!
Along the way, there are countless stalls selling iconic blue Portuguese tiles known as azulejos that make the perfect holiday memento. While in the Monchique town proper, treat yourself to a delicious local meal enjoyed with one of the best views in town at O Luar da Foia before you explore the charming streets bordered by colorful homes and buildings.
Take your time meandering through the hidden alleys or visit the famous Caldas di Monchique spa for the world-renowned healing powers of a natural 31-degree bath.
Once you’re well and truly relaxed, it’s time for a change of pace on this 3 day Algarve itinerary.
Head back down the winding road to Algarve’s largest town, Albufeira, where you’ll be spending your second night. This town has a buzzing atmosphere for those looking to let loose on their vacation in New Town with the hedonistic area known as “The Strip” being the epitome of modern European nightlife.
Don’t be fooled by the bright lights and being one of the best party towns in the Algarve, Albufeira is great for the kids too! Head over to Old Town for a selection of family-friendly restaurants and pubs of any cuisine after an afternoon of fun in the sun on the sheltered Praia dos Pescadores beach. If you’d like to squeeze yet another activity into your weekend in the Algarve, make the most of the many tours on offer – whether it be a sunset dolphin-watching boat outing or an off-road dune buggy tour!
Day 3 in the Algarve
After a fun filled night, it’s time to hop back in the car for your last day of 3 days in the Algarve! To end your trip, head east to spend a little time in the historic city of Faro. On the way, you’ll find the Designer Outlet Algarve for any high-end shopping you may have left on your list! Carrying well-known brands such as Lacoste, Guess, and Calvin Klein, splash a few euros on a designer piece you’d never buy at home!
Hopping back in the car and on the highway, in 15 short minutes you’ll find yourself in Faro. This historic city has been the region’s capital since the 16th century! Put the high heels away – you’re going to need walking shoes today, because cobblestone roads and a chapel made from the bones of monk’s past (the Capela dos Ossos) means you’re getting your history fix by visiting the old town (via the iconic Arco da Vila gateway) or one of the many museums.
You’ll notice that Faro has a very different atmosphere to the rest of the towns in the Algarve – it is distinctly Portuguese and much quieter despite being the capital and the home of the region’s international airport. This makes it the perfect place to end your three days in the Algarve.
At this point, we wouldn’t blame you if you still haven’t had enough of all the gorgeous beaches and ocean water, in which case, you’re in luck. Faro itself is not a beach town, but just off the mainland is a series of unspoiled sandbar islands that are accessible by ferry, and they are some of the quietest beaches you’ll find on your holiday so far.
Spend a couple of hours relaxing or exploring before heading back for one last fresh seafood dinner. Vila Adentro is a standout with picturesque tables on the old town square and kids’ meals for 8 euros. This restaurant is a perfect romantic or family friendly end to a jam-packed vacation.
If you’ve got anything left in the tank, follow up dinner with a short stroll to the famous Marina De Faro for one last round of photos of the beautiful lights and boats bobbing in the water.
While three days in the Algarve isn’t nearly enough to see all that the amazing region has to offer, these suggestions are sure to help you make the most of your quick summer getaway. Of course, while you’re there, be sure to check out some of the world-renowned golf courses (if that’s your thing).
Thinking of 7 days in the Algarve? We have a 7 day Algarve itinerary for that too!