5 days road-trip in Algarve, with our motorhome compact for amazing vacations in the south of Portugal .
Road-trip in Portugal (Algarve) – 5 days
Road-trip in Portugal (Algarve) – 5 dayshttps://www.vanbreak.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/praia-do-amado-wave-2.jpg1048648VanBreak - Campervan and MotorHome Hire in SpainVanBreak - Campervan and MotorHome Hire in Spainhttps://www.vanbreak.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/praia-do-amado-wave-2.jpg
For our first trip to kick off 2020, we decided to take some holidays travelling in motorhome compact and road trip alongside the famous Algarve region, in Southern Portugal. Our aim was simple: travelling with Fiat Burstner Citycar motorhome compact and exploring Algarve’s beauty in just 5 days. A unique opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in nature, whilst exploring fishing villages, experiencing local food and gastronomy, and getting lost in some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Atlantic Coast. Below you will find further details of our amazing trip alongside some recommendations and suggestions for places to visit, eat and sleep with the van.
Road-Trip in Portugal (Algarve) : Key advantages
Travelling within a comfortable, fully-equipped motorhome compact, complete with air-con offers so much more than a simple road trip between locations. Delivering endless opportunities and a feeling of absolute freedom, the motorhome does not limit time and space, as it allows you to travel at your own pace and create memorable and unique experiences; falling asleep in stunning locations and waking up in front of outstanding scenery. Being on the road allows adventure seekers to stop wherever their heart desires to explore and discover. Personally we love this way of travelling as it adds so much more meaning to our travel experiences.
It is advised to familiarize yourself with the Portuguese toll system before setting out on your trip to Algarve. The Portuguese toll system apply to all vehicles and operates via taking photos of driver’s license plate directly on the road. More details about payment options can be found on http://www.portugaltolls.com/. Alternatively, from Spain to Algarve, the highway N-125 is following the coast and toll free.
Algarve Road Map:
Santa Luzia / Tavira
Praia Do Amado
Road-trip in Algarve : Day 1 – SANTA LUZIA (2 NIGHTS)
The first destination of our road trip was Santa Luzia; the Octopus capital, located 4 hours from Malaga. We highly recommend this location as the starting point for your journey of discovery of Oriental Algarve. Two days would be perfectly suited. A good first day would be exploring the town’s many hidden secrets and breathtaking surrounding beaches. On day two, it is suggested to visit Tavira’s touristic attractions and the stunning beaches of Tavira’s island.
Where to sleep in Santa Luzia ?
For our first night, we parked the van in front of the port, and had the chance to wake up to an outstanding view on the Atlantic Ocean and its picturesque fishing boats, admiring the sun glistening over the low tide. There are many other spots alongside the coast, between Santa Luzia and Pedras del Rei, where you can park the van for the night.
Things to do in Santa Luzia?
Without doubt, you should have a walk inside the old town, discovering its hidden laneways and admiring the colourful facades of the historical building. We personally loved visiting the fishing shacks and the village’s market, where locals sell fresh fish caught the night before. In this town, fishermen still use traditional methods to fish, dragging down some old-fashioned clay vases to the bottom of the sea to attract and catch octopuses.
Santa Luzia is ideally located at the far south of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, home to a cluster of protected lagoons filled with an array of marine life and migrating birds. The closest beach from Santa Luzia is Praia da Terra Estreita, one can only access via ferry, departing from the town’s marina. Here, the atmosphere is incredibly peaceful and relaxing, making it an amazing place to chill.
To admire the beauty of Santa Luzia’s surrounding beaches, you can walk, ride a bike or run alongside the path that cradles the coast line. As the path draws to an end, you arrive to the Anchor Graveyard, an historic symbol of Oriental Algarve, an oxidized memory of the former fishing fleet. It consists of anchors that fishermen of the past used to fish tuna, abandoned onto the sand dunes close to the Barril Beach. You can reach Barril Beach by walking down a bridge from the village of Pedras Del Rei. The beach is surrounded by crystal clear serene waters, an ideal spot for families. A unique location nestled within local traditions and history, this beach is without doubt one of the most picturesque in the region.
Typical things to eat in Santa Luzia
You can’t visit Santa Luzia without trying the local speciality, the “Polvo”, a traditional octopus dish. For instance, you can savour this amazing dish at Sol e Mar, Polvo & Companhia. For morning or afternoon tea, we recommend the coffee shop of Santa Luzia, a place where local fisherman gather.
Road-trip in Algarve : Day 2 – TAVIRA
Tavira is an ideal destination for vacation. On one hand, for its monuments and architecture. We suggest you visit its castle, at the top of the hill, its white churches, its Roman bridge, its cobblestoned laneways, its traditional houses, its tiled facades and its Arabian castle walls. As well as for its natural surrounds: Tavira is well known for its beaches, its rivers, its coastline and for the wild landscapes of Ria Farmosa Natural Park’s.
Things to do in Tavira
Near the banks of the Gilão River is the town of Tavira, with its precious blend of Portuguese traditions and Arab influences. The town is full of charm, an ideal location to spend a pleasant day. You can stroll through the alleys of its old town, cross its river on the Roman pedestrian bridge, discover the typical tiled houses. I also advise you to visit its beautiful churches, its monasteries and the ruins of the amazing Arab castle. This castle stands as a reminder that Tavira was a strategic city in the defense of the Arab kingdom. Another attraction of Tavira is its tower. An old water reserve transformed into a dark room where panoramic views of the city are projected. At last, it’s strongly advised that you visit the bustling morning market, the best place to experience Portuguese daily life.
Tavira has a spectacular coastline of beaches located on sandy islands. The largest of these islands is Ilha de Tavira, with its continuous 12 km of golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. It is located in a protected natural setting, far from urban development. The closest beach to Tavira is Praia de Tavira. It is a heavenly place, connected to the city by a ferry leaving from the port (2 € round trip). The shores of the island are ideal for walking. This place is one of the ideal destinations for a family holiday in Portugal, with its calm and welcoming atmosphere.
Typical food to eat in Santa Luzia
To eat well and at low cost, I recommend the Jao Belhi restaurant, in the center of Tavira. It offers a specialty rice dish with seafood typical of the area, with crab, mussels, razor clams and cockles … The restaurant is always crowded with locals, which is a good sign!
Délice de riz aux fruits de mer
Road-trip in Algarve : Day 3 – CARVOEIRO
After two days spent in Tavira and Santa Luzia, we continued our road trip in the Algarve. We went back on the road with the campervan, towards the West, our destination was Carvoeiro, an area that offers many things to see and do. One can discover historic towns, such as the fishing village of Ferragudo or the town of Silves. There are also amazing hiking and climbing routes to experience. For example, we loved the scenic hiking route of Sete Vales Suspensos and the beautiful cliffs of Algar Seco. You can also take a boat to explore breathtaking rock formations and caves carved by the wind for centuries. I recommend the Benagil cave, the Boneca and the Praia da Marinha, considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
We parked at the Algar Seco to take a stroll along the Atlantic and enjoy the panoramic views. You can access this natural park on foot via a wooden walkway, which takes you to the beach and to the village of Carvoeiro. On the way, one can contemplate the coastal landscape of the cliffs and the geological formations. Some caves are accessible, and you can go down there safely.
Road-trip in Algarve : Day 4 – Praia do Amado (1 night)
In search of adrenaline, we went to surf the impressive waves of the Atlantic, at Do Amado beach, yet again another destination easily accessible by our comfortable accommodation; the Burstner City Car. There are two large parking spaces where you can park the mini camper, cook and spend your vacation in #VANLIFE mode.
Located in the town of Carrapateira, Aljezur, on the Costa Vicentina, Praia do Amado is one of the best Portuguese beaches for surfing. Surrounded by dark cliffs and mountains, without any hotel in sight. With some of the best conditions for surfing, kite surfing and wind surfing, important surfing competitions are held here frequently. Praia do Amado is a paradise for nature lovers, with this large beach stretching over three valleys. There are also hiking trails, which allow you to enjoy the coastal landscape and a set of walkways that lead to different views of the beach. For example, there is a path that runs along the cliff which ends at Bordeira Beach.
At this spot, the Vanlife experience really comes to life, with a whole community of campers. You can cook, eat, read a good book, take a hot shower and fall asleep listening to the waves and watching the stars from your bed. We experienced 100% of our road trip adventure in the Algarve, with Vanbreak.
Road-trip in Algarve : Day 5 – Cacela Velha
As the last stop of our road trip in Algarve, before returning to Spain (Andalusia), we spent an amazing night at Cacela Velha de la Vila Real de Santo Antonio. A small village that overwhelms you with its beauty. Time seems to have stood still here for many years, and without doubt this quaint village consists of some of the best views in the area. Offering the most beautiful sights of the Atlantic Ocean and the vast expanses of sand in the Ría Formosa Natural Park.
Cacela Velha is located on the top of a hill with a panoramic view of the eastern lagoons of the Ria Formosa. It is a preserved natural site, surrounded by the sea and the Ria, the pine forests, the fishing boats, the medieval Matriz church and the fortress of Cacela, of Arab origin.
Things to do in Cacela Velha
You can do paddle boarding (possibility to rent it with VanBreak), fish, walk along the sea and the lagoons, or cross the Ria by boat, to reach paradise beaches, such as the Manta Rota. You can also stroll through the cobbled laneways of the village and discover the characteristic essence of the place, defined by its white houses with doors and windows framed in blue or yellow, and decorated with flowers reminiscent of its Arab past.
Typical food and where you can park to sleep in Cacela Velha?
Cacela Velha has a few fantastic restaurants where you can taste the delicious gastronomic specialties from the region. For instance, you can taste the delicious cod, grilled sardines, octopus, oysters and clams, which must be accompanied by a good vinho verde, typical of the region.
To sleep, we were able to park the motorhome at the entrance of the village. On the left, there is a parking overlooking the bay, where you can stay overnight and enjoy your own balcony over the sea and the Ria Formosa. Visiting Cacela Velha is essential, an experience filled with happiness, happiness that costs nothing.
SO, ARE YOU READY FOR A ROAD TRIP IN PORTUGAL (Algarve) IN MOTORHOME ?
Prepare your backpacks for your next road trip in the Algarve and come and live the experience with Vanbreak 🙂 Take excursions to these small villages and experience these authentic places, discovering some of the most beautiful sites and wonders of the region’s natural parks; we guarantee you that you will fall in love! 🚐😍
Finally, if you have some time, I invite you to watch this video of vanbreakers. A 10-day stay in Portugal, aboard the van Volkswagen California Beach combi: