When people think of the Algarve they generally think of the western side, where most of the large resorts, busy towns and hotel chains are situated.
But it’s the eastern side beyond Tavira that is truly natural and authentic. Here, the old Portuguese way of life is still preserved, and visitors to the area love to slow down and enjoy life as the friendly locals do!
Walkers, runners and cyclists have been flocking to the area in recent years and it’s no wonder why. Because the Eastern Algarve has one of the best climates and warmest beaches in Portugal, and over 300 days of sunshine a year.
The mild and sunny temperatures, gentle breezes and very little rain make it ideal for autumn, winter and spring walking. It’s no wonder that the top golfers fill the courses year-round!
Walking through unique landscapes
Walking in the Eastern Algarve, there are three types of landscapes that you can enjoy. The first is the wild and natural Guadiana river valley on the frontier with Spain (the river forms the border between Portugal and Spain). It has lush vegetation and a great variety of bird life. The walking trails here follow the river through the fields in the nature reserve, full of birds and flowers.
The second type of landscape is the hills of the Barrocal, full of forests and fruit groves that nature lovers greatly enjoy. The beautiful lake district trails with its impressive bodies of water are also located here.
And then there is the warm Eastern Algarve coast, full of sand dunes and pine forests. This is where you’d find beautiful beach trails, which are wonderful to walk over.
Village life and old treasures
For the historians both the walks and the towns are a wealth of treasures. You can visit ancient castles and ruins built by Roman and Moorish invaders and admire the former headquarters of the Knights Templar.The villages retain their original charm as life has changed very little here. Traditionally, narrow village streets radiate downwards from the church and its bell tower, and the old houses are adorned with flower pots and shrubs. Here, the locals pull their chairs outside and socialize in the street. They tend to their small vegetable gardens and their small herds of goats and sheep.
Even in the cold Winter months like December and January, it’s such pleasant walking weather in the Guadiana. While the locals may say that it really ‘is Winter now’, and you might not see many fellow hikers, this time of year is actually perfect for walking. Certainly, if you’re used to the cold up North, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the mild weather and happy to walk around in a t-shirt (with perhaps a jumper and/or light coat for early mornings and evening walks).
One of the routes takes you round from the coast, hiking up the Guadiana river, and then inland to explore the hills and rivers that make this landscape so lush and green.
Heading up the Guadiana, you can enjoy the rolling hills and old small roads and tracks. You’re very close to Spain here. Actually, if you look out over the river, you’ll see Spain on the opposite bank; almost a stone’s throw away.
Portugal on one side, Spain on the other
Portugal and Spain seem very much alike in many ways. The warmth, the wild nature, and the beautiful scenery. Still, Portugal has a different feel to it. Many visitors find Portugal a country with a more peaceful atmosphere: calmer, quieter.
We’re relatively close to Africa here, so you might expect more arid conditions. But Autumn brings the rains that give everything a little boost of green.
It’s a beautiful part of the world. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, and the tracks and and houses are beautifully kept. All very much with their own, distinct style. Many buildings are adorned with pastel colours that beautifully reflect the colours of the nature and skies in the surrounding landscape.
After strolling through an undulating landscape, the the road levels out towards the Atlantic. Here you can smell the clean, refreshing sea air with yet a different way of life. A beautiful last stretch of road with the sun setting. You reach the lighthouse at Forte de Cacela where you can rest your tired legs and look out to the deep blue ocean.
A walking holiday in the beautiful Eastern Algarve
At Caminhos do Guadiana, we want to give our guests a taste of everything about our region: some of the history, the stunning scenery, the amazing food and wine, and of course great walks. But also a chance to relax and enjoy this tranquil Portugese countryside and the lovely country hotels with gardens and swimming pools. We invite you to find out more about our Warm and Authentic Algarve holiday.
You may come here hoping to simply escape the cold in the North. But you may find so much more: a landscape of unforgettable rich scenery, all bathing in the gentle warmth of Portugal’s Winter sun.