Summary: Our second day in the Algarve was divided into two, starting with one of the most gorgeous hikes we have ever done called the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. At the end of our hike, we met up with our tour guide, Ruben, and spent the afternoon further exploring the Algarve including a stop at Castelo de Silves, a local pastry shop, Doce & Arte Pastelaria, and Castelo de Aljezur. We also drove up a section of the Monchique mountain range to capture some great Southern Portugal views, followed by a stop at Pontal da Carrapateira for a views of the West Coast. We ended the day with a stop at Estrada do Algar Seco in Carvoeiro to view the beautiful rock formations before returning to our car where are hike began in the morning.
About the Algarve. Located in the Southern coastline of Portugal, the Algarve region is known for beautiful beaches with impressive rock formations, white-washed fishing villages, and great Portuguese cuisine. Depending on where you visit, it is only 2.5 to 3 hours from Lisbon by car.
Hiking Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. A second full day in Portugal started with a breathtaking hike along the coastline called the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. This 3.2 mile trail can be hiked, point-to-point, or double the distance with an out-and-back, 7.4 mile hike.
Getting there: From Lagos, we drove approximately 35 minutes to the start of the trail just outside Carvoeiro at Praia de Vale Centianes, though in hindsight it would have been easier to park at Praia de Marinha at the other end of the trail.
After finding parking in a neighborhood, we walked down to the water and found the trail. The entirety of this hike is along the coastline. Mostly flat with an occasional set of stairs, this hike is accessible to most hikers.
As we continued to hike, we ran into a cool beach access detour. Here, the path goes through the rock and spills you out onto the beach. Because it was off-season and relatively early, we had this jaw-dropping beautiful beach to ourselves.
The final stretch of the hike, or the mid-way point if you're doing the out-and-back hike, features more classic Algarve coastline views.
Castelo de Silves. Located in the town of Silves, Castle Silves was built by the Romans about 200 B.C. Later in the 8th Century, the Castle was conquered by the Moors who had almost continuous rule of the Castle until the 13th Century when Alfonso III of Portugal's forces took control. In 1755, the Castle was badly damaged in the Lisbon earthquake. Today, following extensive renovations and meticulous excavations, the Castle grounds can be viewed with a modest entry fee of 2.8 Euros. During our visit, we had a bit of a downpour but apart from getting a little damp, it was a interesting stop.
Monchique. Next, we headed up to the mountains to the town of Monchique which is part of the Monchique mountains with the highest peak of 2959 ft. Here, we stopped at some natural springs and took a stroll.
Doce & Arte Pastelaria. In the town of Monchique, we stopped for a snack at a local pastry shop, Doce & Arte, where we enjoyed coffee and Portugal's signature pastry, Pasteis de Nata. All sweets are handmade here and off the charts good, all at "locals only" prices.
Castelo de Aljezur. Next we headed West to the town of Aljezur where a medieval Castle, Castelo de Aljezur, sits on top of a hill overlooking the town below. Not much remains of the original castle but it does make for a pretty view of the area.
Pontal da Carrapateira. After our brief stop at Castle Aljezur, we headed further west to Pontal da Carrapateira. This popular surfing destination has a scenic walkway leading to the water where we watched fisherman fish all the way from the tops of the cliffs. After watching some spectacular waves, we got back in the car and drove almost all the way back to our own car parked near Carvoeiro.
Estrada do Algar Seco. This boardwalk leads to the Algar Seco cave formations. It is situated in the town of Carvoeiro and is easily accessible from a parking lot right at the boardwalk entrance.
A Note About Visiting Portugal in March. One of the benefits of going to Portugal in March was visiting the Algarve when it was nearly empty. By all accounts, Southern Portugal is packed during the summer months due to the dozens of picture perfect beaches. Restaurants can be hard to book and lodging prices go way up with demand. We're not traditional beach vacationers so visiting in the off-season with low prices and no crowds was perfect for us. We did catch the occasional rain shower but none of them lasted any real length and the outside temperature remained pleasant with light jackets.
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