Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost province that faces the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest corner of continental Europe. Long dunes on the coast and beaches between coastal cliffs are characteristic to Algarve, but also the inland landscape in the region is varying. The travel guide Algarve, Southern Portugal introduces all the sights, villages, beaches, towns and other things worth knowing about the region, and we got the permission to publish top 3 scenic drives section from the book.
Castro Marim – Alcoutim
The IC27 road that leads north from Castro Marim shows you the hilly, practically uninhabited countryside of Algarve. It is about a 40 km / 25-mile drive along the IC27 to Alcoutim. The terrain in this region along the Spanish border is hilly, and the road winds up and down with the terrain, giving splendid views of gorges and rivers between the hills.
Here and there, you may spot an olive farm or a small house, but other than that, it is a desolate area. The tiny settlement of Odeleite is located next to a dam whose waters cross the road. To reach Alcoutim, you have to branch off the IC27 to the N124/N122-1. It is only a few miles drive along this small road before you reach the village. Near Alcoutim, sceneries are pretty as the border river Guadiana and the ancient fortresses on both sides of the river come into view.
Monchique is the highest mountain in Algarve (902 meters / 3000 feet) and it is also the name of a town about halfway up the mountain. For road travelers, Monchique offers classic mountain roads and spectacular views to Algarve. On a clear day, it is possible to see both the western and the southern coasts of Portugal from the top of the mountain.
The easiest route for reaching Monchique is from south along the N266. The N266 starts off north of the town of Portimao. Three key stops along the way to Monchique are Caldas de Monchique, a spa village and lush forests in a gorge, the town of Monchique, and Foia, which is the top of the mountain. The return trip can be made towards the north or the east for more mountain roads; the west towards the coast where the small town of Aljezur is located; or the south towards Portimao. All roads branch off in the town of Monchique. Distances are short, but mountain roads are relatively slow to drive and sceneries take time to absorb as well.
Aljezur – Vila do Bispo
The relatively quiet road between Alzejur and Vila do Bispo shows you a section of Algarve that many tourists miss completely. The undulating, pretty landscape is greener than many other parts of Algarve. The western coast of Algarve doesn’t have any major settlements, and not many people live in the region.
This scenic route is a 34 km / 21-mile drive along roads N120 and N268. The sea is not far away from the road, but you have to branch off to one of the tiny side roads if you want to go to the coast. Secluded beaches and surf beaches can be discovered along the way. Both Aljezur and Vila do Bispo are small towns with long colorful histories. Aljezur’s old town and castle are definitely worth stopping by and exploring on foot.
Find out all the best scenic drives in Algarve (and everything else about towns, beaches, food, activities and shopping) in Klaava Travel Guide for Algarve, Portugal. The book is available, for instance, at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and Kobo.