Algarve 3-Day Road Trip

algarve road trip

The beautiful Algarve lies on the southern coast of Portugal. Portugal is one of the best destinations for road trips. From this rocky coastline, the Portuguese sailed off to discover the New World in the 15th century. Fast forward to today, and this Mediterranean region, which runs from the pretty little town of Sagres to the west all the way to Spanish border in the east, is a holiday hotspot. Characterized by sandy coves backed by rocky cliffs, charming whitewashed fishing villages, welcoming locals and a mild year-round maritime climate, there really is no better place. To get around, your best bet is car hire Portugal. This gives you the freedom to explore the area’s hidden gems and coastline at the pace that’s right for you.


Best time to visit and weather

There’s no right or wrong time to take a road trip in Algarve, just different. The days during the summer months are long and hot. You’re almost guaranteed good weather, though the crowds on some of the more popular beaches can be overwhelming. During the outer months, the temperature is cooler, but the skies can still be sunny and bright. After the summer crowds have subsided, you may very well have the beaches all to yourself and if you are feeling brave, you can even have a swim in the Mediterranean waters.

Rules on the Road

There’s a few things to remember when you hit the roads in your car rental Portugal. On motorways, the maximum speed limit is 120 kilometers an hour. This typically reduces to 100 kilometers an hour on smaller country roads and no more than 50 kilometers an hour in towns and cities. Like all European countries, drink driving is not allowed, and the limit is so little it’s best avoided all together. If you’re found to be breaking the speed or alcohol limit, there can be serious consequences which vary from a fine to imprisonment. Though you’ll find some of the more isolated road conditions vary in quality, the majority are surprisingly good. To use a car hire Portugal, you’ll typically need to be over 23 and have had your license for more than 3 years.

Road trip distance

Total Road trip distance (a few words about total road trip distance in kilometers)
This leisurely 3-day road trip across the Algarve takes you on a loop from the cultural hub of Faro to the natural wonder of the Benagil sea cave and on to oceanfront town of Albufeira. The total distance is 146 kilometers or 3 hours of driving, meaning you can spend most of the time exploring and less time in your car rental Portugal.

Road Trip Distance:

Faro Airport to Faro city: 7 kilometers
Faro to Benagil: 62 kilometers
Benagil to Albufeira: 32 kilometers
Albufeira to Faro Airport: 45 kilometers

faro car hire

Algarve Road Trip Day 1 – Faro

The cultural hub of the Algarve is the city of Faro. When you arrive, pick up the keys for your car rental Faro and head off down to the city. It’s a quick journey and you should arrive in the city center within 20 minutes. While many people overlook the city in favor of heading straight to the beaches, Faro has a wealth of cultural and historic attractions, excellent eateries, and some fine accommodation. After you’ve checked in, pass the Arco da Vila and wander up the cobbled old town to admire the 13th century Faro Cathedral. Be sure to visit the Municipal Museum housed within a 16th century convent and grab a custard pastel de nata.

There’s simply too many restaurants and bars to list them all here, but you can’t go wrong with a visit to Faz Gostos. Located in the old town, this luxurious restaurant has had to continuously move to larger premises to satisfy demand. Here, you can sample typical Southern Portuguese fare including freshly caught seafood and game. If you’re in town on a Sunday, the Aqui d’el Rei is attached to the 17th century Arco de Repouso and fills the streets with the sounds of melancholic fado music. Grab a table fast and tuck into the mouthwatering moamba de galinha stew washed down with a glass of red.

Faro isn’t short on hotel offerings. With everything from boutiques housed in centuries old buildings to modern hotels including all the amenities you would expect, Faro will surely have something for you. Just be sure to check that it has a car park, so you have a place to leave your car rental Faro. The Hotel Faro & Beach Club may not be old, but with spacious rooms overlooking the sea and just a 3-minute walk from the old town, it’s a great choice.

benagil car rental

Algarve Road Trip Day 2 – Benagil Caves

After breakfast at the hotel, hop in your car rental Portugal and drive west for an hour or so to the village Benagil. While pretty enough, most people come to the village to explore the extraordinary caves once voted as the world’s coolest by the Huffington Post. It can’t be reached by foot, so you’ll need to take one of the charter boats or paddle boards around the bay and then swim into shore. It’s hard not to gasp as you enter the cathedral-like cavern which is lit by a circular opening towards the top.

While there are several options for hotels and guest houses in the village, you can’t go wrong with the Montinho Boutique B&B. This adult-only hotel features a gorgeous garden and terrace overlooking the sea and is considered by many to be the finest accommodation in Algarve. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the hotel’s pool and have a good night’s sleep in the spacious bedrooms.

For such a small place, there are a surprising number of restaurants lining the streets, offering everything from a quick beach snack to a long Southern Portuguese feast. O Pescador always receives rave reviews for its rustic charm, delightful ocean views and freshly caught seafood done the right way – simply. If you’re in luck, they often have live music, particularly at weekends.

albufeira car rental

Algarve Road Trip Day 3 – Albufeira

Jump in your rental car to continue road trip in Portugal this morning and drive the 26 kilometers to the pretty town of Albufeira. This former sleepy fishing village has boomed with tourism over the last few decades and now features a large marina, a waterfront promenade, plenty of hotels and a plethora of outdoor activities.  When you arrive, board one of the excursion boats which will take you out to sea to spot dolphins. More often than not, you’ll be treated to the sight of these playful mammals jumping in and out of the boat’s wake.

When you return, wander up to the Alquimia for a spot of lunch. The fine dining restaurant has won numerous awards since opening its doors. At this intimate eatery, you can gorge on freshly caught lobster, fried fish, Portugal’s famous salt cod and even foie gras. What could be better? Afterwards, drive the 40 or so kilometers back to the airport to drop off your car rental Faro and board your return flight home.


Have a great road trip!

Your four-wheel travel buddy Carrentalia ?