Pull on some stout shoes and prepare to cross the Algarve on foot or by bike.
VIA ALGARVIANA: DISCOVERING NATURE
The 300 kilometres of the Via Algarviana, the great trail that runs the length of the Algarve interior between Alcoutim and Cape St Vincent draws Portuguese and foreign walkers above all in spring and autumn – the seasons when the region’s fauna and flora are at their most exuberant.
The Via Algarviana extends along 300 kilometres, from Alcoutim in the east to Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St Vincent) in the west, passing picturesque villages that make for inviting stops.
The trail may be completed on foot in two weeks or by bike in five days, and is divided up into 30-kilometre stretches. It is popular above all with Portuguese and foreign visitors who are looking to take a break from the hurly-burly of the big city.
As well as the Grande Rota (Great Route), there are 12 Pequenas Rotas or Small Routes with lengths of between four and 18 kilometres that are of varying degrees of difficulty. The more challenging ones call for a good level of physical fitness.
There are various trails that can be done on foot, by mountain bike or by car, with a digital guide for each to download for free from www.viaalgarviana.org.
SMUGGLERS’ ROUTE IN ALCOUTIM
The Rota do Contrabandista recalls the days when poverty and lack of opportunities saw the inhabitants of Alcoutim dedicate themselves to smuggling along the length of the River Guadiana. The trail runs around Monte Vascão past various villages, skirting the former border posts – which are mostly in runs – to Barranco das Pereiras, on a slope overlooking the river.
WATER ROUTE IN LOULÉ
The Rota de Água trail traces the principal river basins in Loulé, an area known for its abundance of water. It takes in many springs, including those at Alte, Goldra and Filipe, and also watermills, reservoirs, lookout points and small lagoons. Starting at Bicas Velhas, in the centre of the old town, the route runs for 130 kilometres, of which 119 are along roads, 11 are on dirt tracks and the rest on footpaths.
MONUMENTAL TREES ROUTE
Com 3 circuitos, todos com início no Largo de São Sebastião, em Monchique, parta à descoberta da Serra de Monchique, da diversidade da flora, sobreirais, bosques de carvalho-de-Monchique, eucaliptos, castanheiros, medronhais, matos, exuberante vegetação, além de poder também apreciar a arquitetura e as tradições locais.
ROTA DA GEOLOGIA
Three different routes, all starting at the Largo de São Sebastião in Monchique and offering a way to discover the Serra de Monchique range, with diverse flora that includes groves of cork oak, forests of Algerian oak, eucalyptus, chestnuts, strawberry tree, Mediterranean scrub species and other exuberant vegetation. On the way you can also appreciate local architecture and traditions.