Day Trip to Carvoeiro, Algarve: The Ultimate Guide (Including 12 Best Things to Do and Photo Spots)

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Carvoeiro, a charming fishing village on the golden coastline of the Algarve region, is rich in history and natural beauty. This present-day town sought after by tourists from all over the world was once a place for frequent pirate and military assaults, which often had some ongoing naval battles fought off the shore.

This former humble fishing hamlet has evolved graciously into a charming town that offers the Algarvian charm together with modern comforts. Its rugged coastline with dramatic limestone cliffs, picturesque golden beaches, unique rock formations, and the azure embrace of the Atlantic Ocean makes it a must-visit place on your trip to the Algarve region.

Is a Day Trip Sufficient to See Carvoeiro?

Well, it would be perfect to spend a night in one of the cozy rentals in Carvoeiro (I have listed the best stays for you later in the end). It could also be an excellent base location to explore the Algarve region if you rent a car. However, Carvoeiro may not be the ideal base location if you use public transport and taxis like we did. Or if you have only a few days to explore this region (I would at least recommend spending 4 days in the Algarve), then a day trip will be sufficient to explore everything this charming town has to offer.

One day is perfect for exploring this part of the Algarve region, but if you are interested in doing one or more of the hikes, you might need a little more time than that.

How to Reach Carvoeiro?


Carvoeiro is around 62 km from Faro International Airport and about an hour’s drive by car. It takes approximately 30 – 40 minutes to reach Carvoeiro by car from Lagos and Albufeira.

Public Transport

Traveling only by public transport to explore the Algarve might be challenging, but it is possible with some planning. Always check the bus timing in advance as they are less frequent. Reaching Carvoeiro requires you to take a transfer to Lagoa or Parchal (the bus stop next to Ferragudo Train station), depending on whether you are starting from Faro, Albufeira, or Lagos.

Tip! This is how we traveled to Carvoeiro from Lagos. This can apply to any base location like Albufeira, Portimão, or Faro. Check for the train timings to get to the closest train station and take a taxi so you need not wait long for your bus. For reaching Carvoeiro, the nearest station is Estombar-Lagoa, which has connections from all major base locations. The taxi to Carvoeiro from Estombar-Lagoa takes around 7-8 Eur.

Good to know! If you are taking the train from a smaller station like Estombar-Lagoa, you might not find any ticket vending machine or a ticket office where you can purchase the ticket. Do not worry! As soon as you board the train, look for a conductor and buy the ticket on board. Only cash is accepted when purchasing the ticket on board, so carry some. If you cannot get to the conductor, check for a notice stuck near the train’s doors with a telephone number to call and inform that you need to purchase your tickets on board.

How to Get Around Carvoeiro?

You can explore this town mostly by foot and boat tours to nearby places, so you don’t need to worry about public transport. However, if you are driving, I suggest you park near one of the main beaches or during your stay and explore the place on foot to enjoy an immersive experience.

Best Things to Do on Your Day Trip to Carvoeiro

Let’s dive in and explore the best things to do in Carvoeiro.

1. Soak Up the Sun in Praia De Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro’s main beach is nestled between two cliffs upon which the town’s houses are perched, spreading all around the beach and making it easily accessible. The tourists and the locals love this beach as it has all the facilities from sun beds to the bars and restaurants so close by. The view of the town from the beach is lovely, and you could just lie there on the sand and enjoy the ocean breeze.

Tip! Try to visit this beach first thing in the day as it tends to get crowded, and it is not a very big beach either.

2. Capture the Views of the Town

You can get the perfect view of Carvoeiro from the cliffs on either side of the beach, and they are both so beautiful.

Miradouro da Senhora da Encarnação

This is the viewpoint located on top of the cliff on the left side of the beach. You can easily access this viewpoint by walking uphill on the road or by taking the stairs from the beach. You can see the entire town of Carvoeiro and the beach from up there. The views are simply spectacular.

Alto da Praia do Carvoeiro

This is the viewpoint from the cliff on the right side of the beach. This view is as beautiful as the other view and gives a different perspective. If you have time, try to do both (it wouldn’t take much time). You can reach this viewpoint by just walking up the road on the right side for around 170 meters from the beach.

3. Visit the Forte de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação

The Fort of Our Lady of the Incarnation is a small fortification in Carvoeiro built in 1675. It was mostly destroyed by the massive earthquake that shook Portugal in 1755, and currently, only the Chapel of Our Lady of the Incarnation exists here. You could also see a small arch, which is what is left of the former fortification. The small chapel is located on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. This is located just a few hundred meters from the viewpoint of Miradouro da Senhora da Encarnação.

4. Take a Stroll on the Carvoeiro Boardwalk

The Algarve region is renowned for its charming boardwalks, which consist of wooden pathways tracing the rugged coastline. These thoughtfully constructed walkways provide accessible routes for people of all ages to relish the breathtaking vistas. You need not have any hiking experience, as without these pathways, you will have to have some level of physical fitness to be able to walk along the coast. It’s common to spot joggers and dog walkers having the best of their mornings on these boardwalks.

Carvoeiro’s own boardwalk spans a modest distance of around 500 meters. However, this short stretch unveils some of the most exquisite coastal panoramas. As you walk this trail, you’ll encounter awe-inspiring rock formations sculpted by the relentless crashing of waves against limestone cliffs. I admire how you can see that they are constantly trying to construct more of these boardwalks across the Algarve region to allow people to experience the beautiful coast, irrespective of age and physical fitness.

Tip! If possible, try to visit during sunrise or sunset when the sky puts up the best show for you. Also, as it becomes dark, the lights on the boardwalks look stunning.

5. Enjoy the Views in Miradouro da Falésia do Carvoeiro

This will be the first stop when you walk along the boardwalk of Carvoeiro. About 350 m from the boardwalk’s starting point, you’ll notice a branching point that diverges from the main path. One of these branches guides you down the cliff via a series of stairs. As you descend, you’ll catch glimpses of the captivating rock formations nestled within the limestone below.

The wooden plank stairs seamlessly transition into rough-hewn steps etched into the natural rocks of the cliff, offering a stunning landscape to explore. There aren’t many well-defined paths, but you can still easily walk into the rock formations to different vantage points from where you can enjoy a nice coast view. Amid these formations, you can even find spots to sit, take in the scenery, and appreciate the beauty around you.

There is not much space to hold many people, and I wouldn’t recommend it if it is crowded (I’m not sure it is safe when there are many people, so approach with caution). You can check the crowd above the boardwalk and wait until it clears. You will definitely appreciate it.

Regrettably, I observed many discarded soft drink and beer cans wedged into the crevices of the rocks. Please be respectful and do not litter the place. Additionally, it’s not advisable to try squeezing cans into these gaps. Disrupting the stability of even one rock could potentially trigger a hazardous landslide, so it’s a matter of utmost importance to preserve the environment’s integrity.

Tip! Watching the golden hour reflecting through the limestone rock formations will be spectacular if you can visit during sunset.

6. Admire the Algar Seco Rocks

Algar Seco is another set of beautiful rock formations that you can find at the end of the boardwalk. Unlike the previous one, this spot can also be accessed directly from the road. You can park the car nearby and just hop down a few flights of stairs to reach the rock formations. The boardwalk ends here as well.

A nice restaurant with a bar (Boneca Bar) is conveniently perched midway along the stairs, where you can enjoy outdoor seating and refresh with a cold drink. Their lemonade was so refreshing after a long walk in the hot sun.

It is closed on Sundays and open on all other days between 12 pm and 10 pm. So, if you are here during sunrise, you may not be able to find this place open, so it is good to bring some snacks and drinks along.

When you reach the end of the boardwalk, you can see that the stairway fans out in two directions. The route going towards the restaurant is where Algar Seco is located. A little further after the bar, you will see an entrance to a tunnel. At the end of it, there are two arch-shaped formations, which look more like a set of windows crowned with curves. These arches frame the ocean’s hues, glistening in the sunlight.

This spot garners popularity among tourists as it is easily accessible and a famous Instagram photo spot. The tunnel is very narrow and can only hold a few people at a time. Unless you are here in the early mornings or late evenings, you will probably not be alone; you’ll likely catch only a fleeting glimpse of the views through the rock formations and perhaps manage to snap a couple of photographs amidst the queue of fellow visitors waiting their turn.

Sitting there and enjoying the views would be lovely, which might be possible during off-peak seasons.

Bonus Photo Spot

If the crowds at Algar Seco become overwhelming and you’re seeking a more secluded spot for capturing great pictures or simply unwinding, then do not miss this one. This is just hidden in plain sight. As I mentioned, when you reach the end of the boardwalk and the stairs branch into two directions, choose the narrower path on your left. This will lead you to a small cove, a secret sanctuary where you can descend and even take a refreshing dip in the water.

While the space might not suffice for a full swim, the tranquility of this place is unparalleled. Gazing through a petite archway, you’ll witness each wave delicately surging in, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. You will find a lot of boats stopping at the archway entrance showcasing this area to the tourists, but since the path is very narrow, they cannot enter. Be sure to gauge the tide levels before venturing here, as high tides can elevate water levels and intensify wave activity. Check out this place with a bit of caution, as nature is unpredictable.

Curiously, most visitors seemed more captivated by the grandeur of the Algar Seco formations, scarcely sparing a thought for descending this particular route, but we were glad we did. It is one of our favorite spots; we hope you will like it too!

7. Visit the Farol de Alfanzina

This beautiful lighthouse is located around 3 km further from Algar Seco’s coast. This lighthouse also falls in the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail path. This can also be easily accessed by car, or you can just walk a part of the trail, which starts from Praia do Vale de Centeanes, and it is only about 1.6 km to the lighthouse from this beach. You will need comfortable hiking shoes to walk the trail as the trails could be slippery.

8. Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is an absolute must-try if you’re an avid hiker. This trail, spanning approximately 6 kilometers in one direction, offers the flexibility to be done in either direction. The trail starts at Marinha Beach, Lagoa, and ends at Praia do Vale de Centeanes in Carvoeiro. Praia do Vale de Centeanes is just around 2 Km from Algar Seco, where the boardwalk ends. Most people start the trail at Marinha Beach and finish it in Carvoeiro. But, you can do it in any way comfortably.

The trail winds its way through a multitude of beaches. Bringing your swimsuit and towels is highly recommended because it is the best way to enjoy some of the lesser-known beaches, and you will definitely appreciate it. The hike should take close to 2 hours one way, not including the stops at various beaches. If you plan to take a dip, consider it a one-day activity where you can take multiple stops along the way on the serene beaches. You can enjoy some of the beaches in solitude, even during peak seasons.

But if you do it in peak season, start very early in the morning or late afternoon as the sun could be quite harsh during midday. Bring some drinks and snacks with you and enjoy a nice picnic up the cliffs. Some restaurants and bars are on the way, especially close to the Marinha beach but not on the other half of the trail.

Length: 6 km (one way)

Difficulty: Moderately challenging

Tip! If you are not sure that you can complete the hike, you can always do a part of the hike, stop at any of the beaches, and take an Uber back.

9. Hike the Trail of Headlands

Carvoeiro is a convenient location to set up a base for hiking enthusiasts as it sits at the midpoint of two enticing trails’ starting and ending locations. The Trail of Headlands is the hiking trail along the brilliant rugged coastline of the Algarve but in the other direction. When you set off from Carvoeiro, the Trail of Headlands veers to the right, while the Seven Hanging Valley Trail beckons from the left. This counterpart trail also spans approximately 6 kilometers and presents a comparable level of challenge to the Seven Hanging Valley Trail.

However, unlike the Marinha Beach and the Benagil Caves, it wends its way through lesser-known beaches. It is an advantage or disadvantage based on your own perspective. But obviously, this one is the lesser known of the two, and you will find fewer people.

The trail starts at Praia do Paraíso and goes up to Praia do Molhe in Ferragudo, a charming fishing village known for its pretty streets and whitewashed houses.

Psst! Check out our guide to plan your perfect day trip to Ferragudo and where to take the best photos in this picturesque village.

Much like the previous trail, the Trail of Headlands also goes through several beautiful golden beaches, which is definitely worth stopping by. All the trails in the Algarve region are well marked by half-sized poles with yellow and red stripes. You can just follow the signs, and you will be fine. You just have to watch out for the signs.

10. Go on a Boat Tour to Benagil Caves

If you are visiting the Algarve region, I am pretty sure that you know about the famous Benagil Caves, the most popular tourist sights of the region known for its beautiful hole in the roof of the cave-like formation. Well, it is not very far from Carvoeiro, and you could easily visit Benagil Caves by going on a boat tour, which will show you more than just one cave.

It is a pleasant experience and the best way to visit Benagil if you are not interested in a SUP or kayaking adventure, as Benagil Caves are not directly accessible. Usually, you can visit it as part of a kayak or SUP tour. The other way to visit is to take a boat tour.

Good to know! During the high season, most boat tours don’t stop at the Benagil Caves. You can visit it but can’t get out of the boat for a swim, so check before booking your trip.

Boat Tours to Benagil Caves from Carvoeiro:

11. Do Something Adventurous

If you would love something more adventurous than going on a boat trip, you should go on a kayaking or SUP tour. You can hire them and get your exploration on if you are very good at kayaking or get on with one of the group tours if you are a newbie like us but still want to experience the fun of water sports. Most Kayak and SUP tours start from Benagil Beach or Marinha Beach, where you can hire Kayaks or SUPs or join group tours. During peak seasons, the tours and the rentals get booked super quick, so make sure to book yours well ahead of time.

Guided Kayak Tour Options:

12. Go Handicraft Shopping

I love shopping for handicrafts in Portugal, especially the work and items I found while visiting Cavoeiro. There were so many things I wanted to take back with me. However, considering my limited baggage allowance, I stuffed as many items as possible. My favorites were the beautifully painted bowls, plates, cups, and saucers. They also have a variety of smaller dishes which are hand painted as well. They are so beautiful; some are just plain terracotta colored on the outside, but the insides of the dishes are painted so beautifully.

I found very unique wall hangings of paintings of the streets of the Algarve region, but it was kind of etched on a slab of terracotta. There are so many items that you could shop for in this little coastal town. The lanes leading from the town center are filled with so many shops that you could spend half a day just in these shops.

A shop that I loved more than the others was Loja da Fabrica.

Where to Stay in Carvoeiro?

If you are not too dependent on public transport, Carvoeiro is an excellent place to stay for exploring the rest of the Algarve region as well. It has some of the best stays in the region.

Want to explore more options in Carvoeiro? Please search on here. We use to book all our stays and have always had a good experience.

What Are the Best Photo Spots in Carvoeiro?

Carvoeiro is filled with many picturesque views, and I have listed some of my favorites below. If you are looking for some of the best locations for your Instagram, this list has got you covered.

  • Miradouro da Senhora da Encarnação and Alto da Praia do Carvoeiro are the best places to get the aerial shot of the town filled with cute little whitewashed houses and the beach view.
  • The stairs from Miradouro da Senhora da Encarnação down to the beach have great views, and the whitewashed stairs against the town’s backdrop combined with the beach are perfect for personal pictures. Also, there is a nice platform in the midway where you sit and enjoy the views.
  • You could find a similar stairway at the entrance to Praia do Paraíso. Still, I loved the first one better, and it’s more easily accessible.
  • Get to the boardwalk during the golden hour or sunrise to capture some great pictures. Also, the boardwalk is lit at night, which is also quite magical.
  • Another excellent spot for your pictures and views is Miradouro da Falésia do Carvoeiro. You can take great photos of the rock formations and sea views.
  • Algar Seco is more famous for being a photo spot, but the cove next to Algar Seco is something I liked better.

If you are keen on capturing more pictures, visit the nearby village of Ferragudo, whose narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful clustered whitewashed houses are what you are looking for in your photoshoot.

Carvoeiro is an absolute gem in the Algarve region, with so much to explore. It is not as busy as Albufeira or Portimão. It is a perfect day trip option for explorers traveling car-free and could be a great location to camp or set up your base for people on a road trip.

Oh, and as you are already in Algarve, check out the wonderful city of Faro. We have created the best self-guided walking guide for Faro already for you.

If you are traveling to Lisbon after exploring Algarve, check out our posts about the best things to do in Lisbon in Fall, some helpful information you need to know before visiting Lisbon, and the best way to spend a day in Lisbon. Also, the beautiful town of Sintra is near Lisbon, so consider visiting it. Check out our posts about the best things to do in Sintra, some useful information you need to know when planning a trip to Sintra, and our flexible Sintra itinerary for 1, 2, and 3 days.

Kiki from RooKiExplorers posing in a field of pink hyacinths in the Netherlands.
The Face Behind the Post

Hey, I am Kiki! A full-time software developer and hardcore travel enthusiast who is always up for a new adventure and the author of RooKiExplorers. I love to travel the world and enjoy talking about it, helping everyone around me plan their trips, and avoiding making the mistakes I made.

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