Walking & rambling routes in the Algarve

We’ve compiled a collection of walks that will take you to some of the best places to appreciate the real Algarve. These walking and rambling routes wind deep into the countryside, climb to stony, scrubby ridges with fabulous views and pass through many of the little villages that characterize the area. Walking in these Barrocal and Serra hills is to discover another world, utterly unhurried, utterly charming and utterly tranquil – there’s a kind of innocence to the place that makes walking these hills and vales so completely rewarding. In spring the hills are smothered in luxuriant wildflowers and shrubs, at all times of year the superb cork oak woods and eye-catching paperbark (eucalyptus) groves complement the stands of wizened old olive trees, vast cacti and orchards of almonds, lemons and oranges. Whether you fancy a gentle stroll or an adventurous exploration, we’ve just the walk for you.

Our walking routes are many and varied, and a dozen of them start from Ferrobo itself.

Researched by guidebook writer and travel journalist Neil Coates, some follow waymarked trails whist others explore off the beaten track to discover unexpected viewpoints, heritage or wildlife havens.

The complete collection is provided in folders in each of our cottages, but to give you a flavour of what you may expect, we’ve included a sample route below.


[c. 4½ miles (7km); easy;  allow 2 - 3 hours]

A very pleasant exploration of the little villages and Algarve countryside immediately north of Casa Ferrobo. It’s typical Barrocal country, low ridges and wooded vales between sharper, steeper lines of hills, with superb views, oodles of old olive groves, fig and carob plantations laced together by donkey tracks and rough lanes. Some short sections on tarred roads plus fleeting sections of slightly busier roads near to the start. Café in Alportel just off-route.

1) Turn right from Casa Ferrobo and walk past the village wash house and nora (handwheel well) up to the hilltop junction here in Farrobo. Turn left, squeeze through the narrow road gap between houses and then bear left, left again at the Quinta da Eira sign then right, up to the point the tarred lane ends. Keep ahead-right on the descending, stony track to reach the gates to a villa. Turn right here; in 75yds fork left on the rougher track which cuts through a grove of cork oaks to rejoin the firm track lower down. Walk with this to and alongside the long white building and turn right along the access to reach the main road opposite a triangular junction by the closed Sao Bras Inn.

Turn left towards Alportel to find the nearby signposts to St Romao, Fonte Ferrera, etc. Turn left here, then shortly right for Cerro do Alportel. In under 300yds you’ll reach a wide cross-lanes; turn left (No Through Road) and rise up the steep hill through the hamlet of Cerro de Alportel.

2) On reaching the end of the tarmac road at the head of the village, walk ahead for 20 paces or so and turn right on a wall-top path alongside green-mesh fencing marking the grounds of a chalet to your left. This path soon becomes an old donkey trail, lined with carob trees, an area also rich with wildflowers. The way rises gently before starting a long, easy descent along the side of the wide vale. Presently it widens; ignore any tracks to either side to reach a waymarked T-junction of tracks in sight of a ruinous farmhouse (up to your right).

3) Turn right to pass in front of the derelict house. As the track then swings right there are more lovely views to be had along the line of shapely, wooded hills enclosing the Vale das Merçes. Continuing downhill; note an ancient well on the right. The track winds round to a junction with a tarred lane at a sharp corner.

4) Turn right and walk up the gentle hill for nearly 200 yards. Opposite the driveway for Casa Penzer, turn left towards a white, gated house, Quinta da Fonte. There’s a memorial cross dated 1865 here set on the wall just to the right of the gates. Turn right along the sunken walled path to the right of the cross. This is initially uneven underfoot, but when it bends slightly right beside a broken field corner wall in maybe 200yds, it becomes easier going. Eventually the path evolves into a lovely old walled way between cork oaks, presently becoming a tarred track with housing on the left.

Alportel village centre5) At the T- junction with the tarred road, turn right towards Alportel and pass under the bridge into the village centre. Keep directly ahead here (the Bar Vitoria is 200 yards to the right), passing by an old blue & white painted villa on your left. In about 275 yards, just past the village wash-house, you’ll reach a worn pedestrian crossing marked across the road surface beside the large white industrial building on your left. Here fork right along the tarmac lane with green mesh fencing on your left. Keep right at the fork at black gates – there’s a homemade sign ‘Monte dos Marfados’ on your right – along a rougher track, pass through an area of small vineyards and fig trees and continue on the winding track past a villa (left). The track soon passes the gated entrance (left) to the old assault-course at Marfados and narrows. Just after the far end of the course, the path reaches a junction of paths beside a concrete pylon, at the near-corner of a new (2019) vineyard. Turn right, then in 20 paces turn right onto a wide earth track which threads a way through this area of scattered old olive and fig trees. Remain on this, which bends left beside a wall in 275 yards to rise easily to a tarred lane beside a house. Here turn right to reach the main road.

Along the way6) Turn left and walk the short distance to the triangular junction near the redundant Sao Bras Inn (on your left). Immediately past the road signs for Almargens, Tesoureiro, etc., turn right on a narrow tarred lane between buildings. In 70 yards this turns left to run beside a long white building. You’re on the outward route of this walk (in Point 1) here. Simply reverse your initial walk to return to Casa Ferrobo, which is just over half-a-mile away.


©Neil Coates 4/2020