The coastal strip of this part of the Algarve is heavily built up; fortunately in between the seaside towns most of the beaches and coastal cliffs have good public access and provide opportunities for walking beside the sea. Views from some of the high cliffs are truly spectacular, and in spring when wildflowers such as the pink catchfly Silene colorata, the yellow sea daisy Astericus maritimus and the blue iris Gynandriris sisyrinchium - commonly known as Barbary Nut - provide magnificent multicolour margins to the paths, and they cover any rock ledges that are not taken over by seabirds.
Within 2km (a mile or so) of the shoreline there are plenty of open grassland areas, sometimes dotted with shrubs such as Grey-leaved Cistus, Cistus albidus, and French Lavender, Lavandula stoechas, and nearly always with plenty of low herbs such as thyme and phlomis; these are wonderful wildflower sites to walk through in springtime, as they are home to all sorts of insects including colourful beetles, butterflies and day-flying moths.
Moving inland, to the north of the A22 the terrain is dominated by fruit farming in the valleys and mixed forests in the hills. Even so there are some fairly easy-going walks beside some of the larger rivers. Smaller streams tend to be set in steep-side ravines, where walking is difficult and the view rather restricted. The woods generally have good access, with logging tracks used quite frequently - especially where eucalyptus trees are grown, because they can be ready for harvesting within ten years of being planted as saplings. In many places where Cork Oaks are grown, fodder crops are planted between the trees, and there it is important to keep to well-defined footpaths.
For each walk listed below, further information, pictures and a more detailed map are available via the links:
Rocha da Pena - a steep climb to a limestone escarpment particularly rich in wildflowers and birds.
Algibre River Valley - a gentle walk along a pretty river valley ideal for seeing plants, birds and insects.
Fonte Benemola - an easy circular walk through a river valley good for birds, butterflies, wildflowers and some fungi
Ria Alvor Nature Reserve - miles of easy-going boardwalks through the sand dunes and tracks along the cliffs overlooking the Alvor River estuary
We hope that you have found this information helpful. If so we are sure you would also enjoy our books about Algarve wildlife and wildflowers. Buy them online here...