Planning your journey
Before getting the backpack on your back, it is important to plan all the steps to follow.

We want this to be an unforgettable trip. To help you prepare for your visit to the Via Algarviana, look for the information topic of what you want to know and the frequently asked questions.

 

What are you looking for?

GET TO KNOW THE TERRITORY

What territory will I visit?

Is it your first time on a Long Distance Path?

What is the recommended direction?

How many days can I take to travel the Long Distance Path?

What type of routes are there?

What is the local climate?

When is the best time to visit?

Can I walk these paths during the summer?

 

GET PREPARED

How to prepare the walk?
What physical preparation should I have?
What equipment to bring?
Available maps and tracks
How to read the classification of the difficulty level?

What information will I find in the APP?
What signage will I follow?

How to get to the region?

 

EAT AND SLEEP

Is there accommodation along the route? And where can I eat?
Do I need to book in advance?
Are there ATMs on the way?

 

SAFETY

Safety recommendations
Is there a mobile phone network along the way?
Should I walk alone?
Should I walk with children?
Should I walk with pets?
What precautions should I take in hunting areas?
What rules of conduct should I follow?

 

MTB

Is the GR13-Via Algarviana completely cyclable?
How many days should I have to cross the GR13?

When is the best time to cross the GR13?
What other routes can I do by MTB?
What physical condition does this Long Distance Path require?
What precautions should I take when preparing the bike?
Are there supply points along the route?
What kind of supplies should I bring?
Do I have to carry repair materials in my luggage?
Should I use GPS?

 

COVID-19

Can I travel the Via Algarviana during the pandemic?
Are there any restrictive measures in place?
Which precautions should I take as a visitor?

 



GET TO KNOW THE TERRITORY

What territory will I visit?
The GR13 itinerary crosses 9 municipalities in the Algarve: Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Tavira, São Brás de Alportel, Loulé, Silves, Monchique, Lagos and Vila do Bispo.
The “Via Algarviana” territory is part of a network of walking paths in the Algarve, which complement it and create different alternatives, depending on the interests and abilities of hikers. The Connections to the Via Algarviana also lead hikers to discover the municipalities of Albufeira, Aljezur and Portimão, with a new connection to the municipality of Lagoa to be installed soon.

 


Is it your first time in a Long Distance Path?
The Via Algarviana is a Long Distance Path (GR13) that connects Alcoutim to Cabo de São Vicente, with an distance of about 300 kilometres, mostly installed in the Algarve hills. It is intended to become part of the Trans-European Routes, connecting to the E4 and E9.
You can also ride along this Long Distance Path by mountain biking. Before starting, we recommend that you carefully read the information available for this mode.
Also read: IS IT YOUR FIRST TIME ON A LONG DISTANCE PATH? 5 points to consider

 


What is the recommended direction?
We recommend that you take the Long Distance Path departing from Alcoutim towards Cabo de São Vicente. However, if you choose to take this route in the opposite direction, from Cabo de São Vicente to Alcoutim, you should keep in mind that the cumulative elevation gain and loss values invert and as such the degree of difficulty also changes.

 


How many days can I take to travel the Via Algarviana?
The route is divided into 14 Sectors. The duration of the trip depends on the hiker's choice and physical fitness. You can divide or join Sectors, according to your preference and the availability of accommodation in the place where you want to stay overnight. You can also extend your stay in each Sector, visiting places of cultural interest or exploring other walking paths nearby.
We recommend planning the route in advance, checking the degree of difficulty of the sectors, technical and logistical needs, booking accommodation in advance and anticipating food and water supply points.

 


What type of routes are there?
Via Algarviana also has 12 complementary Walking Paths, 10 Audio Guided Routes, 7 Connections (soon it will be 9) and 4 Themed Routes created in the Algarve to allow you to know a little more about the region.
Discover them on the "Walking Paths" page.

 


What is the local climate?
It is essential to note that the entire route takes place inland, in the Algarve countryside, an area that has its own climate and, on the whole, very little shade. An area with a temperate Mediterranean climate, temperatures remain mild throughout the year.
Summers here are hot and dry, which means they are not the right time to set off on this route: the higher temperatures will make hiking much harder as it is the least beautiful landscape. 
Temperatures gradually start to fall from September onwards (although they can still be too high for hiking during the months of September and October).
Spring is, without a doubt, the best time of year for hiking. The countryside peaks in terms of its flora between February and April.

 


When is the best time to visit?
Autumn is therefore a good time to set off on this adventure. This swathe of countryside starts to come back to life with the falling of the first rains in autumn. Spring is, without a doubt, the best time of year for hiking. The beauty of the flowering fields dotted with splashes of colour, the aromatic smells of plants wafting on the breeze, birdsong and the croaking of frogs are sure to leave their mark! 

 


Can I walk the paths during the summer?
Summer is surely the time of the year with less beauty in the landscape views. The water lines, mostly in torrential regime, are dry as well as the vegetation. Autumn is a good choice to visit Via Algarviana, with the first rains and the fields getting greener. The Algarve inland has its own climatic conditions. The summer is very hot and dry and high temperatures will increase the degree of difficulty. Most of the sectors have little shade.
It is certainly the worst time of the year in which to explore the rural area of the Via Algarviana, as it is the least beautiful and the most dangerous, due to high risks of wildfires.
Still, if walking during the summer, we suggest you start the walk as early as you can (the further you plan on walking, the earlier you should get started) to avoid the hottest times of day.
Bring water and food in double quantities, as in many of the sectors there are no supply points.

 

 


GET PREPARED

 

How to prepare the walk?
Before putting yourself out there, please get valid information in the official channels of Via Algarviana! It is extremely important to inform yourself about all specificities of the region you are about to visit. For your security, please look carefully at the maps of each route and if you have experience using it do the download of the tracks.

 


What physical preparation should I have?
Traveling along the GR13 - Via Algarviana is also a journey of overcoming difficulties, as it crosses the three Algarve mountains - Caldeirão, Monchique and Espinhaço de Cão. It is essential to be physically prepared and to research the characteristics of the territory in advance.

 


What equipment to bring?
Things you must carry in your backpack:

  • first aid kit;
  • water and food;
  • footwear and clothing suitable for hiking, comfortable and adapted to weather conditions;
  • walking batons, sunscreen, hat, charged mobile phone, power bank, pocket knife, maps and/or GPS.

 


Available maps and tracks
Read the Via Algarviana General Information Guide carefully and take the maps with you or download the tracks to follow on the GPS (if you are an experienced user). On each route, you will find all the information you need available for download.
Also read about the signage that you will see along the way.

 

How to read the classification of the difficulty level?
A formula was developed by the Almargem Association exclusively to assess the degree of difficulty of each stretch of the Via Algarviana.
The degree of difficulty is calculated according to the following parameters: the distance covered in the sector, the terrain and gradient of hills.

Formula: ED = AD + AE

In that:

ED - equivalent horizontal distance (km)
AD - actual distance (km)
AE - additional effort
AE = TS/100 + Add

In that:
TS - total sum (in metres) of all positive and negative gradients 
Add - number of additional technical difficulties (>30% gradient, very uneven terrain, tricky stretch, very dense undergrowth, etc.).

Each infrastructure was assigned a degree of difficulty, calculated by means of the number reached using the formula, and based on the following scale:



What information will I find in the APP?
Are you a fan of digital? Soon, the Via Algarviana APP will be available for free and everything you need to know is just a click away on your mobile phone: maps, points of interest and other useful information. The app gives you additional security: you can access the information even when you don't have mobile network coverage.

 


What signage will I follow?
The GR13 - Via Algarviana is signposted on the ground with markers that includes poles and direction arrows, informational arrows and interpretative panels. 
In addition to these markers, numerous paintings have been placed on natural surfaces, such as rocks, in order to indicate the direction of the route, always using the Long Distance Path (GR) identification codes, as illustrated in the image below.

 

 

 

 

If you are taking a Short Distance Path, please note these differences at the signage: 

 

 

The Themed Routes and Audio Guided Routes have their own signs installed on the ground. Find out about them in the information about each of these route networks.

 

 

How to get to the region?

  • By plane
    Faro International Airport serves the entire Algarve with flights to a wide range of countries and cities, including many low-cost flights.
    However, if you cannot fly to Faro from your preferred departure airport, Portela Airport, in Lisbon, the largest in Portugal, can be reached from many more departure points.

  • By train
    Travelling by train may be a good option for you. If you want to start your adventure in Alcoutim, you can get the train to Vila Real de
    Santo António. Although travelling by train may take a bit longer, the scenery you’ll see along the way makes this mode of transport a worthwhile choice. When you reach Vila Real de Santo António, hop on a bus to Alcoutim.
    If you’re opting to do the route backwards, starting at Cape Saint Vincent, get the train to Lagos then switch to a bus to get to Sagres.
    If you’re planning on doing the Via Algarviana by bike, train is the best means of public transport for you as you can take your bike on it for free. We suggest having a look at the Connections to the Via Algarviana to better plan your trip, as several of them provide directions from train stations to the main Via Algarviana route.
    This could provide you with the perfect opportunity to save time on travelling.
    Check on train times and schedules on the CP (Portuguese Railways) website.

 

  • By bus
    Rede Expresso provides a range of bus schedules from across the country to Faro and Lagos, making both locations accessible, no matter which direction you choose to hike the route in. There is a direct route from Lisbon to Balurcos, which marks the start of the second sector, and you can either get a taxi or transfer service from there to Alcoutim to reach the very start of the route.
    When it comes to buses between cities and towns, schedules are particularly limited at weekends and during school holidays, as buses run far more frequently during term time. Check regional bus schedules on the EVA Transportes website.

 

 

 

EAT AND SLEEP

Is there accommodation along the route? And where can I eat?
Yes, there is accommodation available at the beginning and end of each Sector, as well as restaurants or similar. Planning in advance where you will be staying and where to eat your main meals is very important. You can check the services available at Booking area.
We also remind you that wild camping in Portugal is forbidden by law, and subject to fines.

 

Do I need to book in advance?
Make sure you book all the accommodation you’ll need before you start walking. We recommend that you book all your overnight stays and meals in advance, so you don’t run the risk of being surprised by an establishment that is sold out or closed on arrival. This recommendation is even more important for those who are planning to walk during the COVID-19 pandemic, as you may find some services operating in a reduced way or even closed.
Read the information about all the routes and check if there are support points (such as cafés or grocery stores) and take with you all the supplies and water you need for the journey.
By making a reservation, you will be supporting micro or small/medium local companies in the Algarve inland and stimulating the development of the local economy.

 


Are there ATMs on the way?
Soon, the new Via Algarviana Informative Guide edition will inform you if there is an ATM and in which locations, in each Sector and Connection.

  • ATTENTION: Make a good plan to avoid running out of money, as in many of the small towns it is not possible to pay with a card.

 

 



SAFETY

Safety recommendations
Always tell someone you trust about the route you are going to take and always take all emergency contacts with you. Our advice: make your contacts available to your accommodation; that way there will always be someone waiting for you who, in case of an incident or if you don't show up, can launch an alert.

 

Is there a mobile phone network along the way?
ATTENTION:
 over a large stretch of the route there is no mobile network coverage.

 


Should I walk alone?
Walking alone does not imply that you venture alone in this experience. Always let someone you trust know what route(s) you are going to take.

When walking alone, you can only count on yourself. In the event of an accident, you should always keep in mind that there is no mobile phone network for a large stretch of the route, so it may be difficult to ask for help.

  • You should have in your backpack a small medical care kit which should include, at least: plasters, ointment for muscle pain, ointment against insect bites, disinfectant and antiseptic solution, compresses and saline solution;
  • Take GPS or some kind of auxiliary cartography, namely the map(s) of the route(s) you are going to take so that, in case you need to call for help, you can indicate where you are. Always carry all emergency contacts with you.
  • Some of the sectors, in addition to being long, have high difficulty, so it is necessary to ensure that you carry enough water and food. ATTENTION: in several sectors there are no refreshments facilities.

 


Should I walk with children?
It is not advisable to take the GR13 – Via Algarviana with children, because of the difficulty level of the sectors and the specifics of the terrain. In addition, in several sectors there are no support points.
We suggest you research the 12 complementary Short Distance Paths. Some of these walking paths are circular and with less length so it might be an option.



Should I walk with pets?
Before you decide to bring your pet with you on this adventure, don't forget to organise your companion's trip as well. Make sure that pets are welcome at the accommodation where you will be staying overnight. Don't forget that there are some sectors with a long extension, which will be quite demanding. Also pay attention to the floor: on hotter days, heat can be an enemy of your friend's paws.
Don't forget to also plan your food and bring plenty of water for you and your partner.




What precautions should I take in hunting areas?
Many of the routes pass close to hunting areas, municipal and private, so we recommend that you take a fluorescent garment and/or a whistle with you. If you notice that there are hunters in the area, blow your whistle to make yourself heard and put on a fluorescent piece of clothing make yourself easier to spot.
We recommend that, before starting the walk, you find out from the local population if there are any hunting events in the area that day.
 

 

Which code of conduct should I follow?
It is always worth remembering the code of behaviour you should respect while taking any trail in the Via Algarviana route network:

  • Say on the signposted trails;
  • Do not litter;
  • Do not take any plant samples or rocks with you;
  • Do not damage any part of the natural or cultural heritage of these locations;
  • Do not start any kind of fire;
  • Do not damage private property;
  • Avoid making excessive noise or disrupting the peace;
  • Do not disturb the wildlife;
  • Be polite to the locals.

Leave a green footprint: Pick up any non-organic waste you find along the way and dispose of it appropriately when you reach your destination.



 

 

MTB

Is the GR13-Via Algarviana completely cyclable?
This Long Distance Footpath can also be taken in mountain bike mode. The route is cyclable for more than 90% of the approximately 300 kilometres in length. However, on short sectors it is necessary to carry the bicycle by hand or carry it on your shoulder.

 


How many days should I have to cross the GR13?
The duration of the trip depends on your will and physical capacity. In general, we recommend carrying out the 14 Sectors of the Via Algarviana in 5 days. To make the organisation of the trip easier, see the 5 steps proposed for the trip here.
You can always adapt these steps to your preference. Do not forget to confirm if you change this travel plan, if there are accommodation and catering services at the points where you decide to stop your daily journey.

 

When is the best time to cross the GR13?
The months from October to May are the most suitable for taking the Via Algarviana, as there is a milder climate that is favourable to hiking. Spring is the most recommended time, as you will find a landscape with greater natural beauty.
During the summer, the Algarve inland reaches very high temperatures, which adds to the difficulty of the route, which in some parts does not have many shaded areas. If you choose this time of year, we recommend that you start the route at the earliest possible time, in order to avoid the hottest hours.

 


What other routes can I do by MTB?
In addition to the GR13 - Via Algarviana, we also recommend that you discover the Connections to the Via Algarviana. These connections are also a good option for MTB to reach Via Algarviana, always by bike.

 


What condition does this Long Distance Path require?
The GR13 is a very demanding route, both physically and technically. It is essential that you are in good physical condition, as you will be constantly challenged by the accumulated ups and downs. Analyse the characteristics of each day and the altimetry of the territory you will cross to assess whether you are ready for this experience.

 


What precautions should I take when preparing the bike?
Mountain bike riders must carefully analyse the characteristics and condition of the bicycle to travel this Long Distance Path.
Carefully read the information we have prepared for you about the bike, the equipment and other precautions to take in Mechanical Bike Preparation.

 


Are there supply points along the route?
The GR13 crosses the Algarve inland, passing through very unpopulated areas. Therefore, although there are some supply points marked along the route, which you must confirm in advance, it is essential that you take plenty of water and sufficient supplies with you for the daily journey. This advance planning is very important, so you won't be surprised if you don't find a store open to restock.

 


What kind of supplies should I bring?
We recommend that you take at least two canteens of water with you, preferably with a capacity equal to or greater than 750 ml each, and you can take an extra canteen in your luggage. Also take some energy bars along the way, fruit such as dried bananas and figs, salts (we do not advise those who are not used to them, as they can cause gastric problems).


Do I have to carry repair materials in my luggage? 
Yes. Be prepared in case there is a problem with the bike during the trip. It may be in an inaccessible place, without mobile network and without technical assistance. Take at least this material with you: inner tube, hole repair box, dismount set, chain releaser, hitch links, pocket knife key set, air pump or CO2 pump, chain lubricant, American tape or wire or rope, be prepared for any eventuality.
Also carefully read the information on Mechanical Bike Preparation here.

 

 Should I use GPS?
The route is fully signposted, but it is advisable to use GPS and download the tracks we provide in the GR13 - Via Algarviana stages for MTB. All the information is presented in the recommended direction, from Alcoutim to Cabo de São Vicente. If you decide to travel in the opposite direction, don't forget that you have to reverse the line with the cumulative elevation gain and loss values. The level of difficulty of the sectors can vary depending on the direction in which you make them.

 

 



COVID-19 

Can I travel the Via Algarviana during the pandemic?
Try to be informed in advance of the public health measures in place, which are applied to protect everyone.
At this stage, you should be prepared for all the unforeseen events that may arise, plan all the logistics of transport, accommodation and meals, as well as prepare for the weather conditions you will encounter and the technical issues of the route.

 


Are there any restrictive measures im place?

Carefully read the important information for anyone planning to travel in Portugal during the pandemic, gathered by Turismo de Portugal (Portugal Tourism Board). See also the Frequently Asked Questions.

Please always confirm the restrictive measures in force through information provided by the authorities.

 

 

Are the services working normally?
Get informed in advance about the public health measures in force, for the safety of everyone.
At this stage, you must prepare in advance to any unforeseen events that may arise, plan all the transfers, accommodation and meals, as well as to prepare for the weather conditions and the technical aspects of the route.

Turismo de Portugal created the "Clean & Safe" seal to distinguish companies in the tourism sector that comply with the hygiene and careful cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of this virus or other possible infections, in order to allow tourism enterprises, tourist entertainment companies and travel agencies to have a tool that certifies them as safe establishments, guaranteeing the tourist’s confidence in the destination.

 


What precautions should I take as a visitor?

  • The use of a mask is mandatory in public transport and services, stores and supermarkets, indoors or in public spaces and streets whenever the physical distance recommended by the health authorities cannot be guaranteed (applying to 10 years old onwards).
    Bring your own masks (to help the environment, you may use the reusable ones, keeping it clean everyday; if you use the disposable ones, don't forget to put them in the common garbage, properly packed in a bag).
  • Hand hygiene is one of the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Remember, wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If this option is not possible, bring your own alcohol- based disinfectant gel.
  • Practice a good respiratory hygiene. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning your hands. Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw it in the trash and wash your hands.Do not share your personal items. In case of symptoms, please contact SNS24 (808 24 24 24).
  • Social distancing measures are intended to reduce social interaction between people. Whenever is possible, keep a distance above two meters from other people and avoid the usual social greeting ways, such as handshaking or hugs.
    When crossing the Via Algarviana territory, you will visit many villages with a mostly elderly population, one of the higher risk groups of health issues due to COVID-19. Although Portuguese people are known for being particularly welcoming will most likely welcome you pleasantly affably, respect this and other safety rules in order to protect the local population.

 

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Can't find the information you're looking for?


Send us an email to viaalgarviana@viaalgarviana.org with your question!

Now that you have everything ready for this experience, you just need to take the first step.