The Algarve region of Portugal is one of the most popular places in Europe for campervan and motorhome owners to visit. And for good reason. The Algarve has fantastic year-round weather, stunning coastline, beautiful mountains, lots of history, and it's not too expensive either.
Whilst popular with all types of holiday maker during the summertime, during the winter the Algarve is practically a ghost town, with just a few locals and a good number of campervans and motorhomes wild camping around coastal areas.
Unfortunately the Algarve has attracted more tourist development that the rest of Portugal combined. Whilst the area between Faro and Lagos, on the south coast, has suffered massive development, there are many areas of unspoilt landscapes and sandy beaches.
- The west coast - many undeveloped and unspoilt bays and coves. A great place for finding a quiet campsite or car park for wild camping. Great surfing spots, especially in winter.
- West of Faro - you'll find a series of tiny bays and coves. The most striking being around the resort towns of Lagos and Albufeira.
- East of Faro - there are a series of islets, the ilhas, which pretty much front the coastline to the Spanish border. This is generally a quieter section of the coast, with warmer waters.
- Inland - there are the Roman ruins of Estoi, the Moorish town of Silves, and the outstanding Serra de Monchique, the highest mountain range in the south.
Updated: The details here were last checked in November 2011. Things may have changed a little now. If you know something has changed please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Spring and summertime weather in the Algarve is very good. Sunny and warm just about everyday. Still days in summer can be very hot, although not as hot as places such as Seville, due to the reliable sea breeze.
Autumn weather in the Algarve is generally pleasant. Sunny days in the 20s are the normal, but also expect some cloudy days. Even on cloudy days you won't need to wrap up really well though. And night time temperatures are good, so you won't need to put on your heaters typically until after Christmas.
During the winter the weather can be cold, but on a still cloudless day you could find yourself sunbathing. A light ground frost will happen several times during the winter. Rain is occasional during the winter, but recent years has seem more rain the normal. In winter The Algarve is the warmest place in Europe. See the Winter in Europe section.
Considering how popular the Algarve is a tourist destination, there are surprisingly few campsites. However, the campsites and good and outside of the summer you won't have any problems finding a space. During the summer you are advised to book ahead, but with some persistence you will probably find a space.
The campsites in the Algarve are generally of a good quality. They are well priced, especially when compared to Spain, and in the Winter prices are often half that of the summer. A couple with a motorhome can pay as little as €10 a night during the winter.
Wild camping is illegal in the Algarve. However, the police and local authorities generally tolerate sensible wild camping outside of the summer period. Portugal relies heavily on tourism, and the authorities don't won't to drive away the winter tourists. Many places have signs saying no camping, and it is wise to not camp at these places. The police will most likely fine you. If you are ever asked to moved on, then do so quickly.
There are lots of lovely places to wild camp in the Algarve.
During the summer you'll find it hard to wild camp as the police will move you on quickly.
Petrol is expensive in Portugal, just as expensive as the UK, but Diesel is cheaper. The price does vary quite a bit between fuel stations, so it's worth keeping your eye out for the cheapest station. These are typically in the larger towns. Spain is still a little cheaper, so it's worth filling up in Spain before entering Portugal.
LPG gas bottles are very widespread in Portugal as they are used in many homes. If you intend to stay for a while you won't have a problem finding a Portugese gas bottle and regulator.
Camping Gaz is widely available from campsites and bigger InterMarche supermarkets. The price is around €14 to exchange a bottle.
LPG is widely available in Portugal. xxx insert LPG info here.
More and more supermarkets are appearing in the Algarve.
The Algarve has Portugal's best beaches. The west coast is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic winds are waves, yet there are many beautiful rocky coves where the high cliff faces provide shelter. The south coast is more sheltered, and offers the best beaches for swimming. There are great surfing beach breaks, reef breaks and point breaks on the west and south coasts. The west coast being one of the top three swell-receiving areas in the world. If the Atlantic storms make the west coast unsurfable it is a reasonably short drive to the shelter of the south coast. There are a lot of surf schools in the Algarve.
(North to South)
Free camping at Praia De Odeceixe
Parking is difficult in the village, but there is good parking on other side of estuary from village. Take the unsealed road on north side of bridge on N120.
Praia da Amoreira
A beautiful beach, quite a way from the main road and secluded.
Free camping at Praia da Amoreira
Vans often free camp in the car park, and in the grass areas on the road approaching the beach.
Praia de Monte Clerigo
A big beach in a beautiful setting. It is 5km from the main road. The road to the beach is of good quality, with some hills. Swimming and surfing is possible at this beach. There are a couple of cafes and restaurants at the car park. Has free camping possibilities (see below).
Free camping at Praia be Monte Clerigo
Off-season camper vans and motorhomes free camp in the big car park by the cafes. You can also try the smaller parking bays closer to hill, as the surrounding buildings are closed-up during the off-season.
Driving between Praia be Monte Clerigo and Arrifana
There are small lanes of various quality between Praia be Monte Clerigo and Arrifana. However there are few signposts, and it is not recommended. It is better to use the main roads. Although a longer journey it takes the same amount of time, and the main road is a lot smoother.
A old Portuguese town, that is rewarding if you spend the time exploring it. The Serrao campsite on the north side is good. There is an Intermarche Supermarket in town now. There is a big car park suitable for campers in the middle of town, where the bridge crosses the river.
Parque de Campismo do Serrao
Tel: +351 282 990 220
A nice campsite in quiet surroundings. Nice modern facilities, including pool and supermarket. All camping is amongst the trees, which offer greatly needed shade in summer, but can be a little dark outside of the summer. Friendly staff.
For a couple for 1 night: off-season €12.50, high-season €19. Electricity is €3 extra.
Arrifana is a small cliff-top village, which overlooks a stunning little beach cove. The village consists of whitewashed cottages and holiday homes. There is a cobbled, twisty, steep road that twists down to the beach. Only small and sound vehicles should tackle the road. On the steep road there is room for some parking, in bays, and along the roadside. There is a large sandy parking area at top of the road, overlooking the bay. There is a restaurant opposite the parking area at the top of the road, two further down the road, and also a cafe at the bottom of the road, with amazing views overlooking the beach, the savoury pancakes are recommended. There are public toilets at the bottom of the road. Arrifana beach is sheltered from the big waves and winds, by the high cliffs. This make it a great place for swimming, and surfing when the swell is too big for other beaches.
Free camping in Arrifana
You can try on the parking area at the top of the road, but there are better places in the area to wild camp. There is a sign saying no motor homes. The nearby beach of Monte Clerigo (see above) is a popular free camping spot.
Praia do Bordeira
A big and exposed beach. There are several large gravely car parking areas near the cliff tops. Lots of spaces to wild camp. Lots of roads and paths to explore on foot or bicycle. A wooden beach bar opens in summer. The cliffs are popular with fishermen. For surfers, Caropotera picks up the most swell on the west coast, and is the place to head on flat days.
There is a cliff top restaurant between Praia do Carapoterra and Praia do Armado.
The car park at Bordeira is a quiet place for wild camping in winter. There are no coastal views though, as they are blocked by the sand banks. Good base for bicycle exploring.
Wild camping at Bordeira
A small village with a mercado and a mini-mercado selling basic goods including water, fresh bread, milk, etc. There are a couple of cafes also.
Praia do Amado
A lovely beach with high cliffs offering protecting from the winds. There are 2 large car parks behind the beach, which have been developed in recent years. They provide excellent wild camping areas. Although the car parks are quite hilly, there are some flat areas, and levelling ramps are useful. There are bins and recycling bins provided. A mobile cafe trailer is often by the car parks. Armado is very popular with local and traveling surfers. There are nice paths for walking and cycling, to Caropetera beach and town.
Free camping at Praia do Amado
There are two parking areas. A larger one, set back, where motorhomes gather, and a smaller area on the cliff edge where camper vans get together. The police sometimes visit, often late at night. They rarely speak to anyone.
Free camping at Praia do Cordoama
Free camping is possible at by the beach at Praia do Castelejo. It is an isolated beach, and the road is rough. Good for long stays.
Free camping at Praia do Castelejo
Free camping is possible at by the beach at Praia do Castelejo. There is limited parking here though.
Sagres is a small town, not really a resort, more of a old fishing village that is turning to tourism. The town has no sights of its own. There are a few shops and a fair selection of good bars and restaurants The Fortaleza and lighthouse on the cape are the only things of interest. There are many beautiful beaches around Sagres.
There is a new good sized Intermarche supermarket on the main road into town. In the town itself is a small AliSuper supermarket.
There is an Orbitur campsite on the road towards S.Vincente lighthouse. The campsite is a little dated, and the sanitation facilities are not always very clean. However, the pitches are shaded and it's a nice area to relax.
Campismo de Sagres
A large campsite near Sagres, on the road to the lighthouse. The facilities here are quite old and worn, and not always very clean. The pitches are pretty good. A reasonable size, with small hedges. Not very private, but nicely laid out.
There is a supermarket and bar. The bar has WiFi, is closed off-season, but the WiFi can still be used on the veranda of the bar. The reception has a small shop also for when the supermarket is closed.
Walks and bike rides are possible in the area. A nice bike ride is out to the lighthouse.
For a couple for 1 night: off-season €10.90, high-season €20.30. Electricity is €3 extra.
Wild camping in Sagres
Sagres, from the Fortaleza. Wild camping spots visible in the middle of the photo
Vans wild camp at several areas in Sagres.
- The Fortaleza car park - a massive car park with views over Tonel beach to the west, and Mareta to the east. A good spot to gauge the surf on both coasts. It is recommended to camp close to other vans.
- Car parks at Mareta beach - on the road down towards Mareta beach there are two car parks where camper vans and motorhomes regularly camp. The upper car park is bigger and popular with motorhomes. The lower car park, which is hidden from the road at the top, is smaller and better for camper vans. There is also a small area lower down, behind the large restaurant on the eastern side of the beach.
Praia do Barranco (Branco's)
A beautiful, remote beach, down a very bad track. Barranco is a lovely bay, with a sandy beach, with rocky edges. Due to the poor access, many travellers stay here for a long time. The only locals you will ever see are the local surfers, and the goat farmer. It is possible to stay here during the summer months. The surf here is excellent. When the conditions are right you will see hoards of surfers, local and travelling, arrive in numbers. They will disappear as soon as the conditions change again. A right hand wave peels from one side of the bay to the other. Barranco is not signposted. To get there, from the N125 take the turning signposted for Praia da Ingrina and Praia do Zavial. The lane to Barranco is the first turning on the right. The lane is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long, and not sealed. In some places massive pot holes fill with water. After heavy rains most vehicles will not be able to drive on the lane. 4WD vehicles should not have a problem.
Free camping at Praia do Barranco (Branco's)
Barranco is a popular free camping area, throughout the year. However, access is along a long 3.5 mile (5.6 km) rutted track that can be a problem in wet weather. The bad lane means in summer you wont be moved on. There are bins at the beach, but nothing else. Take plenty of supplies with you. There is a little supermarket at the turning on the N125.
Praia da Ingrina
A pretty beach with a restaurant, and free camping possibilities. The surf here can be great in the right conditions. The beach is sign posted from the main N125. The road varies in quality. The car parks are to the right as you near the beach. Praia do Zavial is also close by. There is a megalithic monument on the right of the road as you approach the beach.
Free camping at Praia da Ingrina
Off season it is possible to free camp in the beach car parks. It is a remote spot, so there are not normally too many visitors. There is a restaurant here also.
Praia do Zavial
Continue down the road, past Praia da Ingrina, and you will come to Zavial. A good beach for surfing. The car park is not very level, but you could consider free camping here. There is a restaurant at the beach.
Campsites Near Budens
Sitio do Boieira
Tel 00351 922 239 070 or 0044 7509 040 262
A small farm CL type campsite. Just 6 spaces with water and electricity for 10 euros a night (60 euros per week) great views, shops, beach, restaurants etc 5 mins away, ideal for walkers.
Praia da Salema
Wild camping in Salema
Salema is a pretty little village. There is some parking down by the sea front.. This is a good place to escape winds. There are public toilets in the square, and a little supermarket on the opposite side of the square. This is a nice beach for swimming, and can have good surfing waves in the right conditions. There seems to be a lot of sea life in the water. The Aventura Bar is a great bar to grab a late night drink, run by some expats.
Wild camping at Praia da Salema
There is a large dirt car park at the back of the town. This is OK for free camping out of season. Drive through the seafront car park and keep going to the back of the town. Don't try and park near the seafront.
Boca da Rio
"Mouth of the River" in Portuguese, is a wide valley, with a small beach. It is very popular with wild campers. During the winter time there may be as many as 50 motorhomes camping by the beach. Occasionally during the winter the Police will move campers along. During the summer the Police either force everyone off the site, or try and move campers to the grass area behind the beach.
There are bins for refuse by the beach. Occasionally a freezer van will visit selling packets of frozen food. There is a stream that one could take water from, but I wouldn't advise drinking the water.
It's a popular spot for fishing from the beach. The beach is covered with large rocks, which seem to have been put there to stop the banks eroding into the sea. During the summer the tide seems much lower, exposing lots more of the beach.
Boca do Rio seems to have been a small fishing settlement once. There are several remains of buildings, by the beach and around the valley. There are several nice walks along the cliffs in either direction, or along the valley.
Energetic cyclists can cycle to Salema or Burgah, but the bills are very steep.
The Intermarche supermarket on the main road is a leisurely bike ride, and can be done daily for groceries.
Praia do Cabanas
A very secluded beach, with a nice beach bar (open during summer), and great surf in the right conditions. It can be difficult to find.
From Burgau: drive west until you get to the crossroads with the bus stop, where the senior gents of the village sit. You will see the sign for Cabanas on the northerly side of the road, and a sign for Bocca do Rio on the southerly side of the road. Take this road and keep driving. The road becomes a rough but sealed track. After about 1km you will see the lane to the beach as you near it.
Free camping at Praia do Cabanas
Out of season, it is possible to free camp in the beach car park.
Campsites in Espiche
Camping Turiscampo, Espiche
tel: 351 282 789 265 - www.turiscampo.com
Estrada Nacional, 125
Good and well equipped campsite, with a swimming pool, bar & restaurant and a supermarket. Between the two turnings for Luz on the N125. Popular with Brits, Germans and Dutch for their winter stay. Open year round. Moderately priced.
Luz is a pretty little resort, that isn't too hard on the eye. It is a great place to escape the crowds of Lagos. The beach is great, with good surfing. There are good bars here. The British pub, "The Duke", on the main street back from the beach, up a hill, serves a a great Sunday roast (Sun 12 - 8). There is a supermarket on the main street also. The post office is up the main street, then turn right.
For those with DVD players or laptops, it is possible to rent dvds in Luz. The Eureka shop, and another smaller shop tucked away, near the Baptista Supermarket, rent DVDs to non-residents, using a cash deposit system. Both places also offer internet access.
Free camping in Luz
Do not free camp overnight near the beach, in any of the car parks. You will be moved on by the police, or local residents. However, parking during the day there is fine. There is a toilet block, open during the day, that has cold water showers inside. There is a fresh water tap at the end of the mens toilet.
Further west on the seafront: There is a large strip of sandy lane, further west from the beach. It is in front of homes, but overlooks the rocky seafront, and has great views. This is a popular spot for motorhomes. To get there, from the downhill road that heads into town, from the Burgau road, turn right on the biggest turning. You drive past new developments of apartments and houses. There is ongoing construction work here, and free camping here may not be possible in the future.
A large campsite on a road outside of the town of Praia da Luz. The facilities are old and worn, but fairly clean. The pitches are generally grassy and mud, not much gravel. The pitches are also packed in a bit. There are lots of new mobile home type units at the back of the campsite.
The facilities on this Orbitur campsite are better than the ones at the Sagres Orbitur campsite, however the Sagres website has more atmosphere, and in a more rural area.
Cycling and walking possible in the area, but requires walking on the edge of the fairly busy road.
For a couple for 1 night: off-season €12.60, high-season €23.90. Electricity is €3 extra.
There is a large Intermarche supermarket (well signposted), a cheaper Pingo Doce on the way to Meia Praia, and a Lidl store behind the town area. There is a good value jet wash, that smaller vehicles can use, at the petrol station near the first roundabout in Lagos, when coming from the N125.
Free camping in Lagos
There are a few free camping options in Lagos.
- Meia Praia: It's no longer possible to wild camp at Meia Praia.
Free camping is possible in the car park behind the Meia Praia beach during the off-season, it's packed during the summer. The police do move vehicles along occasionally.
- Car park by the Marina: On the road from Lagos to Meia Praia, turn right at the roundabout towards the marina. First left is a car park. The signs say no motorhomes, but it's ok outside of summer. The police have been seen checking all is ok at night time.
- Just before Meia Praia: On the road from Lagos to Meia Praia there is a garage on right. Some people parking on hard standings between the beach and the road.
- Behind the railway station: People also free camp behind the railway station in the large car park in front of school. There are toilets at the Marina.
- Praia de Porto Mos: A lovely beach with a big car park, but only some of which is level. There are several restaurants, and public toilets here. Turn right at the roundabout after the Intermarche, when heading into town, signposted from here.
Wifi in Lagos
Try the lower Intermarche car park.
Free camping in Alvor
Lots of parking on the seafront at the eastern end of town near Ocandeerio Restaurant. Also parking behind the swimming pool.
Praia da Rocha, Portimao
Praia da Rocha is the most popular beach in the Portimao area. It is a long sandy beach, with several beach bars and restaurants. It's very popular in summer, and quite at other times. There is a small town with many convenience shops and restaurants, although most are only open in summer.
It is a nice bike ride to Portimao, along the rivers edge.
There is an unusual wild camping spot in Praia da Roche...
Praia da Rocha Marina Aire
Council run aire at Praia da Rocha. Only €2 per day.
The Aire is operated by the local council on a car park. Some of the car park is tarmac, some gravel and some sand. It is a massive area. There is room for hundreds of motorhomes.
During a visit in April I saw 50 motorhomes, and in November about 25. The cost is €2 per day now. Only €1 in April. The only facilities are a chemical toilet emptying tank. There is a mobile restaurant on site now.
You now pay when entering the site, if the attendant is there. Sometimes they are not. It's fairly secure, and there is a nice sense of community there. Very good for large RV type vehicles. Some long stayers. It's right next to the Marina, follow the signposts. Some shops nearby.
A nice little town on the eastern side of the river by Portimao.
There is a great restaurant called Portarade in the main square. €8 3 course lunch specials (12:00 - 15:00), €12 3 course dinner specials (17:30 - 22:00). Closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Wild camping is possible in Ferragudo on a large sandy patch close to the river. When driving through the main square, coming from the A22 or N125 roads, stay on the right hand side and follow the road to the right, and up the hill. The wild camping area is on the left hand side.
Armacao De Pera
Armacao De Pera is still essentially a small Portugese town, with tourism slowly overtaking fishing as the source of income and focus of the town.
It's certainly a much prettier and authentic town than many of the other nearby towns that have changed by rampant tourism.
The beach is large and good for families. There are quite a few bars and restaurants right next to the beach.
There are a couple of small supermarkets in the town. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in and around the town, with many on the seafront. Several stay open throughout the year.
There are a few campsites near the town.
tel: 282 312 612
A pleasant campsite with good facilities. 2kms from town on the main road. Easy walk or cycle to town.
Good sized pitches, most with shade, some more open. Sanitation facilities are clean, although a little dated.
The site has a good shop, restaurant and bar. It has 3 popular swimming pools and a children's play area. There is also a tennis court and boules/football court.
For a couple for 1 night: off-seson €11.70, high-season €16. Electricity is €3 extra.
Free camping in Quarteira
Parking at Praia Forte Novo at the eastern end of the town.
The Eastern Algarve is sheltered from the Atlantic winds and storms coming from the west. This is the warmest place to stay in Portugal during the winter.
Faro is the largest town and administrative capital of the region. The coastline east from here is protected by stretches of mud flats and sandbanks. This area is generally less crowded than the rock bays west of Faro. Inland the only real temptation are the Roman remain at Estoi.
Once a sleepy town, development has left Faro as a bustling centre of tourism. Faro has an attractive harbour area, pedestrianised shopping areas and excellent local beaches. During the bustle of summer there is a great nightlife scene in Faro.The Great Earthquake of 1755 destroyed most historic buildings, leaving only the Ciadade Velha, across from the harbour. The Museu Arqueologico is an impressive museum housed in a sixteeth-century convent on Praca Afonso III. There is also the Museu Regional on Praca de Liberdade. A popular and curious sight is the twin towered, Baroque Igreja do Carmo. It is near the post office on the Largo do Carno. The turismo is close to the harbour front at Rua da Misericordia 8, where you can get maps. The town centre is small enough to negotiate on foot.
Praia de Faro, the main town beach, is a long sweep of beautiful sand with a sea-facing and a more sheltered land-facing side. There are cafes, restaurants and the campsite there. You can take a ferry shuttle through the marshy channels to the local sandbar beaches.
For food and drink head towards the pedestrianised shopping centre at Rua de Santo Antonio. Almond delicacies are the regional specialty. The pavement restaurants have the bustling street life that make central Faro so attractive. For cheaper and better quality food scout the back streets, but you will lost the street life there. Nightlife generally gets going after midnight. The outdoor seating around Rua Conselheiro Bivar and the parallel Rua do Prior being the place to head.
Parking in Faro
Faro is not the easiest place to park. Smaller vehicles can try around the mercado, which is free, and the mercado is easy to find when driving and on foot. Larger vehicles can try near the harbour.
Campsites in Faro
tel: 289 817 876
At Praia de Faro. Busy and cramped during the summer.
Free camping in Fuseta
Go through village and there is parking on the sea front car park next to camp site. The camp site can be very crowded.
Free camping at Pedras D’el Rei
Clearly signed off N 125 west of Tavira. Follow road to lagoon, turn right and the parking area is ahead.
Santa Luzia is a pretty village, overlooking the river and sandbars. There are excellent seafood restaurants here. It's a nice place to unwind and watch the boats with a drink.
Free camping in Santa Luzia
Try along the river. Some people camp in the car park of the football stadium, although there is limited room there and the ground men of the stadium are unlikely to be thrilled. There is a large, unsealed, fairly level car park; from the riverside head towards Tavira, then turn left at the junction, signposted centro, the car park is just on the right.
Cabanas de Tavira
Often known as Cabanas, it's a nice little town. No beach, but has summertime ferries to the islands, which are beautiful. Some shops and restaurants in town. Once a very popular spot for wild camping. However, too many wild campers has led to a complete ban. There is a great cycle path through the salt flats to Tavira. There is a great campsite though.
Camping Ria Formosa
A nice campsite. All hard standing, open pitches, so not very private. But quite a social campsite. Nice restaurant / bar on site. Good shop also. Lovely swimming pool. Clean modern sanitation blocks. Good monthly prices. Popular with long term campers. Very close to cycle path to Tavira. €13 per night for a couple out of season.
Hard standing pitch at Camping Ria Formosa
Free camping at Praia da Manta Rota
Parking on large beach car park behind sand dunes. Water available.
Gas bottle refilling stations on The Algarve
There are a few places where you can get gas bottles refilled on the Algarve. This is very useful, and prevents having to buy a new type of bottle and regulator.
Vila Real di Santo Antonio (eastern end, near the Spanish border)
GPL filling station is behind the Blue Elephant car wash, on the Faro road out of the town. They have adapters for most european gas bottles.
50 metres off N125 sign clearly visible from main road.
Take the N398 (East of Olhao) signed Moncaraphacho, Faro & Espahne. Leave at first exit. The GPL station can be clearly seen on the left as you approach the exit.
From the A22 leave at exit 15. Take Quelfes turn off from N398 signed on left.
They are open seven days a week. tel: 289 704 851