Don’t Take a Day Trip to Algarve from Lisbon, Do This Instead!

If you’re planning to take a day trip to Algarve from Lisbon — don’t! I have an even better alternative for you.

When planning a trip to Portugal most travellers will ask “Can you do a day trip from Lisbon to Algarve?” While the stunning coastal region of the Algarve may tempt you with its pristine beaches, rock formations and sparkling blue waters, I’m here to tell you why taking just a day trip from Lisbon to Algarve simply won’t cut it.

On my first 3-week trip to Portugal, I visited the regions of Alentejo and Algarve and Lisbon for a week at a time and it still wasn’t enough time. Even though I travelled from Algarve to Lisbon by car, I can’t imagine doing it in one day!

Instead, I’ll guide you through an alternative experience by giving you two options:

  1. Select a day trip closer to Lisbon
  2. Extend your itinerary from Lisbon to the Algarve by a couple of days

Intrigued by these options? Keep reading and I will break it all down for you. And, for those who still want the day trip Lisbon to Algarve Portugal experience, I will share some tours that are your best option.

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Alternatives to a Lisbon to Algarve Day Trip

beach with ocean and red cliffs on day trip to algarve from lisbon

Option #1: 5 Day Trips from Lisbon

Since I don’t recommend a Lisbon day trip to Algarve, I want to provide you with better options that are under 2 hours from Lisbon.

1. Estoril: Relaxed Coastal Vibes (24 km | 25 min from Lisbon)

Estoril has long been a popular destination for travellers seeking a mix of relaxation and entertainment. Enjoy the golden sands of Tamariz Beach, take a stroll along the palm-lined promenade, or visit the impressive Estoril Casino.

Explore the lush gardens of the Estoril Casino Park and discover the history of the region at the Estoril Museum. If you decide to stay for the evening, a vibrant nightlife will be sure to delight you.

2. Sintra: A Fairy Tale Escape (34 km | 30 min from Lisbon)

forest with castle on day trip to algarve from lisbon

Escape the bustling streets of Lisbon and venture into the enchanting town of Sintra. Just a short train ride away, Sintra is famous for its fairytale-like castles and lush green landscapes.

Explore Pena Palace with its vibrant colours and intricate details or wander through the mystical Quinta da Regaleira gardens and its secret tunnels. Don’t forget to indulge in traditional pastries like queijadas or travesseiros before leaving this magical place.

3. Cascais: Sun-Kissed Coastal Retreat (32 km | 40 min from Lisbon)

stone bridge with castle on day trip lisbon to algarve

If beaches are calling your name but you want something closer than the Algarve, head over to Cascais, a charming coastal town. This former fishing village offers pristine sandy beaches where you can relax under sunny skies or indulge in water sports like surfing or paddleboarding.

Stroll along the picturesque promenade dotted with cafes and boutiques, and be sure to visit the enchanting Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) rock formation.

4. Évora: Ancient History Unearthed (133 km | 90 min from Lisbon)

ancient temple ruins in evora portugal

Looking for a dose of history? Head east from Lisbon towards Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with archaeological wonders. This charming city boasts well-preserved Roman ruins such as the Temple of Diana and captivating medieval architecture like the Cathedral of Évora.

Take a stroll through narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses and savour local delicacies like migas or galo de Barcelos.

5. Obidos: A Medieval Escape (85 km | 70 min from Lisbon)

Dreaming of stepping into a medieval fairytale? Look no further than Óbidos! Enclosed within ancient walls, this picturesque town invites you to wander its narrow streets adorned with bougainvillea-covered houses.

Discover traditional handicrafts, and sample delicious cherry liqueur. This hidden gem of Portugal is just one of the many Instagrammable places you’ll want to visit.

Option #2: Make the Algarve a Weekend Break

red cliff with beach, sea on day trip to algarve from lisbon

The Algarve is undeniably breathtaking. With its golden sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters it’s easy to see why it’s a traveller’s favourite.

But here’s the thing: squeezing all that beauty into a single day trip from Lisbon is like trying to capture a rainbow in a tiny jar. You’ll miss out on so much that this enchanting region has to offer!

So, instead of rushing through this coastal gem, I suggest embracing a more immersive approach. Trust me, it’s worth it!

By spending a few extra days exploring the Algarve at your own leisurely pace, you’ll uncover hidden gems and experience the true essence of the region.

Getting to the Algarve From Lisbon

train at train station on day trip to algarve from lisbon

1. Lisbon to Algarve Drive By Car

Let’s start with my recommended choice of renting a car in Lisbon and driving to the Algarve.

  • Time: travel time will be around 2.5 to 3 hours
  • Cost: daily rate for car €70, daily rate for insurance €10, fuel and toll €45
  • Route: A2 to A22

Head south on the A2 highway, also known as the Autostrada do Sul. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes as you cruise through charming towns like Setúbal and Alcácer do Sal.

After a couple of hours, take the exit for the A22 highway, known as Via do Infante, which will lead you to the heart of the Algarve.

Keep an eye out for the signs pointing you to your desired destination, whether it’s the stunning beaches of Albufeira or the historic town of Lagos. Remember to have some cash or a suitable method of payment for the tolls along the way.

  • Lisbon – Albufeira: 256 km | 2 hr 30 min
  • Lisbon – Carvoeiro: 276 km | 2 hr 40 min
  • Lisbon – Faro: 277 km | 2 hr 40 min
  • Lisbon – Portimão: 281 km | 2 hr 45 min
  • Lisbon – Olhao: 285 km | 2 hr 45 min
  • Lisbon – Lagos: 300 km | 2 hr 50 min
  • Lisbon – Tavira: 302 km | 2 hr 50 min

Of all the available options, I recommend renting a car to go from Lisbon to the Algarve because it’s practical, fun and cost-effective.

To experience the Algarve you’ll want the flexibility to drive to different beaches or go inland to visit some of the most pretty villages in Portugal, for that, you’ll need a car.

2. Lisbon to Algarve Train

Taking the train from Lisbon to Algarve is a convenient and comfortable option, especially for those who can’t or prefer not to drive in Portugal.

  • Time: 3.5 hours
  • Cost: €20 to €30
  • How: Lisbon Sete Rios Station and take the Rede Expressos 93Vila Real de Santo António line to Faro

Hop aboard the train at Lisbon’s Sete Rios Station which might require you to take the train from Oriente station as it’s out of the historic city centre.

Enjoy a relaxing journey to your Algarve destination which may require you to change trains, but this train route connects you directly to Faro, the capital of the Algarve region.

Trains run frequently, with five departures throughout the day. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance to secure the best fares and the exact dates you are looking for.

  • Lisbon – Faro: 3 h
  • Lisbon – Albufeira: 3 h 04 min
  • Lisbon – Lagos: 3 h 45 min
  • Lisbon – Portimão: 3 h 47 min

3. Airport for the Algarve

If you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to travel from Lisbon to Faro, catching a quick flight is a great option.

  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Cost: varies, but also keep in mind the cost of getting to/from the airport

TAP Airlines operates regular flights between Lisbon and Faro, providing you with flexibility and efficiency. Flight duration is less than an hour, making it a breeze to reach your destination in no time. I recommend Expedia for finding the best deal on flights.

4. Lisbon to Algarve by Bus

Taking the bus from Lisbon to the Algarve is a convenient and the most affordable option for your journey.

  • Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Cost: ranges between €18 to €20 and there is a youth discount (younger than 29)
  • How: Buses leave the Sete Rios Station and Oriente Station

Several bus companies (Rede Expressos, Renex, and EVA) operate regular services between several destinations in the Algarve offering a range of departure times throughout the day.

The duration of the bus journey varies depending on the specific route, destination and traffic conditions, but it generally takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach the Algarve.

  • Lisbon – Albufeira: 2 hr 45 min
  • Lisbon – Portimão: 3 h 30 min
  • Lisbon – Faro: 3 h 35 min
  • Lisbon – Lagos: 4 h

The cost of the bus ticket is more budget-friendly compared to other modes of transportation. Book your tickets in advance to secure your seat, especially during peak travel seasons.

Algarve Tours from Lisbon

A one-day Lisbon to Algarve tour is not an option with tour companies. Instead, they offer 2 or 3 full day tours from Lisbon to Algarve.

These private tours are not cheap, but they do offer the ultimate experience and help to save time and bring you to the best insider secret places.

2-day tour
rock formations, sea on day trip to algarve

Private 2-day Tour from Lisbon

✅ customized itinerary

✅ accommodations not included

✅personalized experience

3-Day tour
sea with boat and rock on day trip in algarve

Private 3-Day Tour from Lisbon

✅ customized itinerary

✅ not included accommodations

✅ route includes a visit to Evora before going to Algarve

5 Tips: Lisbon to Algarve Road Trip

beach with rock caves on day trip to algarve from lisbon

Road trips are meant to be enjoyable, so take your time, relax, and savour the experience of exploring the stunning region between Lisbon and the Algarve.

  1. Plan your route: Before embarking on your road trip, plan your route from Lisbon to the Algarve. Consider the scenic coastal roads and towns you want to visit along the way. Traveller’s tip: the coastal road does not run next to the ocean the entire way, and it will add additional time to your drive).
  2. Start early: Start your road trip from Lisbon to Algarve early in the day to avoid heavy traffic and make the most of daylight hours. It will also allow you to enjoy scenic stops along the way without feeling rushed.
  3. Explore coastal towns: Take advantage of the beautiful coastal towns on your route. Consider visiting places like Setúbal or Alcácer do Sal to soak in the stunning landscapes, beaches, and historic sites.
  4. Enjoy local cuisine: Portugal is known for its delicious cuisine, so don’t miss out on trying traditional dishes along your journey. Stop at local restaurants and taste regional specialties like fresh seafood, grilled sardines, and pastel de nata (custard tarts).
  5. Embrace spontaneity: While planning is important, don’t be afraid to embrace spontaneity. Leave some room for unplanned stops, detours, or exploring hidden gems you may come across during your journey.

And, lastly, make sure you have your camera with you on your drive from Lisbon to Algarve to capture the beautiful landscapes, coastal views, and memorable moments.

Where to Stay in Algarve

The Algarve offers a variety of wonderful places to stay, each with its own unique charm and attractions, catering to different types of travellers.

Albufeira

With its lively atmosphere and bustling nightlife, is ideal for party-goers and those looking for a lively holiday experience.

Faro

The capital of the Algarve, offers a mix of historical sites, cultural experiences, and easy access to stunning beaches, making it suitable for those who enjoy a balance of history and relaxation.

Lagos

Known for its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, is perfect for those seeking a combination of beach relaxation and vibrant entertainment.

Olhão

A traditional fishing town is ideal for travellers looking to immerse themselves in authentic Portuguese culture and experience the local seafood scene.

Sagres

Known for its rugged cliffs and excellent surfing conditions, attracts outdoor enthusiasts and surfers.

Tavira

With its charming historic center and idyllic island beaches, Tavira appeals to those in search of cultural exploration and a laid-back coastal vibe.

FAQs About Lisbon Algarve Trip Planning

How far is the Algarve from Lisbon?

The Algarve from Lisbon and Algarve varies depending on the specific destination in Algarve. On average, it takes around 2 to 3 hours by car or train to reach popular destinations in Algarve from Lisbon.

What is the distance from Lisbon to Algarve?

The distance from Lisbon to Algarve varies depending on the specific destination in the Algarve. On average, it is approximately 280 km (174 miles) from Lisbon to Faro, which is a popular city in the Algarve region.

Is an Algarve day trip from Lisbon worth it?

While a day trip to Algarve allows you to experience some of its beauty, the region has much more to offer. Consider extending your visit to fully appreciate the stunning beaches, picturesque coastal towns, and outdoor activities that the Algarve is famous for.

What can I do in Algarve during a day trip?

During a day trip to Algarve, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches, explore the coastal towns, visit historic sites like Lagos Old Town or Faro’s historic center, take a boat tour along the stunning coastline, or simply relax and soak up the sun.

What are some recommended destinations in Algarve for a day trip from Lisbon?

Some recommended destinations in Algarve for a day trip from Lisbon include Lagos, Faro, Albufeira, and Vilamoura. These towns offer beautiful beaches, charming old towns, scenic coastlines, and a taste of the Algarve’s relaxed lifestyle.

How many days to spend in Algarve?

The number of days to spend in Algarve for a well-rounded visit is at least 3 to 5 days. This allows time to explore multiple towns, enjoy the stunning beaches, engage in outdoor activities, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of the region.

As a Holidaymaker

I hope I convinced you to discover the Algarve beyond just a day trip!

You can find my other articles, along with travel planning resources on my Travel Guide of Portugal.