Driving into the huge motorhome carpark in Lagos, on the coast of the Algarve, you could be mistaken for thinking it was a huge city.
Compared to Coimbra or Lisbon, you could nearly call it a village!
However, motorhomes flock by their hundreds to feel it’s quaint fishing village vibe, and they were prepared for it! The motorhome park just outside of the city was the size of a football stadium and filled with hundreds (yes hundreds) of motorhomes. Driving into this carpark felt like we were going to be swallowed up in the sea of motorhomes! Gulp!
We tried to stick to our search for overnight stays off the beaten track to avoid those gulp moments and to find our own little spots of Portugal.
Wild camping is like getting an upgrade on a flight, you don’t mind sitting in coach or economy, but get an upgrade to first class and you will be much comfier (no 8mtre long motorhomes next to you) and a better view (sometimes over remote paradise beaches).
Although we have heard some stories of fines by the local authorities for parking outside of campsites, we have not had any experience of this, the authorities always seem great. Wild camping is widely accepted across Europe, isn’t it?
Our first few nights were spent in wild camping locations with walking paths to some of the most stunning beaches (I will add the below locations on the Portugal map when it is up but have included GPS for now).
So thought we’d share with you some of our favourites and our best bits of the region they call the Algarve…
Our first night was in the pretty town of Saint Luzia.
Without service, it was a quaint little place to spend the night. Parked up right on the seafront, we took a stroll along the promenade soaking up the sights and sounds of the ocean, and searching for birdies for Ethan.
Santa Luzia is right next door to the town of Tavira which is the first main town we came into after arriving from Spain.
Tavira is an ideal little town that centres around the Rio Gilao. It’s full of cobblestone roads, historic castles and gardens, along with lots of little cafes and shady plazas to relax in.
You can park your motorhome just outside of the city centre of Tavira in a huge park next to the station, and I’d recommend spending a few hours strolling around the streets of Tavira.
We took the beautiful coastal road to our next wild camping spot just outside of the tourist town, Albufeira.
We decided to skip the main town and follow the dirt road to a fantastic spot, ready and waiting to be explored! The only downside was the weather.
The sun chose not to shine in our first few days in Portugal, but it didn’t stop us having a little adventure!
The rocky cove and secluded beaches of this part of the Algarve are stunning. The sand is fine, and the colours are extraordinary.
You could walk for hours along a fantastic coastal path and find little-hidden caves, and unique picnic spots along the way.
From Albufeira, we took the road inland to the town of Silves.
Silves was a lovely surprise after the beachfront with it’s cathedral, orange rooftops and castle in view as you turn the corner into the town. It is one of the best pre castles in the whole of the Algarve (there are quite a few too!).
Silves is a great town to meander around, and with all the streets lighting up in the evening and the restaurants buzzing with locals, it’s a great place to take in the Portuguese culture of an evening.
For Silves, we parked next to the swimming baths. If you are interested too, the swimming pool is just 3 euros each and it’s a gooden’ as it has a sauna!
Word of warning, however, you have to wear speedos and a swimming cap to go in! Terry wasn’t so keen when I told him that. I have no idea why…
Lagos came as a surprise.
It has a reputation for being extremely touristy with Irish bars and kebab shops just waiting for the Brits! We were a little unsure if we would like it.
As i mentioned above, we parked just on the outskirts of the town, with a 20 minute walk along a lovely promenade to the centre. It doesn’t take more than an hour to walk around the cobbled streets of Lagos. It treats you to a lovely view of sandy beaches, and colourful houses.
The town centre itself has tempting, budget busting, food from Indian to Italian, and hosts numerous sea excursions.
Our next wild camping spot was a gem. Hidden away along the road to Sagres and the beautiful Cabo de Sao Vincente (which is worth a view and has it’s own wild camping possibility!), was this random find.
We just noticed a few campers and a live-in trailer on the cliff top and thought there must be something cool to see beneath, and there you had it.
One of the best secret beaches of the Algarve, and our home for the night.
We then took Cici the motorhome through the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast National Park, driving up through the west coast of the Algarve.
Every twist and turn was a joy, the scenery is just gorgeous!
Our first stop, the cliffside of Carrapateira.
Driving through this town, you kind of get the feeling that not many tourists venture to the little piece of paradise here as you only pass a few houses, but we continued and made our way to a fantastic spot that was recommended by another motorhomer.
Evenings here can be spent just admiring the view, and the fantastic star show you get at night!
Further up the coast, we reached the town of Aljezur.
A quaint little town harbouring an amazing beachfront. We took a windy road up and down the hills to reach another fantastic little spot with a few other motorhomes dotted about.
An ideal way to spend an evening.
Wild Camping is great fun, especially when you find a gem. You have to be fully aware of your surroundings and stay only if you feel 100% comfortable. Read our tips on staying in your motorhome in Europe here. Or check out our introductory guide to Wild Camping in Europe.
We use a fantastic app called PARK4NIGHT which guides us through wild camping spots others have tried out. It makes life much easier as there are pictures and reviews.
We’ve been in Portugal 6 weeks already and not paid a penny on camping!