The Algarve is a fantastic running destination, with a wide variety of different runs everywhere you look. At almost every town along the coast there’s the option to run along the boardwalk or promenade, along the quiet country roads, along the clifftops, or on the beaches. Wherever you are in the Algarve, you’re never far from a potential running route.
It’s a year-round running destination as well, and many people come from the colder climates of the UK, Germany, and the rest of Northern Europe to train here in the winter. Summers are hot, definitely, but if you get up at a reasonable hour, you can easily get a run in before breakfast. There’s also the added benefit of being able to jump in the sea and cool off after.
Hotels that are great for runners
Although many Algarve hotels have places that you can go running nearby, there are a few hotels that stand out as being particularly good for runners.
- Ozadi Tavira – Located on the Eastern Algarve near Faro, the Ozadi Tavira has several running trails in the surrounding Ria Farmosa. The Ozadi Tavira is also used by running organisations like Run4Excellent, who run running training camps there several times per year.
- Victoria Sport & Beach Hotel – Situated in Albufeira, this is a popular hotel with runners and is often used for running training camps. The hotel has access to a running track and a cross-country course, and there are numerous other running trails nearby.
- Memmo Baleeira – A tranquil design hotel in Sagres, on the Western Coast of the Algarve, that also has a spa, gym, and swimming pool. The hotel has three different running routes that they’ve designed – 4, 7 and 13 km in length. Simply ask for the running map at reception.
Where to go running in the Algarve
The Algarve isn’t limited to a few running routes: almost every town, resort, or hotel has somewhere nearby that you can go running. The main exception to this is in the centre of the Algarve’s old towns and cities, which can be very narrow and are not really suitable for running unless you get up before there are people. It doesn’t take long to find somewhere nearby to run, though, especially if you have a car.
The following are some of the most common types of running routes that you’ll find in the Algarve.
There is definitely no shortage of beaches on the Algarve. From the Eastern Algarve near the Spanish border to the Western Algarve on the Atlantic Coast, you’re never far from a beach in the Algarve.
Some are longer than others. If you want to be near a nice long beach, Meia Praia near Lagos and Praia da Falesia near Vilamoura are two very good options. Meia Praia is roughly 4 km in length while Praia da Falesia is 6 km in length, giving you an 8 km and 12 km run respectively.
Drive to almost any beach on the Algarve, and you’ll find paths along the nearby cliffs. Running along these paths is run, but you do also need to be careful on many of them as some have loose stones and obtrusive roots which you obviously don’t want to trip over.
Cliff runs are some of the best running that the Algarve has to offer, and it’s worth going for one at least once while you’re here.
Country road running
The Algarve is a very rural destination and, as long as you’re not on a main country road, most of the roads here have very little traffic on them. Dogs generally aren’t a problem either. They do bark, but they’re usually tied up or behind a fence. Sometimes you do have a spontaneous sprint training session, though!
There are plenty of national parks and other areas of natural beauty on the Algarve, which are ideal for running in. There’s the Ria Formosa and Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim on the Eastern Algarve and the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina on the Western Algarve, for example. These green areas are great for trail running, or just running along the quiet country roads nearby.
On promenades and boardwalks
Many seaside resorts on the Algarve have long and wide boardwalks and promenades that are fantastic for running on first thing in the morning. Praia da Rocha, Armação de Pêra (1 km), and Quarteira (~2 km), all have nice long promenades that can be combined with some beach running to produce a decent morning run. Alvor has a lovely wooden boardwalk, which is also great for running on, and connects up to the beach.
As with beach running, you do have to get up before the tourists if you want a decent and unencumbered run. Usually, this isn’t too early though: sometime before 8 am is perfect.
Competitions & Fun Runs in the Algarve
Most races in Portugal happen in either Lisbon or Porto, however, there are one or two regular competitions and fun runs that take place in the Algarve.
- Algarve Challenge, in Castro Marim – The Algarve Challenge is 3 days with 3 different runs: 4.5 km, 5.5 km, and a half-marathon (21 km). Runners can participate in one run, or all three. There are prizes for each run and overall prizes as well. The event takes place in Castro Marim on the Eastern Algarve near the Spanish border, usually in either March of April.
- Trail do Baixo Guadiana – A trail run, which usually takes place in April near Castro Marim. There are usually a couple of distances, ranging from 8 – 30 km.
- Lagos Half Marathon – The Lagos Half Marathon (not to be confused with the one in Nigeria) is an annual event that usually takes place in May, and is open to both runners and walkers.
- Trilhos Rocha da Pena, Loulé – This is the hottest run of the year. Literally! Taking place every August, this event has three different trail runs to choose from: 15, 25, and 50 km. August in the Algarve is incredibly hot, and the 50 km especially is not for the faint-hearted.
- Mamamaratona, Portimão – An annual run to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, the Mamamaratona takes place every year in October. There are two official competitions – a 10k and a half-marathon (21 km) – as well as an 8 km fun run or walk.
- Alut – A 300 km trail run which goes from the Eastern side of the Algarve to the West, along the Via Algarviana. The event takes place at the end of November over the course of 4 days.
- Corrida Entre Pontes, Tavira – “Run between the bridges” is a 10k run that normally takes place in September.
Running Holidays in the Algarve
The Algarve is an emerging running destination, and already a few companies have started running training camps here.
- Full Potential – Offer running training camps, usually in March and September. The training camp takes place at Alfamar Hotel near Albufeira, and offers coaching, conditioning, massage, injury prevention clinics, and evening seminars.
- Embrace Sports – Offers 7-day running holidays, several times, per year. A typical day includes 2 runs, and either some free time to enjoy the Algarve or a seminar or class.
- 209 Events – Usually hosts at least one training camp in the Algarve each year, with around 100 people attending each time. It’s suitable for all levels, from beginner to experienced runner.
Running in other parts of Portugal
Visiting Lisbon? Be sure to read the Lisbon running guide, which gives recommendations on places to run, running groups and meetups, and races that take place in the Portuguese capital.