Alvor boardwalk – a detailed walking guide
Having lived in Alvor for the past five years, I’ve discovered the charm of the Alvor boardwalk, a series of wooden pathways nestled between the beach and the riverbanks. Unlike more crowded alternatives like Ponta da Piedade in Lagos or Carvoeiro, this tranquil boardwalk has become my preferred spot for leisurely hikes and invigorating jogs, especially during the bustling summer season.
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Unveiling the Essence of the Alvor Boardwalk
The Alvor boardwalk, spanning approximately 6 km, seamlessly links Alvor Beach to the picturesque riverbanks. Embarking on this journey offers a dual perspective of Alvor’s beauty – from its expansive sandy beach to the thriving freshwater marshes, providing a haven for various bird species.
The boardwalk loop trail comprises sections on boardwalks, gravel roads, and sandy beaches, offering a diverse and scenic experience.
Navigating the Trail: Key Details
- Total distance – 5 km/3.1 mi, forming a circular route
- Estimated time – 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
- Level of difficulty – Easy
- Walking surfaces – Boardwalk (2 km), gravel road (1.5 km), sand dunes (500 m), beach (1 km)
If you’re a hiking enthusiast visiting the Algarve, I highly recommend exploring the Fishermen’s Trail, a multi-day route along the West Coast. Depending on your schedule, you can choose to walk only a section of it. Additionally, don’t miss out on the breathtaking Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, another must-experience route in the Algarve.
Navigating the Walk: A Closer Look
How Challenging is the Stroll?
Embarking on the Alvor boardwalk is a breeze, especially if you opt for the boardwalk and gravel road, bypassing the 2 km sandy loop. With only the beach section presenting a challenge, the rest of the trail is wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
The wide wooden boardwalk, complete with handrails and no stairs, ensures a smooth journey. Even access to the beach is facilitated by a ramp, though the beach itself is not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers.
If you plan to tackle the entire loop with a baby or toddler, a front carrier (for infants) or a hiking carrier (for older children) will make the journey manageable. I fondly recall walking the loop with my 9-month-old daughter in a Deuter hiking carrier, a reliable choice for our family. For a stroller-friendly route, consider the Ludo Trail or the Loulé boardwalk in Faro, both offering an easy 7-kilometer stroll.
Where to Begin and End the Journey?
The Alvor boardwalk adventure commences and concludes at the car park adjacent to the charming wooden fishermen’s huts. Locate the starting point on Google Maps by searching Passadiços de Alvor (Alvor boardwalks), conveniently situated next to the Alvor sports complex.
Optimal Hiking Times
For the most pleasant stroll, mornings and evenings are ideal, especially in the summer when shade is scarce along the route.
Winter allows flexibility for walking at any time of day. Spring emerges as the prime season for exploring the boardwalks, adorned with blooming flowers and teeming with birdlife.
Navigating the Marked Route
The 5-kilometer loop is marked by yellow and red strips on wooden rails. Flexibility is key, as you can opt to skip the beach segment and walk only on the boardwalks. The trail is initially marked counterclockwise, but feel free to traverse it clockwise if you prefer.
Accessing the Alvor Boardwalk
Reaching the Alvor boardwalk is most convenient by car, with a spacious parking lot available at the starting point. If you’re vacationing in the Algarve, renting a car proves advantageous for exploring the region. Alternatively, buses from Lagos or Portimao can take you to Alvor, and Uber serves as a reliable transport option in the area.
Various parking spots are scattered near the beach and along the waterfront, with the one on the map being the closest to the boardwalk. Tailor the walk’s length to your preference, as the boardwalk offers branching paths and resting spots.
It’s worth noting that the Alvor Boardwalk & Estuary Trail combines boardwalk and beach walks, ensuring a varied experience. Carry water on warmer days, as there are no cafes at the walk’s end. Avoid prolonged walks between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in July and August. In windy months, especially winter, dress warmly, and opt for trainers over flip-flops.
The boardwalk welcomes wheelchairs, pushchairs, and bicycles, but prohibits cars, other motorized vehicles, and dogs. While the expansive beaches invite swimmers, caution is advised due to tidal currents. If walking early morning or at sunset, insect repellent is advisable.
Decoding the Alvor Boardwalk Route
Section 1: The Boardwalk (0 km – 1.5 km)
The initial stretch covers 1.5 km exclusively on the boardwalk, adorned with benches and lookout points offering shaded respites. Follow the boardwalks along the riverbank for breathtaking views of the harbor, yachts, fields, saltwater marshes, and the river. This wheelchair-friendly part sets a relaxed tone for the journey.
Section 2: The Beach Segment (1.5 km – 3.5 km)
After around 1.5 km, the route veers right from the boardwalk to a gravel road, initially steady for about 500m, then transitioning to a sandy road. Revel in beautiful views as the route hugs the riverbanks closely. This less-traveled section culminates at the far east corner of Alvor Beach, continuing on the beach for an additional 1 km. Accessible only on foot, this beach stretch offers a secluded space for rest and a quick swim, albeit unsuitable for wheelchairs or strollers.
Section 3: The Gravel Path (3.5 km – 5 km)
Around the 3.5 km mark, the route veers away from the beach, transitioning back to the boardwalk. The final stretch of the Alvor boardwalk loop primarily follows a steady gravel road, interspersed with sections on the boardwalk.
Discovering the Alvor Boardwalk Landscape
Despite the walk’s modest length, the Alvor boardwalk offers a rich tapestry of landscapes and wildlife. A haven for bird enthusiasts, the boardwalk provides glimpses of various marine birds, including the majestic flamingos along the banks of the Alvor River. The migration seasons, occurring in autumn and spring, showcase an impressive array of wildlife.
The estuary remains a hub for shellfish, attracting shellfish catchers practicing their craft. As you approach the point where the lagoon meets the ocean, the boardwalk guides you along the vegetated dunes. It eventually leads to the far end of the expansive Alvor Beach. Continuing towards a breakwater crowned by a small lighthouse, you may catch sight of large shoals of silvery fish, a delightful sight for seafood enthusiasts.
After such an enjoyable stroll, satisfy your appetite by returning to the village and seeking out a traditional bistro. Indulge in handsomely grilled fish, a perfect culinary finale to your Alvor boardwalk experience.
Choosing Accommodation in Alvor
Alvor, with its serene atmosphere, long beautiful beach, and an abundance of restaurants and cafes, stands as a charming small town. Offering a quieter ambiance compared to bustling Lagos or Albufeira, it provides a delightful retreat for visitors.