Like many Irish tourists I normally head for southern Europe in summer in search of sun, sea and sand. For this trip to the Algarve, however, I packed my hiking boots. My base will be the Cardeal Suites and Apartments in downtown Faro — 15 minutes from the airport and a short walk from the marina — but I’m not here to sip coffee and people-watch. Instead I’ll be exploring a side to the Algarve that the golf resort set and the beach-bar-hopping crowds miss out on: the beautiful hinterland of southern Portugal, which, it turns out, is a superb place for a good hike.

The Via Algarviana — the Algarve Way — runs for 300km across the region from east to west


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