Nature walks are increasingly being appreciated by people who want to escape the urban environment for a bit, and are looking to find peace in the countryside.
For this purpose, Via Algarviana, inaugurated in 2009, develops “the practice of hiking, and also mountain biking, through the interior of the Algarve.” Currently, in addition to the nine municipalities that founded the project, the Via Algarviana routes pass through 13 Algarve municipalities, which work together to maintain the project in the region.
The Via Algarviana is characterised as being “a network of pedestrian routes”, according to information sent to The Portugal News.
The longest of these routes is the GR13, Grand Route 13, considered “a long European route”, which starts in Alcoutim and ends at Cabo São Vicente, in Sagres, for a walk that will always pass through the interior of the Algarve. It passes through three Algarve Mountain ranges, ending at the seaside, on a route divided into 14 stages, which can be done in stages to make it more manageable. According to information provided by Via Algarviana, the route can be done in five days by bicycle, and 14 days if done on foot.
From the GR13, people can reach 11 other complementary routes, coming from various parts of the Algarve, in some cases connected to CP train stations, namely Loulé, Silves and Parchal, giving walkers or cyclists the freedom to start and finish the routes in areas connected to other means of transport, which also facilitate the transport of bicycles.
Anyone thinking of taking one of the routes will have access to “10 audio-guided routes, both in rural and urban areas”. Just as there are thematic routes, which help to enrich the region, passing through various infrastructures that are part of the history of a given place.
Both cyclists and hikers, whenever they travel the route, will have the paths indicated by “official national signs that are very simple to follow.” The routes are public, so anyone can go through them. On the Via Algarviana website, at www.viaalgarviana.org, it is possible to find all the information about the routes, as well as the areas that are not accessible in certain areas, with an alternative route being presented.
In addition, a free mobile application has been designed, which allows walkers and cyclists to be able to “follow the routes on the ground” and even having access to the exact location, guaranteeing “additional security”. The application works in places where there is no mobile network access, and promotes the “dematerialization of information”, allowing everything to remain in digital format.
Care to be taken
Via Algarviana told The Portugal News that hikers should choose “the appropriate time of year” to travel the routes, underlining that “it is not at all advisable to travel through the interior of the Algarve during the summer”, not only because of the high temperatures but also due to the high risk of fire. The recommended seasons range to walk on the trails is from October to May, especially spring, when “the landscape is much prettier, with the plants are in bloom.”
It is also important to pay attention to the degree of difficulty of the routes so that people may adapt their walks to the degree of physical activity of each one.
More than walking through nature
By exploring less-visited areas of the Algarve, Via Algarviana allows tourists, and even locals, to explore the interior of the Algarve, a territory that is not so highly valued when compared to the coast. Those who intend to travel along the routes will certainly “eat in the restaurants and stock up in the small cafes and grocery stores”, as well as stay overnight in local accommodations and help the local economy.