Below is a detailed day-to-day itinerary for our holiday in Southern Portugal. Please be aware that this itinerary is weather dependent and we may have to move things around to get the best of the weather, particularly in the more exposed locations.
Day 1 - Arrival day
Arrive and check-in to the Maria Nova Hotel, Tavira, Portugal. If you have time, you might like to make use of the hotel's excellent spa facilities and take a dip in the stylish indoor or outdoor pools, or stroll into Tavira; known as “the Pearl of the Algarve”, Tavira is a charming, laid-back town with many photographic opportunities.
We will meet in the hotel rooftop bar for welcome drinks at 7.00 p.m followed by dinner in the hotel.
Day 2 - Tavira and surroundings
After breakfast, we begin the day with an introductory workshop on the basics of aperture, exposure, ISO and composition for those who would like to attend.
We spend the morning exploring Tavira where there are many opportunities for photography, including the Ponte Romana, the castle, traditional tiled houses and, arguably, some of the finest churches in the Algarve.
After lunch in Tavira, we will move on to the local salt pans, which should provide some very interesting shots, before travelling east to the picturesque village of Cacela Vehla with its ancient fort perched on the cliffs and offering glorious views along the coast.
For those who wish to enjoy an early evening aperitif and share favourite images from the day, we will meet in the rooftop bar, followed by dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 3 - A Taste of the Sea
After breakfast, we head to Olhao, a busy, traditional fishing port with large indoor fish and vegetable markets and a maze of narrow, winding streets to explore with your camera. From here, we make our way to Barril, a stunning beach with a unique anchor graveyard.
Next, we continue along the southern coast of Portugal to the fishing village of Santa Luiza where we stop for a look around and lunch. Later we return to Tavira by boat to enjoy some stunning coastal landscapes. We might, if we are lucky, see some flamingos.
Once again, those who wish to will meet in the rooftop bar to look at today's images, before going to dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 4 - Free day
You may choose to spend today at leisure, relaxing and unwinding, enjoying the facilities in the hotel, or exploring Tavira further; perhaps taking a water taxi across to the beautiful beach on Tavira Island.
Alternatively you may like to join us for an optional excursion (to be paid for on the day) to the far east of Portugal, visiting the town of Villa Real and taking the short ferry trip across the River Guadiana into Spain.
In Spain, we will visit the picturesque coastal town of Ayamonte, with its narrow streets and beautiful squares. We will stay here for lunch, before returning to Portugal by ferry.
Dinner is not included on this day; you may decide to eat in the hotel or try one of the many other excellent restaurants in Tavira.
Day 5 - Lagoons and Limestone Cliffs
Transfer day: After breakfast and checkout, we travel to the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, an important wildlife site; there is a 3 km trail to follow, which passes through a variety of habitats and wetlands. If lucky, you might spot the Purple Gallinule (swamp hen).
After a short stop for lunch, we travel on to the spectacular cliffs at Praia da Marinha. Here, you may choose to remain on the cliffs and follow the cliff top trails or take the wide steps down to the small beach and get a different angle on the stunning rock formations.
Finally, we journey on to our second hotel, the stylish Tivoli Lagos Hotel where there is time to settle in and unpack. We will meet for a pre-dinner aperitif and share our favourite images, before we are move on to a local restaurant for dinner.
Day 6 - Mountains and Medieval Towns
Today we head into the beautiful Serra de Monchique mountains where we climb up to the spectacular viewpoint at Foia, the highest spot on the Algarve; the views we can capture here are stunning - from Cape St. Vincent in the west, to Faro in the east.
From here we will continue to Monchique; a charming ancient Portuguese market town characterized by narrow, cobbled streets of classical whitewashed Algarvean houses with their colourful decorative bands around the windows and doors. We stop here for a while to give you time to explore, capture some images and have a spot of lunch before we continue to Silves, an attractive hilltop town rich in history with its striking medieval castle regarded as one of the finest in Portugal.
Dinner is not included on this day so you will have the opportunity to sample your choice of the many restaurants in Lagos. However, we will meet in the hotel bar for pre-dinner drinks and a look at today's best images, and those who wish to will be welcome to come to dinner with us at a local restaurant.
Day 7 - Way out West
Today we focus on coastal landscapes. The western Algarve in Portugal has some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world, and Europe’s most westerly point, Sagres, offers endless photographic opportunities; breathtaking cliffs, sublime beaches and the foaming sea provide wonderful subject matter. The landscape is barren here and the vegetation is like nothing you will find elsewhere in Europe. Alternatively, focus your lens on the soaring seabirds which hover dramatically over the cliffs.
We will take a fascinating walk around the promontory where Sagres Fort sits, moving on to stop briefly at the lighthouse at Cabo de Sao Vicente before heading up the beautiful Costa Vicentina to the beach at Carrapateira; the scenery here is breathtaking and we will stop for a picnic lunch and time for you to take a stroll with your camera. The opportunities with light are endless here – your camera will provide you with some truly stunning images.
We will meet in the hotel bar for pre-dinner drinks and will look at everyone's favourite images of the week, before we stroll into Lagos for our final meal of the holiday.
Departure day - after breakfast in the hotel return transfer to Faro airport for flight home.
In addition, weather permitting, we will try to add in opportunities to photograph either a sunrise or sunset in both the eastern and western Algarve.
We think this is a great itinerary and one that people can enjoy, even if not particularly interested in photography.