Trying to plan the itinerary for an upcoming 10 day trip to Portugal, taking into consideration Rick's travel guide recommendations. We are already committed to five nights in Lisbon. Rick gives the Algarve high marks in the travel guide, but I'm noticing his 2017 Portugal tour doesn't include it. Instead the tour covers areas between Lisbon and Porto. Also reading in this forum I'm finding people seem to recommend skipping the Algarve for places like Evora, Obidos, and Coimbra. We currently have 3 nights booked in Tavira as a base to explore the Algarve but are starting to rethink this plan. We have no plans to spend any time on the beach, other than viewing the rock formations and maybe a cave tour. After our 5 nights in Lisbon we are renting a car at the Lisbon airport to drive to the Algarve. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
some ideas here about what to see in the Algarve - its not just beaches
The Algarve is mostly about beaches and golf, which is what 99% of the tourists there go for. No Algarve town has been untouched by modern development.
The rock formations are at the western end of the Algarve between Lagos and Sagres and up the Atlantic coast i,e. the opposite end to Tavira (c2.5 hours drive away).
The towns further north are far more traditional and less full of Northern Europeans in the summer months, which maybe why many choose to explore here.
Tavira is probably the town on the Algarve that has retained the most of its original character.
The rock formations in the Algarve are pretty spectacular. However, when I think of places to return to in Portugal, the Algarve isn't on the list. And, it's a pretty long drive just to see the formations. Spending that time driving between Lisbon and Porto would give you time to visit Coimbra and Porto with a brief stop in Óbidos. I enjoy Porto and the Douro valley far more than the Algarve. Or - a couple of nights in Evora could possibly be managed if you dropped the Algarve.
In the end, it's your choice, but you might want to do a little research on these other areas so you can make an informed choice.
I have lived in Tavira and it is one of my favorite places in all of Portugal. That said, from a tourist's perspective, it's really only worth one night, especially if you're not going to spend any time on the beach. It's pretty isolated and there are no rock formations there.
If you want to spend a few days in the Algarve, which I would recommend, I would stay in Lagos or Salema instead. The best rock formations are between Lagos and Portimao. A trip to Sagres to see the site of Prince Henry's school of navigation and what was once considered the end of the earth is a must, in my opinion.
I have also lived in Evora and it is worth a stop. If you spend two nights in the Algarve, you can hit Evora on your way back to Lisbon.