Google data shows that post-pandemic solo travel has risen by 761.15%. There has also been a 30% uplift in search interest for “solo travel” in the UK, as Google trends data suggests that people are more willing to travel alone and experience their chosen destination.
Solo travel isn’t just for singles. According to the online travel agent Opodo.com, 2023 travel trends show 41% prefer to travel alone with so many in control of decision-making – a chance to linger for hours in a museum or a hike to the top of a mountain giving people time for personal reflection and growth.
Value-for-money is also high on holiday makers’ priorities this year. Luckily for solo travellers, the Algarve has been consistently named in the top three best value holiday destinations in the annual Post Office’s Holiday Money Survey.
The Algarve region of Portugal boasts a rich and vibrant culture that has been shaped by its geography, history, and people. It is also a food lover’s paradise, boasting a rich culinary heritage which has been influenced by its long Atlantic coastline, Moorish ancestry and sunny climate.
For solo travellers wanting an authentic and local experience, they can try their hand at a cooking class, or one of a myriad of interesting tours, with plenty of free activities – from action packed ones to history tours – led by passionate locals and small enterprising companies, who are keen on sharing unique and unforgettable experiences with visitors.
Prepare yourself for a solo journey of a lifetime around the Algarve.
Oyster experience – This unique tour starts in the vibrant town of Olhão with a chance to explore the local market packed with a diverse range of fish and fresh vegetables. Stroll through the narrow, cobbled streets to admire the traditional paintings on buildings that depict the history of the fishing community. Then embark on a scenic boat tour of the stunning Ria Formosa Natural Park, where you meet the fishermen and observe them picking oysters. The tour continues to Culatra Island to learn the art of oyster picking. The tour includes a fresh oyster tasting and lunch.
Duration: 4-6 hours / Price per person starts from €130/£114 approx. www.pt4u.pt/
Experience a wine tour – Reconnect with nature during a guided tour of Morgado do Quintao, a family owned vineyard and farm stay experience, uncover the secrets of wine making and explore the secrets of the estate, while you savour cheese and charcuterie from local producers under the 2000-year-old olive tree that overlooks the old Negramole vines. This trip at the family-run estate, is perfect for those who are looking to make some new friends on their solo trip.
Farmers Table: Duration: Approximately 2.5 hrs / Prices from €60.00/£51.00 per person. https://www.morgadodoquintao.pt/en/wine-experiences
Cataplana for all – The Algarve region is famous for its unique cuisine and its renown Cataplana, a traditional Portuguese stew made with a base of onion, garlic, red and green peppers with the addition of seafood or pork with clams. In this culinary experience, participants will have the chance to learn and prepare a delicious fish and shellfish cataplana. This hands-on experience offers an opportunity to discover the secrets of Algarve gastronomy and indulge in a feast for the senses.
Duration: From 3 hours / Prices start from €128/£112 per person approx. www.tertulia-algarvia.pt/
Surfs up – Surfing can feed the mind, body, and soul, and makes for the perfect solo trip activity.
Algarve is renowned for its surf spots, like Praia do Amado and Praia do Zavial. Even if you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools where you can learn. The Freeride Surf School is no ordinary surf camp as their dedicated surf coaches are equipped with the best knowledge and skills to give you all the instruction and confidence you need to take to the waves.
Alternatively, the surf camp also offers personalised private lessons for those that want to surf the waves in peace.
Duration: You can choose from 1, 3 or 6 days of group lessons. / Prices start from €65/£55 for 1 day to €325/£280 for 6 days between March to December. https://frsurf.com/surf-school/
A bike tour like no other – Experience the beauty of the Algarve like never before with Trails of the Authentic Algarve, a seven-night self-guided bike tour. Cycle along a scenic route that takes you over mountains, past rivers, and through charming old villages. Immerse yourself in local culture and sample delicious regional produce at local cafes and restaurants and visit the traditional market building. This tour offers an ideal opportunity to experience the authentic countryside life at your own pace, and to meet friendly locals who will share their stories and traditions with you.
Duration: 7 nights / Prices start from €785.00/£691 per person based on two people sharing a room with breakfast included. www.algarvebikeholidays.com
Be one with nature- Discover Monchique, the highest mountain in the Algarve, on a guided hiking tour. Immerse yourself in the natural surroundings and rich culture of the region, while learning about the streams and abundant water resources influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. After the hike, you’ll be able to mingle some more and enjoy a delicious lunch featuring typical regional products from the Algarve hills. In the afternoon, engage in interactive activities with the local community such as pottery workshops, olive oil mill visits with tasting, or a soap olive oil workshop. This tour offers a unique and unforgettable experience to fully appreciate the local culture and traditions.
Duration: Full day / Prices range from €35 – €150/£30 – £132 depending on extra activities. www.algarvianroots.pt/
Get your hiking shoes on – Nothing says immersing yourself into the solo trip like taking a good old walk. The Seven Hanging Valleys trail is a costal clifftop walk, and offers stunning views of the coastline near the Praia de Marinha and Benagil. Whether you’re up for breathing in the fresh air and doing the walk by yourself, or chit chatting with people you meet, the day walk will leave you wanting to come back to the Algarve year after year. And don’t forget to pack your camera as the Seven Hanging Valleys trail guides you through some of the most striking natural gems in the Algarve.
The Seven Hanging Valleys officially starts in Praia da Marinha in the East, and goes towards Praia Vale de Centeanes in the West. But, you can start at either end.
Duration: Takes an average of 3h 30 min to complete.
Fitness, Mindfulness & Wellness
Getting in touch with your inner self – There’s nothing better than getting in touch with your inner self – and what better way to do it than on a solo trip? Whether you’re a beginner at yoga or have some flow to your movements, yoga is the best way to wind down and let all the troubles in your mind flow away. And if you want to experience a session Casa Fuzetta is the place to go. From early morning yoga on the rooftop terrace to meditation in the sanctuary, there are a range of options to suit.
Duration: 2023/2024 prices vary according to the time of year and number of guests participating. https://www.casafuzetta.com/wellness
Relax and unwind – What better way to really treat yourself than one of the wellness retreats at Vilalara Resort, an upscale resort overlooking the cliffs of Praia das Gaivotas along the North Atlantic Ocean. This resort is a lakeside haven of style, comfort and exclusivity, so allow yourself to take a break with a day spa, or a two-day retreat as you disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself.
From massage treatments, thalassa treatments or body exfoliation to reflexology or medical consultation, the resort caters for everyone’s needs.
Duration: Dependant on the treatments / Prices differ, depending on treatment. A 2-day retreat is priced at €405/£348. Note that this price does not include the accommodation. https://www.vilalararesort.com/pt/thalassa-e-medical-spa/
Nature – Refresh body and mind by experiencing a new health and wellness sensation at the Praia do Canal Nature Resort, located within the Vicentine Coast Natural Park of 74,000 hectares of rolling hills, marshland, imposing cliffs, rocky coves and broad beaches. The Resort takes a holistic approach to wellbeing, and caters to those seeking to relax and restore body and mind, or for those who are wanting to enhance their physical fitness during their solo trip.
So, whether you wish to pamper yourself with the treatments and therapies available, experience a yoga and meditation session, or simply enjoy the natural surroundings, the resort has it all.
Duration: 90 mins Esteva Spa Signature Message – travel through the incredible world of the senses and benefit from the relaxing, rejuvenating, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune system stimulating properties of the Costa Vicentina cistus oil in a marine salt and lavender pinda from €95 /£80 per person. Stay at resort is approx €258 / per night based on two adults sharing a deluxe natural park view. Price based on November 2023 travel. https://www.praiadocanal.pt/
What to bring home from your solo trip:
Items from Porches Pottery are delicate and uniquely beautiful and if you want something to really remember your solo trip, they can be shipped if you don’t have room in your hand luggage. The plates make wonderful presents, with pretty nature-inspired designs.
Piri Piri is a good keepsake to remind you of your time on your solo trip and makes the perfect take home souvenir and gift for friends and family.
And if you’re after something sweet, you can bring back some fig cheese or jam from Quinta do Freixo, which are produced without artificial aromas or preservatives and with fruits and vegetables grown on the property.
In Portugal, salt production through solar evaporation of sea water was introduced by the Phoenicians in the ninth century. Salmarim is one of the few remaining family-owned artisan companies that harvest salt in the traditional way. Not only is their fleur de sel used in the finest award-winning restaurants across Portugal, but it makes for the perfect item to take home and finish your dishes with. It can be purchased with a range of aromas – from Piri Piri, lemon or with a hint of aromatic herbs.
Portuguese olive oil is delicious – and utterly underrated. Try the award winning Monterosa extra virgin olive oil, from the town of Moncarapacho, in the East of Algarve. The olives are hand picked in the autumn and extracted using state of the art equipment, with the result being olive oil of the highest quality.