The delightful town of Tavira is well worth exploring
as it is considered by some to be the most charming town in the region. It is sited on two sides of the River Gilão and spanned by an elegant Roman bridge. As you wander around the narrow streets, take note of the portas de reixa, which are Arabic style lattice panelled doors. One of the claims to fame of the town is that it has some 40 churches!
For a day out with a difference,
visit the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, which stretches along 37 miles of coastline east of Faro from Olhao to Tavira. It was created to protect the ecosystem of the area and is an important breeding area for wetland birds.
Explore the town of Olhao,
one of the most important fishing ports along this coast. The town once had close trade links with North Africa which is reflected in shape of the town’s cube-shaped houses with flat roofs and external staircases. Reward yourself with a fantastic lunch of the day’s catch of the day at one of the many seafront fish restaurants.
It is worth taking a trip to the border with Spain at Vila Real de Santo Antonio,
on the banks of the river Guadiana, which forms the border with Spain. Explore the twin castles of Castro Marin which were strategically placed to protect the settlement for many centuries.
Capture the atmosphere of Faro
steeped in history, by taking a walk around the old town, which is encircled by medieval walls. Evidence of the rich history of the town can be found in the Museu Arqueologico including a Roman floor mosaic and a collection of Moorish oil lamps. A visit to the Cathedral is a ‘must’.
The Algarve is a stop off point for migrating birds and as such is a haven for birdwatchers. One of the most important sites is the Parque Nacional do Ria Formosa, close to Faro and the wetlands are considered to be amongst the most important in Europe in terms of birdlife. Amongst the species that have been spotted are white stork, flamingo, hoopoe, stone curlew, Caspian Tern, Iberian Chiffchaff…..
Go to Lisbon!
Yes, it is possible to do – the fast train from Faro will take you to the centre of the city within 3 hours, giving you time to use one of the City sightseeing bus tours, which have guided commentaries. You can jump on and off wherever you like, thus enabling you to explore the sights and attractions that interest you.
Santa Luzia is known as the octopus capital of the Algarve
testament to which are the hundreds of covos, or pots, that can be seen stacked by the quay, ready to be used. Needless to say, the day’s catch features quite prominently on the menus of the local restaurants.
Play a round of golf!
The Algarve is renowned for the quality of its golf courses, offering challenges for every standard of player. There are over 30 courses along the length of the region.
Visit the Pego do Inferno
7kms northwest of Tavira this spectacular series of waterfalls stretch over 2 kms is well off the beaten track. It can be reached by a series of wooden walkways and wooden bridges. There are picnic areas and the pool is a great favourite with families who can enjoy a dip in the crystal clear waters.
A delightful beauty spot to visit is Quatro Aguas,
just southeast of Tavira, which has lovely views of the lagoon. There are some very good seafood restaurants to try. The regular ferry departs here for the Ilha de Tavira, the sand dune island stretching 11 kms, popular in the summer months for its excellent swimming
When in Rome……
don’t forget to sample the many different types of port wine! Chilled white port makes an interesting aperitif and can be a serious rival to sherry. Accompanied by some delicious local olives, it’s a great way to preface a supper of freshly grilled sardines!
One of the characteristics of Tavira are the 4 sided roofs on the buildings.
A good vantage point for looking down over the rooftops is the Castle, which is a stopping off point for the little tourist train that goes around the town.
Take your budding Lewis Hamiltons go-karting.
Karting Algarve at Almancil offers karts for adults and children along with other activities such as mini boats, trampolines and radio controlled cars. An exciting day out for all of the family. Located on the EN125 at Almancil. Kartodromo de Almancil. Tel: (00 351) 289 399 899. www.kartingalgarve.com. Open from 10am daily.
Visit the most south westerly tip of Europe at the Cabo de Sao Vicente,
which has reputedly the most powerful lighthouse in Europe. To watch the sun setting here is a truly memorable experience.
Monchique is a spa town
set in the hills planted with cork, eucalyptus and fruit trees. There are some lovely walks through the woods with stunning views of the mountains. Pamper yourself with treatments in the Spa Hotel Termal in Caldas da Monchique.
Spend a day at Zoomarine
– one of the biggest attractions on Algarve. It is both a theme park, Aquarium and there are water shows with dolphins, seals and sea lions to entertain all ages. It is on the EN125 at Guia. www.zoomarine.com . Tel: 00 351 289 560 300.
Explore the very local town of Loulé
and witness craftsmen at work in many traditions such as copper, tin, brass and wrought iron mainly in the streets around where the market is held. Other items manufactured locally are shoes, cane furniture, pottery, wax candles and harnesses. Many a fascinating hour can be spent watching the craftsmen plying their trade.
Learn about the traditions of the area
- visit the museum in Sao Bras de Alportel which houses a collection of traditional Algarve clothing throughout history and an exhibition about how cork is produced.
Brush up your tennis skills
at one of the many tennis centres and academies in Vilamoura and Vale do Lobo. Take your own racquets. If you are lucky you might be there when some big names are in town to participate in a tournament.
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