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.
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!
Go to the beach!
You can catch a boat from Olhao to one of the small islands just offshore where the uncrowded white sandy beaches are reportedly some of the best in Portugal. There are beach bars and restaurants available.
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.
The nearby village of Estoi is famous for its Roman ruins at Milreu dating from the 2nd Century.
They are about a 10 minute walk out of the village. The 19th Century Estoi Palace and Gardens are also well known and attract visitors to see the ornamental fountains and the blue and white tiled terraces.
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.
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…..
Visit the World of Sand.
This international sand sculpture festival is usually held between May and October. Reportedly the biggest sand city in the world, this fascinating and spectacle will amaze all members of the family! There are sand sculpture activities for children and it is illuminated by night. Take Exit 8 off the A22 (Algoz/Pera), or from EN125 at Pera and follow signs.
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.
Horse and Pony rides are available from Centre Hipico Quinta Almadena, Sao Bras de Alportel. Tel: (351) 289 997 118. www.clubsantamaria.com.
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
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.
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.
Try sardines along the quay at Portimao
– freshly caught and simply served with salad and local wine. Explore the narrow streets of the old quarter with their fascinating shops, some specialising in leather goods.
The village of Guia
is renowned for the number of restaurants famous for serving the typical Algarvean dish of chicken piri piri. Naturally, they all claim to be the best but you can be assured that they are all very good and represent excellent value for money.
The castle town of Silves is worth spending a day exploring.
The Cathedral, built in red stone, and the Moorish castle both offer beautiful views over the orange and almond groves below.
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.
Visit the Museu dos Frutos Secos in Loulé
– an unusual museum, which focuses on early harvesting methods for figs, carob and almond fruit. Indulge yourself afterwards at the exciting Pastelaria Baguetomania, just off Avda 25 Abril. You only pay as much as your plate weighs.
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!
Visit some charming inland villages.
Alte is a popular village with white washed houses and narrow cobbled streets. Explore the charming little shops and then relax in the shade with a picnic by the Fontes and have a refreshing swim in the freshwater pool.
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