This town at very short distance from Faro is in a second line of touristy destinations, because its good beaches are not very easy to reach, some of them needing a boat.
However, Olhão deserves three special references:
- It's the best place to watch the typical roofs of Algarve, in a wise respect to the local traditions.
- Fish is generally sold in the market much cheaper than in Faro, largely paying the trip if you are cooking at home.
- If you want savage and lonely beaches, you can't find better elsewhere.
This is the town that is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches of Algarve, being also one of the areas where foreigners exceed Portuguese all the year round.
Of course, any visit to Algarve must include Lagos, one of the top places to stay..
Just 5 kms from Mexilhoeira Grande, are the Alcalar settlements and funeral monuments. These structures are scattered around a central location in Alcalar, with the rest of the monuments built on the surrounding low slopes. Burial mounds, ritual hearths are found here, but the most impressive is a monument which consists of a cairn, a mound of stones and a corridor and crypt which is covered by a vault. This forms a kind of circular structure, which is quite impressive, at 27 meters in diameter. Objects which have been excavated here such as ceramic vessels, tools, gold ornaments and jewelry can be found in different museums across the country.
The place is very accessible, it's right along the road. As you go along the different monuments im the complex and see the beauty and lushness of surrounding areas, it's easy to imagine why such a place was found to be ideal for this purpose -- a most important aspect of life in those times.
A visit to the market of Olhão on market day is a treat, especially the fish section which boasts to be the largest in the Algarve region. Rightly so as Olhão is its fishing capital. Not only is there a huge variety of fish some of which we do not easily see elsewhere in the country but the prices are so jawdropping cheap...we saw sardines from just 1 euro a kilo, and most varieties did not go beyond 5 euros a kilo! Not that we could buy and have it done, but looking at the abundance and how the locals go about their Saturday market chores was enough reason to drop by.
The outdoor stalls selling fresh produce are also very interesting, more than that inside one of the market halls. It's a great way to see what this region produces...the colours and freshness of the vegetables and herbs are both a cook and a photographer's delight! The location of the market is also interesting as it's right alongside the fishing docks.
And don't forget to grab some of those dried dark figs as you stroll along enjoying the sights (and smells, if you're not the sensitive type) -- they're not so easily found anywhere, and they are soooo lusciously good. They go at around 10 euros a kilo, fantastically cheap for such quality and size.
While observing the locals, note some of the old women who still wear traditional clothes (see last photo). I have not seen such clothes being worn anymore (except by farm workers) elsewhere in this country.
If you're going by car, it's better to leave it before entering the street where the market is located as it can get pretty tight there and parking a bit of a problem.
The town's old center is also right across the market, so one can easily just do a little turn to see what remains of this old fishing village.
In Lisboa I would recommend visiting the tile museum ( Museu Nacional do Azulejo ) and the Castle at sunset. You might also like a trip to Sintra, by train, bus or car.
In the Algarve: if you have a car, you can drive to the most soutern point of Portugal (Sagres), very windy but impressive. The cliffs near Lagos are also worth a visit. Silves is a pleasant town, but the castle is a bit too restaurated to our taste.We also like Loulé. Near Estoi is an interesting archeological site. The coastal road and the motorway are very busy. The "provincial" road is a good alternative: it winds around most city centers.
Cabo soa Vicente is the south western most point in Portugal and a rugged and beautiful place with high cliffs dropping in to the ocean.
There is a lighthouse out by the cape and they have a nice visitor center and a small museum there too.
Be sure to make a stop there if you are in western Algarve as it´s one of the most scenic places in southern Portugal.
Silves is a very prtty town that is a few kilometers from the coast, slightly up in the hills.
It has the best preserved castle in the Algarve and an old part of town that is really nice to stroll through.
The castle was build by the moors, but has been inhabited by many different people over the centuries and today it´s restored and the view from the castle is fantastic.
There is also a nice roman bridge in Silves and the market hall is worth checking out too.
Albufeira is the biggest resort town in the Algarve and the place get´s really crowded in the summer, but it still has a nice old part of town and some of the best beaches in the Algarve, so it´s worth stopping by there i think.
I would give towns like Lagod and Tavira a shot before Albufeira though as i find them nicer.
Lagos is in my opinion the most interesting town in the Algarve.
It´s a very pretty town set in the western Algerve where you have less tourists and it´s a town with a lot of history to it as it was the town where henry the navigator send out people from and the town is full of remains from that period.
Lagos also has a raving nightlife with a great bar scene, so i recommend that you make your way to Lagos one day.
Tavira is a pretty little town in the eastern part of the Algarve where you have a few tourists and a real quiet vibe.
it´s not a beach town so there are no big resorts and there is no roaoring nightlife, so the young party crowd is not there either.
This makes it perfect if you want to realx in a quiet location that is also very pretty.
You have a couple of interesting churches and a nice little fortress in Tavira and there is a river running through town where some nice brigdes are connecting the two sides of the river.
Olhao is the fishing town of the Algarve.
This is the place where you have the big commercial fishing fleet of The Algarve and where you have the biggest fishing market.
The town also has a few fish factories and that means that it is a blue collar town with many working class areas too.
It´s situated by the sea, but there is also an island right off the coast that is popular with both visitors and locals when heading to the beach.
The center of town has a very north african feel to it as it is very moorish in it´s building style.
This is not a big tourist town at all and it´s a good place to catch a glimpse of what the Algave is like when people don´t live off tourism.
Faro is the capital of Algarve. Most tourists arrive at the international Airport, jump in their busses and go to their hotel at the coast. But faro has much more to offer then the airport. The Cathedral of Faro ,for example, with elements of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque or the Marina, where the rich make holidays. In the centre you find a lot of shopping facilities, cafés and great fish restaurants.
The town of Olhão, just east of Faro, with its 30,000 inhabitants is essentially and historically linked to the local fishing industry. Today the most important factory branch is the canning factory for tuna and sardines. Olhão is well known for the 17 local fishermen who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1808 in the fishing boat “Bom Sucesso” without a map to announce their exiled King, Dom João IV, that the French invading armies had been defeated and that it was for the King to return to Portugal.
This small town is close to the most southerly western point of Europe known as Cape St. Vincent. From this point you have a very impressive sight the Atlantic Ocean's waves breaking on the cliffs. Sagres most important sights are the remains of the 17th Century fort and the impressive lighthouse.
Most of the 14,000 inhabitants of Vila Real Sto. António are living either on the tourist industry, fishing, or trading across the river with their Spanish neighbors. The town offers tourists a small collection of churches, narrow streets and shady places.
The nearby Monte Gordo was an old fishermen village. Today it is a community of hotels and restaurants, offering tourists kilometers of sea washed beach lined with a pine forest. Still today you can see some fishermen on the coast.
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