One of the most relevant buildings around the beautiful main square, is the church of "Nossa senhora da Encarnação".
Built with the city in the 18th century, by Marquês de Pombal the church suffered several fires that changed it a lot, though a few panels have been saved.
Cacela is a little village in Vila Real de Santo António, but for me is the best thing in there, and one of the best in Algarve.
It has little to see, but it is localized on a beautiful high site, and the landscape is everything one could ask for.
At night, you can see the stars, Milky Way and when full moon its reflection on the sea.
In summer months they promote some events in there, like Moorish themed nights or traditional sweets sales.
The factory beach or "Praia da Fábrica", is one of the most beautiful and worth seeing beaches in Portugal. It's localized between Ria Formosa and the sea. When the tide is low you can get the by walking (the soil is quite messy because it is almost mud, but it's really fun to walk in, just be careful) and when the tide is high it forms a peninsula so you have to get there by boat.
What makes it so special is the place where this beach is, you won't see big buildings or roads or hear any noise (maybe in high season you will).
To get there I think there is no other way than taking a car.
Not sure if there are boats on low season but just check the tide, and go by foot. And just make sure you don't get stuck there, or you'll have to wait for the next low tide.
Built according to the plans to recover Lisbon after the earthquake, this city is a good example of smart architecture.
It's central square and surrounding streets are nice to stroll, with a reasonable commercial use (mainly oriented to Spanish visitors)
A military building to house the troops that protected the border, became later a market. With the construction of the new market, thirty years ago, the building was adapted to work as a cultural center, receiving the name of Antonio Aleixo, a popular poet, and being used since then by the municipality for all kind of events.
Housed in the old market building, the Centro Cultural António Aleixo is used for temporary exhibits and events. There is also a museum, Museu de Manuel Cabanas, where you can go to see the works of a local painter and wood engraver.
Open: 10.00h to 13.00h and 15.00h to 19.00h (closed Saturdays and Sundays).
Vila Real de Santo Antonio has a lovely kilometre long riverside promenade which is attractively laid out with trees and water features and there is also a marina where you can watch the boats. Part of the Avenida da Republica runs along the front of the town, adjacent to the Rio Guadiana, and is partly cordoned off to traffic in the main central area of town, meaning that it's very serene and peaceful.
Vila Real has a large town square, 'Praça Marquês de Pombal', which is edged with orange trees and populated with low white buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants. In the centre of the square is an obelisk, a monument to King Jose I, unveiled in 1775.
Located on the northern side of the large town square, this simple looking church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Incarnation where the cornerstone was laid on 6th August 1774. The simple facade comprises two basic geometric forms: the square and, with regard to the pediment, the triangle. The interior has a single nave that has a triumphal arch leading to the chancel. The Rococo style retables are outstanding and amongst the various 18th century images, the one of the patron saint of the parish, Our Lady of the Incarnation, dated 1777, is attributed to the sculptor Machado de Castro.
This 46m high circular lighthouse came into operation in January 1923 after many years of discussion about the method of construction, since it is located on sandy soil. The tower, circular, was 40 feet tall and rested on a foundation of reinforced concrete. The original light installed here was obtained by glowing oil vapour and had a range of 33 M. In 1927, it was electrified with generators, and later, in 1947, was connected to the public electricity network. In 1960, the dynamos and alternators were replaced by an elevator. In 1983, the lamp was replaced by a 1000W and, six years later, was automated and is therefore devoid of any lighthouse keepers today.
The church is well known for its beautiful stained glass windows – six in total around the chapel and altar. These were installed when the church was renovated in 1949. They were designed by Joaquim Rebocho, an Algarvean.
The Guadiana River is one of the longest in Iberian and runs for approximately 778kms (483 miles). If you are travelling by boat, it can be navigated for around 20 miles and is reasonably deep up to Alcoutim. The currents in the river can also be very strong.
On the river’s edge on Avenida da Republica is the building which was once used for customs control. Today you can buy your ferry tickets there for crossing the river to Ayamonte in Spain or for the various river tours.
Avenida da Republica is the long boulevard that runs around the river front following the river. Lined with palm trees, there are some lovely buildings and residences along this cobbled stoned strip. There are also clothing and souvenir stores and café’s.
The Centro Cultural António Aleixo is housed in the old fish market. The centre was established in the memory of the Anthonio Alexio who was one of the recognised poets of the Algarve. The centre exhibits art works both in paintings, photos and sculpture, along with film. Within the building is also the Museu de Manuel Cabanas.
Open Mon-Fri 10.00am – 1.00pm and 3.00pm – 7.00pm is free. There are displays and exhibits inside.