East Algarve


One of the Algarve´s main fishing ports, Olhão has square whitewashed houses with flat roof terraces and chimneys that are evocative of Moorish architecture. Behind the parish church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, from the 17th century, the chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos is where the wives of fishermen gather to pray for their safety when the weather is stormy. But the town´s main attraction is its market, one of the most animated and picturesque of the Algarve, with an enormous variety of seafood but also local farmers selling such products as fruit, honey and live chickens. Nearby, the village of Fuzeta is like Olhão on a small scale and is well appreciated by windsurfers.

Olhão is surrounded by ‘ilhas’, sand spit island beaches, which protect the marshy lagoon, Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa, an environmental and conservation area for birds and marine life. The two main Olhão beaches are Ilha da Culatra (‘Island of Culatra’) and Ilha da Armona (‘Island of Armona’) and they are served all year with regular ferry crossings from Olhão’s jetty, near to the municipal gardens. Ilha da Culatra is the bigger of the two islands and has permanent year-round residents as well as summer visitors. The western end of Ilha da Culatra, with the lighthouse, is known as Ilha do Farol. The next ilha just to the west of Farol is Ilha Deserta, a beautiful island with nothing more than a stretch of beautiful soft sand backed by vegetation and a single restaurant.

A few kilometres inland, Moncarapacho is proud of its church of Santo Cristo, with a beautiful doorway and painted arches. In the region, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is considered the most important sanctuary of wildlife in the Algarve. Its lagoons, marshes, channels and islets are abundant in shellfish such as cockles, clams and oysters and shelter, amongst other species, a variety of birds such as the cattle egret, the white stork, the purple gallinule, the red-crested pochard, etc. This natural reserve stretches along 60 kilometres (40 miles) and its rich ecosystem is ideal for the development of varied fauna and flora.

From Olhão to Moncarapacho the distance is short (about 3 miles by the Estrada Nacional 398, passing through Quelfes); by the IP1 road, the distance is even shorter: less than two miles to reach this agreable village, lying between orchards, carob-shrubs, and almond-trees. Mother Church of Moncarapacho, although of small dimensions, the Igreja Matriz of Moncarapacho embellishes extraordinarily this small town. Its portal, with Roman and Gothic motifs, is considered one of the finest examples of the Renaissance style in all the Algarve (16th century). Richly decorated in carved

Born of the sand and the sea, Fuzeta is a fisherman´s village near Olhão, and can be reached by the Estrada Nacional 125. Its whitewashed and square-shaped houses, typical of the district, stretch almost until the sea, with flat roof terraces exhibiting tall lattice chimneys. The Islands and Beaches Fuzeta and Armona are the islands situated close to Olhão and that can be quickly reached by boats that make regular trips, especially during Summer, although there is an inlet which you can access by foot with a lovely beach front café.

They are long bars of fine sand and warm waters which offer both peace and quiet, in the less visited zones, and more exciting water activities: canoeing, windsurf, sailing and diving are backed by excellent local services. Lying within the limits of the Natural Park of Ria Formosa, these islands offer the best natural conditions to practice such activities, and Olhão is therefore one of the most visited towns of the Algarve by sea sports adepts.

Sao Brás

The area that is now the municipality of São Brás de Alportel, in common with the Algarve as a whole, was inhabited in prehistoric times and in the days of the Romans. Birthplace of the Moorish poet Ibne Ammar in the 12th century, São Brás de Alportel was by the 16th century a small village with a Hermitage. From the 17th century onwards, it was the summer residence of the bishops of the Algarve, who were drawn to it by its agreeable climate, and in the 19th century it became the crossroad of the routes linking Loulé to Tavira and Faro to Almodôver. The area’s extensive plantations of cork oak provided a springboard for commercial and industrial development and for years São Brás de Alportel was the biggest cork-producing centre in Portugal and the world. Its increasing population and economic importance led to the creation of the municipality in 1914. The gradual transfer of the cork manufacturing industry to the centre and north of Portugal has prompted the municipality in recent decades to diversify its sources of economic prosperity.

The tranquil, unhurried lifestyle of the friendly local population. Streets of white house’s whose ranks are broken only by the lofty outline of the church and its bell tower. The ring of hills around, the town that look out on the sea and the mountains. Such are the simple charms of São Brás de Alportel, a typical Algarve town.

Historical Centre

Low, white houses typical of popular architecture stand alongside more substantial buildings, their facades decorated with tiles, ornate stonework, and cast-iron verandas, whose opulence harks back to São Brás de Alportel’s prosperity, in the years when the cork industry was booming. The high and low points of the towns changing fortunes are thus written in the stones of its streets and squares, while such details as the baroque mortar decoration of the Passo da Paixão (Stations of the Cross) near the Episcopal Palace and the pretty flower pots in the windows add colour and interest to their story.

In São Brás de Alportel the local cooking is marked by the perfume of fresh herbs picked in the hills, whether it be the oregano used in Gazpacho or the pennyroyal in the thick bread soup known as açorda.

São Brás de Alportel is known for its almond confectionery which is especially popular at Easter time. Also much appreciated is the spirit slowly distilled from the fruit of the arbutus berry trees that grow in the hills, which is also used to make excellent herbal liqueurs.


Tavira has a pleasant setting on an estuary of the Ségua river at the foot of a hill girded by the remains of ramparts built by King Dinis. The Roman bridge and Moorish walls testify to the town’s long history. In the past Tavira was an important centre for tuna and today continues some of its fishing activities.

Belonging to the district of Faro and tucked away in the peaceful East Algarve, Tavira is a town and a Municipality bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, its beautiful beaches and quiet life, altered only by the constant bustle of visitors who reach this destination during the Summer season to enjoy the vast sands that dominate the coast, walking the streets with whitewashed houses and explore its mountains and hills, plagued by fig and almond trees.

Tavira is the third biggest Municipality in the Algarve with about 110 towns, villages and places and covering an area of around 611 Km2 and it’s divided in nine civil parishes; –

Cabanas de Tavira, Cachopo, Conceição de Tavira, Luz de Tavira, Sta. Catarina da Fte. do Bispo, Santa Luzia, Santo Estêvão, Santa Maria, and Santiago. The surrounding of Tavira is still very rural but slowly changing due to the demands of the tourist industry and many fabulous golf courses nearby. The beaches can be reached by a ferryboat that takes the visitor to the sandy-bar island of Ilha de Tavira, or speedboat, water taxis, but there is also foot access to the Rato Beach, a small inlet.

Tavira is undoubtedly among the most beautiful towns in the Algarve Region, with its peculiar tesouro rooftops, historic monuments, and buildings. In the city you will find a few small museums and archaeological exhibition usually open with events all year round.

As a curiosity, just in Tavira there are more churches than in any other city in the Algarve, 32 in total counting the chapels. The Igreja do Carmo on the East side of the river is the most ornamented exhibiting a heavy Baroque style, and very sought by tourists together with Igreja da Misericórdia nearby the city hall.

Find out more about the Algarve

Central Algarve

East Algarve