Long narrow sand banks and lagoons, old fishing villages, beautiful Renaissance churches, picturesque and elegant cities with Roman bridges and Moorish castles.
The less touristy Eastern Algarve, called Sotavento reaches from Faro to the Spanish border and offers a treasure trove of nature and culture.
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Towns and villages+
You’ll find tourism in the Eastern Algarve only in a few small fishing villages on the coast and in the somewhat larger Monto Gordo near the Spanish border. Although Faro is a little busier because it’s the capital of the Algarve, it is still worth a visit with its historic city centre ‘Cidade Velha’, pedestrian shopping areas, beautiful cathedral and many cafes and restaurants. Olhão, east of Faro, has a Moorish looking centre and an interesting lively market on the quay.
Tavira, built on the Rio Gilão, is one of the towns that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on. Here you can stroll around the narrow streets, visit one of the 30 churches, buy fish in the covered market or just have a bica (coffee) on one of the many terraces.
Not far from Tavira is Santa Luzia, a still traditional fishing village with several good (fresh fish) restaurants on its quay. East of Tavira is the small Cacela Velha, an old fortress that, situated above the lagoon, offers a fantastic view of the Ria Formosa and the coast.
In the most Eastern part of the Algarve, on the Rio Guadiana, lies Vila Real de Santo António. This bustling town with its many shops is well worth a visit even if it is only to take the ferry to Spanish Ayamonte.
Located in the middle of orchards and orange plantations, at the foot of the Serra de Monte Figo is Moncarapacho, a village typical of this area. It has a lively very Portuguese character. The only foreigners you’ll find here are so-called ‘residentes’ who have settled down around the village. Moncarapacho has several restaurants, cafes with terraces and supermarkets. Every first Sunday of the month there is a so called gypsy market, where you can buy everything from chickens to T-shirts and local honey to shoes.
Very interesting and worth a visit is the parish museum of Moncarapacho which contains the archaeological and ethnographic private collection of a cleric. He collected a huge range of objects for more than 50 years. Beautiful also is the adjoining chapel with yellow, blue and olive green azulejos (tiles) from the 16th and 17th century. In the ‘Olaria’ near the entrance to the village ceramic is still fired in the traditional way. You can buy ash trays and the typical Algarve chimneys here.
The Eastern Algarve, also called Sotavento stretches from Faro in the West to the river and border with Spain in the East. The Northern border is formed by the Serra de Calderão and de Serra de Alcaria do Cume Mountain ranges.
This mountain range (highest summit in the Serra de Calderão with 577 metres) offers protection from the cold Northern weather. Eucalyptus and chestnut trees grow here as well as pines, oaks and cork oaks and a range of lower bushes.
Between the mountains and the coast stretches a lovely and rolling country side with orange and lemon trees, olive tree plantations, agaves, fig trees and palms. The Carob tree, characteristic for this area, thrives here because of the abundance of sunshine and the mild subtropical climate. Especially in spring and autumn this region is a green oasis, with the blue ocean always visible somewhere in the distance.
The coast here has kilometre long beaches on the one side and extensive lagoons on the other side from Faro to Manta Rota in the East. This lagoon region is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by small islands and sand banks in front of the coast.
The whole area is about 1800 hectare and has been declared the Ria Formosa nature reserve. Another place of interest is the Pargue Natural da Ria Formosa visitors centre: the Quinta de Marim. From various locations it’s possible to reach the islands and sand banks on foot, by boat or even by taking a small train (Pedras d'el Rei).
For those in search of a holiday filled with sun, tranquillity and nature the Eastern Algarve is the ideal region. La Taha has selected a very good variety of holiday homes in the Eastern Algarve especially for you from where you can discover beautiful Southern Portugal.
If you’re looking for sports activities the Eastern Algarve can offer you everything you’d like. This region invites you to take long walks over deserted beaches, through lagoons or up into the hills. Cycling is possible on the many small roads and unmade sand paths are perfect for mountain biking.
Although the majority of golf courses are located in the middle of the Algarve it’s still possible to play golf in the Eastern Algarve too. The Benamor, Quinta da Ria and Castro Marim golf courses offer fantastic views and excellent golf options.
The best way to explore the rich bird life up close in the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa lagoons is from the water. Several boat trips are organised from Faro.
Fuseta is a still traditional fishing village with a lively small beach in the Ria Formosa lagoon. The ferry brings you to the kilometres long ‘real beach’ in only five minutes. The covered market opens every morning and Saturdays all the locals sell their fruit and vegetables in the streets.
Tavira in the East and Olhão in the West are about 15 to 20 minutes by car. Just outside Luz de Tavira, direction Tavira, you’ll find the Pedras d'el Rei exit. From here you reach the Ilha de Tavira beach, an enormous sand bank in front of the coast, on foot or by (small) train.
Other beautiful beaches in the Sotavento are peaceful, unspoilt Praia da Cabanas and Praia do Faro, a lovely sandy stretch along the long sandy island in front of the Faro Coast. The beach can be reached in 45 minutes from Faro’s old city centre or by taking a ferry from Olhão.
Portucasa is the rental specialist for Algarve holiday homes. Our Algarve selection is divided into three regions: Eastern Algarve, Central Algarve and Western Algarve.
Portucasa selects and appraise all the houses and only accepts accommodations that meet its quality requirements. You know what you’re getingt with Portucasa and there won’t be any nasty surprises. Safe and secure, that is what Portucasa stands for.
Every holiday home or apartment and every villa or vivenda has something special such as a remarkable location, unique interior or special character. We have opulent villas with a private pool, comfortable apartments in fishing villages and country houses on the hills inland, all to be found in Eastern Algarve .
Portucasa takes you to the real Portugal, away from mass tourism. The varied selection of holiday homes and locations ensures that you’ll always be able to find a wonderful spot for your dream holiday in the quiet Eastern Algarve. If you’d like advice or have questions or would like more information then please contact us, we would love to help!
Map - East Algarve