The Algarve I

Less than 20 minutes away from AMA Residences Andalucía you will find one of the corners of the world worth visiting again and again: The Portuguese Algarve. A classic sun and beach destination, ideal for practicing adventure sports, enjoying various leisure plans, discovering its history and delighting in its finger-licking gastronomy. 

Although summer has come to an end, there is always time to escape to some of the most magical spots in the Algarve area. Although the beaches are the main tourist attraction (with 200 km of coastline and about 90 blue flag beaches), its towns and cities are a must see all year long. 

We will begin our tour of the towns closest to us to finish in a future post in Sagres, the most southwestern point of Europe, which is located just 2 hours from AMA Residences Andalucia.

Vila Real de Santo António

The Guadiana River separates Spain from Portugal, on one side we find the last village of Andalusia (Ayamonte) and on the other the first of the Portuguese Algarve (Villa Real de Santo António). We can cross the river by ferry or by road via the Guadiana International Bridge.

Vila Real de Santo António, founded in 1776, is a must for visitors to the area. Apart from a charming and harmonious old town that was commissioned by the Marquis of Pombal after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the town is a paradise for home decor lovers. It is practically impossible to visit this village and not come back with a trunk full of pottery (plates, bowls, trays…), textiles (sheets, towels…) or food products such as the delicious salted butter, artisan breads or cakes or the rich Amarguinha. 

From the beach of Santo António just in front of the last beach of our Costa de la Luz (Isla Canela) we find 15 kilometers of fine sandy beaches, surrounded by pine trees and dunes until we reach Manta Rota. The beaches of the eastern Algarve, as well as ours, have much warmer waters than the ones in rest of the Algarve. 

There are many good restaurants in the area but we especially recommend Sem Espinhas, Dom Petisco and Grand Beach Club.

Cacelha Velha y playa de Fábrica

Cacelha Velha is the perfect balcony overlooking the spectacular Ria Formosa. A natural park of 18,000 hectares protected by 5 islands: Barreta or Deserta, Culatra, Armona, Tavira and Cabanas.

The village itself is tiny but with a charm impossible to improve. Its square with the Matriz Church of medieval origin, its fortress and its simple white houses with touches of blue make the perfect Instagram posts.

There are several dining options. From tasting some oysters at Casa da Igreja, eating a seafood rice or cataplana at Casa Velha or a seafood at Costa, the restaurant next to Fábrica beach. A beach that is worth visiting and is listed by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the best in the world. To access it you can walk (low tide) or cross in a boat for just 1 euro when the tide rises.

Tavira

Tavira, one of the most famous, picturesque and authentic villages of the Algarve, is just over half an hour from us. Strolling through its cobbled streets, crossing the Roman bridge over the river Gilao or eating in one of its many restaurants is the perfect weekend plan for those lucky enough to live in this area of the Atlantic.

Nature lovers also have the option of traveling along its 18 kilometers of beach by ferry, steam train or on foot. Wild, deserted and silent, the blond sand beaches are distributed in two islands, Tavira and Cabanas. 

We highly recommend Barril Beach (on the island of Tavira), to get there you must take the steam train from Santa Luzia. You can also walk along a path parallel to the railway, so you can discover the fauna and flora of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. Along the way, you will find an anchor cemetery of the old fleet of tuna boats.

For lunch there is plenty to choose from but we love the new gastrobars like Comme Na Gaveta, Ti Maria or Artefact.

Olhao

Olhao is one of the towns in the Algarve that has best preserved its traditional character. Sightseeing in Olhao is visiting the Algarve as it used to be. Olhao is a mixture of beauty and chaos, common in other Portuguese urban centers.

It is worth taking a stroll through its market and enjoying a nice meal of fresh fish and seafood in the nearby restaurants.

Being in front of the Ria Formosa, you can visit the Natural Reserve or take a boat to the beaches of Armona and Fuseta.

Faro

The capital of the Algarve and international airport of the area. Faro is the arrival point for many tourists. A city that embraces Portuguese history and culture. It highlights its Cidade Velha (old city), a magnificent testimony of Faro’s golden age in the 16th century, and the Ilha Deserta, a white sandy beach surrounded by the turquoise and crystalline waters of the Ria Formosa and the Atlantic Ocean. 

There is life beyond the incredible beaches of southern Portugal. If you land in Faro, you will find several reasons to visit the capital of the Algarve. The historic center is bounded by a medieval wall, which still preserves constructions from other civilizations such as the Byzantine towers or the Arab gate. The narrow cobbled streets lead you through the great cultural heritage of the city: Vila Adentro.

Faro has two large shopping centers and a wide range of restaurants. Restaurants such as Tertulia Algarvia or Vila Adentro highlight the traditional dishes of this area of the Algarve.

Living at AMA Residences Andalucia gives you the opportunity to enjoy the Algarve all year round and especially this time of year when the tourists are gone and you can savor the true charm of this neighboring country. Any getaway you take, no matter how short, means coming back with a full stomach, a camera memory full of memories and a big smile on your face.