A friend of mine told me that she drove from Spain straight to Albufeira in Portugal, as people had said that there was nothing of interest before you reach Albufeira. What a pity! Albufeira was once a nice little fishing village and is not totally destroyed by mass tourism. Full of apartment buildings, hotels and with a “spectacular” nightlife. For shopping, bars and restaurants you are in the right place. Too bad my friends missed my favorite town of Tavira and the old town of Faro. Faro may be small, but is still worth a visit, also as from Faro you can make boat trips to the Ria Formosa and Ilha Deserta. Outside the old town you can find a nice shopping center, car free and with gloomy cobblestones. Faro has a cathedral, some nice churches and a few museums. From the big Plaza you have a beautiful view over the harbor and the Laguna.
A little bit to the East of Faro you find the town of Olhao. Not the most beautiful place to enter, but a true fishing place with two market halls, where you can get a big variety of freshly caught fish, vegetables and herbs. Along the harbors, one for the fishing boats and one for the private yachts, you can find all kinds of restaurants and of course fish is the best choice here! It is a very lively town, as well as with locals as with tourists. The small center is nice for a quick stroll and you still can find some very old houses here and a stork with some luck!
I have a lovely lunch right opposite the market hall and of course a little bit more expensive than more inland, but still very reasonable priced.
A few weeks after my visit to Olhao, I came back for a lunch with the owners of the house of Gorgoes and we spent a beautiful afternoon in a small restaurant on the outskirts of Olhao. The food was excellent, the atmosphere great and the price very reasonable! It was called Casa de Pasto “Armenio Jacinto Jose” on Pinheiros de Marim, Olhao.
Between Olhao and Tavira you can find all kinds of small villages. I didn’t have time to visit them all, but it is worth to drive the N 125 and explore a few of them, which are all situated opposite the Ilha da Armona and the Ilha de Tavira.