The Eastern Algarve coast is surrounded by the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, which is home to a diverse range of bird species. It also serves as a thriving habitat for fish and shellfish, thanks to its calm waters. The presence of beautiful islands off the coast is one of the unique characteristics of the Eastern Algarve. Typically, a short boat ride is required to reach some of the most spectacular beaches, including Fuzeta Island, Farol Island, and Deserta Island. There are also amazing beaches that can be accessed by car or on foot, as well as through the water during low tides, such as Terra Estreita Beach, Faro Beach, and Barril Beach.
Please keep in mind that parking can be challenging, especially in August, and particularly in Faro Beach, so it's advisable to arrive early to secure your spot.
One of the best things to do in Olhão is to visit the famous Olhão Market, also known as Mercado de Olhão. It is open from 8 AM until 1 PM and offers a wide range of beautiful local produce, including regional fruits, vegetables, an abundance of fish, as well as local cakes and sweets. One of the highlights of the market is the friendly local people who run the stalls, adding to its charm.
Make sure to explore the "Route of the Legends" in Olhão's downtown area, where you'll find numerous statues depicting famous town legends. Take the time to read about these legends and discover the intriguing stories behind them.
From Olhão Pier, you can catch ferry boats to visit the islands of Armona, Deserta, Farol, and Culatra. These islands are well worth exploring, each offering its own unique beauty and attractions.
Visit Fuzeta Fuzeta, just a 5-minute drive or a 30-minute cycle from Bela Vista, offers a slice of paradise akin to the captivating Maldives. Indulge in the most mouthwatering and affordable grilled fish options that the town has to offer. Whether you choose Café Os Mestres or Café Corvo, you're in for a delightful dining experience. If you want to enjoy mouthwathering food, just a cocktail and indulge in Ria Formosa views, then head up to Ti Maria Panoramico just a few minutes walk from town.
But the real gem of Fuzeta lies in its stunning beach. Take a short ferry ride (around 5 minutes) to Fuzeta Island and be captivated by the crystal-clear turquoise waters, reminiscent of the exquisite beauty found in the Maldives. On the island, you can explore the more popular side, where you'll find two charming cafes and the opportunity to rent loungers from June to the end of September. Alternatively, venture to the right-hand side, where you can immerse yourself in the warm waters of Ria Formosa or head to the coastal side to experience gentle waves and shallow sandbanks. In my opinion, the right-hand side boasts even more natural beauty, offering a wild and untouched setting. Just note that this area does not have cafes or shops, unless you're up for a scenic 2-kilometer walk to the main part of the island. Cafes in the island are only open in the summer season, they open in June and close end of September.
Barril Beach is easily accessible, located just a 20-minute car ride away, and is renowned as one of the most breathtaking beaches in the region. If you enjoy walking and immersing yourself in nature, I recommend parking your car and taking a leisurely stroll along the approximately 2-kilometer path. If you are not feeling like walking, thn take the little steam train. Along the way, you'll encounter the serene beauty of nature, with its enchanting dunes and the possibility of spotting birds and chameleons if you venture off the main path.
Stretching for quite a distance, Barril Beach offers ample space to explore. For a unique experience, turn right as you walk along the beach, and after approximately 1 or 2 kilometers, you'll come across a nudist beach. However, if you prefer to keep your bikini or swimsuit on, fear not! You can enjoy the beach anywhere along its vast expanse.
Cacela Velha is one of my favorite places to enjoy a stunning sunset. Park your car and take a walk up the old castle walls to enjoy breathtaking views of Ria Formosa from a higher vantage point. The town also boasts a beautiful local beach that is definitely worth a visit. During low tide, you can take a leisurely stroll to the beach, or during high tide, you can opt for a small boat ride. This beach is situated right next to Fabrica Beach, which is equally charming, and you can walk from Fabrica Beach to Cacela Velha during low tide.
Tavira is undeniably one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal. Make sure to visit the old Roman bridge, take a stroll up to the castle, and explore the church situated at the top. Tavira is also renowned for its vibrant entertainment scene, especially during the summer months when concerts and events take place in the main square. Additionally, you'll find of excellent restaurants and bars to choose from. Personally, my favorite restaurants in Tavira are No de Gosto and Ti Maria. For bars try out the rooftop at Maria Nova Lounge hotel.
Faro offers a blend of history, museums, and cultural experiences. Don't miss the Museu do Algarve and Teatro Lethes, which showcase the city's rich heritage. Additionally, the Capela dos Ossos is a unique attraction worth visiting.
When it comes to nightlife, Faro boasts a selection of lovely bars and rooftop venues. Head to Faro Hotel for a breathtaking sunset view overlooking the marina. In the old town, Cidade Velha Rooftop offers a beautiful al fresco drinking and dining experience, while Vila Adentro provides lovely food and stunning interior decor. Note that the rooftop may not always be open, but if it is, it's definitely worth enjoying.
Faro Beach is just a 10-minute drive from the city center. Keep in mind that it can get quite crowded during the summer months, and parking might be a challenge. However, the beach itself is beautiful and offers a great setting for watching sunsets or sunrises. Along Faro Beach, you'll find a variety of bars, restaurants, and cafes. Be sure to visit "Rui" for one of the best Cataplanas in the Algarve or indulge in refreshing drinks and delicious food at Bel'mare Gastrobar, known for its great cocktails. In Faro beach you cal also enjoy spots, surfing, kite surfing, SUP and Kayaking. At Faro Beach you can enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets ad sunrises.
The Eastern Algarve is undeniably breathtaking, but I agree that exploring the West Algarve is also a must-do. One of the standout destinations is Praia da Marinha, a stunning beach known for its golden sands and impressive rock formations. Taking a coastal walk from Praia da Marinha to Carvoeiro allows you to soak in the awe-inspiring views of the sea and cliffs, creating unforgettable memories.
For a unique adventure, make sure to visit the nearby Benagil beach. Renting a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) gives you the opportunity to explore the mesmerizing caves in the area. Alternatively, you can join a boat tour to witness the captivating caves from a different perspective. Whichever option you choose, the experience will be truly remarkable.