I’ve been lucky enough to have been away for a while on holiday and sample the delights of the Eastern Algarve. A first time visitor to Portugal, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and it appeared that I wasn’t the only one. The people I was with, who had visited Portugal before, seemed torn between wishing there was more to do nearby (like the attractions of the Western Algarve) and being delighted with how un-touristy the area was. If you are planning on visiting, I would certainly recommend going sooner rather than later before the area becomes another loud and plastic-y tourist resort.
The emphasis of the holiday was on relaxation, and for that reason it wasn’t quite as active a holiday as I have had in the past, with large amounts of time spent by the poolside. However, we did still get the chance to go out and explore, and here are some of my favourite experiences:
1. Beach Islands – The Eastern Algarve is covered in salt pans, with most of the beaches actually being some way from the mainland on little islands. Whilst this made getting to them a little more difficult as you need to rely on a ferry, this was quite novel and made the trip a bit more of an adventure. When you arrive the sand is golden, the water is clear (if a little colder than I had hoped!) and it is a beautiful place to spend the day.
2. Tavira – Tavira is the main town in the Eastern Algarve and has a rich history. For those who enjoy a little souvenir shopping, Tavira is probably your best bet. However, it is far from spoiled by the touristy shops which are present. There is regular live music, an evening market and 21 churches to enjoy. Certainly a place to enjoy in the early evening sunshine.
3. Time Travelling Zip Line – It’s not every day that you get to go time travelling, but we managed to do just that! The Limite Zero Zip line crosses the border of Spain and Portugal over the River Guadiana. It is over 750m long, and you can travel at speeds of up to 70km/hr. With the hours time difference between the two countries, you actually arrive in Portugal around 59 minutes before you left Spain… It looks a little scary, but everyone in our group managed it and had a great time. I am not a fan of heights but would certainly recommend it. It definitely helps that you didn’t have to jump out by yourself!
4. Roman ruins of Estoi – For those who like history, or want to experience a little culture on their trip, then I would encourage a visit to the little town of Estoi to see the Roman Ruins. They are remarkably well preserved, including the patterned mosaics which were featured in the baths and swimming pools. Go early, before you hit the heat of the middle of the day as it is quite exposed.
5. A random festival – travelling back to the villa one night, we passed a village square that was filled with life. People were dancing, someone was onstage singing, there were food stalls and a tombola – everyone was having a great time. My boyfriend and I joined in the shuffle step dance that was happening in the square, relaxing after we had got over the feeling that we could be gatecrashing someone’s wedding. Later on, we saw some traditional dancers performing in costume who were just incredible.
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We love the east (I’ve even started a blog I love it so much!!) and impressed you made it up to Alcoutim. Hope you got out to the Ilhas too and to Olhão’s markets?
I’ve had a look at your blog and it looks great! Yes, we went out to the Ilha de Tavira and enjoyed Olhão. Particularly liked the Saturday market and the ice cream shop on the waterfront!
Do you know we’ve been going to Olhão for years and have yet to have an icecream at that shop – must rectify that in November!
You should definitely rectify that! I can thoroughly recommend it – you’ve been missing out!
Great post about the Algarve!
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it 🙂