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7 Day Tour of the Eastern Algarve
The western and central regions of the Algarve often gain most of the tourist limelight but the calmer and more traditional eastern side of the Algarve can provide for an enjoyable tourist destination. This suggested 7 day tour of the western Algarve is designed for visitors who appreciate culture, history and fine beaches and visits the towns of Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Monte Gordo.
The route can be easily traveled by public transport but a rental car opens up more of the region. The eastern side of the Algarve is more favoured for mature travelers and couples while the western side is better suited for families or holidays focused on nightlife.
Two Nights in Faro
Faro is a pleasant fishing port that is close to the main international airport of the Algarve. The city is the administrative capital of the region but Faro maintains a calm and relaxed atmosphere that is centered around a pretty harbour and historic walled district.
Faro and the Ria Formosa national park
There are no beaches within walking distance of the harbour but are located to the southern side of the Ria Formosa national park on the sand bar islands that stretch along the coast. These beaches are accessible by ferry and are some of the quietest of the Algarve especially the Ilha Deserta (Deserted Island). Faro is far from being the best resort town of the region but makes for a pleasant introduction to Portugal - for a guide to Faro please click here.
Day trip to Olhão
On the third day of the tour take a day trip to Olhão on the way to Tavira. Both towns are connected by train and this railway runs the length of the Algarve. Olhão is the next town east of Faro and is the largest harbour of the Algarve. The town is similar to Faro with having beaches on the sand bar islands and the Ilha da Culatra contains the best beaches.
The main attraction of Olhão is the Ria Formosa national park. This can be explored either as a guided boat tour or along one of the many walking trails though the marsh lands with it’s diverse colonies of birds. A night can be spent in Olhão to experience the fine fish restaurants and beaches but a single day is enough to explore the town.
3 Nights Tavira
Tavira is rightly regarded as the prettiest town of the Algarve and is the highlight of the holiday. The town spans the meandering Gilao River while the coastline contains some of the east Algarve’s finest beaches. Tavira is a charming city, which has managed to retain its character and heritage against the impact of modern tourism.
The water front of Tavira
A day can be easily spent wandering the old town with its 20 plus beautiful churches, traditional white washed house with terracotta roofs and the ruins of the old castle. For the second day head to the beach and the Ilha de Tavira, another of the stunning sandbar islands, which is connected to the city by ferry. For a list of Tavira day trips.
2 Nights in Monte Gordo and Vila Real
Monte Gordo is a resort town that is close to one of the largest beaches of the eastern Algarve. The town is far less pretty than the previous destinations but is a great place to relax on the beach for the last few days of the holiday.
The massive sandy beach of Monte Gordo at sunset
A popular day trip is to the town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio which was constructed in less than six months in 1774 as a tuna production centre. From Vila Real there is a ferry service which connects Spain with Portugal and the Spanish frontier town of Ayamonte is another pleasant excursion.