Olhao, Algarve, Portugal
An up and coming resort, Olhao sits just 8km from Faro in the Algarve. The area offers several local markets where the fresh catch of the day can be found, and served in the local cafes dotted around.
The area boasts some of the best fresh fish in the area, with local catches on sale everyday. The elegant town centre features many old buildings, used to house merchants from years ago. The crystal clear waters offer the perfect conditions for diving and snorkeling, and the Marina offers many fishing and coastal boat trips.Read more about: Beaches | Things to Do | Out and About | Nearby Attractions | Olhao Reviews
There are no beaches as such in Olhao but there plenty of Ilhas, which are sand spit island beaches, which preserve the marshy lagoon, Ria Formosa. The two main Ilhas are Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona, both of which are accessible via regular ferry crossings from the jetty in Olhao.
Ilha da Culatra is the bigger island and is popular with summer visitors as well as locals, all year round. There is a lighthouse at the western end, this area is known as Ilha do Farol.
There is also Ilha Deserta which is just west of Ilha do Farol, it is a lot quieter but a very beautiful stretch of sand which is backed by vegetation and one restaurant, perfect for those who want to escape the crowds.
Things to Do
Many an hour can be spent just sitting at one of the many pavement cafes and watching the boats that are moored along the waterfront or just generally people watching. There are also some pretty gardens in Olha which is great if you want some quiet time. If you fancy doing something a little more energetic then hire a bike and cycle round the resort and the surrounding area, it really is a great way to see the place.
There are a few historical buildings which are worth a look such as the Compromisso Maritimo which is the fishermen's mutual society and also home to the Olhao city museum, the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Soledade which is 17th century and the original church when Olhao was just a fishing village.
There are also plenty of opportunities to take a boat trip, whether it be to one of the ilhas, a fishing trip or just a general coastal cruise.
Out and About
Among the many cobbled streets, you will find a variety of shops to browse around and many little pavement cafes which are ideal if you wish to relax and watch the world go by. As well as a good selection of restaurants specialising in seafood, you will also find many Indian and Chinese restaurants, definitely lots to appeal to different tastes.
Whilst you are here, you must visit the market buildings which are situated along the waterfront. The markets offer a great selection of freshly caught fish and seafood and tons of locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Although there are many cafes in Olhao, it is not very lively at night time so if you are looking for endless pubs and clubs, you will have to venture further a field.
If you are here in the middle of August, you can join in the festivities and celebrate the annual Shellfish Festival. The festival sees the town party for 6 days with plenty of eating, drinking, music and dancing. There is also a great variety of shellfish on show.
If you fancy a day out, take a trip to Faro, it's only 8km away. There is lots to see here, such as the Praca de Dom Francisco Gomes and the Moorish Old Town or you could simply wander round the shops and markets to see what is on offer.
Tavira is also worth a visit, famous for its Roman Bridge over the River Gilao, you can enjoy spending time just wandering round and admiring the old Algarve architecture. You can also take a short ferry ride to the beach here which may be a little quieter than the beaches in Faro.
For keen golfers, there are around 6 great golf courses within 30 minutes of the centre of Faro. The courses are among the best in Europe so not only can you enjoy the great weather whilst playing, you can also enjoy the great views of the ocean and the surrounding countryside.
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