Algarve Day Trips

Should you develop itchy feet and choose to forego the tranquillity our glorious local countryside, poolside gardens or Sao Bras’s charms on the occasional day, then the attractions of the greater Algarve are within easy reach. With a hire car and using the Algarve’s east-west A22 toll motorway (which is accessible 5 miles south of Sao Bras) you can be at the Spanish border at Castro Marim in 50 minutes, or at Europe’s most south-westerly point, the spectacular Cabo de Sao Vicente, in 90 minutes, whilst many other special places are easily reached on local roads from the A22.

Amongst our recommendations are:

Faro in the Algarve, PortugalFARO

The city has both Arab and Roman ruins but most of the present attractive older buildings were constructed after the disastrous earthquakes of both 1755 and 1532. The old part of the city is most attractive and is encircled by walls largely built by The Moors in the 9th Century, incorporating some sections of the Roman citadel of Ossonoba.

In a spacious open square that was once the site of the Roman Forum is a 13th Century Cathedral that faces the 18th Century Episcopal palace.

The neighbouring 16th Century Convent is now the home of the city's archaeological museum. Within it is a section devoted to the Arab occupation. The nearby "golden" church of Nossa Senhora do Carmois is claimed to be the best example of gold-leaf woodwork in southern Portugal. It also contains a chapel lined with the bones from over 1200 monks!

Between the city and the huge beach of Praia de Faro is a stretch of lagoons, saltpans and tidal byes, The Ludo, that are marvellous for an easy stroll amidst the creeks, where you may see flocks of flamingos, purple herons, purple gallinule (giant moorhens), spoonbills and countless other birds, together with basking terrapins, huge shoals of mullet and other fish, chameleons in the trees and the remains of a Roman salt-works.


Cape St VincentSAGRES & CAPE ST VINCENT 

This little town at the end of Portugal has some fine sandy beaches and coves amidst glorious cliffs and promontories. One of these is Cape St Vincent (Cabo de Sao Vicente), the very tip of mainland Europe where a sturdy lighthouse looms on cliffs high above the Atlantic and countless wildflowers provide a colourful foreground to a beautiful ramble. Another promontory has an astonishing fort built for Henry the Navigator, Prince of Portugal in the 15th Century and a renowned explorer. Just east of Sagres is the small, old-school fishing village of Salema, where good seafood can be found.


Cove near BenagilBENAGIL 

Some of the most-photographed coastline in Europe is pummelled by Atlantic gales in the western Algarve. The result is a spectacular stretch of multi-coloured cliffs and secluded coves; huge limestone arches and vast blow-holes; slender stacks and bold headlands. Little Benagil, huddled above a cliff-shrouded sandy cove, is the ideal place from which to visit such wonders. A cliff-top walk east there-and-back to the little white church at Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Rocha, remote on a thin promontory, is superb. Back at Benagil, the ultra-reliable fish restaurant O Pescador is the cream of the crop of a clutch of fine eateries at which to rest and reflect.


olhaoOLHAO

Just east of Faro, this is the Algarve’s busiest fishing port. Bustling quays receive countless small fishing vessels whose catch is sold at the marvellous fish market right on the shore (great restaurants here, too!). An airy promenade and gardens line the seafront; from here small ferries chug out to the sand-islands of the near horizon. Ilha da Culatra is great for snorkelling, whilst Ilha da Armona is a sunbathers paradise, complete with restaurants and beach bars. Don’t ignore the old town immediately behind the promenade; it’s a vast warren of lanes and cobbled byways bursting with galleries, trendy shops and countless shaded cafes. And take the chance, too, to see the intriguing tide mill – Moinho de Mare - just to the east.


Tavira in the Algarve, PortugalTAVIRA 

Undoubtedly the prettiest and oldest of Algarve’s coastal towns; winding back lanes and footpaths slink up from quays along the estuary of the River Gilao to the hilltop castle and adjacent church and gardens. There are loads of hidden churches, curling alleys and tiny squares to discover. Stroll across the Roman Bridge over the river to the quieter side of town, with fabulous old merchant’s houses, elegant plazas, avenues of tile-fronted houses and countless wrought-iron, bougainvillea-clad balconies. Small passenger ferries head out from the quays to the Ilha de Tavira, one of the sand islands of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.