Olhão, 15 minutes east of Faro, Algarve, is one of the hidden places of the Algarve, no mass tourism, and if you like to enjoy a different Algarve, Olhão Portugal is the place to be. Olhão is the Algarve’s largest fishing port. A rare gem, its center is crumbling, charming, faded, and stuffed full of appealingly batty characters. The occasional tourist wanders about, wondering why they’re here.
The jewel in its crown isn’t actually in town, but a lovely ferry ride away. Ria Formosa is an estuarine national park, with Olhão Portugal at its mouth and the wild Atlantic Ocean beyond. Around 80% of Portugal’s clams are fished here, around its four low islands. The islands of Farol and Armona are where Lisbon folk maintain their holiday homes; Deserta Island is a sandy empty place for the Robinson Crusoe in you; Culatra Island is where the fishermen live, and they are delighted for you to be as active as you wish, as long as that includes watching the waves, counting your toes, playing dominoes, drinking cold drinks, and eating delicious fish.
There are two market buildings side by side along the water front, which are a ‘must visit’ for the huge variety of extremely fresh fish and sea food straight from the port and the vast array of locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. Olhão Portugal is well known for its fish market.
Walk into the historic heart of Olhão and the easiest road to follow is directly across from the gap between the market halls. Here, many of the buildings are the elegant merchant’s homes with wrought iron balconies, carved stonework and tile decorations and are such a contrast to the busy port area of Olhão. At the centre of the town at the end of Avenida da República, is the Praça da Restauração, the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, built in 1698 with contributions from the fishermen when it was the first stone building in Olhão. It’s a very graceful building with a baroque facade and somehow quite a surprise!
The beaches of Olhão you can reach by ferry. The Ferry goes very regularly in July and August, but less the rest of the year, but there are water taxis, who take you to the Islands. If you miss the last ferry, handy to know, as they always waiting for people who missed the last boat! The beaches are long stretches, white sandy beaches, and they are huge!!! You find them at the islands of Farol, Desert Island, Culatra and Armona. The beaches of Olhão Portugal, all have beach bars, and most of them you can rent a sun lounge.
Events and Activities
All year round there are festivals, markets, entertainment at the river front park. One of the biggest events is in August, Festival do Mariscos (Shellfish/clams Festival), with live band performing every night, and large fire displays.
Bars and Restaurants Olhão
Try one of the numerous local cafes and restaurants along the roadside nearby – you won’t be disappointed! Fresh fish on the menu guaranteed!
Between the two markets of Olhão Portugal, (one fish, the other fruit and vegetables), are lots of terraces. It is a nice place to have a drink, or a lunch, as you look over the Ria Formosa. The bar named Guadalope, owned by French owners, regularly have nice live bands playing, in the summer there is almost every night a live band on a little stage between the markets playing, and if you like karaoke, you can sing till 5 in the morning at the karaoke bar in Olhão Portugal. There is a nice Gelateria, where you have a wide selection of ice creams, apparently good quality, as there is always a cue of people, gagging for an ice cream. When you take a coffee in the morning, you will sit between the fishermen of Olhão, coming back from all night fishing, sharing their stories of the past night, and for sure their catch! It give a nice atmosphere.
Olhão Portugal, located just a 15 minutes drive east of the capital of the Algarve, Faro. Faro is well worth a visit. A little further east you find very pretty village Tavira. A bit further inland from Olhão, you find pretty little Portuguese villages, like Santa Catarina. Fuzeta is a long the coast, from here you can take a ferry to Fuzeta Island, and Santa Luzia and Monte Rota are as well nice coast places to visit. All less around 15/20 minutes drive from Olhão Portugal.
All our villas located in the Algarve, only a few in the east Algarve. Most villas we rent have private pools and gardens and are not far form the Algarvian famous beaches and golf courses. Check our section East Algarve for a nice villa near Olhão Portugal.