Portugal – Lesser Known Sights of the Algarve
With its delightful beaches, lively resorts, and pretty whitewashed villages, the Algarve just can’t help being the most popular holiday destination in Portugal. Even if you’re no party animal, you’ll love the setting, with its sweeping sandy beaches, soaring cliffs, and quaint historic towns. Hire a car in Portugal and explore the unspoiled coastline and rolling landscapes outside the Algarve’s bustling resorts.
The fishing village of Fuzeta is a 25km drive from Faro airport and a world away in terms of its setting. The beach just outside the town can get quite busy during high season, but take a boat trip across the lagoon of the mighty Ria Formosa to really experience the delights of Fuzeta. The company Passeios Ria Formosa describes itself as a company dedicated to nature, and it offers well-priced trips to deserted island beaches ringed by sparkling water and pristine sand. Your expert guides can bring you fishing if you wish, and they also offer full day tours of the nature reserve. Birds, dolphins, oyster beds, lighthouses, and historic sites all come to life, thanks to their helpful and detailed commentary.
Just 10 km from Fuzeta you’ll find the fascinating and wonderfully untouristy fishing village of Olhão. Dubbed the “the city of cubes,” the village is famous for its blocky white-washed houses with their Moorish architectural features, a legacy of the late 18th century. A combination of newfound prosperity from a thriving fishing industry and an influx of Moroccan immigrants inspired locals to build their houses in this geometric style, so that sometimes you feel as if you’re walking around a city in the Middle East.
Praia do Alvor
The fishing village of Alvor perches on the estuary of the Rio Alvor, 67 km from Faro. Stroll past the fishermen’s cottages to the sweeping, sandy beach, flanked by high dunes that back on to a lagoon created by the Alvor river. This is a prime spot for watersports, especially kitesurfing. If you prefer dry land, the paths that weave through the dunes are ideal for cycling and wildlife-watching. Continue along the beach to its eastern end, where it becomes Praia de Três Irmãos (“beach of the three brothers”), so named because of its trio of rock formations. The rocks and cliffs mean this beach is far more sheltered than Praia de Alvor, offering the perfect setting for lounging in the sun.
Aldeia da Pedralva
Rent a car in the Algarve and discover the Costa Vicentina, a magnificent sweep of coast between Cabo de São Vicente and Odeceixe. Here you can still find oases of natural beauty and wonderfully wild beaches, and buried among these gems is the reclaimed village of Pedralva, once a pile of ruins in an exceptional setting near the Southwest Alentejo nature reserve. Some 200 dilapidated houses were purchased from their original owners and rebuilt according to their original design. The developers adopted a sustainable approach to tourism, and you can now enjoy surfing, biking, trekking, fishing, bird-watching, and golf in affordable, traditional accommodation.