When people think of the Algarve region in Portugal, they often picture stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and bustling towns. But the eastern Algarve offers a more tranquil and authentic experience.
So, let’s discover the 9 best things to do in the eastern Algarve!
While the western part of the Algarve offers plenty of attractions, the eastern part is home to picturesque fishing villages and natural wonders, meaning there’s a wide range of activities and places to explore in this underrated part of Portugal.
At Formosamar, we offer visitors to this beautiful area an array of tours and activities across the sea and on land, meaning there’s something for every type of traveler. So if you’re looking for boat tours to Ria Formosa or shuttle services to Faro’s islands, we’ve got you covered.
As stewards of the Ria Formosa, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, our tours champion this vital protected area. We share this natural wonder with visitors through ecotourism, so if you want to enjoy Portugal without worrying about your carbon footprint, get in touch to learn more!
1. Visit the Tavira Island Natural Park in the Eastern Algarve
Tavira Island is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, one of Portugal’s most important wetlands. This protected area is a haven for birdwatchers, as it provides a habitat for a wide variety of bird species, as you’ll see on a Ria Formosa Birdwatching boat tour.
Take a gentle eco-boat trip in the Ria Formosa to discover lagoons and marshes to spot flamingos, herons, and other waterfowl without disturbing the park’s inhabitants. The park also offers excellent opportunities for hiking and picnicking in a serene natural setting.
2. Explore Tavira’s Historic Old Town in the Eastern Algarve
Tavira, often referred to as the “Venice of the Algarve” due to its many bridges over the Gilão River, is a charming town that boasts a rich history and well-preserved architecture.
Stroll through its historic old town, characterized by cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful azulejos (Portuguese ceramic tiles), and a medieval castle that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside.
3. Discover the Fishing Village of Olhão in the Eastern Algarve
Olhão is a picturesque fishing village known for its bustling fish market and stunning Moorish-style architecture. Visit the Mercado Municipal de Olhão to witness the vibrant daily fish auction and explore stalls filled with fresh seafood.
Stroll along the waterfront promenade, dine in one of the many seafood restaurants, or take a boat trip to explore the nearby islands and sandbanks.
Discover even more ecotourism activities in Olhão on our blog.
4. Marvel at the Cacela Velha in the Eastern Algarve
Cacela Velha is a hidden gem in the Eastern Algarve. This small, whitewashed village is perched on a hill overlooking the Ria Formosa and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline.
Wander through its narrow streets, visit the 16th-century church, and enjoy a meal at one of the traditional Portuguese restaurants. The tranquility of Cacela Velha makes it a perfect place to unwind and soak in the local culture.
5. Relax on Fuseta Beach in the Eastern Algarve
Fuseta is a charming fishing village with a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful beaches. The Praia da Fuseta, located on an island accessible by a short ferry ride, is a peaceful haven with golden sands and calm waters.
It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying fresh seafood at the beachfront restaurants. The village itself is also worth exploring, with its colorful buildings and lively market.
6. Take a Trip to the Tavira Salt Pans in the Eastern Algarve
The salt pans (salinas) near Tavira are not only an important part of the region’s history but also a unique natural attraction. The traditional salt production process, which dates back centuries, is still practiced here.
Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the salt production methods and the importance of this industry to the region. It’s a fascinating way to connect with the Algarve’s heritage and witness its natural beauty.
You can also visit the salt pans on a guided bike tour from Faro to Ria Formosa. Benefit from the knowledge of a local guide as you enjoy the stunning sights and several stops along the way.
7. Visit the Historic Town of Castro Marim in the Eastern Algarve
Castro Marim is a historic town with a rich heritage dating back to Roman times. The town is famous for its well-preserved medieval castle, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the Guadiana River.
Explore the castle grounds, stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town, and visit the Church of Nossa Senhora dos Mártires. Castro Marim is also known for its annual Medieval Fair, where the town comes alive with historical reenactments, music, and food stalls.
8. Discover the Mystery of the Pego do Inferno in the Eastern Algarve
Hidden in the Algarve’s hinterland, the Pego do Inferno is a hidden gem known for its crystal-clear emerald-green pools and waterfalls. This natural oasis is tucked away in a lush forest, offering a refreshing escape from the coastal heat.
While the path to the pools may require a short hike, the reward is well worth it. You can take a dip in the cool waters and relax in the tranquil surroundings.
9. Taste the Culinary Delights of the Eastern Algarve
No visit to the Eastern Algarve would be complete without indulging in the region’s delicious cuisine. Fresh seafood is a staple, and you’ll find an abundance of seafood restaurants serving up everything from grilled sardines to seafood rice dishes.
Be sure to try the local specialty, “cataplana,” a flavorful seafood stew cooked in a unique clam-shaped pot. Pair your meal with a glass of crisp Vinho Verde or the Algarve’s own wine, and savor the flavors of this coastal region.
As you can see, the Eastern Algarve offers a unique and authentic experience for travelers seeking a quieter and more culturally immersive vacation.
Whether you’re exploring historic towns, relaxing on pristine beaches, or savoring the local cuisine, there’s no shortage of incredible things to do and see in this underrated part of Portugal.
So, why not venture beyond the tourist hotspots and discover the hidden treasures of the Eastern Algarve on your next adventure with Formosamar’s Faro boat tours? Or, if you’d prefer to stay on land, check out our outdoor activities in Faro.
However you like to explore, the eastern Algarve has an abundance of activities for you to enjoy. Just get in touch to start planning your next Portugal adventure!