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A traditionally Portuguese town, and a little off the tourist radar, Olhão lies on the southern coast of Portugal, at the end of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, about 10 kilometres east of the Algarve capital, Faro. Olhão is essentially and historically linked to the local fishing industry, and, unlike more touristic areas, isn’t a “ghost town” during the winter. Life goes on as normal, with restaurants and bars, frequented by both locals and visitors, open year-round—and there are many excellent restaurants! Along the seafront and its side streets, you can find everything from traditional Portuguese, to the more international. For dining in, supermarkets are within walking distance, and the Municipal Market along the seafront sells fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit, and other locally-produced products. There’s always a lively atmosphere in the morning when the daily catch comes in. Although a slow pace may be your goal, there’s no shortage of things to do in and around Olhão, whether fishing trips, shellfish collecting, sightseeing, golf, shopping, cinema or theatre suit your fancy. Olhão’s famous islands, with their white sands and virtual absence of construction, can be easily reached from the town by either ferry or water taxi.
If you travel east from Olhão, you will find the maritime village of Fuseta, with the ruins of a castle and some old houses of similar architecture. Driving to the pier at Fuseta, you can take a short boat trip (approximately 10 minutes) towards the island.
The island of Fuseta is bathed by a sea without great waves and its white sand stretches for several kilometers, being perfect for children to play freely. This island has one of the clearest waters in the Algarve and is perfect for those looking for activities that complement their leisure days, with equipment for sailing, canoeing or windsurfing.
If you travel west from Olhão, you will find Faro - the capital of Algarve. This beautiful city lies alongside one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the region: the 60 km-long expanse of lagoons, natural dunes and stunning beaches of the Ria Formosa Nature Park. The beaches are many, ranging from the thriving resort of Ilha de Faro with its bars, restaurants and abundant amenities, to the seclusion of the miles of uninhabited sand dunes of Barreta island.
The calm, warm waters of Faro’s gorgeous beaches attract swimmers and water sports enthusiasts alike. Jet skiers, windsurfers and pleasure craft often frequent the lagoons, and boat trips are available for scenic tours around the maze of canals that criss-cross the marshlands and sand bars of this beautiful area. The marshlands are a favourite nesting ground for migratory birds, so you might well spot flocks of flamingos and a variety of other species on the way.
The city of Faro is a busy cosmopolitan centre, offering plenty of entertainment and numerous shops and restaurants. It also retains its traditional charm: its narrow little streets with shops selling local handicraft and traditional fish restaurants provide the local shellfish specialities that often come straight from the estuary. Faro also boasts many beautiful monuments that attest to its former glory and that merit a visit.