The East Algarve is the less touristic part of this world-famous resort in Portugal.
The blue waters of the Atlantic, the golden sandy beaches, the Ria Formosa, the exquisite gastronomy, the friendly people, all of this is widely known. But there are still secret spots, landscapes to be uncovered, and ways and traditions unknown to many.
This tailored tour based in Tavira is designed by local residents. You’ll get a one-of-a-kind experience of the natural, human, and cultural heritage of the East Algarve.
Tavira, on the south slopes of the Serra do Caldeirão, is a quaint and picturesque town, surrounded by a landscape dotted with olive, almond, fig, carob, and palm trees.
Shaped by its historical past, Tavira has an attractive riverfront and a tranquil atmosphere. The River Gilão opens up to the Ria Formosa, a system of lagoons of great natural beauty.
This independent tour will give you an insight view of the importance of traditional fishing in the Ria Formosa, and an opportunity to taste sea delicacies prepared with expertise and simplicity.
You won’t forget the fresh oysters, the octopus stews, the razor clams, the tuna dishes, with variations exclusive to this region, where catching and cooking the fruits of the sea is a true art.
Moving eastwards, you’ll visit Cacela Velha, a charming white and blue coastal village, with the only cliff in the East Algarve, and arguably the most splendid view you’ll see on this tour.
You’ll take a closer look at Vila Real de Santo António, a city founded in 1774, under the Enlightenment principles. It was built as a replica of central Lisbon’s street layout after the 1755 devastating earthquake.
The inland excursions, to the hills above Tavira, will uncover the appeal of sleepy villages like Cachopo, with whitewashed houses with distinctively decorated parapets in the façades. Some hide terraces (açoteias) used to dry figs and other produce, with ancestral conservation techniques. Others are purely decorative and a sign of the house owner’s wealth and prestige.
S. Bras de Alportel, another stop on our itinerary, is famous for cork production, where the tree bark is transformed into a sustainable and ecological product. The quality of the cork from this region is known worldwide with countless uses.
You’ll then follow the verdant hills bordering the Guadiana River to reach Alcoutim. San Lucar del Guadiana is the Spanish town on the opposite bank.
The Castle of Alcoutim was built in the 16th century, and from the gardens, which are perfectly cared for, you’ll have an excellent viewing point. There is a myriad of legends involving the castle, telling of brave knights and beautiful Moorish princesses, frustrated in their love, becoming enchanted.
To round up your experience, there is a day dedicated to the West Algarve, a real treat! You’ll see a completely different landscape, with rocky caves and cliffs following the Atlantic coast.
Visit Ferragudo, Vila do Bispo, and Sagres, the legendary promontory, from where started the epic dream of the Discoveries.
The cliffs of Cape S. Vicent, the most south-westerly point in Portugal and in Europe, are a vertiginous 60 meters high, dropping down into the furious spray of the waves.
You can see from above fierce men climbing the rocks, defying the Atlantic pounding waves to harvest goose barnacles in a very dangerous catch.
This a self-drive tour carefully crafted, where the past merges with the present, making every moment an enduring memory: arrive as a visitor but leave as a local!