Heading To The Eastern Algarve
As we headed to the east, we made one stop along the way. The awesome FIESA Sand City was a massive park filled with sand sculptures. It was the first artistic treat we saw on our travel day.
From the sand sculptures, we hit the highway for a quicker trip towards Faro. We meandered the small roads the previous day on our day trip to the Atlantic shore and knew how easy it was to lose track of time! After we exited the highway, we followed our offline map app through the small town of Estoi towards the hotel. The Pousada Do Palacio de Estoi came into view. Our stay at the palace pousada was the second artistic treat we saw on our travel day
Almost Hitting Spain
We planned to explore the eastern Algarve from our base in Estoi (north of Faro). I marked a number of places on my online map to sample in this part of the Algarve. The original weather forecast for our stay showed showers. On the first morning at 9am it was grey but dry so we packed the car for the day. We would see how much we could explore before the rain sent us back to the palace pousada.
We got on the highway (A22) and headed as far east as we could before we hit Spain. When we took the exit ramp, we could just see the bridge over the water into Spain.
Our path took us down to the small town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio. We looked for the jetty that would take us to the most southeast point in Portugal! Earlier in our Algarve visit, we visited the most southwest point on a day trip to the Atlantic shore.
We passed park land and soon found the rough cobblestone drive. The car bounced along until we found the parking spot where all the fisherman were. In the distance we could see the bridge that crossed into Spain.
It was a short walk to get to the most southeastern point and mark our spot! When you explore the eastern Algarve you can see the shore of Spain. On the other side of the point we could see the broad expanse of sand beach. Far off in the distance we could see other towns along the Portuguese coast.
The skies actually cleared a bit during our stop so we headed back along the smaller link road (EN125). We had been at mile 0 on the western end and we would start at mile 0 on the western end. If you want to drive across the whole width of Portugal, make sure to explore the eastern Algarve.
The Village of Cacela Velha
When you explore the eastern Algarve, there are many small towns to visit. The small village of Cacela Vehla was marked on my map as a possible stop. We bypassed the newer part of town and headed right to the water. Even though we found most places quite empty touring Portugal in May, there were a number of cars in the parking lot when we arrived. We would not be alone as we wandered this little town.
Most visitors congregated around the small church, so we started at the cemetery. We often visit cemeteries to see the traditions and to learn some history of the area. This was a quite plain cemetery. It had none of the fancy sculptures we saw touring the cemetery in San Juan. It reminded me a little of the cemeteries of New Orleans with the wall burials and larger crypts.
Despite the less adornment, it was clear that the people came to visit regularly. The burial sites were decorated with pictures, small statues and lots of colourful flowers.
The small local church was in good shape. It had a simple design inside. Beside the church we saw the remnants of the wall that used to sit around the area.
It was a pretty, small town with cute houses and the flowers that bloomed everywhere. There were several places to eat in town if you visit at meal times. None were open for lunch before we departed.
We visited Cacela Vehla at low tide. You could look out over the sand and see fisherman camped out. We figured they were looking for clams in the sand.
When you explore the eastern Algarve, make sure to stop into the small towns.
Stopping For Seafood Lunch
As usual, we went without a coffee stop in the morning and kept driving to explore the eastern Algarve. It meant that searching for lunch was a grumpy affair. We really wanted seafood so we searched for a port town. Bypassing the main part of Tavira. we went into Cabanas de Tavira right on the water.
After we parked the car, we checked twice to see if we needed to pay. There did not appear to be any parking ticket machines and the cars did not have papers in their windows. Parking was alway a bit of a gamble when we drove in Portugal! We set off to walk along the seafront to find a spot for lunch. We found lots of water tour options but we would leave that for another day.
When we visited the small village of Monchique, we learned our lesson about picking a restaurant just because it was full. We passed two of the restaurants that looked busy. But the menus did not seem to offer much seafood. We found a restaurant that looked like it had a good menu. But it was empty and we were not sure if it had opened yet. It was only 1pm and for most restaurants, this was the start of the lunch hour.
We saw a gelateria on our map and wandered in that direction. While the gelateria was closed, there was a seafood restaurant right beside it. Sabores Da Ria posted their good TripAdvisor ratings and the menu looked just perfect. When we visited the central coast in the Algarve, our local friend told us that we must try octopus rice. This would be the spot.
It was amusing that the waiter asked about reservations when the restaurant was totally empty. We wandered if he was expecting a lunch hour rush but that never showed up. We got a window seat and ordered. The octopus rice was delicious. Lots of tender octopus with a tasty aromatic sauce for the rice. As yummy as we had been told! Seafood is a great reason to explore the eastern Algarve!
We passed on coffee and dessert. The plan was to find a spot in the larger town of Tavira.
Searching For An Afternoon Coffee
It was a short drive to Tavira. There is a small port that could take us out to the Ilha de Tavira. Since the weather was still threatening, we did not visit the island on this trip. Our notes also said that Tavira was a small town with over 20 churches. As we drove, we found a few of them.
The old part of town was a twisty maze of one way roads. We got turned around a few times. And as we drove we kept our eyes peeled for a parking spot. After circling the town twice, we finally admitted defeat and headed out. Tavira would be a stop for another day. But did not get out so quick. On our path out of town we had to stop for a long train to pass.
We were about ready to call it a day on our trip to explore the eastern Algarve. We considered going back to the palace pousada for an afternoon snack with coffee. There was a great afternoon tea at the pousada. But we needed gas. Following the GPS blindly, we ended up at the small town of Olhao. This town was marked on my map as a place to stop when you explore the eastern Algarve.
This small town also had a port to get to another island and beach (Culatra Island). We figured there would be lots of places by the port to stop for a coffee. We passed a large parking lot and finally stopped at street parking with meters.
By now it was 4pm and we found it very hard to find a spot open for coffee. But we could get wine! Finally we found a pastelaria. When we entered it looked like a cafeteria but the food display counter quickly dispelled any concerns. There was a broad selection of Portuguese pastries and a full coffee menu. We would finally get our coffee stop before we stopped for the day.
Explore the Eastern Algarve
We enjoyed our day when we set off to explore the eastern Algarve. There were great sand beaches, small fishing villages and good spots to stop to eat. When you visit the Algarve, make sure to head to the Spanish border!
Did you explore the eastern Algarve? What was your favourite spot?