The tiny rural hamlet of Bordeira has a few local shops, small bars and simple country restaurants offering traditional Portuguese cuisine. In Bordeira you’ll be able to enjoy picturesque countryside views as well as sea views to the coastal area of Faro, which is a short drive away for anyone missing the beach. For a wider range of amenities, the towns of Loule and Sao Bras are not far away.
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With such a large coastline it’s no surprise the Algarve is a great place for all kinds of fish and seafood, with restaurants commonly serving fresh sardines, bream, cod, monkfish and tuna. Another famous dish of the Algarve is chicken piri-piri great for a relaxed atmosphere! Most dishes will be served with served with boiled potatoes and vegetables or salad.
Bordeira offers small bars and simple country restaurants offering traditional Portuguese cuisine, for a little more choice the towns of Loule and Sao Bras are not far away.
Rio Formosa Nature Reserve
The 170 square kilometres of saltwater lagoons, islands and marshes of the Ria Formosa estuary is a breathtakingly beautiful area, teeming with migrating birds, dozens of species of fish and unique flora and fauna. Around half an hour’s drive away, the reserve’s easily accessible pathways and boardwalks make this a fabulous place for walking, cycling and birdwatching and there are numerous guided boat trips on offer. You can even hire a kayak and paddle your way around the canals and lagoons. Viewing points and bird hides are strategically placed to make the most of the views and to spot rare birds in their natural habitat. You could spend several days here but be sure to include at least one visit during your stay.
It may be best known for its international airport but the city of Faro is well worth a visit. Its charming old town is located to the east of Faro marina. The city’s Se Cathedral, quite unassuming on the outside, is surprisingly ornate inside, with gilded carving, traditional azulejos (tiles) and impressive works of art, and you can get a wonderful view of the city by climbing the steps up the cathedral tower. A mainly pedestrianised shopping area consists of dozens of cobbled streets and squares with plenty of cafés and restaurants. For a little retail therapy head to the Forum Algarve shopping mall on the main EN125 road from the Faro airport area; it has a wonderful choice of stores built around an open air square.
With more churches than hotels, the unspoilt riverside town of Tavira is one of the Algarve’s best kept secrets, exuding authentic Portuguese charm. History abounds in its colourful architectural details, with decorative features from Renaissance to Baroque, Moorish to Gothic. The fishing port is a hive of activity and it’s a wonderful place to wander around at leisure. Pop into the former water tower that’s been turned into a camara obscura, reflecting a fascinating 360° tour of the town on a horizontal screen.
Now a cosmopolitan market town, nearby Loulé retains plenty of evidence of its historical roots. The ancient walls of its medieval castle still dominate, with the winding cobbled streets of the old town now bursting with cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. There are some beautiful old churches here and the daily market is particularly worth a visit for its array of fresh produce, crafts, basket weaving and copper goods.
Housed in the former mansion of a 19th century wealthy cork industrialist at nearby Sao Bras de ALportel is a large collection of traditional Portuguese clothing and dolls as well as tools, carts and everyday household objects. The servants’ quarters, stables, barn, workshop and tool storage area are all open to visitors and offer a fascinating insight into the lives of those living and working in the era.
Milreu Roman Ruins
A short drive south of the nearby village of Estoi on the Faro road you’ll find one of Portugal’s most important archaological sites, the ruins of a grand Roman villa dating from the 1st century AD. Beautifully excavated, the villa’s luxurious origins are clear, with a central courtyard surrounded by columns, a series of rooms dedicated to bathing and even underground heating. Large sections of intricate fish mosaics are still intact and there is evidence of the villa’s later use as a church and then a Muslim burial site. The ruins are well worth a visit for anyone with a fascination for Roman history.
You’re bound to regard the humble cork with far greater admiration after a visit to a working cork factory, located on an industrial estate just south east of Sao Bras. With a highly knowledgeable guide to talk you through the growing and production process, as well as demonstrating how cork can be used in many different end products besides wine bottles, this is an increasingly popular excursion and well worth including during your stay in the area.
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