Sao Bras - Excursions and Places of interest
Information updated 19 Mar 2015
Natural areas of beauty
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. Less than 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.
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.
Housed in the former mansion of a 19th century wealthy cork industrialist 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.
Churches / Cathedrals
The pretty church of Sao Bras de Alportel has parts dating from the 16th century with later Baroque style sections added in the 18th century. The lovely Chapel of Senhor dos Passos boasts rich carvings, artworks and statues and the main chapel houses a unique baptismal font and beautiful paintings depicting the Holy Trinity. There are also fantastic views of the countryside and out to sea from here.
Other Places of interest
As cork production has gradually moved to the centre and north of Portugal, towns like Sao Bras have had to develop new businesses, mainly connected to tourism. The photographic prints on display at the gallery here are simply stunning, many of sights and panoramas you’ll have seen during your stay but with a colourful twist for added drama.
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.