In a world where everything is more and more resembles and where in every corner of Europe you can find the same shops, the same restaurants chains, the same pubs, Olhão, in the center of the very popular tourist region of Algarve, represents a precious rarity.
Historically born as a fishing village, it became in the XX century an important fishing industry center and since only few years it has begun to become a thriving tourist center.
Whilst it is modernized through a rapid renovation of its peculiar historical downtown, it does not renounce to its strong traditions.
The heart of the city remains its famous red brick markets by the sea, one of which is dedicated exclusively to fish and the others to meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
Here you can breathe a magical atmosphere and, at the same time, the real and everyday life that brings us into a time made of slow rhythms and simple and direct human relationships.
Leaving the promenade, in the alleys that cross the center and along the Avenida, which cuts into two the city and leads to the train station, there are dozens of small bars and ‘casas de pasto’ hanged out almost exclusively by the inhabitants of the town. And it is here that, at really cheap prices, you can enjoy typical Portuguese dishes or treats yourself with a good coffee and a sweet.
Olhão is a land of contrasts: the new tourist facilities stand next to the oldest popular neighborhoods, pubs and restaurants are just a stone's throw from the old industrial warehouses covered with murals, traffic stops to let a dog or an horse-drawn carriage cross the road.
But Olhão is not just this: in front of the city, closing the lagoon where, at low tide, fishermen pick up the 'mariscos' which are sold at the market and on the streets, there are two true heaven on land: the islands of Armona and Culatra/Farol. Reachable with public ferries at a good-value tickets, they offer an incomparable natural environment, unspoiled beaches, lagoons that create true natural pools and the quiet and space needed to fully enjoy the experience.
Wonderful places that have been incredibly preserved by mass tourism (and concreting) that unfortunately has hit many famous tourist resorts in the region. Through the taxi boat you can also make great tours of the lagoon (Ria Formosa) with moments dedicated to the beaches and others to the environment contemplation. In the hamlet of Fuseta, which can be reached in less than 10 minutes by train, is situated the only beach on the shores of the Formosa Riviera, from which you can reach the island of Fuseta (Armona) and the one of Tavira in just a few minutes by boat.
Olhão also boasts a very favorable geographical location to be used as a starting point for visiting the region: Faro, the Algarve capital town is less than 10 minutes by train, the airport is about 20 km away, the train and the bus stations are just in the center and allow the travellers to easily reach all the places on the coast and the interior.
Staying in Olhão, enjoying its beautiful islands, starting from here to visit the region, allows you to experience a different holiday, where you can find beautiful surprises around every corner, forget the chaos, the crowd and the banality of the places dedicated only to a tourism that seeks everywhere the same things.
O Viajante is an intuition that starts from Italy.