As neighbour to Spain, Portugal offers a distinctive change in terms of culture, countryside, towns and villages. The people here are generally more reserved and formal than the Spanish whilst retaining the Latin “warmth” to make you feel extremely welcome.
The country is known, among other things, for its discovery of Tea and subsequently introducing it to the English, (a curiosity here is that the Portuguese for tea is “Cha”, (also in Hindi), as in “a cup of cha”). Of course Portugal has a reputation as a popular tourist destination especially the Western Algarve area and the coastal resorts of Albufeira, Vilamoura and Lagos.
The lesser known Eastern Algarve is much less developed by comparison to the mass tourism developments of the Spanish & Western Portuguese Costas. Here you will find the delights of the sleepy medieval village of Castro Marim, its pristine neighbouring town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, the colourful estuary town of Tavira and the marshland Natural Reserve, “Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim”. The nearby Algarvian hills are home to secluded untouched villages of centuries past, whilst the coast provides all you could want from sunbathing to scuba diving along some of Europe’s best kept beaches and coastline.
The Guadiana river is the natural borderline between Portugal and Spain and a great excursion is to cruise along to quaint Alcoutim where a 4×4 jeep can meet you to return off-road through the Algarvian hills. If you are looking for a bit more action, the nearby seaside resort of Monte Gordo is a milder version of the mass tourism found further along the coast but nevertheless you will find an excellent selection of shops, bars, restaurants, beaches and a very pleasant promenade stretch.
Activities in the area include various water sports, golf, tennis, mountain biking, clay pigeon shooting and fishing. Spanish highlights within easy reach from the Eastern Algarve include the historic city of Seville and the “Doñana Nature Reserve”.
With Faro international airport nearby, you can usually be at your accommodation in under an hour. With Spain close to hand, Seville airport is another option for rapid transfers taking little over an hour to reach the Portuguese border.