By admin | | Posted in: Pine Cliffs
Olhão is one of the few towns around Pine Cliffs that has a life beyond catering for the tourist industry, and that is one of the reasons that it is worth visiting. If you’re curious about how life works in a real Portuguese town, then it’s an incredible place to discover.
Like most settlements on the Algarvean coast, Olhão has modest origins as a fishing village. Unlike many other former fishing villages on the coast, it has an incredibly rich and interesting history including strong links to Moorish North Africa. You can still see this Moorish influence in the architecture of the town, with many houses in the old centre of town built either in the Moorish style, or by the Moors directly.
You won’t see this beautiful side of Olhão if you approach it from the East. The eastern half of the town has a slightly bleak, industrialised character. However, if you are coming from the direction of Pine Cliffs you can skip this side of the town and go straight to the most interesting part.
The Jardim Pescador do Olhanese is the name of the well maintained garden that lines the waterfront, and the promenade that snakes through it is one of the most pleasant walks in the area. Unlike most promenades on the coast, walkers are well shielded from the Sun by the canopy of trees above. If you’re driving, this is also a good place to park up and start exploring the town, with Pay and Display machines all the way along the waterfront.
If you’re staying in self catering accommodation at Pine Cliffs, Olhão is a culinary goldmine. While almost every town along the coast has a fish market, Olhão is one of the best, and one of the easiest for visitors to the area to navigate. You’ll also find fresh fruit and vegetables from the surrounding area. Vendors are very used to tourists coming to buy products, and almost all of them speak enough English to conduct the transaction. If you aren’t staying on a self-catering basis, you should try one of the nearby restaurants. As a general rule, the closer to the market buildings the restaurants are, the better they get.
If you’re interested in the aforementioned architecture, then you should head into Olhão’s old town. The quickest way is to take the road that starts between the two market halls. Along this road and the roads that branch off from it, you’ll find incredible homes that were built by local merchants. These buildings are among the finest examples of architecture you’ll find anywhere in the Algarve, with picture-perfect ornate detailing everywhere.
While Olhão doesn’t have a beach of its own (one more reason that it’s a perfect place to escape the tourist throng) it is very close to a number of beautiful islands that do have perfect sandy beaches. Boats run to Ilha de Culatra and Ilha de Almona almost every day during the high season, and sporadically during the colder months. Both islands have relaxing, calm, golden sandy beaches that are off the regular tourist track, and are well worth a visit.