Day 1 in Algarve East
Welcome to Portugal! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Make your way to your hotel and check in. Don`t give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do.
We recommend that you start your trip in Faro. Learn about the medieval history of Faro by visiting the town walls, the Muralhas de Faro. Walk through two ornate entrances into what was once the Medieval Quarter of Faro, the Arco da Vila and the Arco do Repouso. Afterward, take some time to learn more about this town`s storied history with a visit to the Museu Municipal de Faro. If you are a religious architecture buff, you will love the Igreja da Misericordia, located to the north of the Arco da Vila. The stately Igreja do Carmo is breathtaking and is situated approximately a half-mile north of Igreja da Misericordia.
Try to choose a beach to visit either in the early evening or in the morning tomorrow. In the immediate vicinity, there is Faro Beach, Cabo de Santa Maria, and Praia da Culatra. They can all be reached by bus or ferry from Faro Marina.
Day 2 in Algarve East
Begin the day by exploring anything in Faro that you didn't get a chance to see, whether it is an extra sight in Se or Sao Pedro, or along the water. Afterwards, head to Tavira, where we recommend you stay the second night. Tavira Island is where Praia do Barril, the closest beach to Tavira, is located; note the anchors on the north end of the beach which memorialize the fishers who lived and died sailing the Atlantic waters.
Tavira is a quaint and compact Algarve town with lots of history. Stroll across the Roman Bridge, which is historic but not from the time of the Romans, rather the Moors, nearly 1000 years ago. Continue your trek back in time with a visit to the ruins of Tavira Castle, located next to the large Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo on Largo Abu Otmana. If you have time later in the day, enjoy some solitude and sun at nearby Cacela Velha Beach, located across the lagoon from the cliffside Fortaleza de Cacela. Return to your hotel at the end of the day.
Day 3 in Algarve East
Move on to your next choice of lodging, in either Altura or Monte Gordo, to complete the rest of your trip. Monte Gordo is a bustling resort town: sun yourself on Monte Gordo Beach, try your luck at some slots or blackjack at Casino de Monte Gordo, and enjoy some of the local ambience a few miles north by visiting the frontier fortress Castro Marim Castle, which is adjacent to the Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo Antonio Marsh Wetland Preserve. Afterward, choose one of these fun beaches to visit before returning to your hotel: Praia da Manta Rota, which boasts the warmest waters of any beach in Portugal; Praia Verde, or Praia da Altura.
Additional Days in Algarve East
Just ten miles northwest of Faro, the city of Loule offers history buffs some exciting sights. A settlement was first built in the area now known as Loule in the Paleolithic era, and has been a continuous settlement since the time of the Romans in the second century before the Common Era. The current city boundaries (based on the city`s Medieval-era walls) date from the eighth century and the rise of the Moors. Loule Castle was built in the eighth century, and is now preserved and open to the public as a national monument; preservation has also been undertaken on what remains of Loule`s city walls. Visit Loule during the winter carnival, the June Mediterranean music festival and bazaar, and the August "White Night" which transforms the city into one buzzing party.
If you have an extra day to spare when you are in Monte Gordo, consider traveling to Mertola, located a little over 40 miles to the north. Standing high on a hill above the Guadiana River, Mertola (pop. 2,800) thrived as a commercial port for hundreds of years, predating the Romans and continuing on through the Arab conquest. The town`s main church, the Igreja Paroquial, was originally built as a Moorish-era mosque before transitioning into a Catholic church in the 13th century. Other sights of note include Mertola Castle, which dates from 44 BCE, and the city`s museum, which has the most varied collection of Islamic art of any museum in Portugal.
If you want to cross the border for some fun in the sun, look no further than the resort town of Isla Cristina, located 20 miles east of Monte Gordo. Isla Cristina is also well-known for its fishing industry; the catches at Isla Cristina are recognized as some of the highest-quality seafood sold in Spain. The marshes around the coastline are protected, part of a national marine and wildlife refuge. Eight different tourist beaches are located in Isla Cristina, including the popular Central Beach and the Playa del Cantil.
Your Last Day in Algarve East
Depart your hotel and head to the airport for your return home. We hope you enjoyed the noteworthy sights of the eastern Algarve!