Discover the rural and historical East Algarve on this tour. This is the forgotten and unseen Algarve on the border with Spain.
We’ll take you for a closer look at Vila Real de Santo António, a city founded in 1774, under the Enlightenment principles. It was built as a replica of central Lisbon’s street layout after the 1755 devastating earthquake.
The city centre is today a shopper’s paradise, with traditional small stores and terraces. The region was always associated with fishing and is very proud of its rich gastronomy, with famous dishes made from tuna, a long-established tradition. Ferries cross the placid Guadiana River to Ayamonte, in Spain, on the opposite bank.
Another stop will be Castro Marim, one of the oldest communities in the Algarve, and an important centre of Arab power until 1242. The strategic position on the border and the need to repel the Moorish attacks from North Africa were the reasons to build the Castle, the Fort, and the walls.
From the battlements command, you have an excellent view over the surrounding area, spanning to the magnificent salt-pans reflecting the sunlight in their white expanse, where traditional salt is produced. It’s not hard to find genuine handicrafts that will delight people who appreciate popular arts.
We follow the verdant hills bordering the Guadiana River to reach Alcoutim. San Lucar del Guadiana is the Spanish town on the opposite bank.
The Castle of Alcoutim was built in the 16th century, and from the gardens, which are perfectly cared for, you’ll have an excellent viewing point over the whitewashed village houses and the River. There is a myriad of legends involving the castle. They tell of brave knights and beautiful Moorish princesses, frustrated in their love, becoming enchanted.
But there’s more in this historic village to visit, the Misericórdia (Mercy) Church, the Chapel of St António, and the country house of the Counts of Alcoutim. The Main Church was one of the first Renaissance buildings in the Algarve, built between 1538 and 1554, in place of a medieval church.
There are other secrets in this region, from the times when smuggling across the rocky banks of the Guadiana was very common, which ended up forging close ties with the Andalusian people on the left bank.
Find secret places and special moments off the beaten path and discover the Algarve others do not know about!