5 reasons to visit Olhao – Portugal

“White nonsense” of the historical center

Formerly a fishing village, the old town of Olhão is now a maze of winding streets, low rise houses and colorful doors scattered across two blocks (Barreta to the west and Bairro do Levante to the east) all the way to the Ria Formosa. Climbing up to one of its many terraces, you will see something that is not visible from the street. “This is white nonsense”wrote Raul Brandão, dazzled by the effect of the white houses exposed to the midday sun against a cobalt blue sky.

Here, the houses do not face the courtyards or small gardens at the back, but the sky. The rooftop terrace of a typical Algarve house where fruits and fish were once dried is now a sign status and a hallmark on Airbnb. Aligned at about the same height, these terraces give the impression of a city torn apart by rooftops and turned into a large communal terrace where everyone can catch a glimpse of each other’s socializing and sunbathing.

The terraces dominate the horizon in such a way that Olhão began to be called the “Cubist village”.. The epithet may have originated from the resemblance to some of Picasso’s works painted in Horta de Sant Joan, a Spanish city whose geometric contours inspired the artist to create cubism.

olyan market

The twin buildings of the municipal market in Olhao became icon of the city and its largest meeting point. It is at the center of the local gastronomy that is supplied there and surrounds it with a wide variety of restaurants, pastry shops and terraces.

This is one of the largest and busiest markets in the Algarve. especially on saturday morningin which the small growers of the county sell their crops outdoors.

Right next to the market, it is worth relaxing in the newly renovated Patrao Garden by Joaquim Lópezdedicated to one of the local heroes. From there they can to accompany the curious comings and goings of the many storks nesting in the city and fly to the estuary in search of food and material for their nests.

Quinta de Marim

A 20-minute walk from the city center is Quinta de Marimwhere the headquarters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park is located and it is possible to walk along a small footpath that provides pattern of landscapes and views which we can find along 60 km of this protected area.

Ria Formosa is separated from the sea by a chain of barrier islands and is considered the most important wetland in the south of Portugal. Its 17,000-hectare natural park has several habitats, including dunes, swamps, mud flats, patches of pine forest, and farmland. During the colder months it receives a great variety and number of migratory waterfowl.

The Quinta do Marim circular path has extension 3 km and starts at the reception where you can buy a ticket (€2.80) along with a small map of the area. Pay special attention to charnecosa bird of the corvid family, which can be seen here all year round and which is distinguished by a blue tint of the tail and wings.

The restaurant we went to and returned to

On the corner of a quiet square in Bairro do Levante we find Vai e Volta, one of the most recommended restaurants in Olhao..

Restaurant “Go and come back”

Grilled fish meat is accompanied by mountain salad, boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes and boiled garlic bread soup.

credits: Pedro Neves

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Grilled fish meat is accompanied by mountain salad, boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes and boiled garlic bread soup. credits: Pedro Neves

The concept is simple and takes advantage of the proximity to the largest auction in the Algarve: a restaurant that only serves fried rodisio fish (and that’s it, remember the warning at the entrance: “we don’t serve other dishes!”).

Rodizio invites you to taste a wide selection of fresh and typical fish from the Algarve coast, served with delicious garnishes and good location couple of owners: “If you are lucky, you will get a good mood and jokes, and if you are not lucky, then a small argument. It doesn’t matter what you eat at home!” the restaurant’s website says, reflecting its relaxed atmosphere.

The restaurant only serves lunch and does not take orders (or ATMs), so it is recommended to arrive early.

Above the roof terrace only the roof

Vista do Rooftop do Pure Formosa

View from the rooftop of the Pure Formosa Hotel in Olhão.

credits: Pedro Neves

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View from the rooftop of the Pure Formosa Hotel in Olhão. credits: Pedro Neves

One way to appreciate the group of roof terraces overlooking the old part of the city from above is to climb to the top Hotel Pure Formosaone of the most modern and highest in Olhão.

Oh bar without a roof open to the public entre as 12h e as 22h.

How to get there (without a car)

Regional train to Olhão

The regional train between Faro and Olhao is unexpectedly scenic.

credits: Pedro Neves

” data-title=”Reginal Train to Olhão – 5 reasons to visit Olhão – SAPO Viagens”> Regional train to Olhão

The regional train between Faro and Olhao is unexpectedly scenic. credits: Pedro Neves

O SAP Travel went to the “cubist city” from Lisbon on the CP Alfa Pendular train. The trip lasts about 3 hours and already includes a transfer, which needs to be made in Faro, to a regional train. The trip to Olhão takes less than 5 minutes and seems too short for the presentation it provides Ria Formosa. Arriving at the railway station in Olhão, we stopped 10 minutes walk from the historic center.

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