The Eastern Algarve: Travel Guide

The Eastern Algarve starts somewhere around Olhão and continues until the Spanish-Portuguese border. Although it does get its fair share of tourists, it’s much less crowded than the Central Algarve but nowhere near as remote as the Western Algarve.

While there are plenty of beaches in the Eastern Algarve, they’re not always as easily accessible as those in the Central Algarve which is one of the main reasons it’s not as touristy. Many of the beaches are only accessible by boat, and there’s only really one major beach resort town here (Monte Gordo).

monte gordo sun loungers

It’s also heavily influenced by its proximity to Spain and, one of the benefits of visiting this part of the Algarve is being able to get into Spain so easily. Most towns on the Eastern Algarve are less than an hour from the Spanish border, and Spanish towns like Ayamonte, Huelva, and even Sevilla are all close enough for a day trip.

Of course, there’s plenty to see and do in the Eastern Algarve without having to venture into Spain. The biggest attraction is the Ria Formosa, an area of immense natural beauty and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.

Many of the towns in the Eastern Algarve are also worthy of a day trip especially Tavira, Castro Marim, and Vila Real de Santo António. They’re all on the train line, or easily accessible by car or bus as well.

praca marques de pombal vila real de santo antonio

Towns on the Eastern Algarve

  • Olhão – Seaside town that’s known for its seafood market.
  • Tavira – One of the Algarve’s most picturesque towns.
  • Monte Gordo – Large seaside resort town with a large, sandy beach and high-rise accommodation.
  • Castro Marim – Small village with a castle, fortress, and other historical attractions.
  • Vila Real de Santo António – Popular riverside town with

Getting to (and around) the Eastern Algarve

If you’re planning on exploring a lot of the Algarve, it’s a good idea to rent a car at Faro Airport. While some of the towns on the Eastern Algarve are well-connected by public transport, it can be difficult to get to more remote places (like beaches) without a car.

It is possible to visit the Algarve without a car, of course, and, of the three Algarve regions, the Eastern Algarve is probably the easiest region to get around by public transport. If you don’t hire a car, here’s how you can get around. 

By Train

In comparison to the Central Algarve, and especially the Western Algarve, the Eastern Algarve is very well-connected by train.

Olhão, Tavira, Castro Marim, Monte Gordo, and Vila Real de Santo António are all on the train line, and you can easily get to Faro and other parts of the Algarve as well. From Faro, you can also get a connecting train to Lisbon and other towns and cities in Portugal.

From Faro Airport

There isn’t a train station at Faro Airport so, if you want to take the train to your destination on the Eastern Algarve, you’ll need to take the airport bus (#16) or a taxi into Faro City Centre and then head to the train station to get a train to your destination.

By Bus

From Faro Airport

Some towns in the Eastern Algarve, like Tavira, Olhão, and Vila Real de Santo António have direct bus links with Faro Airport, although there are usually only a few journeys per day. Tickets and timetables can be found on rede-expressos.pt.

For most journeys, however, you’ll need to go into Faro and take a bus from there. You can get from Faro Airport to Faro either by taking the airport bus (#16) or by taking a taxi from outside of the airport terminal. To check bus timetables and tickets from Faro, visit eva-bus.com.

By Shuttle Bus

Shuttle buses go from Faro Airport to most towns and hotels on the Eastern Algarve and tickets can be purchased from hoppa.com.

They’re only available to and from Faro Airport. If you want to get around the Algarve, you’ll need to take public transport or a taxi.

By Taxi (or Uber)

Most towns on the Eastern Algarve will have a taxi rank, and Ubers (and other taxi app services) are increasingly available in most of the larger towns.

Taxis are available at Faro Airport as well but, unless you’re going into or close to Faro City Centre, it’s normally cheaper to book an airport transfer to your destination. Uber is slightly cheaper than an airport taxi, but still not as cheap as an airport transfer. 

8 thoughts on “The Eastern Algarve: Travel Guide”

  1. Thank you for your excellent breakdown of everything Portugal. My husband and I would like to explore the possibility of spending all of our future winters in Portugal away from the extreme cold of northern Canada where we live.

    In our research of Portugal, we’ve found much to be excited about. The country is beautiful, the architecture stunning, the food to our taste, and the climate, even in the winter, almost perfect.

    So here’s the only problem I’ve encountered so far. We are seniors on a limited but adequate budget and are looking to rent a two bedroom house away from the built up tourist places for six months in the winter – October through March or November through April. Foreigners who post online about long term rentals in Portugal give a much more reasonable assessment of the cost than do any of the Airbnb or other brokered sites, which run are least three times more expensive and change on a daily basis or disappear altogether.

    We are looking for something with some old world charm in or near a smaller town. In Canada, we live on a wild and beautiful farm so aren’t that keen on crowds or interested in nightlife. Eastern Argave is so beautiful, but so is everything in the countryside. Anything but the sterile white apartments that seem to have popped up at all the tourist sites.

    Once we have found the perfect place we are hoping to return to it year after year, having our grandchildren come for visits, spending our golden years learning the language, and enjoying a country we have so long wished to come to.

    We are hoping to find something for the winter of 2022/2023 and return every year after that. I know that’s part of the problem I’m having in the search for the perfect place. I cannot give dates that fit into the required boxes of the normal sites and I get bumped off the sites.

    I’m wondering if you could help me out – point me in a direction that would allow me to access the landlords or reputable brokers of desirable properties more directly, where I could view pictures and start a conversation with the people in charge about our future winter place and examine all the parameters.

    Thank you for allowing me to type so many words into this box. It’s already vastly different from what I’ve encountered so far.

    Reply
    • Hi Memi,

      A lot of Portugalist readers have said that it’s very difficult to arrange rentals in advance – landlords and estate agents don’t reply unless you’re in Portugal and ready to move into the property (and even then getting replies can sometimes be challenging). I think there might also be some challenges in finding a rental that’s available every winter. They do exist, but I wouldn’t get too attached to a property and expect it to be vacant the following year.

      I would maybe post in some of the expat groups. Many expats own a property or two in the Algarve that’s primarily a summer rental and they may be interested in renting it out long-term over the winter.

      Avoiding the nightlife won’t be too much of an issue, especially in winter. It’s mainly centered around a few towns like Albufeira, Praia da Rocha, Armação de Pêra, Lagos, and Faro, but they’re all fairly quiet in the winter. Those are mainly all Central Algarve towns as well. The Eastern Algarve and Western Algarve are both a lot quieter.

      For charming Algarve towns, a few to look at would be Tavira, Ferragudo, Silves, and maybe Loulé to begin with.

      Reply
      • Thank you James, Excellent points! I need to remember how I spent my youth as a hippie traipsing around the Middle and Far East when traipsing was in vogue. I think I might still have it in me.

        We shall try to contact the expat owners and set something up for the first winter, and after that explore the countryside as we go and find something the old fashioned way.

        In the meantime, I will keep checking into your website. Thank you again for do such a great job of it. It’s much appreciated,

        Reply
    • Hi Mrs Emilie Tetley,

      That’s just the blog talking to you 🙂 All comments have to be approved before being published.

      Reply
  2. Hi I am looking to settle in Portugal/Eastern Algarve in the near future and looking for a long term 2 bedroom/2 bathroom unfurnished accommodation probably for 2 or more years. Maximum rent !000 Euro per month. I particularly like the area of Tavira, Fabrica or nearest villages.
    I am visiting Algarve to start searching. Could you please point me in the right direction to help me finding the above?

    Reply

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