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Vila Real de Santo António, Algarve: Travel Guide

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Vila Real de Santo António is a small town that sits on the Portuguese side of the Guadiana River on the Portuguese-Spanish border. With just a few restaurants in the town centre, this is quite a small and quaint town but one that’s certainly picturesque and deserving of a visit.

Its location next to Spain is ideal for those that want to visit both Spain and Portugal in one trip. You can get a ferry from Vila Real de Santo António to Ayamonte or take the car across the bridge. Huelva is just 44 minutes by car while Sevilla is 1.5 hours and Jerez is 2.5 hours away.

There are also plenty of beautiful Portuguese towns to explore as well. Faro, the Algarve’s capital city, is less than an hour’s drive or just over an hour by train, while other towns, like Castro Marim, Tavira, and Olhão, are even closer.

It’s also just a short drive to the southern part of the Alentejo. The Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana is less than an hour’s drive, while the town of Beja is just a little over 1.5 hours away.

Featured accommodation in Vila Real de Santo António

There are only a few accommodation options in Vila Real de Santo António itself: the majority of hotels are located in nearby Monte Gordo.

  • Grand House – 5-star boutique hotel accommodation in a beautifully-restored building that dates back to 1926.
  • Guadiana River Apartment – Stylish self-catering accommodation that’s situated along the riverfront and close to the historical town centre.

Is Vila Real de Santo António right for me?

The town of Vila Real de Santo António is picturesque, small, and quiet. It’s not a beach resort town, and it doesn’t have many bars or much in the way of entertainment. For many people, however, this is exactly what they’re looking for.

Vila Real de Santo António doesn’t have the easy beach access that many visitors to the Algarve want: the nearest beaches, Praia de Santo António and Praia de Monte Gordo, are 3-4 km from the town centre. It’s walkable, and just a few minutes by car, but, for some, it’ll be just that little bit too far away.

vila real de santo antonio park promenade

Vila Real de Santo António makes up for it with its riverfront area, which has a beautiful promenade that’s lined with trees and benches where locals sit and wait for their fishing lines to get a bite.

Vila real de santo antonio promenade

For those visiting the Algarve without a car, Vila Real de Santo António is somewhere that’ll be easy to visit. It has its own train station, which goes to Faro and even as far as Lagos on the West Coast. From Faro, it’s also easy to get to other parts of the country like Lisbon and Porto by train.

Getting to Vila Real de Santo António

From Faro Airport

  • Airport transfer: If you don’t plan on renting a car, an airport transfer is the easiest and most convenient way to get from Faro Airport to Vila Real de Santo António. Several companies, including Welcome Pickups, offer airport transfers from Faro Airport to Vila Real de Santo António, and the journey time is usually around 45 minutes.
  • Rental car: The easiest way to get around the Algarve by car, so it’s definitely worth thinking about renting a car here. Getting from Faro Airport to Vila Real de Santo António is easy as well: it takes around 45 minutes on the A22 toll road or just over an hour on the older N125 road.
  • Shuttle bus: Because there isn’t a direct public transport link between Faro Airport and Vila Real de Santo António, many people take a shuttle bus rather than a normal local bus. Shuttle buses can be booked via sites like hoppa.com and the journey time is usually just over 2 hours.
  • Taxi (or Uber): Taxis are available from outside Faro Airport, and there are normally Ubers circling close by as well. Taxis and Ubers are normally more expensive than an airport transfer so, if you’re planning your trip in advance, it normally makes sense to pre-book a transfer.
  • Public transport: There is no direct train or bus between Faro Airport and Vila Real de Santo António. To get to Vila Real de Santo António, you’ll need to take the airport bus (bus #16) into Faro and then take another train or bus onto Vila Real de Santo António.

From Faro

  • Bus: There is a bus between Faro and Vila Real de Santo António, with multiple journeys per day, and the journey takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Tickets can be bought on eva-bus.com.
  • Train: There is a train between Faro and Vila Real de Santo António, with many journeys per day, and the journey takes around 65-70 minutes. Tickets can be bought from cp.pt, and discounts are available if you book in advance. Note: the train station at Vila Real de Santo António is around 1 km from the main town centre.

Last updated in August 2019.
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