See the salt flats and beautiful flamingos at the the Castro Marim Sapal
The Ria Formosa, the most important wildlife sanctuary in the Algarve, and the Sapal de Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António, the marshy area of the Guadiana River, are two protected areas to discover on foot or by boat. Tours that will stay in our memory!
Visit the wonderful Fortress of Cacela Velha and be dazzled by its wonderful views over the beach of Cacela Velha
Its beach located in the eastern part of Ilha de Cabanas, near the Cacela bar, can be accessed by boat from Sítio da Fábrica in “Cacela Velha”. This historic village, with white houses decorated with traditional cobalt blue, is surrounded by dryland orchards that stretch on gentle hills to the estuary. The village grew up around a medieval water-wheel and offers a magnificent elevated view over “Ria Formosa”, next to the Fort D. Paio Peres Correia. Crossing the narrow arm of the estuary, the visitor is faced with a thin strip of sand, deserted and wild, in permanent mutation due to the action of the sea and the winds. It is in this most complete serenity that you can contemplate the vast dune flora of this sandy barrier, only interrupted in places where the sea insists on climbing the natural wall, and the various birds that seek refuge in the dunes, such as the “borrelho-de-coleira-interrompida”, the “rola-do-mar” or the “chilreta”.
Discover and let yourself be seduced by the wonderful city of Tavira
From the small streets along the River Gilão to the high castle walls from where you have the best view over the city, Tavira seduces and makes us want to discover its corners and unravel its secrets.
There is a certain oriental charm to this city, in its “scissor” or “four-waters” roofs, which cut into the sky in a peculiar way and in the mesh doors made of interlaced wood that protect the houses, letting in the air and sound, heritage of the Arabs who inhabited the region.
Tavira is spread out along its two banks of the river, in an intricate of narrow streets and white houses that you feel like walking through magically. “Coreto” garden is the liveliest area, where many people go for a walk enjoying an ice cream with the freshness of the air that is felt in summer, especially at night when shows or other events give this area even more life. This is where the “Mercado da Ribeira” is located, which, after abandoning its original functions, is now a renovated space for entertainment and leisure.
Its oldest bridge, of Roman origin, is a 17th century structure with walled parapets from where we can enjoy a beautiful and seductive view of the city's white houses. Not as much as the one we can contemplate going up to the Castle Tower, without a doubt the best viewpoint in the city, covering the undulating roofs, the domes of the churches, the river and its “Salinas”, to the blue line of the sea that is its limit on the horizon.
In addition to the panorama, its steep ascent is compensated for by all that we can admire along the way. For example, when we cross the wall gate and we are surprised by the beautiful Renaissance portal of “Misericordia”, one of the 37 churches in Tavira. We can also visit the Islamic Nucleus to learn more about the history of the city or its Municipal Museum, installed in the “Palácio da Galeria”, its most notable building. A little further up, is the castle and the Church of Santa Maria, which occupies the place of the former larger mosque; here rests D. Paio Peres Correia and the seven knights of the Order of Santiago from the work they had to conquer Tavira from the Moors in 1242. Nearby, the Church of Santiago, also built over an old mosque, the smallest.
On the other side of the river, on the front hill, there are more churches to visit, such as the medieval Chapel of São Brás, the Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo, one of the most sumptuous temples in the Algarve with exuberant baroque decoration, or the Igreja de São Paulo, more simple and austere.
To compensate for the energy expenditure on so many tours, there is nothing like trying the gastronomic specialties, especially fresh fish and seafood, such as octopus cooked in different ways or razor clam rice. Tuna, in steaks or “estupeta de atum” also stands out on the menus, as its fishing was one of the most traditional activities in this area. We can get to know this art better at the Museum Center in “Arraial Ferreira Neto”, next to the mouth of the Gilão River, built to house the fishermen and their families and now converted into a hotel.
The charms of the city continue to the Ria Formosa, which we reach by following the road parallel to the Gilão River and flanked by white “Salinas” where you can see birds such as the “pernalonga”, the flamingo or the tailor. At its end, in Quatro Águas, we can take the boat that crosses it and takes us to the beach on the strip of sand that separates the estuary from the sea. There are 11 kilometers of sand, which includes the beaches of Ilha de Tavira, Terra Estreita, Barril and Homem Nu, and where we can rest from this very diverse and rich tour.