20 March 2016

Where to go in Portugal: Olhão

Before I show you more of breathtaking Brazil, let's go back to my trip to Portugal in September. There's a gorgeous fishing town that deserves a separate post. It's called Olhão and it's one of the best places to see and stay in Algarve, also one of my favourite towns in Portugal.

When I think of Olhão, I see two things: all shades of blue and a lot of bright sunlight. It enjoys three hundred days of sun a year and is still rather undiscovered by tourists, which makes it just a perfect destination for a little rest and genuine Algarve experience. The blue colour is omnipresent: it's in the water, in the clear sky, in doors, windows and on buildings embellished by traditional tiles, azulejos.

What makes Olhão unique is definitely the architecture, which is unlike anywhere else in Portugal. Thanks to commercial links with Africa in the past, it was greatly influenced by the Moorish culture. The characteristic cubic houses are small, rather low, almost all white and crowned with tiny rooftop terraces. From one of them, belonging to Convento, I was observing the daily life of the Olhanenses and enjoying a breathtaking view at Ria Formosa. If you need to escape the heat of the sun for a little while, take a walk on these cobbled narrow streets between the buildings and see what you'll discover.

One day, preferably on a Saturday morning, make sure you wake up earlier and pay a visit to the fish and seafood market. Then walk along the paved promanade watching the boats come back to the port with the freshest products, ask for a coffee in one of the cafés surrounding the market halls and enjoy the relaxing view at Olhão Marina. Realise there are no tourists around you, just ordinary residents of Olhão doing their shopping. Isn't that great?

Eating in Olhão couldn't be better. After all, the town has access to the freshest seafood and fish you can imagine. But the best restaurants are not that easy to find. O Galo, for example, is located in a narrow street you would probably never notice but definitely should 
 try delicious cataplana à galo (30, serves two people), white chocolate mousse (3.50) and white wine sangria to drink (€12). Be prepared for a lovely chit-chat with the cook in her broken English, who, from time to time, goes out to the guests to check if they need a second helping. 

The locals recommend Tacho à Mesa which I loved particularly for their amêijoas à bulhão pato (€11), clams not to be forgotten. For Portuguese tapas 
 petiscos  check out Gosto Disto. It's an informal place full of the Portuguese enjoying all sorts of great food served in small portions so that you can try a lot of different things during just one dinner. I especially recommend lulinhas fritas com alho (squids fried with garlic, €4.50), a platter of good quality presunto (€4.50), fried shrimps (€6.50) or juicy pieces of black Iberian pork (€5). 

Now take a walk with me through beautiful Olhão:






























































Where to stay: A stunning house with just a couple of apartments to rent, one of the most beautiful and tranquil places I've ever stayed at: Convento.

Where to eat: O Galo (Rua da Gazeta de Olhão, 7) for a delicious cataplana, Tacho à Mesa (Rua dos Lavadouros, 46) for perfect amêijoas, Gosto Disto for some great Portuguese tapas (Largo Joao Da Carma, 24). 

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