Olhão is a fishing port in the Algarve. Olhão is a major port and the largest fishing port in the Algarve. It is full of character with Moorish-style houses, an influence from the commercial links with Africa.
Olhão (aw-LYUHNOO, /ɔ.ˈʎɐ̃w/) municipality has 45,396 residents (2011), with about 28,000 living in the city proper.
The Algarve is an area that presents a climate typically Mediterranean, characterized by warm and dry seasons during five months of the year, with median daily temperatures around 22.5 °C (72.5 °F) and gentle winters, with scarce precipitation and daily median temperatures around 12.4 °C (54.3 °F).
It has warm, dry summers and mild winters. The precipitation is concentrated in the months between autumn and spring.
Olhão is served by the A22 motorway (Via do Infante) and the EN125 road.
For buses from nearby cities and towns, check out the timetables of the regional transport company Eva Transportes.
Buses between Olhao and Faro are fairly frequent on weekdays, not so much so at weekends. Buses stop around 20:00. Price is around €3.70 one-way.
- 1 Porto de Olhão.
There are ferries to all nearby islands; Armona, Culatra, and Farol. See the time tables to the right. Armona is more than enough for a trip.
One-way prices are:
- Armona – €1.85
- Culatra – €1.85
- Farol – €2.15
Many tour companies in Olhão offer boat tours to the islands, with stops at restaurants, beaches and natural park. However, the schedule is very tight and the restaurants probably get a cut. So, you are better off just taking a regular ferry and selecting the beach and restaurant yourself. Do not miss the last ferry, or you will have to charter a boat for €10-20.
- 1 Olhao Tide Mill. Next to it you will also find the lighthouse.
- 2 Our Lady of the Rosary Church (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário), Praça da Restauração 1. The Igreja Matriz de Olhão, it was inaugurated in 1715, and although it was then one of the largest in the Algarve, it was already small to house the approximately 1200 inhabitants of the site. In fact, it is estimated that the birth rate of Olhão was at this time above 50%.
- 3 Olhão towers. Watchtowers
- 4 Ria Formosa Natural Park (Parque Natural da Ria Formosa).
- 5 Farolim do Molhe Este da Barra de Faro-Olhão. This is the lighthouse at the very end of the Faro-Olhão barrier from Farol Island.
- Ria Formosa – In Olhão you have the possibility to enjoy boat trips, tours and other activities regarding nature and wildlife you find in the Natural Park. Several companies offer tours, ask at the tourist information or at your accommodation. Prices range from €15-45 per person, depending on lengths stops and so on.
- 1 Estádio José Arcanjo. The football stadium.
Beaches and islands
Tours are often tightly organised leaving you little time to really enjoy any beaches. Also, they decide on the lunch stops, which further puts you into restrains. If you just want to enjoy the beach and stop at a restaurant on the way, simply take one of the ferries to the following islands. Mostly, they will do a larger tour and you will see the bay anyhow, not so much of the wildlife though.
- 2 Armona Island (Ilha da Armona).
- 3 Farol Island (Ilha do Farol).
- 4 Culatra Island (Ilha da Culatra).
- Desert Island (Ilha Deserta).
- 1 Ria Shopping. 3 floors of shops and restaurants, a cinema, supermarket and children's play area. It's easy to get to (always a bonus!) - just follow the EN125 through the town and it is on the left if you are coming from the Faro side of town. There are lifts and escalators making access simple for everyone.
- 2 Olhão Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal de Olhão).
The gastronomy of Olhão is bound to be mainly based around fish and seafood. The lagoons of the ilhas provide excellent nurseries for clams (amêijo), cockles (berbigão) and oysters (ostras), and the sea provides an abundance of fresh fish. Olhão was one of the first major canning areas for tuna and sardines and the fishing fleet continue to land their catches every day at the dock.
There are so many ways of preparing the fish and many of the recipes come from the fishermen. Arroz de lingueirão (razor clam risotto), lulas com favas (squid with broad beans), chocos com tinto (cuttlefish in their ink), amêijões (clams) lightly cooked in wine and garlic - the variations are endless!
Desserts are various delicious combinations of almonds, figs, eggs and oranges, whether incorporated in a feather light, moist sponge cake; figs stuffed with almonds; or little sweet marzipan cakes shaped into fruits and vegetables.
- 1 Vai e Volta, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 12:00–15:30, closed M, no reservations taken. All-you-can eat grilled fish, including sides. Adults €15, children €7.50, cash only, drinks and dessert extra.
A lot of the wine sold in the Algarve comes from other parts of Portugal (for example from Bairrada in the north, Estremadura near Lisbon and Alentejo) but the Algarve does also produce its own wine, most of which comes from the Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira areas. Most restaurants will only have Portuguese wines on their wine list. The 'house' wine ("vinho da casa") in white ("branco") and red ("tinto") is nearly always a local Portuguese wine and good value. You can also opt for "vinho verde" which is a young 'green' wine, slightly sparkling, light and refreshing and goes very well with fish and chicken dishes, or rosé - Mateus rosé being the best known.
There are numerous B&B and smaller establishments in town—best to compare prices online.