The islands of the ria
The ria has many natural charms and some of them are in the form of islands. You can reach authentic dream places with lovely small trips by boat. In Faro, stands the Barreta Beach Island, one of the Algarve's most beautiful secrets — it’s an island with fine sand and clear waters, more isolated and with plenty of room for everyone.
The Fuseta Beach, Culatra and Armona islands are closer to Olhão and, because they are so extensive, they serve either the ones who like more excitement or those who prefer a quieter environment.
With about 11 kilometres, Tavira Island is also an essential place to visit during your discovery through the Southern islands. The peaceful fishermen’s days, the fresh air and the sea breeze can truly open your senses and offer you perfect days of peace and quiet.
Algarve tastes like the sea, the mountains and… almond
Algarve also means joy of flavours — a result of the numerous historical influences that were mixed over time and which differ according to the geographical areas of the region. With a strong Mediterranean influence, Algarve’s cuisine is divided between the freshness of the flavours from the coast and the substance of the ones from the mountains.
The freshness of the fish and seafood belongs to the part of the Algarve that has a view to the sea. We are in fishermen’s land so tasting what the sea has to offer is one of the many local pleasures. Cataplana (typical dish with fish, seafood and potatoes), sopa de peixe (fish soup), arroz de polvo (octopus rice), arroz de marisco (seafood with rice), sardinhas (sardines), cavala (mackerel), atum (tuna), feijoada de polvo (octopus with beans), lulas (squid) or búzios (whelks) are some delicious examples.
And due to the familiarity with this kind of flavours, it’s in Algarve that take place some of the most important gastronomic events related to the sea. In Olhão (during August) takes place the Seafood Festival and in Portimão (also in August) people gather near the bay to eat at the Sardine Festival.
On the other hand, on the countryside (in the Barrocal and serra algarvia), the traditional dishes have a clear influence from the mountains, they are much more rural. Take note of the stars that you will be able to find on the table: guisados de carne (meat stews), favas à algarvia (fava beans) or galinha cerejada (chicken).
In Monchique, during the month of March, takes place the traditional Sausages Market, very famous for the wide range of regional products, from sausages to honey, crafts and, of course, the famous traditional liquor called medronho (made with the fruit of the arbutus tree that grows in the mountains).