Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vila Real de Stº António

In the town centre stands an obelisk, a vertical symbol of the power of the king and his prime minister. The streets are arranges on a grid pattern, as stiff and straight as soldiers on parade, leading off from a broad, open square. The façades of the houses repeat the balanced forms of a sober and restrained architectural style. Vila Real de Santo António is a perfect example of ideals of The Enlightment of the 18th century put into practice. The town's formality contrasts with the gentle landscapes along the banks of the Guadiana where, here and there, esplanades provide oases of cool and welcome relief from the heat of the sun.

To appreciate the harmony of Vila Real de Santo António's ordered layout, there is no substitute for walking through its streets. The best place to start is the Praça Marquês de Pombal at the heart of the town, where the stone pavement radiates out from the obelisk erected in 1776. This square contains three of the town's most important 18th century buildings: the church, the town hall and the former guardhouse. After that it is worth walking around a few of the blocks, which were built by private individuals, but which stick to the same unifying architectural formula. The route ends with the line of façades of Avenida da República, which is delimited by two towers and contains the former customs house, with its broad gateway and triangular pediment. Nearby, there are gardens on the banks of the Guadiana and across the river, the Spanish town Ayamonte.

Flowing between hills bright with colours of wild flowers and the green of cork oaks and pine, the Guadiana River has for centuries marked the frontier between Portugal and Spain. From Vila Real de Santo António boat trips run regularly up the river and provide an opportunity to become acquainted with a different Algarve. Among the sights to be seen are villages of whitewashed houses that seem to spill down the slopes to the water's edge and the thousand-year old castle at Alcoutim proudly standing guard over the river.

Sea and Sun

Monte Gordo

For centuries fishermen's shacks were the only sign of human life on the broad sands surrounded by pinewoods. The beauty of the beach and the warm, safe waters attracted the first foreign tourists in the 60s, making Monte Gordo something of a pioneer in the development of tourism in the Algarve. Today it is an international tourist destination and counts a casino among its more urbane attractions.

Santo António

A lighthouse marks the location of this calm family beach, with its long sweep of sand. Support facilities.

Lota Pine-fringed sands Support facilities.

Manta Rota

This is a tourist spot that still manages to preserve something of the flavour of a fishing village. There is a long beach. Support facilities.


Opposite the historic town of Cacela Velha. Fishing boats ferry visitors across the creek that is part of the Ria Formosa to a sand bar that stretches away as far as the eye can see. Support facilities.The Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Salt Marsh Nature Reserve and the Ria Formosa Nature Park are wonderful places for birdwatchers and botanists alike. Both have visitor centres offering advice and information.


During your holiday don't forget to visit the most famous and important highlights of the Algarve .Beginning with the Algarve 's capital, located at the sea side Faro, is surrounded by the Ria Formosa, a nature reserve of 17.00 hectares and stopping place for migrating birds. The Faro airport is connecting the Algarve with most European capitals by direct flights and handles several million passengers a year. Drive west and you will arrive to Vilamoura. A special place, an exclusive leisure and recreation resort community where the peace of life is so easy it feels like summer all year round. Driving a few kilometres more, you will get to the centre of the Algarve , Albufeira, acknowledged as one of the main tourist regions of the country. Continuing towards the heart of the sunny Algarve , you will find the small inlet of Carvoeiro protected between high cliffs. A few kilometres ahead, Lagos is our last stop. A Marina presents a lovely picture and the harbour, is the first sight a visitor has. With its relaxed atmosphere and quiet charm, make it one of the most appealing locations in the Algarve to visitors from abroad, an important tourist town there are still many architectural signs of its ancient past.Car Hire in the Algarve at a cheap price, a brand new vehicle and a helpful team to assist you. We suggest the following websites: Algarve Car Hire, Car Hire in the Algarve, Car Hire Portugal, Portugal Car Hire, Car Hire Lisbon, Faro Car Hire, Vilamoura Car Hire, Albufeira Car Hire, Carvoeiro Car Hire, Lagos Car Hire. If you need airport transfer from or to Faro airport check out Algarve Transfers.