Things to do in Olhão

By Femke Irik, co-founder and experience-tester at SeaBookings. 

The Algarve is, in my opinion, the best region of Portugal for travel, especially for retirees. People may not think so but there are quite a few nice things to do in Olhão. I decided to share my favourite things to help you plan your holidays in Olhão.

Things to do in Olhão
The emblematic building of the Market of Olhão

Things to do in Olhão: the Olhão Market

The fishing vocation is very strong and Olhão is number 1. This makes the Olhão Market a must do on your holidays in Olhão.

The Olhão market is centuries old, located in a very beautiful and useful building.  It’s an amazing place to go to feel the Portuguese culture, architecture and lifestyle. There are several restaurant and bars in the area with stunning views over the Ria Formosa Nature Park.

In the Olhão market, you can find the freshest fish and vegetables. In my opinion, it’s the best place to buy fresh fish in the Algarve. The market is divided into 3 areas: the fish market, assorted meats, and one for the vegetable market.

On the vegetable market, you can buy fresh, organic and natural vegetables. The local farmers sell their vegetables and there is an explosion of typicality and fresh smells!

The markets are open every day from early in the morning till 1 or 2 pm. We recommend going on Saturday, as it’s the nicest and busiest day to feel the culture.

Fresher than this is impossible!
Fresher than this is impossible!

Things to do in Olhão: eat fish and seafood

The abundance of fish and seafood is combined with the Portuguese talent to turn them into absolutely amazing dishes makes this the place to go to taste the freshest fish. If you want to taste the real Portuguese dishes, you should have dinner at one of the restaurants in the area.

The best things to eat in Olhão, lunch or dinner will start with covert which includes bread, butter and some nice olives, sometimes even some local cheese or ham. As starters, what I recommend are the clams and mussels, fresher you won’t taste them. As the main dish, if you like fish, I would recommend sea bass (Robalo), octopus (Polvo), seabream (Dourada), sardines (Sardinhas) and horse mackerel (Carapaus). For the ones who prefer meat, I suggest a grilled meat dish (Grelhada Mista), which provides you with several kinds of meat

Some of the restaurants I recommend are:

  • In front of the fish market – Restaurante Prazeres
  • “Vai e Volta” – Fish dishes  – Largo do Gremio 2
  • Frango da Cidade – Rua Teofilo Braga 51 – For the best chicken in Olhão

Every year there is a seafood fair that is very successful in the region. On the seafood fair in Olhão, you can eat the best seafood and appreciate concerts from local singers every night. This year 2018, the seafood fair in Olhão will take place from the 10th to 15th of August.

The Ria Formosa is an amazing surrounding for fishing
The Ria Formosa is an amazing surrounding for fishing

Things to do in Olhão: visit Ria Formosa Nature Park

One thing to do you should definitely not miss is visiting the Ria Formosa. From Olhão, we provide several boat tours to explore the natural park of Ria Formosa.

The beautiful Ria Formosa is famous for the very specific habitat essential for many migratory species. I love this place, especially the tranquillity and silence it transmits.

One of the most famous islands of Ria Formosa is Ilha da Culatra,  where you can find amazing fishermen and local communities, restaurants and many things for kids to do and play. Nature and landscapes are paradisiacal. Together with the genuineness and typicality, you will feel welcomed by the local people.

dolphin watching from olhao
Dolphin watching is one of the best things to do in Olhão

Another popular Island is Ilha Deserta, far from the noise of the city, you can breathe the fresh air.  It’s a natural treasure in one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Portugal. An ideal place to walk in peace… to relax …  and do some sunbathing.

There are many ways to go to the islands, I recommend the private boat taxies, you can book them in advance, and agree on the best time for you and the tides. There are also several boat tours to explore the islands. Now the choice is up to you, do you want a quick boat tour or a full day, where there is time for a lunch at the Culatra island.

In Olhão, you can also do dolphin watching tours, they depart daily at 08:30. Don’t forget to book in advance, as these are quite popular. On the dolphin watching tours from Olhão, you will be searching for wild dolphins and observing them closely in their natural habitat.

All day tour - ria formosa - fuseta tour
The beach towns in Ria Formosa are very nice

Olhão is known for the authentic tourism, and with many things to do, it’s almost a must on your holidays in the Algarve. Let us know if you’ve got any further tips or need more information. We’re happy to help!

Bo Irik - Boosting Maritime Tourism in Portugal

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