Olhao, pronounced oll-yow, is the perfect place to be busy doing nothing. It's the Algarve's busiest and largest fishing port, and because of the excellent seafood widely available, has developed a reputation of being the region's gastronomic capital. As it is a working port, Olhao's 'look' can be challenging at first. But the waterfront promenade offers pleasant walks and cool gardens in which to escape the heat of the midday sun.
The charming facades of the colourful tile-faced 19th century townhouses, the architectural leitmotif of Olhao's centre, some gently crumbling, others slowly fading, reflect the sharp sunlight, and absorb the sounds of tolling church bells and the smells of grilling sardines.
Olhao is also the gateway to one of the most beautiful and deserted landscapes of the region and some of Europe's finest beaches. The natural beauty of the estuarine Ria Formosa Nature Reserve is breathtaking. An intricate network of dunes, lagoons, endless beaches and salt pans is home to numerous species of birds, fish, fauna and flora. For uninterrupted peace and solitude it is hard to beat.
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