Olhao enjoys a marina; it has no beach to call its own, but further along you can catch the ferry to Ria Formosa lagoon.
The ferries for the ilhas beach run from the quayside near the gardens, at the eastern end of the red brick market buildings. There are regular services during the peak season, with fewer crossings during the winter months.
Olhao is more of an exploring town rather than one filled with tourist attractions, although down by the waterfront you will find a small pleasant park strip, offering shaded seating areas in the summer months. It also has a children’s play area with safety flooring.
The large red brick buildings architecturally look in keeping with their Moorish-style dome towers. But the red brick itself seems out of place for the Algarve.
They house the daily market place, which consists of two identical buildings. Once inside the market offers an array of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, with its cafés that run along the outside terraces. Even if not planning to buy anything, it is well worth exploring. As catches are brought in daily by the fishermen, it will have many varieties you will have never seen. Outside, its surrounding bars and cafés make a pleasant place to sit and take in the busy waterside atmosphere.
With plenty of waterfront parking, this is an ideal spot to start a touring the town, as most of the rest of the town is pay and display parking: when looking around, time can soon pass, and dashing back to top up parking fees can be a headache.
Heading toward the centre through the many backstreets, you find houses with their Juliet cast-iron balconies and stone surrounds door and window surrounds, often owned by trading merchants who showed off their wealth on the outside of their houses..."*
An excerpt from Karl Bradshaw-White (2015-01-30). Algarve Travel Guide: 54 Cities/Towns/Villages. Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
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