Olhao, Atrakcje Miasta, Ria Formosa, A;Garve

Olhão - gate of the Ria Formosa

Olhão, a city in the eastern part of Portugal's Algarve, is unique in many ways. Its history, culture, and attractions create a distinctive mosaic of experiences that draw both those seeking tranquility and adventure-seekers. We've primarily visited to travel to the Ria Formosa islands, which I highly recommend!

History of Olhão

The history and development of Olhão, often referred to as the "city of the sea," pronounced Olhão, are closely linked with fishing, the ocean, and maritime trade, influences that are still visible today in its architecture and culture.

From a small fishing village, it transformed into an important trading port that played a key role in the economy of the Algarve region.

Olhao, Atrakcje I Historia Miasta W Algarve

The oldest written mention of Olhão dates back to 1378, referring to it as a place called Olham.

By the early 17th century, its advantageous location attracted fishermen who began settling on the beaches of Olhão, developing the town despite the opposition of the authorities from neighboring Faro. From the mid-17th century, the settlement gained additional protection with the Fort of St. Lawrence, which favored its development by protecting against attacks, including those from corsairs.

Olhão - Brama Ria Formosa

The increase in population due to the development of fishing and trade led to the creation of the parish of Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Olhão in 1695. When the Algarve was occupied by the French in 1808, the inhabitants of Olhão organized a spontaneous uprising that led to the expulsion of the invaders from the region. In recognition of their courage, Olhão was elevated to the status of a city and was given the name "City of Olhão da Restauração".

Olhao, Wschodnie Algarve, Co Zobaczyć W Plhao

In 1826, Olhão gained local autonomy and over time transformed into an important economic, social, and urban center, but it was not officially recognized as a city until 1985.

What to see in Olhão

The center is large, and you can see that the city government is trying to make the experience there for locals and tourists as good as possible. I like the authenticity, the old doors, I even found a group on FB where people upload photos of doors from different cities in Portugal... 🙂

Olhão - Brama Ria Formosa

I love the tiles, combined with cracked plasterwork, strange combinations of colors and patterns, and on top of that the dampness, which is visible on the facades, completely unconcerned with the new technologies used in paints, which are supposed to protect the walls from cracks on the plasterwork... I liked the distinctive pots set up in the streets, each in the shape of the front of a fishing boat painted fancy. Everything is associated with the ocean, fishing, and of course, you can encounter murals referring to the history of the place....

While in Olhao, it is worth noting also:

  • The Municipal Market in Olhão: It is one of the most distinctive buildings in the Algarve (Another certainly is the one in Loule). Located right by the shore, it impresses with a rich selection of fresh seafood, fish, vegetables, and fruits. The architecture of the buildings, with their characteristic red bricks and detailed work, definitely adds charm to the city.
Olhão - Brama Ria Formosa
  • Ria Formosa Natural Park: Olhão serves as the gateway to this extraordinary natural park, which encompasses lagoons and islands. It's a paradise for nature lovers, offering the perfect setting for bird watching, walks, or simply relaxing on one of the wild beaches.
  • Islands of Olhão: From Olhão, you can set off to explore the surrounding islands, such as Culatra, Armona, or Farol. Each offers unique beaches and unparalleled views, making them the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle.
  • Old Town: Strolling through the narrow streets of the Old Town, one can feel the spirit of the past. White houses and colorful doors and facades create picturesque scenes.
Olhao, Atrakcje I Historia Miasta W Algarve
  • Capela de Nossa Senhora da Soledade: This small chapel is one of Olhão's architectural jewels, offering a glimpse into the region's religious traditions.
  • Muzeum Miejskie: Presenting the history of Olhão, featuring exhibits related to fishing, trade and daily life.
  • The Path of Legends: This walking trail connects the five main squares in the historic area of the city. Each square is associated with an original legend, and you can find a map near the market building.
Olhão - Brama Ria Formosa

Beaches of Olhão

The city does not have a beach near the center. To lie on one of the sensational beaches, you have to take a ferry to the surrounding islands, which run frequently from the main waterfront near the market buildings. A few of them:

  • Beaches on Culatra Island
  • Beaches on Armona Island.
  • Cavacos Beach
  • Beach do Farol
  • The beaches of Fuseta called the Algarvian Caribbean - how great it is there, I will write more soon!
  • Praia dos Tesos (Fuseta Ria)

When planning a visit to Olhão, it's best to adapt to the local pace of life. In the morning, a visit to the market is worthwhile, and the afternoon is perfect for exploring the natural beauty of Ria Formosa. The evening is the ideal time for a stroll through the Old Town and dinner at one of the local restaurants, offering the best dishes of Algarvian cuisine!

A delicacy from Olhão!

A typical Olhão treat that you'll find in every major shop in the Algarve is Folar de Olhão. I don't have a foto with me, it's a dough wrapped with honey, cinnamon, sugar, and various toppings. You'll find it on the shelves of regional products, or at bread and candy stands.

How to Get to Olhão

🚐 We happened to stay overnight at the campground once - highly recommend - location Click Here

👁️ View photo gallery 👇🏻


Always on the go, though sometimes I do miss a bit of boredom... 😉 My passions? Technology, photography, psychology, diving into diverse reads, and sports... especially water sports and padel. Professionally, I design websites, graphics, and more. I'm also the author and photographer at www.pixambo.com 📸

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