Things to do in Olhão - 2-day itinerary

Welcome to Olhão, a town of fishermen, olive groves and barrier islands. Bordered by the Ria Formosa estuary, Olhão is both a fishing port and a coastal paradise of beaches and lagoons.

Visit the bustling food market in the morning, enjoy a seafood lunch and stroll along the marina, where boats whisk you off to the islands of Culatra, Armona and Farol.
Our two-day itinerary features the best things to do in Olhão, so you can make the most of your stay.

Day 1

Morning: Mercado de Olhão

The first stop on our tour is the municipal market. Set along the waterfront, the building stands out amidst the white houses with its red-brick walls and green domes. There are two sections: one with fruits and vegetables and another solely dedicated to fish and seafood, like clams, mussels and oysters. Look out for local delicacies like muxama (dried tuna), ovas de polvo secas (dried octopus eggs) and cured anchovies. The busiest day to visit is on Saturday morning. Dotted around the market are a couple of cafés and bars where you can grab a coffee overlooking the sea.

Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário

Walk to the town centre to visit the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário. Erected between the 17th and 18th centuries, the church features stunning gilded altars, fresco paintings and blue and white tiles.

Municipal Museum of Olhão

Just opposite the church is the Municipal Museum of Olhão. The 18th-century building was once the headquarters of the Compromisso Marítimo, a society founded by local fishermen and their relatives. Now, as a museum, it offers visitors an insight into Olhão’s history. The ground floor features a variety of artefacts ranging from prehistory to the Moorish era. Meanwhile, the top floor covers Olhão’s fishing traditions.

Afternoon: Quinta de Marim

If you’re in the mood for a hike, head to Quinta de Marim, the headquarters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Stop at the visitors’ centre and buy a ticket for a tour along the reserve. Follow the arrows to the nature trail, and in a few minutes, you’ll be surrounded by woodlands, dunes and mudflats. Along the way, you’ll spot an old tide mill where you can enjoy fantastic views across the estuary. The hike takes around 2 hours. If you’re lucky, you may spot some birds on the trail, like flamingos or the purple gallinule.

Island Tour

Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the islands of Olhão. Many companies offer boat tours which depart from the town’s harbour. There are also direct ferries and water taxis to each island. If you go on a tour, the first stop is usually Praia do Farol, a small beach with an imposing red-and-white lighthouse. Then, you’ll head to Ilha da Culatra, where the clear waters offer plenty of opportunities for diving and snorkelling. You’ll often grab lunch here and then head to Ilha da Armona, home to a picturesque town with holiday homes and a long sandy beach. You can follow the paths along the dunes or go for a swim. After your island tour, return to the shore and enjoy the sunset from the marina or one of Olhão’s restaurant terraces.

Day 1 - Olhao Tour Map

Day 2

Morning: Monterosa Olive Oil Farm

A few miles northwest of Olhão is the town of Moncarapacho, famous for its olive oil production. It’s here you’ll find the Monterosa Olive Oil Farm, which offers guided tours and tastings. During the 1-hour tour, you’ll have the chance to walk around the olive groves and learn more about the process of making olive oil. At the end, there is an olive oil tasting, where you’ll sample a variety of olive oils, ranging from soft to very intense. You’ll learn how to pick the best bottle at the supermarket, but you can also stock up here.

Afternoon: Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça

After the tour, go for a walk around the Moncarapacho village and visit the church of Nossa Senhora da Graça. The church has a very simple interior, compared to most of the churches in the Algarve, but it’s still worth the visit. Erected at the end of the 15th century, it still has some Gothic elements, like the side door with a pointed arch and the medieval chapel of Calvário with its ribbed vault. Other features were added later, like the Renaissance front doorway and the Mannerist altarpiece in the Chapel of Souls.


The last stop on our tour is Fuseta, an unspoilt fishing village located on the south coast of Olhão. Park the car and walk towards Praia da Fuseta-Ria, following the promenade along the water. Aside from a couple of fishermen, the beach is often empty, leaving plenty of room to sit down and enjoy the views of Ilha da Armona and the lagoons of Ria Formosa. You can also travel to Praia da Fuseta-Mar by taking the ferry from the village. While there are boats running all-year-round, they’re much less frequent in the winter. Tours and fishing trips are also available.

Day 2 - Olhao Tour Map

Day trips from Olhão

  • Faro: About 20 minutes west of Olhão is the capital city of the Algarve, Faro. Enjoy a stroll through the old town, visit the Faro Cathedral and take a boat trip to the nearby beaches.

  • Tavira: Travel east to the picturesque town of Tavira, known for its churches and stunning beaches. Enjoy a drink at Praça da República, climb up to the walls of the castle, and enjoy an evening stroll along the Ponte Romana overlooking the Gilão River.

  • São Brás de Alportel: Head inland to São Brás de Alportel, a charming town nestled amid the hills of Serra do Caldeirão. Explore the town centre, visit the parish church and take in the views from the numerous viewpoints located along the way.

Things to do with kids in Olhão

Olhão has a variety of family-friendly attractions. The municipal garden near the train station offers the perfect setting for a morning stroll or a picnic. To learn more about the local cuisine, you can visit Olhão’s market, where fishermen sell their fresh catch every day. From the marina, you can hop on a boat to the nearby islands of Culatra and Armona, where a string of sandy beaches await you. The islands are part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a protected area that is home to diverse flora and fauna. Kids can enjoy a swim here and observe the wildlife on a boat or kayak tour. It’s also possible to hike around the area. For more information on trails, you can head to the park’s visitor centre at Quinta de Marim.

Where to eat in Olhão

Fresh fish and seafood take centre stage in Olhão, the largest fishing port in the Algarve. Fish is slowly cooked over charcoal, and there are numerous stews to sample, like the cataplana or the razor clam rice. Among the top dishes here are the xarém com conquilhas, a thick corn soup with clams and raia alhada (ray fish seasoned with lemon, garlic and coriander). Below are some of the best places to eat in Olhão:

  • Chá Chá Chá: Just a few steps from the local market, this casual restaurant offers a great selection of fish and seafood. The owner picks up fresh ingredients from the market and curates the menu according to the seasons. Highlights include the marinated anchovies, tuna steak and sardines.

  • Casa Corvo: Grilled fish and fresh prawns are the speciality at this local restaurant in Fuseta. The fish is simply seasoned with a dash of olive oil and salt and accompanied by softly roasted potatoes.

  • Vai e Volta: This lively spot is famous for its rodízio de peixe grelhado (grilled fish buffet). The deal is only available for lunch and includes a variety of fish, plus bread, olives, potatoes and salad.

  • Pitéu da Baixa Mar: Set along the waterfront, this place serves delicious fish and seafood dishes. Don’t miss the cataplana, a seafood stew made with a generous portion of clams and shrimp.

Where to stay in Olhão

  • Real Marina & Spa Hotel (5 stars): Set near the marina, this luxurious hotel offers comfortable rooms with stunning views of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It features a rooftop swimming pool, a spa and multiple restaurants.

  • Octant Vila Monte (5 stars): Close to Moncarapacho is this picturesque farmhouse tucked away among citrus trees and olive groves. It is a peaceful retreat with modern rooms, a swimming pool and a farm-to-table restaurant.

  • Hotel Cidade de Olhão (3 stars): Just a few steps from the Olhão train station is this affordable three-star hotel. Guests have access to a swimming pool and a terrace with panoramic views of the town and Ria Formosa. It is also within walking distance of the town’s top attractions.

Fancy a vacation rental instead of a hotel? Here is our selection of the best vacation rentals in Olhao.

Best time to visit Olhão

The best time to visit Olhão is around summer. The days are warm enough for a swim, and there are plenty of events to keep you busy during the evenings. However, it is the peak season, so expect busy hotels and restaurants. If you decide to come at this time, be sure to book your accommodation as early as possible. Spring and autumn offer milder temperatures and fewer crowds. It is the ideal time for a hike, and if you're lucky, you can also squeeze in a swim. Winter is the quietest season, but it is pleasant enough to explore the town’s attractions and enjoy the peaceful streets.

Olhão Festivals

  • Carnival: The village of Moncarapacho hosts one of the oldest carnival celebrations in the Algarve. The festivities take place around February/March and include colourful parades and street parties.

  • Festival do Marisco: In August, Olhão organises the Festival do Marisco, a seafood festival where you can enjoy local specialities, such as grilled fish, clams and oysters. There are also live music performances every night.

  • Feira de São Miguel: This traditional fair has been around since the 18th century. Held in late September, it features food stalls and amusement rides for all ages.

  • Festa de Nossa Senhora do Rosário: This religious festival takes place in early October, honouring Our Lady of the Rosary, the patron saint of Olhão. The event includes processions, religious ceremonies, and traditional music.

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