Boats on the Gilão River in Tavira, Algarve, Portugal. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)

Regional Signal

The unknown side to Portugal’s famed Algarve


Algarve, Portugal

Portugal’s southern Algarve region is famous with the likes of British and German tourists who flock to its beaches and seaside cities like Largos and Faro.

The combination of sun, frolicking on the beach and nightlife makes for a heady mix.

But if you want to visit the Algarve away from its more boisterous side, there are numerous charming fishing villages to visit along its coastline.

Here you can escape the crowds and find a slower, more old-fashioned side to Portugal’s southernmost region.

The small town of Fuseta in eastern Algarve offers one of the best examples of unspoilt traditional fishing life.

If you’re there early enough in the morning, you may see fisherman loading or unloading their boats for the day.

Alongside the small harbour later in the day, open-air restaurants are grilling fresh fish.

Within the town, Igreja Matriz da Fuseta is a good example of a “small typically styled Algarvian church”, notes We Travel Portugal.

Constructed around 1835 on the site of a much older church, it’s a “unique focal point within the town” that offers a more peaceful refuge once the streets and cafés get busier with beachgoers and visitors.

Praia da Fuseta is the closest beach to Fuseta and a short walk away from the small harbour.

“Owing to it being lagoon-side, the water is warmer, and the waves are non-existent,” notes We Travel Portugal. “It’s a great beach for families with young children and is popular with the locals.”

Another beach option is Praia da Ilha da Fuseta—Fuseta Island beach—which is on the island opposite Fuseta.

“It’s a fantastic stretch of sand,” notes We Travel Portugal.

Regular boat services run from Fuseta marina to Praia da Ilha da Fuseta, with the cheapest options costing only about €2 for a return ticket.

Lying only about 20 kilometres east of Faro, Fuseta makes for an easy daytrip if you are staying in the city and provides much calmer beach options.

As with the overt focus on certain hyped-up places to visit, which all too often leaves out lots of other excellent options, a similar narrow-minded approach applies to the abundance of wines from the Iberian Peninsula.

Span’s Rioja wine often grabs the limelight—and it is undoubtedly a lovely wine. But just as there are many other splendid Spanish wines one might try in addition to Rioja, Portuguese wines are similarly varied, underappreciated and very affordable.

An excellent red wine example is Alentejo, made from or a blend of several Portuguese grape varieties including Argones (Tinta Roriz/Tempranillo), Alicante Bouschet and Alfrocheiro.

The Alentejo region is just to the north of the Algarve, hence you’ll have no problem finding its wines in its southern neighbour as you explore the lesser-known side to the Algarve.

Portugal contains innumerable secret sanctuaries like Fuseta. Such unknown gems illustrate why it pays to roam off the beaten trail now and again.