From the home you can be in Portugal in under an hour. In fact, because of the time difference, you could actually be there before you left!
Vila Real de Santo António
The original town was destroyed by a tidal wave in the early 17th century and stood devastated until 1774. It was then rebuilt in just five months, laid out on a grid plan by the Marques de Pombal, famous for redesigning Lisbon after the Great Earthquake of 1755. The riverside embankment is lined by grand hotels and scores of restaurants and shops. The stately square in the middle of the town is paved in black and white stripes radiating from the centre in an unusual sunray format.
A fortress town situated upstream from Vila Real de Santo António. At Castro Marim there are two huge castles to explore which are situated on the hills overlooking the fishing town. The main castle to the north of the town was built in 1319. You can walk all the way around the castle by a rampart walk, with views down to the town. On the opposite hill lies the Sao Sebastiao fortress which dates form the 17th century and is part of a much bigger complex of defensive walls that survive only in parts around the town. Both castles were built as bases to defend the entrance to the Río Guadiana.
Originally called Monte de Ouro (Gold Mount) because of its wealth from the sea and abundance of fish. A lively resort, but one of the main reasons for coming to Monte Gordo is the 20km beach with its numerous makeshift timber cabins sitting along the sands from which local fisherman sell their catch. The nightlife is very lively and cosmopolitan, with folk dance evenings, Spanish nightclubs and a celebrated casino which is virtually on the beach.
Situated on the banks of the Río Gilao and with over 30 churches, Tavira is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt towns in the Algarve. The Moorish castle has amazing views over the town and is situated next to the church of Santa Maria do Castelo, which was rebuilt after the original church was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. The river, which flows through the town centre, is crossed by numerous bridges including one that dates from Roman times. The coast here fragments into a series of spits, lagoons and barrier islands, which together constitute the Ria Formosa nature reserve. A visit to the beach means a ferry boat ride across to the Isle of Tavira.