This pretty town in Portugal’s Algarve offers storied places to stay wedged between a coastal nature reserve and the quiet countryside.
Considered the prettiest town in Portugal’s Algarve, Tavira enchants travellers with its hilltop castle, seven-arched Roman Bridge, 30-plus churches and pyramidal houses with their typical four-pointed Pombaline rooftops. But it’s not all man-made attractions; the birdwatching and beachcombing haven of Ria Formosa Nature Reserve lies nearby, as do fields of salt and a golden-sanded island, reached by boat. Need a place to stay? Within converted farmhouses and old fishermen’s cottages, these hotels are those that man (and mother nature) would approve.
Once a tuna fishing camp, these old fishermen’s cottages and warehouses have been skillfully converted into a 161-room eco-hotel. Standing alongside it are a preserved chapel and a museum, depicting how life once was here. Modern facilities include a spa and an indoor pool, but it’s the great outdoors that attracts people here, with endless birdwatching opportunities and sandy beaches a short boat ride away.
This rural farmhouse, set within 18ha (44 acres) of private land, guarantees a holiday where you can unwind. At Hotel Rural Quinta do Marco, you can explore the grounds by biking or walking, bake bread in a traditional wood oven or learn how to cook some of the typical regional dishes. Alternatively, flop by the pool and savour dishes such as chocolate brownies with carob and figs from the garden.
In the heart of the impressively preserved Ria Formosa Natural Park, Cabanas Park Resort comprises 96 simple but comfortable, one- and two-bedroom apartments, equipped with a well-stocked kitchenette. The hotel is surrounded by a garden, inset with a swimming pool. Facilities include a fitness centre and a restaurant serving national and international favourites. The beach is a boat ride away.
About 16km (10mi) inland, Herdade da Corte sits in rural tranquillity in the unspoilt eastern Algarve, amid olive groves and cork trees. The 12 rooms and suites, simply furnished with tiled floors and wooden ceilings, are divided into two houses, surrounded by orange-tree-filled gardens. There is also a swimming pool, and outdoor massages, horse rides and boat tours are all possible on request.
Set within old whitewashed walls, on one of the prettiest squares of Tavira, this hotel brims with charm and a sense of place. Modern art dominates the interiors, while a small, saltwater swimming pool lies in the private courtyard. Meanwhile, each of the five rooms offers a different design experience. The main sights, such as the Roman Bridge, castle and the town’s Moorish quarter are an easy stroll away.
In the unspoilt countryside between beautiful Tavira and Santa Luzia, a town that’s known as the “capital of octopus” due to its local speciality, this little farmhouse offers a studio and a double bedroom for guests to digest. There’s an outdoor pool in the garden, bikes to borrow to explore the surroundings and the family dogs to play with. Expect breakfasts of fruits fresh from the garden and home-made cakes.
New ownership turned this citrus estate – a farm once tasked with producing essential oils – into a country house hotel with 15 comfortable rooms, all of which spill out onto terraces. It has a swimming pool and delicious fresh orange juice (naturally) straight from the garden for breakfast, and there are several beaches within easy reach.
This large Moorish-style hotel of 268 rooms is set around a swimming pool. Standard rooms come with tiled floors and balconies, while suites can accommodate families (there’s also a kids’ club). The restaurant, Aladino, serves Portuguese favourites, such as soup of green beans with mint and bacalhau à brás (salt cod with onions, eggs and fried potatoes). There are also two bars, including one by the pool in summer. The spa hides a hydromassage pool, Turkish hammam, gym and treatment rooms.