Olhao

Travel Guide
Olhao which includes a city and a sunset

Olhão is a city in the eastern Algarve, home to the interesting island of Armona, which is part of the nature park, Ria Formosa, and the popular Fuseta and Armona beaches. It’s also home to the largest fishing port of the region.

Despite the industrial look of the city, with its warehouses and fishing boats, Armona Island has a stunning large golden sand beach, attracting tourists who seek an alternative beach destination in the region. People flock here for the fishing, diving and snorkelling, or to simple sizzle under the sun away from the larger crowds.

HistoryEvidence suggests that area that now makes up Olhão has seen human occupation since pre-historic times. However, the first documented evidence of a settlement proper dates back to 1378, in which it’s referred to as “Olham”. Why not experience the town’s history yourself and visit its historic centre with Moorish-style houses, influenced by its commercial past trading with North Africa.

In the middle of the 17th century the town became a popular and prosperous fishing port. The protection provided by the construction of São Lourenço Fortress encouraged local fishermen to settle here as it reduced the risk of coastal attacks. Currently the fortress is part of a submerged archaeological site, where you can still see some stones from the ancient walls and three ancient iron cannons during low tide.

Ria FormosaRia Formosa is a nature park dedicated to the conservation of fauna and flora. It’s of particular interest due to the number of migratory birds it attracts, many drawn in by the well preserved natural habitats; these include barrier islands, marshes, mud banks, sand dunes, salt marshes, freshwater ponds and brackish waterways.

The MarketplaceThe marketplace is the perfect place to visit if you’re staying in a self-catered apartment. There are two market buildings along the waterfront selling an exceptional variety of fresh seafood and locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. Why not try your hand at making a local classic?

Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and Olhão City MuseumAcross from the market halls in the Praça da Restauração is the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário. This baroque church was the first stone buiding in Olhão, built back in 1698 by the local fishermen. The building behind the church was the fishermen's mutual society, but is now home to the Olhão City Museum, which displays archaeological finds dating back to the Copper Age, Bronze Age, Roman and Islamic periods.

Culatra IslandCulatra Island presents visitors with a beautiful sandy beach and ornate old lighthouse, plus great views over the ocean. This is a great spot for fishing too, so rent a rod and, grab a good book and relax while you wait for your catch of the day.

Food and DrinksGrilled sardines and cataplana, a wild combination of clams and paprika, onions and coriander, are just two of the amazing local delicacies you can get around here. Local wines are plentiful and full-bodied too. We recommend Avenida 5 de Outubro, located at the back of the Fisherman’s Gardens and Sea, for a really good meal.

Where to stay in Olhao

Pure Formosa Concept Hotel
Pure Formosa Concept Hotel
Av. da República 34, Olhao, Faro
The price is £42 per night from 19 Jan to 20 Jan
Situated in Olhao, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Ria Formosa Natural Park and Olhao Municipal Market. Olhao Harbour and Ilha da Armona Beach are also ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (19 reviews)
"A gem of a property with an outstanding and helpful staff. The finest place in Olhao!"

Reviewed on 3 Dec 2021

Pure Formosa Concept Hotel
Real Marina Hotel & Spa
Real Marina Hotel & Spa
5 out of 5
Av. 5 de Outubro, 1, Olhao
The price is £64 per night from 27 Jan to 28 Jan
This family-friendly Olhao hotel is located near the beach, within a 10-minute walk of Ria Formosa Natural Park and Olhao Municipal Market. Olhao Harbour and ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (980 reviews)
"The suite we stayed in was huge and spotless, very comfortable all round, breakfast was good and all staff were friendly and polite"

Reviewed on 25 Dec 2021

Real Marina Hotel & Spa
Real Marina Residence
Real Marina Residence
5 out of 5
Avenida 5 de Outubro 2, Olhao
Located in the heart of Olhao, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Ria Formosa Natural Park and Olhao Municipal Market. Olhao Harbour and Ilha da ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (464 reviews)
"Great locations, petfriendly wonderful rooms and service. We'll be back!"

Reviewed on 8 Jan 2022

Real Marina Residence
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Estúdios Salinas
Estúdios Salinas
Largo da Igreja, 1, Fuseta, Olhao
The price is £38 per night from 19 Jan to 20 Jan
Situated by the ocean, this aparthotel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Ria Formosa Natural Park, Praia Fuseta and Golfo de Cádiz. Moncarapacho Museum and Chapel ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (26 reviews)
Great Studio will stay again
"We loved our stay! Friendly staff and attentive! Nice location and very well presented studio."

Reviewed on 3 Dec 2019

Estúdios Salinas
Fuseta wake up to the sea. New apartment with scenic views
Fuseta wake up to the sea. New apartment with scenic views
Rua Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Olhao, Faro District
This family-friendly Olhao condo is located on the waterfront, within 2 mi (3 km) of Ria Formosa Natural Park, Praia Fuseta and Golfo de Cádiz. Ilha da Culatra ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (20 reviews)
Beautiful apartment with a fantastic view!
"We enjoyed our stay in this tranquil apartment. We spent many hours enjoying the view the view from the balcony. The apartment was clean, quiet and well equipped. The grounds of the complex are beautiful and the pool was enjoyable. We hope to return soon!"

Reviewed on 9 Aug 2021

Fuseta wake up to the sea. New apartment with scenic views
LUXURY 3 bedroom apartment with communal  roof top terrace and rear patio
LUXURY 3 bedroom apartment with communal roof top terrace and rear patio
E24, Edificio Brisas, Olhao, Faro District
This family-friendly Olhao apartment building is located on the waterfront, within a 5-minute walk of Ria Formosa Natural Park and Olhao Municipal Market. Olhao ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (11 reviews)
Great Apartment
"This is a very well situated apartment in the old fishing town of Olhao with its cubist architecture. Two minutes walk to the ferry terminal where the ferry will take you to the islands of Armona and Culatra with their beautiful beaches. The famous Olhao fish market it 5 minutes walk along the waterfront ..."

Reviewed on 29 Sep 2019

LUXURY 3 bedroom apartment with communal roof top terrace and rear patio
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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