Interestingly most of the holidays we sell to the Algarve are located on the West towards Lagos and Sagres, so this Easter I decided to explore the Eastern side of the Algarve towards the Spanish border and the towns of Tavira and Vila Real do Santo Antonio.
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a small city nestled between the Atlantic and Guadiana River with views across the river to Spain. It’s a relatively new city, initially developed as a frontier with Spain but today it’s a popular and lively city attracting tourists seeking history, culture and a mix of local restaurants and shops. It’s only a 45 minute drive from Faro airport but I have to confess I was extremely concerned as we pulled off the main motorway and headed towards the coast. Driving through the salt plains and the fish canning industrial area before reaching this little haven which reminded of the South of France.
My main interest was to visit the Grand House which is a Relais Chateaux property overlooking the marina and the Guadiana River. An immaculately restored building with its’ interiors inspired by the Roaring Twenties. Each of the guest rooms is individually and elegantly decorated and to my surprise it was ‘animal/dog friendly’, so they get many European guests travelling with their furry friends!
Grand House, Tavira
Each guest is provided a complimentary bicycle so they can explore the local area, although cycling down the winding cobbled streets could be a challenge!
I was encouraged to take the short journey to visit their Grand Beach Club (approximately 15 minutes by bike), which is located on a small, sandy beach and comprises of an infinity swimming pool, cocktail bar, stylish waterfront restaurant, cosy library and wellness suite. You could very easily think you were in the Caribbean.
Vila Gale, Tavira
Now heading East along the Algarve on the main A22 to Tavira, an old town with a pretty maze of cobblestone streets, whitewashed churches, shady squares and traditional Portuguese architecture with pyramid-shaped rooftops. I visited a couple of hotels in Tavira, both located in the centre and ideal for exploring the Eastern Algarve.
The Vila Gale hotel is modern but Moorish-inspired and offers comfortable spacious rooms, ideal for families with a large outdoor swimming pool and childrens’ pool and play area. Definitely not a hotel I would recommend for those seeking a quiet restful property.
Pousada Convento de Tavira
In contrast the Pousada Convento De Tavira is a converted 16th Century convent, centrally located next to the main church at the top of the hill (Tavira is very hilly so make sure you have your walking shoes!). The guest rooms are elegantly but simply decorated with lots of natural light and views over the courtyard patio or the garden. Some of the larger rooms feature a small balcony.
This boutique property is ideal for those looking to explore the historic town of Tavira and take in the local area.