5 Hour Activities


RESTAURANTE BOIA BAR
​101 ​Rua dos Pescadores, Salema
+351­-282-695-382
boiabar.com

PALEONTOLOGICAL PERAMBULATIONS

  • Explore an untouched village and watch fishermen mend nets by the beach
  • Go beyond the village streets to find dinosaur footprints preserved in time
  • Dine at a quaint restaurant with sparkling sea views and fresh catches, every day

Long before tourists were treading the quaint, bougainvillea-­lined streets of the Algarve, dinosaurs were leaving their footprints in the butter­-yellow limestone rocks on the edge of an unspoiled fishing village called Salema. It’s a ways down the coast from the Conrad—the best part of an hour—but it allows a glimpse at the wild western side of the Algarve, where scrub and sand dunes are covered in carpets of flowers, and little white houses have the traditional blue trim to ward off the devil. Salema has been particularly untouched by time; the streets are still cobblestoned and the fishermen still sit mending their nets near the beach. The dinosaur footprints, discovered in 2001 by geologists from Lisbon University, come from a ​herbivorous biped: a three-­toed creature whose rounded toes, with no claws, point to the fact that it was a vegetarian. As you face the sea, you need to explore the rocks on your right to find the footprints (there are no signs). Next, stop at Bóia ​restaurant for lunch. It’s a rough­-and-­ready place with paper tablecloths (don’t even bother to ask them to fillet the fish), but the view onto the sparkling azure sea and the freshness of the day’s catch are worth the journey alone. Try a robalo, or sea bass, simply grilled with a drizzle of local olive oil.
Make your way down the coast to the fishing village of Salema, which is about an hour from the Conrad but worth the trip. When you’ve explored all the cobblestone streets and soft beaches, head to Bóia Bar Restaurant. It’s located on the quaint street of Travessa do Miramar, right on the beach.

RESTAURANTE BOIA BAR
​101 ​Rua dos Pescadores, Salema
+351­-282-695-382
boiabar.com

QUATRO ÁGUAS
Sitio das Quatro Águas, Tavira
+351-281-381-272
12:00 pm-3:30 pm, 7:30 pm-10:30 pm Tuesday to Sunday

SANTA MARIA DO CASTELO
Calçada da Galeria, Tavira
7:15 pm Monday-Saturday, 11:30 am Sunday

IGREJA DA MISERICÓRDIA
Travessa do Fonte, Rua da Galeria, Tavira
open 9:00 am-1:00 pm; 2:00 pm-6:00 pm daily

VISIT THE PRETTIEST TOWN IN THE ALGARVE

Widely considered the most attractive town in the Algarve, with churches far outnumbering hotels, Tavira—a 40-minute drive away—is well worth a day trip. Layer upon layer of the region’s history are revealed by a walk through its streets. A few must-hit spots include the famous seven-arched “Roman” bridge spanning the Gilão River (now considered more likely to date from the Moorish occupation in the 12th century). Then, climb the hill in the old Arab center to the Moorish castle, followed by a visit to the Renaissance-era Church of Misericórdia, with its lovely doorway topped by saints Peter and Paul. On the Rua da Liberdade, you’ll see unique houses with pyramid-shaped roofs. Some say these clay-tiled roofs with their upturned eaves were brought from the East, while others think they were fashioned to let the sudden downpours of the Algarve run off them more easily. Rather than trying to visit all 37 churches, be selective. One not to miss is the 13th-century Santa Maria do Castelo, built on the site of a Moorish mosque, with its iconic clock tower remodeled from the original Muslim minaret. For lunch, head slightly out of town, past the sparklingly white salt pans, to Quatro Águas. It’s Tavira’s best restaurant, and hugely popular with locals, so make sure to book ahead. It’s all about seafood here so definitely start with the house specialty of migas (soaked bread), perhaps migas de lingueirão (razor clams). Their cataplanas are also legendary, with their tender chunks of lobster, langoustines, and prawns.

QUATRO ÁGUAS
Sitio das Quatro Águas, Tavira
+351-281-381-272
12:00 pm-3:30 pm, 7:30 pm-10:30 pm Tuesday to Sunday

SANTA MARIA DO CASTELO
Calçada da Galeria, Tavira
7:15 pm Monday-Saturday, 11:30 am Sunday

IGREJA DA MISERICÓRDIA
Travessa do Fonte, Rua da Galeria, Tavira
open 9am-1pm; 2pm-6pm daily

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING

  • Take a sightseeing tour just for you, curate a hit-­list of can’t-­miss historical sights
  • See landmarks like a 12th-­century cathedral and a hill town famous for honey

Tours from Bike My Side ​are a huge success in Lisbon, where the innovative company’s vintage black sidecars negotiate the steep and narrow streets, showing visitors the highlights of the capital. Now the concept has come to the Algarve—and partner Delfim Martins will tailor a sightseeing tour just for you. We suggest an historical drive starting in medieval Silves, with its impressive 12th­-century cathedral as well as its imposing Moorish castle which dominates the surrounding landscape of orange groves. Continue onward to the hill town of Monchique, famous for its local honeys, its Medronho (aguardente made from the fruit of the area’s many arbutus trees) and its thickly cut slices of presunto. Do visit the town’s early-­16th-­century igreja, or church, for its pretty Manueline doorway of stone columns resembling knotted rope. This style of architecture, named after Manuel I the Fortunate, King of Portugal and the Algarves, incorporates maritime references—a nod to the vast wealth being brought home from overseas by the Portuguese navigators during that era. From here, climb further up the wooded mountain range to the Algarve’s highest point, Foia, where, beyond the olive trees and cork groves, shimmers the distant sea.
With a variety of tours available, we recommend starting in Silves, continuing to Monchique and heading up to Algarve’s highest point. Once you book your sidecar tour, Bike My Side will let you know where to go to start your cool ride.


REI DAS PRAIAS
Praia dos Caneiros, Ferragudo
+351-282-461-006
restaurantereidaspraias.com/

RESTAUTANT ANTONIO TÁ CERTO
Avenida da Praia, Ocean Club – Vale do Lobo 8135-170
+351-289-396-456

A LEISURELY BEACHFRONT LUNCH

  • Steal away, up the coast to a restaurant on stilts in a small uncrowded cove
  • Relax on the luxurious daybeds atop the soft sand for a post-meal siesta
  • Have dinner at a beach eatery that specializes in clams and sardines

Everyone has their favorite beach; the soft golden sands of Portugal will spoil you for the pebbles of so much of the rest of Europe (even if they are washed by the chillier Atlantic). On the west coast, you need to be careful of the powerful undercurrents—but if you’re a surfer, that’s the place for you. For a more leisurely outing, we suggest heading to the amazing Rei das Praison Caneiros Beach, about 40 minutes away from the Conrad. Caneiros is a lovely cove: small, but not small enough to get crowded. The restaurant stands on stilts cut into the rock and serves the best carabinieri—huge scarlet prawns grilled with a little olive oil—and a perfect sea bream (dorada) with a simple local salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, oregano and olive oil. Their wine list is excellent; try the Covela Rose. After lunch, head to the impossibly luxurious daybeds on the soft sand (courtesy of the restaurant) for a little postprandial siesta. Another great suggestion, just minutes from the Conrad, on Praia de Garrão (one of the three main beaches in the so-¬called Golden Triangle of the Algarve), is the restaurant António Tá Certo, which specializes in fresh grilled fish, which is picked up every morning at the Quarteira Market. (This beach, really an extension of the Quinta do Lago beach, is also known as Julia’s Beach after a local character who started a café here when it could only be reached by horseback).
In the village of Ferragudo, find Rei das Praias Restaurant where the sea meets the land. It’s nestled between two golden cliffs, standing on its signature stilts. If you want to try Antonio Ta Certo, head down Urbanização Vale do Lobo until you see a parking lot. From there, go by foot towards the beach and enjoy the waterfront.

REI DAS PRAIAS
Praia dos Caneiros, Ferragudo
+351-282-461-006
restaurantereidaspraias.com/

RESTAUTANT ANTONIO TÁ CERTO
Avenida da Praia, Ocean Club – Vale do Lobo 8135-170
+351-289-396-456

MAR ILIMITADO
Porto da Baleeira de Sagres
+351-916-832-625
marilimitado.com/

TAKE TO THE HIGH SEAS

  • Enjoy a day out on the waters of the Portuguese coast
  • With marine biologists as your guide, discover dolphins, Minke whales, porpoises and a variety of seabirds

Mar Ilimitado is a brilliant outfit made up of two young, passionate marine biologists, who have studied the waters off this coast and logged its marine life with precision. With them as your guides, depending on the season, you are practically guaranteed to find pods of dolphins; they’re out on these waters so much that they know exactly where to look. The dolphins are more than likely to come and ride in the wake of the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat), allowing you to see them up close. There are also occasional spottings of Minke whales or porpoises or turtles (who are reportedly so shy they will dive down deep when they see the boat). The guides will also show you seabirds such as European storm petrels or Northern gannets. Based in the little harbour off of Sagres, these guides can also take you out around Cape St. Vincent, commonly known as the “end of the world” as it is the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe.
Find the boat dock for your marine life tour at the south-western tip of the Algarve. Hop on N268 and drive south until the highway ends. Then, take the town roads over to the long loading docks and enjoy the open ocean.

MAR ILIMITADO
Porto da Baleeira de Sagres
+351-916-832-625
marilimitado.com/

FORTALEZA DE SAGRES​
Sagres
+351-282-620-140

MAR A VISTA​
Praia da Mareta
+351-282-624-247

RELIVE HISTORY

  • Track the route of early explorers at a historic cape on the far edge of the Algarve
  • Stand on the edge of the 200-foot cliffs of Promontorium Sacrum
  • With gorgeous sea views, enjoy traditional Portuguese fare at a family-run restaurant with wooden interiors and an expansive terrace

Imagine if you were a navigator in the Golden Age of Discovery, when the world lay at your feet and the riches of the spices, the pepper, the cloves, the cinnamon, and the gold dust were within your reach; the seas were uncharted and you were sailing a powerful ship called a caravel and mapping the shape of the world as you went. Head to Cape St. Vincent—named after the legend that says the body of the eponymous saint was washed ashore here in the 4th century—about a 75­-minute drive away on the far edge of the Algarve. En route, you’ll pass the 13th­-century chapel of Our Lady of Guadaloupe near Raposeira (one of the few medieval buildings which survived the earthquake of 1755), where Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460) prayed before sending out his explorers, and stand on the 200-­foot cliffs that the Romans called Promontorium Sacrum (“Sacred Promontory”). It is all too easy to imagine how it all must have felt, as the waves crash beneath you and the horizons entice. In neighboring Sagres, Prince Henry built his School of Navigation and his center for the study of astronomy. Little is left to see, but take a look around the Fortaleza de Sagres ​with its strange stone pattern compass on the ground and dwell for a minute on how the men who studied here, from Vasco da Gama to Magellan, changed the world we live in. To chew on this, head to ​the nearby Mar a Vista​, a typically Portuguese, family-­run establishment with wooden interiors and a terrace with expansive sea views. It offers a delicious catch of the day often courtesy of the patron, Paulo, himself.
Although you’ll have to drive about 75 minutes, you don’t want to miss this historic Algarve experience. Take in the beautiful scenery on your drive to Cape St. Vincent, then explore on foot. Make sure you visit Sagres Fortress and look out over the cliffs. For food, head inland to Rua da Mareta for excellent fresh fish with a view.

FORTALEZA DE SAGRES​
Sagres
+351-282-620-140
MAR A VISTA​
Praia da Mareta
+351-282-624-247

FISH MARKET IN OLHAO
Avenida 5 de Outubro, Olhão

PORTUGAL NO LIMITS​
+351-289-360-662
portugalnolimits.com/

BE A FISHERMAN FOR THE DAY

  • Explore the Algarve’s best fish market, housed in a local landmark
  • Fish for a catch of your own at a nearby pier in a rich, natural lagoon
  • Practice traditional clam fishing methods with a renown local fisherman

You can’t come to the Algarve without exploring the maritime life at its beating heart. Stop first in Olhão​, a major fishing port since the Middle Ages and home to the best fish market in the Algarve: a noisy, atmospheric jumble of goose barnacles and octopus, cuttlefish and sea bream—all housed in an early-­20th-­century red-­brick-­covered building, its turrets a familiar landmark in the town. It’s an easy 30­-minute drive from the hotel. After you’ve seen what the local fishermen have brought in, try for a catch of your own and head out to Rio Formosa. Turn left out of the fish market and there is a pier from where small boats go regularly over to the Rio Formosa National Park, a natural lagoon rich with marine life and wetland birds. This is where you can learn how to dig for razor clams when the tide is out. The best person to give you an overview is Cristina Nugas, from Portugal No Limits,​ who can not only teach you the traditional way to find clams (which she started doing as a child with her grandfather many years ago), but can also explain the life of a fisherman in the Algarve.
Explore the bustling fish market by heading to southern Olhão. At the water’s edge, you’ll find Avenida 5 de Outubro. Look for the early-­20th­-century red brick building that houses the market. Then, explore the nearby Rio Formosa National Park to fish with the pros.

FISH MARKET IN OLHAO
Avenida 5 de Outubro, Olhão


PORTUGAL NO LIMITS​
+351-289-360-662
portugalnolimits.com/

QUINTA DO FRANCES​
​Sítio da Dobra Odelouca, Silves
+351-282-106-303
quintadofrances.com/

QUINTA DO CONVENTO DO PARAÍSO
15 Quinta do Lagar, Apartado, Silves
+351-289-510-460
For wine-tasting appointments, call winemaker Renato Neves directly at +351-96-443-0506.

TAKE TO THE BOTTLE

  • Discover the Algarve’s vineyards to taste why Portuguese wine is making headlines

Portuguese wine is having a moment—and while there’s no question that the Douro, in the country’s north, is the region grabbing the headlines, modern methods of winemaking and a new wave of enologists have considerably upped the quality of wine all over Portugal. Two vineyards which are interesting in the Algarve, and which will give you a good sense of the local offerings, are Quinta do Francês and Quinta do Convento do Paraíso—both within 45 minutes by car from the hotel. Both of them are open for tastings (by appointment), so we suggest creating a mini wine-tasting itinerary that covers a half-day. The Quinta do Francês Syrah Terraços Red 2012 is one of our favorites (in fact, it’s on the menu at Gusto). It’s excellent to drink now, but is also worth taking home to age for 6 to 10 years. The Quinta do Francês White 2014, made with Viognier, is also terrific. At Quinta do Convento do Paraíso (the winery stands in the grounds of a 12th-century monastery, which history relates was built as a celebration of the victory of the Christians over the Moors in Silves), you should try the Euphoria 2013 and the Convento do Paraíso 2013, both well-rounded reds. This new winery is very much one to watch.
If you want to try Quinta do Francês Winery, head to Silves and you’ll see it just off N124. Or, if you prefer Quinta do Convento do Paraíso, follow the same directions to Silves on the A22, turning off at Lagoa. Follow signs to Silves and turn left just before the main bridge into town; you’ll wind along a narrow road beside the river which leads to the big green gates of Quinta do Mata Mouros, where the winery is located. If you continue up the path it will take you to the vineyards—from where there is a beautiful view onto the historic skyline of Silves.

QUINTA DO FRANCES​
​Sítio da Dobra Odelouca, Silves
+351-282-106-303
quintadofrances.com/

QUINTA DO CONVENTO DO PARAÍSO
15 Quinta do Lagar, Apartado, Silves
+351-289-510-460
For wine-tasting appointments, call winemaker Renato Neves directly at +351-96-443-0506.

ESTAMINÉ
Ilha Deserta, Faro
+351-917-811-856
ilha-deserta.com/animaris/estamine-restaurant/
CLAM PICKING EXPERIENCE
€60 per person or €240 for a group of 4

CLAM PICKING AND MASTERCLASS WITH EXECUTIVE CHEF
€180 per person

GO CLAM PICKING

While plenty of intrepid travelers return from European holidays with glorious tales of their culinary adventures, we’d wager that your experience clam picking in the Algarve will beat them all hands down. And our tailor-made itinerary adds a whole new level of luxury. Just a 20-minute drive from the hotel, a boat awaits to whisk you away to a deserted Faro island. Here, perched perfectly on the golden sand dunes, you’ll be welcomed to Estaminé, a restaurant which specializes in superb local oysters from the mineral-rich Ria Formosa lagoon, as well as the freshest sea bass, simply grilled and served drizzled with olive oil. Once lunch is over and the tide is out, it’s time to head out to forage for razor clams in the wet sand (look for a keyhole shape opening in the sand, shake salt onto it, watch them wriggle up and grab) or to dig into the ground for the black clams. Once you’ve gotten enough of them, hop back into the boat which will take you out to where the oysters grow. Here, José, a local fisherman, will shuck oysters straight from the sea; icy-cold white wine will be poured; and you will find yourself in (Instagram) heaven. Throughout, the knowledgeable Cristina Nugas and her team from Portugal No Limits will tell you of the rich marine life and birdlife of Ria Formosa Park and about the world of the Algarvean fisherman. End the day with your very own catch of the day cooked for you back at the Conrad Algarve—or request a lesson on how to do it yourself.

ESTAMINÉ
Ilha Deserta, Faro
+351-917-811-856
ilha-deserta.com/animaris/estamine-restaurant/

CLAM PICKING EXPERIENCE
€60 per person or €240 for a group of 4

CLAM PICKING AND MASTERCLASS WITH EXECUTIVE CHEF
€180 per person