Vila Real de Santo António
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VILA REAL DE SANTO ANTÓNIO welcomes you to Vila Real de Santo António, a delightful frontier town in the Algarve, sitting gracefully at sea level on the right bank of the Guadiana River. This charming town offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern conveniences. With regular ferries to Ayamonte, Spain, just across the river, Vila Real de Santo António is an ideal day-trip destination filled with adventure and bargains.

One of the most enjoyable activities here is taking a river excursion. These trips offer a peaceful and scenic view of the surrounding areas, taking you as far as Mértola. While the expressway bridge built a few miles north has reduced ferry traffic, the boat trips remain a highlight for many visitors.

Vila Real de Santo António boasts an intriguing architectural heritage. The original settlement was destroyed by a tidal wave following the 1755 earthquake, but the town was swiftly rebuilt by the Marquês de Pombal. He used a grid plan similar to the one in Lisbon's Baixa district, completing the project in just five months. The central grid radiates from the picturesque Marquês de Pombal Square, lined with orange trees, whitewashed buildings, and inviting outdoor cafés.

Stroll down the pedestrianised Rua Teófilo Braga from Avenida da República to explore shops selling everything from linens to electronics. Don’t miss the Centro Cultural António Aleixo, a former market building now hosting vibrant exhibits and films. As you wander through the town, enjoy the riverside gardens offering splendid views across the river to Ayamonte, Spain. Whether you're here for shopping, history, or a leisurely boat trip, Vila Real de Santo António promises a memorable experience in the heart of the Algarve.


Best of the East: Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António

Best of the East: Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António

Embrace the magic of the East Algarve during a guided day trip to Faro, Olhão, Tavira, and Cacela Velha, leaving from the Algarve region. This tour visits the charming Old Town in Faro, the elegant capital of the Algarve. Explore architecture like Tavira Castle, a ruin considered to be from the Neolithic era. Then, enjoy free time to relish the mellow atmosphere in the fishing town of Olhão. Finally, pass by the Gilão River and absorb panoramic views in Cacela Velha, where your tour concludes. Make use of a hotel pickup and drop-off service that covers the Algarve region.

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Full-Day Tour Eastern Algarve Finest

Full-Day Tour Eastern Algarve Finest

Embark on a full-day trip exploring the eastern Algarve's highlights. Starting with hotel pickup in Albufeira, head to Faro, the Algarve’s capital, to visit the charming Old Town and enjoy shopping. Next, explore Olhão, renowned for its famous market and bustling streets. Discover Tavira's cobbled streets, picturesque churches, and Roman Bridge with free time for lunch. Finally, visit Cacela Velha for breathtaking sea views. Conclude the tour with a return to your hotel. Enjoy the best of the Algarve!

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Secrets of the East

Secrets of the East

Discover the secrets of the eastern Algarve on a full-day sightseeing tour. Explore lesser-known gems, including the stunning Ria Formosa estuary. Visit Olhão’s famous fish market and savour a traditional lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, explore the fishing village of Santa Luzia and the picturesque town of Tavira, featuring a historic fortress and Roman bridge. Enjoy the beauty of the eastern Algarve without driving. Admire the Rio Formosa estuary views and experience traditional flavours and charming villages.

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Vila Real de Santo António boasts a rich history and vibrant cultural scene. Founded in 1774 by the Marquês de Pombal, the town was established on the site of Santo António da Avenilha, which had been devastated by a tidal wave in the mid 17th century. Pombal meticulously designed the town in a chessboard layout and populated it with fishermen from Aveiro, fostering a strong maritime tradition that endures today.

At the heart of Vila Real de Santo António is the Praça do Marquês de Pombal, the town's central square. This square is distinguished by its elegant black and white mosaic pavement, which radiates from a striking obelisk erected in 1775 to honour King José I. Amongst the orange trees the square is bordered by charming street cafes, offering the perfect setting to soak in the town’s atmosphere. Leading off from the north side of the square is Rua Teófilo Braga, the pedestrianised main artery leading inland from the riverfront Avenida da República. Along here, a restored market hall now serves as a cultural space. The Centro Cultural António Aleixo (Weekdays 10h00 - 13h00/15h00 - 19h00) is free to enter and is used for temporary exhibits, installations and films. Adjoining streets bristle with local craft shops, especially the local linen, and grocers selling local produce. The municipal market is a great place to explore local customs and cuisine. The riverside gardens offer fine views across to Ayamonte in Spain. The town used to be the main crossing point into Spain, and the ferry terminal still has a grand arched entrance; its importance has declined since the opening of a road bridge over the Rio Guadiana. The Museum of Manuel Cabanas celebrates the works of this famous local painter and wood engraver.

Cultural pleasures abound in Vila Real de Santo António. The town’s architectural heritage reflects Pombal’s vision, blending functionality with aesthetic appeal. Visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls through the well-ordered streets, savour local cuisine at the many inviting eateries, and explore the rich historical context that shaped this unique town. With its blend of history, culture, and coastal charm, Vila Real de Santo António is a unique gem of the Algarve conveniently located only 45 minutes from Faro International Airport.

Vila Real de Santo António aerial shot

|  Vila Real de Santo António aerial shot

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Avenida da República Promenade
Avenida da República Promenade

|  Avenida da República Promenade

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Vila Real de Santo António's waterfront is where history meets scenic beauty in this enchanting corner of the Algarve. As you stroll along the iconic Avenida da República, you'll find a picturesque promenade that perfectly captures the essence of this historic town. The Avenida is lined with stately buildings like the elegant Grande Hotel Guadiana, dating from a time of grandiosity and charm.

A stone’s throw away from the Avenida is the bustling harbour, a hive of activity with boats gently bobbing on the Guadiana River. Here, you can embark on river cruises that reveal the beauty of the Algarve from a new perspective, or hop on a ferry for a swift 15-minute journey across to Spain’s charming Ayamonte. Even if you’re not setting sail, a riverside walk offers breathtaking views of the Guadiana River and the neighbouring Spanish landscape. The traditional Portuguese pavement underfoot adds a touch of authenticity to your stroll.

The waterfront is also a hub for foodies and shoppers, with many delightful restaurants, inviting cafés, and charming boutiques to explore. If your visit coincides with the summer, don't miss the vibrant antique fair, showcasing some of the Algarve's hidden treasures.

Monument to Lutgarda Guimarães de Caires

A highlight of your walk along the waterfront is the monument dedicated to the revered poet, Lutgarda Guimarães de Caires. Born in Vila Real de Santo António, de Caires was a prominent literary figure known for her poignant poetry that addressed societal injustices. Created by the famous Portuguese sculptor João Cutileiro, the statue is a testament to the town's rich cultural heritage and respect for de Caires' literary contributions and social advocacy.

Marquis of Pombal Statue

Another intriguing statue near the harbour is dedicated to the Marquis of Pombal, the town's founder. This modern piece, also sculpted by João Cutileiro, stands proudly by the marina. The statue is a subject of much discussion, as different people see different things in its abstract form, making it a fascinating stop for art enthusiasts.

The Farmer Statue

Adding to the artistic allure of the waterfront is the imposing Farmer Statue, a powerful tribute to the agricultural community. Forged from iron and stone, this striking sculpture captures the essence of the local farmers’ resilience and strength, symbolising the town’s deep-rooted connection to its agricultural heritage.


Near Vila Real de Santo António, you’ll find a selection of stunning beaches that are celebrated for their clean, white sand and warm waters—often a few degrees warmer than other parts of the Algarve. These sandy stretches are particularly popular with both Portuguese and Spanish tourists, making them ideal for a culturally rich beach experience. Here are some of our favourite beaches near the town:

Praia de Santo António

Start your beach adventure at Praia de Santo António, the easternmost beach of the Algarve. This beautiful beach offers pristine stretches of sand backed by undulating dunes, perfect for those seeking a tranquil haven away from the hustle and bustle. To reach this serene spot, you can enjoy a pleasant ten-minute stroll along the Guadiana River or take the scenic route through the pine woods behind the dunes, known as the "Caminho dos Três Pauzinhos." Keep an eye out for the local wildlife, including the elusive chameleons!

During the summer, a charming land train runs from Vila Real de Santo António to the beach, adding a touch of whimsy to your journey. The beach itself is a lovely expanse of pale golden sand bordered by the breakwater at the river mouth on one end and the resort beach of Monte Gordo on the other. Despite its proximity to Monte Gordo, Praia de Santo António remains a quiet retreat, backed by dunes rather than high-rise hotels. As a Blue Flag beach, it offers guaranteed cleanliness and essential facilities, including seasonal lifeguards and a quaint beach shack.

Praia de Santo António: The Eastern Jewel

|  Praia de Santo António: The Eastern Jewel

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Monte Gordo: A Beach Resort Extravaganza

|  Monte Gordo: A Beach Resort Extravaganza

Monte Gordo

A short distance away, Monte Gordo is one of the most popular beach resort towns in the eastern Algarve. Known for its extensive and beautiful sandy beaches, this town attracts a diverse mix of Portuguese, Spanish, and international visitors. The beach of Monte Gordo is a vast expanse of powdery, almost white sand stretching for around 1.5 kilometres, nearly reaching the Spanish border. The central strip of beach in front of the resort is lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants, providing everything you need for a fun-filled day in the sun.

Monte Gordo is also home to one of the three casinos in the Algarve, adding a bit of excitement to your beach holiday. As a Blue Flag beach, Monte Gordo ensures a safe and clean environment with supervised swimming areas and ample amenities, including accessible features for those with mobility issues. Whether you’re sunbathing, dining, or trying your luck at the casino, Monte Gordo has something for everyone.

Praia Verde

For a more serene and peaceful beach experience, head to Praia Verde, aptly named for its lush green backdrop of foliage and trees. Located between Cacela Velha and Monte Gordo, this beach offers a tranquil escape even during the peak of summer. Praia Verde is known for its fine golden sand and calm waters, making it an ideal spot for families and those looking to relax in a natural setting.

Unlike the more developed beaches further west, Praia Verde retains an unspoiled charm with minimal development behind the beach. You’ll find just a couple of cafes and restaurants, mostly hidden among the trees and dunes, offering good food and stunning views. As the tide goes out, small pools of water form in the sand, creating super-warm paddling areas that are a hit with kids. Whether you're strolling along the beach or enjoying a quiet day by the sea, Praia Verde is the perfect spot for nature lovers and peace seekers.

Praia Verde: The Tranquil Green Haven

|  Praia Verde: The Tranquil Green Haven

Praia de Cacela Velha: A Panoramic Paradise

|  Praia de Cacela Velha: A Panoramic Paradise

Praia de Cacela Velha

Finally, don’t miss the breathtaking Praia de Cacela Velha, one of the most beautiful beaches in the eastern Algarve. From the quaint village of Cacela Velha, you’ll enjoy stunning panoramic views of the beach and its adjacent lagoon. A short boat trip across the lagoon from Sítio da Fábrica will bring you to this serene beach, offering a peaceful retreat from the more crowded spots.

Praia de Cacela Velha is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and provides a serene setting with no cafes, lifeguards, or other facilities, making it a perfect escape for those seeking solitude and natural beauty. The picturesque views and tranquil ambience make Praia de Cacela Velha a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the Algarve's natural wonders.


Not far from Vila Real de Santo António, Castro Marim is a delightful gem in the Algarve that offers a perfect mix of history and charm. Once a strategic stronghold, this picturesque village now invites visitors to explore its rich past and scenic beauty. Dominated by its impressive castle, which dates back to the 13th century, Castro Marim provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

For those seeking an adventure on the water, Vila Real de Santo António is the ideal starting point for unforgettable boat trips. Hop aboard and cruise along the scenic Guadiana River, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the natural landscape and spot a variety of bird life. Boat trips from Vila Real de Santo António also offer a unique perspective of the region's picturesque villages and the Spanish border, making for a memorable and relaxing day out. [ More About ► ] Search FlightsImage

Castro Marim - Aerial View

|  Castro Marim - Aerial View

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Pousada Vila Real Santo Antonio

Pousada Vila Real Santo Antonio

Pousada Vila Real Santo Antonio in Vila Real de Santo António is a delightful retreat featuring a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, bar, and shared lounge. Guests are greeted by a welcoming 24-hour front desk and room service, with free WiFi available throughout the property. This charming hotel accommodates families with spacious rooms across two buildings. Note that check-in is at Edificio da Alfândega Nº30.

The air-conditioned rooms come with modern amenities including a wardrobe, safe, flat-screen TV, and private bathroom with a shower. Fresh bed linen and towels are provided. Guests can start their day with a delectable buffet breakfast and enjoy the relaxing terrace. This hotel is a perfect blend of comfort and convenience for a memorable stay in the Algarve.

39 Praça Marquês de Pombal, 8900-231 Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal. | 37° 11' 39.1" N | 07° 24' 56.1" W

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UFitness Hotel

UFitness Hotel

UFitness Hotel in Vila Real de Santo António offers a refreshing retreat with a newly renovated guest house featuring an inviting outdoor pool and charming garden views. Located 28 km from the Island of Tavira, this guest house ensures a secure stay with full-day security and provides a delightful picnic area. Guests can enjoy free WiFi and private parking, along with a sun terrace for relaxation.

The hotel rooms are equipped with spacious wardrobes and some units boast private bathrooms with walk-in showers, complemented by bathrobes, slippers, and hair dryers. Start your day with a delicious buffet or continental breakfast featuring fresh pastries, fruits, and juices. Stay active with in-house fitness classes or enjoy a game of pool. Bike rentals are available for those eager to explore, or you can simply unwind in the serene garden. UFitness Hotel is perfect for a dynamic yet relaxing getaway.

Rua da Horta do Teodoro 10, 8900-327 Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal. | 37° 11' 21.9" N | 07° 26' 18.8" W

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Eurotel Altura

Eurotel Altura

The four-star Eurotel Altura Hotel is perfectly located on Altura's stunning white sandy beach, offering rooms with balconies and breathtaking sea views. A delicious buffet breakfast is included, and the convenience of free on-site parking adds to the appeal.

This hotel boasts a rejuvenating outdoor swimming pool and a wellness spa with hydrotherapy, a Turkish bath, and a themed shower. Fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the gym and the three massage rooms. Guests enjoy direct beach access through the lush garden. Dining options include a restaurant overlooking the pool, a comfy bar, and a café. Families will find special children's areas and a Kids Club with engaging activities. Located just a 15-minute drive from premier golf courses such as Monte Rei and Castro Marim, Eurotel Altura is an excellent choice for both relaxation and recreation.

Av. 24 de Junho, 8950 - 411 Altura, Portugal.
37° 10' 23.8" N | 07° 29' 50.1" W

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Green Buddha
Green Buddha

Green Buddha

Cradled in the heart of Vila Real de Santo António, Green Buddha is a vibrant oasis that effortlessly combines the tranquillity of a zen garden with the flavours of a culinary adventure. Stepping into this delightful restaurant feels like being transported to a serene, exotic retreat. The ambience is a charming blend of contemporary chic and traditional Asian decor, complete with lush greenery that sets the tone for a relaxing and enjoyable meal.

The menu at Green Buddha is an eclectic fusion of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, thoughtfully crafted to take your taste buds on a flavourful journey. The dishes are a feast for both the eyes and the palate, each one beautifully presented with fresh, vibrant ingredients. The Pad Thai is a crowd favourite, bursting with authentic flavours and cooked to perfection. The delicate balance of sweet, salty, and spicy notes makes it a dish that you'll remember long after your visit. For those who love a bit of heat, the Green Curry is an absolute must-try. It’s rich, creamy, and packed with a tantalising blend of spices that will leave you wanting more. And if you’re a fan of noodles, the Pho is a heavenly bowl of goodness; warm, comforting, and brimming with the aromatic flavours of traditional Vietnamese herbs and spices.

The staff at Green Buddha are nothing short of amazing. Their genuine warmth and friendliness make you feel instantly at ease, and their passion for the food shines through in their attentive and knowledgeable service. They’re always ready to offer recommendations and explain the intricacies of the dishes, adding a personal touch to your dining experience. One of the standout features of Green Buddha is its commitment to fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which elevates the quality and flavour of each dish. The vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful, ensuring that there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy. The summer rolls are a light and refreshing appetizer, perfect for kicking off your meal, and the tofu stir-fry is a satisfying and flavorful main course.

The dessert menu is a delightful array of sweet treats that are the perfect ending to a fantastic meal. The Mango Sticky Rice is a particular highlight, with its creamy, sweet, and slightly tangy flavours creating a dessert that's as delicious as it is unique. Green Buddha is more than just a restaurant – it’s a culinary haven where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and indulge in a meal that’s as nourishing for the soul as it is for the body. Whether you’re a local or just visiting Vila Real de Santo António, this is one dining experience you won’t want to miss.

Thursday – Tuesday: 10h00 – 00h00, Wednesday: CLOSE£D
Rua 5 de Outubro 39, 8900-238 Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal. | 37° 11' 38.0" N | 07° 25' 00.5" W
+351 281 512 566

Wow Sushi Bar

Wow Sushi Bar

If you’re in Monte Gordo and craving an exceptional sushi experience, look no further than Wow Sushi Bar. This intimate spot is a hidden gem that offers a delightful blend of fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented sushi. The menu is a treasure trove of traditional and innovative rolls, ensuring that there’s something for everyone. From the classic tuna sashimi to the inventive dragon rolls, every bite is a celebration of taste and texture.

The atmosphere at Wow Sushi Bar is warm and inviting, perfect for a casual meal with friends or a special night out. The staff are friendly and attentive, making you feel right at home from the moment you walk in. Their passion for sushi shines through in every dish, making each dining experience a memorable one.

Sunday: 12h30 - 14h30, Monday: CLOSED, Tuesday - Saturday; 12h30 - 14h30/19h30 - 22h00
Av. Infante Dom Henrique 10 Aparthotel Guadiana, Monte Gordo 8900-413 Portugal. | 37° 10' 47.2" N | 07° 26' 57.9" W

Ristorante Ernesto

Ristorante Ernesto

Snuggled in the heart of Vila Real de Santo António, Ristorante Ernesto is a delightful culinary gem that promises an unforgettable dining experience. The restaurant exudes an intimate and welcoming ambience, perfect for a relaxed meal or a special occasion. Their menu features a delectable array of Italian dishes, each prepared with fresh, high-quality ingredients that capture the essence of authentic Italian cuisine.

From the perfectly cooked pasta to the mouth-watering pizzas, every dish at Ristorante Ernesto is a testament to the chef’s dedication to delivering excellence. The seafood risotto stands out, bursting with flavour that transports you straight to the Mediterranean. And let’s not forget the desserts – the tiramisu is simply to die for! The friendly staff go above and beyond to ensure a memorable experience, offering an attentive service with a warm smile. If you’re in Vila Real de Santo António and looking for a top-notch Italian dining experience, Ristorante Ernesto should be at the top of your list.

Thursday – Monday: 17h30 – 22h00, Tuesday & Wednesday: CLOSED
Av. Da República N 65, Vila Real de Santo Antonio 8900-206 Portugal. | 37° 11' 39.3" N | 07° 24' 51.4" W
+351 925 860 321 | Website

VRSA is 62.7km (39 mi) east of Faro Airport Website


From Faro Airport take the A22 in the direction of Spain. Take the N122 at junction 18 into VNSA
Latitude - 37º 05" 39.0' | Longitude - 07º 53" 42.5'


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Vila Real de Santo António is the last stop on the line. Regional train services (comboios regionais) run from Lagos in the west to Vila Real de Santo António on Portugal's eastern border:
• Lagos - Vila Real de Santo António line: Timetable | Website

• Eva Transportes run services across the Algarve linking the main resorts and towns, as well as a hostess service to Lisbon. Also worth considering are their tourist passes if you're planing to visit different places: Website
#2 and #65 bus services between Faro & Estoi.

• Rede Expressos operates countrywide services: Website