Beyond Michelin Stars in Lisbon

There are now 37 Michelin-starred restaurants in Portugal, half of which are in Lisbon. Why not branch out of Lisbon and branch into Michelin’s Bib Gourmand category, which guarantees delicious meals at great value? Check out these 27 Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in Portugal and find out why you want to visit the cities they’re located in.

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Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato
I have been fortunate enough to dine at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Portugal, but, I must confess, after the novelty of spending three hours sampling 26 thimblefuls of salmon-flavored shaving cream wears off, it’s all just kind of…long.  And for the love of God, if something is really that good, give me a respectable portion of it!  There. I said the quiet part out loud.
Enter Michelin’s Bib Gourmand restaurants as an alternative.  Even if you’re not a fine dining enthusiast, you probably already know that a Michelin Star is an indicator of high quality, and, usually, high price.  Michelin started awarding stars to restaurants in its now-famous guides to convince us to spend more time in our cars driving to said restaurants, which would then require us to change our tires more often, preferably to Michelin tires, of course.  But what you might not know is that the mascot of the Michelin tire company, known in the United States as the Michelin Man, is known in France as Bibendum, or just Bib.  Hence, the “Bib” Gourmand category.  (Sidebar: for some background on the creepy advertising history of Bibendum – which is not a French word; it’s Latin – check out this article.)
Michelin Man
Bibendum: Less obvious choice for tire mascot.
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man: More obvious choice for monster.
The idea behind the Bib Gourmand designation is to show diners where they can get a good three-course meal at an affordable price.  And the idea behind this post is to crack the door open beyond the Lisbon dining scene, which, yes, is top as the kids in Portugal say nowadays, but it’s not the only scene.  Far from it. 
Below, I list Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in continental Portugal (i.e., not Madeira or the Azores) outside of the Lisbon metropolitan area, ordered from north to south by city.  I also include some interesting sights nearby these restaurants that you might also want to check out, especially if you’re road-tripping and looking for interesting stops along the way.  Links are to the Michelin Guide entry for each restaurant with location and hours, which, for some restaurants, also lets you reserve a table at the restaurant directly via The Fork.  If the restaurant has its own website, I include that as well.  Old school, classic Portuguese restaurants aren’t usually Very Online with a sharply designed, interactive website, but take that as a plus.  They’re busy cooking your food.
And once you’ve picked a destination, check out my post Ordering Portuguese Wine in a Restaurant so you can sail through the process.
A list of cities if you want to skip ahead:

City: Bragança

Braganca

Restaurant: O Javali

A javali is a boar, and O Javali specializes in dishes revolving around boar and wild game typical of the Trás-os-Montes region.  The cordeiro bragançano, or lamb prepared in the style of Bragança, is also worth a taste.  The restaurant is a bit off the beaten path, not in downtown Bragança, but offers a quiet scenic meal in a rustic setting.
Trás-os-Montes was a historical province in northeastern Portugal, now part of the Bragança administrative district, at the northern border with Spain.  About two hours northeast of Porto, Bragança is also the name of the largest city in the district, which tends not to attract quite as much tourism as other areas of the country.  The slogan of its residents, nove meses de invierno e três de infierno (nine months of winter and three of hell) probably doesn’t help, but while the weather can be extreme for Portugal, Bragança boasts some of the most beautiful nature parks in the country, such as the Parque Natural de Montesinho.
[Note: Bragança is pronounced Bra-GAN-sa.]

City: Chaves

Chaves 1

Restaurant: Carvalho

Carvalho also focuses the on cuisine of the Trás-os-Montes region of northeastern Portugal.  It’s one of the few Portuguese restaurants of this caliber run by a woman chef and has been for years.  The arroz de fumeiro, rice with sausages made at the restaurant, is a must.
Chaves is about an hour and a half northeast of Porto.  Culinarily speaking, it’s known for sausages and smoked meats, as well as pastel de Chaves, which is a meat-filled pastry, similar to an empanada but with a flakier crust.  The restaurant is across the street from the Jardim do Tabolado park where you can walk off your meal, and about a five-minute walk from the Chaves castle (castelo de Chaves).  Five minutes in the opposite direction, check out the Trajano Bridge, a Roman bridge from the second century.  There are gorgeous old churches all over the city.
[Note: You’re going to see the words carvalho or carvalhos a lot in Portugal on restaurants, streets, and people’s last names.  It means oak or oak tree, and there’s a lot of them here.  It’s pronounced car-VAL-yo.]

City: Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo

Restaurant: Tasquinha da Linda

Tasquinha da Linda focuses on fish and seafood sourced along the Portuguese coast.  Give the arroz de lavagante or lobster rice a try.  (Rice dishes with meat or fish/seafood abound in traditional Portuguese cuisine.)
Viana do Castelo is a lovely old city stuffed with 15th and 16th century churches and monuments.  The restaurant is near the waterfront, and it’s a ten-minute stroll to the Praça da República, the heart of the historic center.
However, Viana’s claim to fame is the annual Romaria em Honra de Nossa Senhora da Agonia held each August, a series of events and parades in honor of Our Lady of the Agony, part of Christian tradition of venerating Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  (If you’ve ever seen pictures of women in brightly colored Portuguese traditional dresses with head scarves, they were probably from Viana do Castelo.) The ubiquitous gold and silver Portuguese earrings and necklaces you’ll see in many jewelry stores throughout the country are based on the art of filigrana, or Portuguese filigree jewelry, made from finely threaded metal, and the heart-shaped pieces in particular represent the city of Viana do Castelo.  They are always worn for the romaria celebrations.
I wore filigrana earrings for my wedding.  In Greece.  While wearing an Indian sari.  I like to mix it up.
portuguese filigree earrings

Restaurant: Camelo

Camelo is the last name of the owner and also means camel in Portuguese.  (In case you’re wondering, camels are not native to Portugal.  You figure it out.)   It’s located in the village of Santa Marta de Portuzelo in Viana do Castelo – just a ten-minute drive from the Praça da República – and serves food typical of the Minho region, the area in between the Douro and Minho rivers. Start off with some chouriço assado or grilled sausage and move on to the cabritinho mamão da serra d’Arga, or kid goat from the d’Arga mountains of northern Portugal.

City: Guimarães

Guimaraes

Restaurant: Le Babachris

Portugal meets France at Le Babachris, which offers French-inspired traditional meals with a modern take.  The restaurant is moving from its current location to one a few blocks away, so check back for when it reopens.
Guimarães is an old historic city, often referred to as the cidade berço or birthplace of Portugal because the first king of Portugal was born there in the 12th century.   Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and no tour of northern Portugal is complete without it.  The restaurant is across the street from the 18th century Basilica of São Pedro, and about a five-minute walk from the Largo da Oliveira and the Praça de São Tiago, the heart of the old city.  Another five minutes or so further and you’re at the Paço dos Duques, the 15th century palace of the Dukes of Bragança, which showcases furniture and decorative items from the period.
[Note: Guimarães is pronounced Gee-mah-RYE-sh.]

City: Vila do Conde

Vila do Conde

Restaurant: Rio by Paulo André

The emphasis here is on fish and seafood – the chef’s father was a fisherman.  There are two menus de degustação, tasting menus, on offer one of which is entirely dedicated to seafood.  Produce is locally sourced.
Vila do Conde makes for a nice day trip from Porto.   Like Porto, it’s got oceanfront and riverfront on offer, with the Ave river flowing by the restaurant, which is situated near the Praça da República.  (You may be noticing a trend.  Practically every city has a Praça da República.) From there, you’re just a few minutes’ walk to Rua 25 de Abril – rua means street – the heart of the old city. (Practically every city also has a 25 de Abril street to commemorate the April 25, 1974 Revolução dos Cravos, the Carnation Revolution, which overthrew the last remnants of António Salazar’s Estado Novo dictatorship. Salazar died in 1968.)

City: Nogueira (Maia)

Nogueira Maia 2

Restaurant: Machado

Simple, rustic décor and generous portions – it’s classic Portugal at Machado.  The crowd favorite here is the vitela à moda de Lafões, veal prepared in the way of the city of Lafões in central Portugal.
Nogueira is a parish in the city of Maia, part of the Porto Greater Metropolitan Area, about twenty-minutes’ drive from Porto.  Given the cost of housing in Porto, Maia often takes in some of the overflow and it’s a relatively quiet city by comparison.  Every year in the first week of July, there is an artisanal festival in the Parque Central de Maia, a five-minute drive from the restaurant.

City: Porto

Porto

Restaurant: Semea by Euskalduna

Semea is the sister restaurant of the Michelin-starred Euskalduna, the Basque word for someone who speaks euskera, or the Basque language, a nod to the chef’s time working in the Basque region.  (I spent a fantastic birthday dinner at a nearly empty Euskalduna in just-opened-after-covid Porto.  Don’t judge.) Fish, seafood, and local ingredients dominate the menu.  Upstairs seating offers a river view.  For dessert, definitely try the rabanada com gelado de Queijo da SerraRabanadas are a Portuguese staple, a dense French toast-like confection drenched in a Port-based syrup, and gelado de Queijo da Serra is ice cream with Serra cheese. 
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, and if it isn’t already on your travel itinerary, it should be.  Porto is to Lisbon as Chicago is to New York: you can eat, drink, and see almost as many wonderful things but for half the price, though, granted, the weather in Lisbon is a little sunnier. Semea is located the along the marginal or riverfront of the Douro River, a few steps from the Cais das Pedras tram stop on the Linha 1 (Infante – Passeio Alegre) route. It’s about a 25-minute walk from the Sé do Porto, the main cathedral downtown flocked to by tourists, and there’s plenty to see along the way if you prefer to go by foot.

Restaurant: In Diferente

In Diferente’s chef is a woman from Brazil, which makes the restaurant doubly unique on this list.  A more modern take on classic Portuguese fare, the focus is on locally-sourced seafood.
In Diferente is located in Foz do Douro, or just Foz as it’s called in Porto, the old money – and some new – neighborhood of Porto.  Historic homes, upscale boutiques, and senhorecas (ladies who lunch) reign. Before or after your meal, head over to Praia da Luz, an oceanfront café, for cocktails.  The service is…spotty but the views are worth the wait.

Restaurant: Gruta

The word gruta means grotto in English, the restaurant name owing to the fact that the main dining room has no natural lighting, though there is an outside patio.  But the lighting doesn’t deter the chef, another Brazilian woman who gives a modern, Brazilian / international accent to the seafood-inspired menu.  Check out the moqueca de peixe – a fish stew made in Brazil and Angola and deliciously imported into many Portuguese restaurants – or the arroz do mar, rice from the sea.
Gruta is on Rua de Santa Catarina, a shopping strip downtown lined with stores and cafés.  It’s a few minute’s walk down the street from the famous Majestic Café from the early 20th century.  Majestic gets pretty crowded with tourists so if you don’t manage to snag a table, you’re also about two blocks away from the Mercado do Bolhão, the old fish and produce market that was renovated recently, and now features food, wine, flowers, and gift sellers in addition to cafés and restaurants. 

City: Carvalhos (Vila Nova de Gaia)

Carvalhos Vila Nova de Gaia

Restaurant: Mário Luso

For 80 years, Mário Luso has featured classic northern Portugal décor and specialized in dishes with Mirandesa DOP beef, which comes from a highly prized breed of cattle raised in northern Portugal. 
Wondering what the difference between DOP and DOC is? DOP in Portuguese means denominação de origem protegida or protected designation of origin, which is an EU label that basically means a food product — usually things like meat, cheese, olive oil, and wine – comes from a specific geographic region and its production follows a certain set of regionally-defined processes.  DOC stands for denominação de origem controlada or protected designation of origin and was originally borrowed in Portugal from the Italian system with the same initials back in the 1950s.  Technically, DOP encompasses everything edible or drinkable that claims a DO status (i.e., denominação de origem), which includes DOC, but Portuguese wine producers have maintained the DOC tradition and DOP is usually reserved for non-wine products.
Carvalhos is basically a neighborhood of the parish of Pedroso, which is at the farthest southern edge of greater Vila Nova de Gaia (the city across the river from Porto).  On Wednesdays from 9 AM to 5 PM is the Feira dos Carvalhos, or Carvalhos street market, on Largo Feira Nova street. It’s a combo of regional foods, antiques, and artisanal products.  From the restaurant, it’s about a 20-minute drive to the Gaia riverfront, home of many of the large port houses and scenic views of Porto.

City: Costa Nova do Prado (Ílhavo)

Costa Nova do Prado Ilhavo

Restaurant: Dóri

Dóri is all about seafood – it’s no coincidence that the restaurant name is the same as the fish voiced by Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo, who spends the whole movie trying not to become dinner.  A dóri is also a traditional cod fishing boat, and the restaurant is located in the old fisherman’s neighborhood.  Start off with some oysters (ostras), cockles (berbigão), razor clams (lingueirão, sometimes called navalhas) or clams (amêijoas)
The Costa Nova is a popular day trip from Aveiro, which is about a 20-minute drive away.  It’s on a sandbar that runs along the Ria de Aveiro, an estuary (sometimes referred to as a lagoon) and boasts restaurants and shops on one side – the pictures of Aveiro houses painted in colorful stripes you might have seen are from here – and lovely beaches on the other. 

City: Salreu (Estarreja)

Salreu Estarreja

Restaurant: Casa Mattos

A family business for more than 100 years, Casa Mattos is a husband-and-wife team known for traditional petiscos (the Portuguese version of Spanish tapas) and family-style or shared meals.  Try the feijoada de coelho bravo, bean stew with rabbit, followed up with ovos moles for dessert, which are typical of the region.  (See here for my take on the extraordinary number of eggs in Portuguese desserts like ovos moles.)
Salreu is a parrish of the city of Estarreja, about 20 minutes northeast of Aveiro.  The region is known for its ceramics, and the restaurant is about a ten-minute walk from the BioRia Estarreja, a series of scenic bike and walking trails along the Ria Aveiro estuary.

City: Águeda

Agueda

Restaurant: O Típico

Simple, old-school Portuguese décor and traditional Portuguese fare.  The octopus dish polvo à lagareiro is a must.  A lagareiro was a traditional worker who pressed olives in the production of olive oil, and any dish served à lagareiro typically has a lot of it.
Águeda is about 45 minutes east of Aveiro, which is about an hour south of Porto. Águeda was historically a stop along the caminho Português de Santiago, a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Over the summer, colored umbrellas are hung over various streets in the historic city center near Rua Luís de Camões, which is just a few minute’s walk from the restaurant. Águeda’s other claim to fame is the largest lit-up Santa Clause in the world.

City: Tonda (Tondela)

Tonda Tondela

Restaurant: 3 Pipos (sometimes written as Três Pipos)

A pipo de vinho is a small wine barrel, and there are three pipos in each room of this classic restaurant in business for more than 30 years.  Start off with some pataniscas (cod fritters) and keep the cod theme going with bacalhau com broa, or cod with a breadcrumb topping.
Tonda is a parrish of the city of Tondela, about 25 minutes southwest of Viseu.  Tondela’s main attraction is the Serra do Caramulo, a mountainous region about a half-hour drive from the restaurant. There are various hiking trails and small villages dot the landscape.  

City: Covilhã

Covilha

Restaurant: Taberna a Laranjinha

Rustic décor and traditional cuisine with some modern touches, featuring dishes made for sharing.  Try the estaladiço de morcela beirã, a crunchy, fried blood sausage, and don’t leave without trying a tábua de queijos (cheese board) and some fabulous Serra da Estrela cheese.
Covilhã is at the southeast base of the Serra da Estrela mountain range, the tallest mountains in Portugal. Covilhã is a bit cooler than the coastal cities of Portugal, but doesn’t usually get snow in winter.  You’d have to be in the mountains for that, such as skiing at the only ski resort in Portugal, the Serra da Estrela Ski Resort or visiting the highest point in Portugal, Torre.  (I was up there once in September and it was so windy I could’ve blown right off.)  Covilhã is also known for its wool production, and you’ll find stores offering sweaters and coats from Covilhã wool here and throughout Portugal. The restaurant is located in this historic center of the city, a few minutes walk from the 16th century Igreja de Santa Maria, a church covered in beautiful blue tiles.
[Note: Covilhã is pronounced co-veel-YA.]

City: Cantanhede

Cantanhede

Restaurant: Marquês de Marialva

The restaurant is named in honor of the first Marquês de Marialva, a local nobleman from the 17th century, though the fourth Marquês was more famous as an accomplished horseman.  Traditional Portuguese dishes reign at the restaurant, particularly bacalhau à lagareiro, or cod in olive oil (see above on the origin of this word).
About a half hour northwest of Coimbra, Cantanhede is a city in the Bairrada wine region (i.e., that’s a DOC or denominação de origem controlada, one of the 31 Portuguese wine regions).  The restaurant is about a 15-minute walk from the Adega de Cantanhede winery, a cooperative association with over 500 wine producer associates responsible for about 80% of all the wine produced in the Bairrada DOC.  Groups of six or more persons – 20 or more on weekends – can take guided tours of the winery by filling out this online form.
[Note: Cantanhede is pronounced Can-tan-YED-ih.]

City: Coimbra

Coimbra

Restaurant: Solar do Bacalhau

As the name suggests, Solar do Bacalhau is all about bacalhau, or cod.  If you’re new to cod in Portuguese cuisine, start off with some bolinhos (cod croquettes) or pataniscas (cod fritters), which are old standards almost everywhere. Cod is prepared in innumerable ways in Portugal, but you can think about it in terms of two basic styles.  One is cod served as a simple filet, occasionally with another ingredient or two, either as a tall, thick piece taken from the center of the fish (lombo) or as a shorter, thinner piece taken from the sides (posta).  The other style is cod shredded and mixed into a sort of casserole, as in bacalhau com natas (cod in a cream sauce with potatoes) or bacalhau à brás (cod mixed with fried potato strings).  Solar do Bacalhau offers both.
Coimbra is one of the oldest cities in Portugal, and it’s the home of the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe, dating back from the 13th century.  The restaurant is located in the lovely historic city center, just a few blocks from the Mondego River, which offers a pleasant river walk.  The University of Coimbra is about 15 minutes away on foot and is worth a look.
I recently had a lovely meal at the Lisbon outpost of Solar do Bacalhau, and the manager told me a new restaurant opening in Aveiro is in the works. Stay tuned.
[Note: Bacalhau is pronounced bah-cal-YOW.]

City: Marrazes (Leiria)

Cantanhede

Restaurant: Casinha Velha

For traditional Portuguese cuisine, Casinha Velha is a point of reference in the region.  Start off (or finish up) with a tabuleiro de queijos DOP (cheese board with DOP cheese; see above for an explanation on DOP).  Classics include arroz de pato (rice with duck; or “duck rice” as we call it at home, where my kids could eat it by the bucketful), capão assado (roasted capon), and cabrito assado (roasted kid goat). 
Marrazes is a parish of the city of Leiria, about half hour south of Fátima.  The restaurant is about a seven-minute drive from the Castelo de Leiria, a medieval castle later adopted into a palace, which was uncommon at the time.  Five minute’s walk from the castle you’ll find the Praça Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, which is lined with cafés.  If you’re looking to get your nature on, check out the Pinhal de Leiria, a pine forest, about a half-hour drive from the restaurant near the coast. In the 13th century, the fifth king of Portugal, D. Afonso III, ordered the pines to be planted to impede the sand dunes on the coast from eventually reaching the castle.  It’s sometimes called Pinhal do Rei, the king’s pine forest, because of it.  During the widespread forest fires of 2017 in Portugal, more than 85% of the forest was destroyed.  Although it has recuperated, you can still see smoke scars on the trees that survived.

City: Abrantes

Abrantes 1

Restaurant: Casa Chef Victor Felisberto

The specialty here is traditional Portuguese cuisine, especially wood fire cooked meats. A crowd favorite is their cabrito assado, roasted kid goat.  They sometimes have fado music performances during the dinner hours.
Abrantes is a small city about 45 minutes east of Fátima, the world famous religious pilgrimage site.  Abrantes is famous for olive groves – with some of the oldest olive trees in Portugal, and you can now sponsor one to help pay for its care and get some olive oil in the process – as well as sweet baked goods, especially palha de Abrantes, which uses a crazy number of eggs, just like many typical Portuguese desserts I’ve written about before.  The 12th-century church of São Vicente is a 15-minute walk from the restaurant, and the Abrantes castle is about five minutes from there.

City: Portalegre

Abrantes 2

Restaurant: Solar do Forcado

A forcado is a Portuguese bullfighter, but Portuguese vs. Spanish bullfighting is a very different affair because in Portugal the bull is not killed.  The forcados are a group of eight men who subdue the bull at the end of the fight with no horse or weapons. At Solar do Forcado, the décor revolves around the bullfighting tradition that is still prominent in the Portalegre area.  The lombelo de touro bravo, aged beef loin, is a must.
Portalegre is about an hour’s drive east of Abrantes, near the Spanish border and the Serra da São Mamede mountains.  The region is famous for its tapestries, and the restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the well-regarded Museu da Tapeçaria, the tapestry museum, in the historic city center.  Five minute’s walk from there you’ll find the Sé de Portalegre, the city’s 16th-century cathedral.

City: Santarém

Santarem

Restaurant: Ó Balcão

Modern, fish and seafood focused, and one of the more interesting restaurant concepts you’ll come across in Portugal: the chef collaborates with local researchers to build dishes around invasive fresh water species so that native species can thrive.  Special mention goes to the cremoso de caranguejo e lagostim do rio, a creamy crab and river crayfish dish.
Santarém is about 40 minutes south of Fátima and an hour northeast of Lisbon.  It’s often referred to as the capital do Gótico, or Gothic capital of Portugal, and it’s chock full of churches and buildings from the period (roughly the 12th through the 16th centuries in Europe).  Principal among these is the Sé Catedral, about a ten-minute walk from the restaurant. 

City: Évora

Evora

Restaurant: Dom Joaquim

Traditional regional cuisine from the Alentejo is on offer here, especially pork.  The standout is the bochechas assadas, roasted pork cheeks, but the borrego no forno, oven-roasted lamb, is not to be missed.
Évora is the gorgeous capital city of the Alentejo region, about an hour and a half east of Lisbon, and is another UNESCO World Heritage site.  I once visited Évora in a sweltering August, and for sure a 106-year-old blowing through a straw could have produced cooler air than the hotel AC, but still, Évora is a great visit. It’s often called a cidade-museu, a museum city, because the city itself is the museum.   The restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the Praça do Giraldo, lined with white-washed buildings and the Igreja de Santo Antão, a 16th century church.  Beyond Évora, the Alentejo is primarily an agricultural zone, famous for olives, livestock, and wine, but increasingly swank turismo rural, rural tourism, if you’re looking to get away from it all.

City: Lagos

Lagos

Restaurant: Avenida

Sleek, modern décor with internationally inspired cuisine, Avenida is probably the only Bib Gourmand restaurant on this list that has caviar on the menu. Still, there’s plenty of reasonably priced dishes with seafood and beef.  The oysters and beef tartare (bife tártaro) come highly recommended.
Lagos is near the western-most tip of Portugal and was a major port city during the Age of Discovery.  It has a reputation as being a surfer-hippy paradise, thought there are plenty of grownups walking around – and plenty of upscale destinations.  There are also many beaches with incredible rock formations in the area, but it can get pretty windy.  The restaurant is near the marina, and makes a lovely ten-minute stroll to the Praça Luís de Camões in the historic city center.

City: Albufeira

Albufeira

Restaurant: O Marinheiro

A mix of Portuguese and Mediterranean dishes, O Marinheiro is a more modern take on traditional cuisine.  The restaurant is steps away from the Praia da Coelha beach, which also has some interesting rock formations.
Albufeira is the fourth-largest city, by population, in the Algarve, after Loulé, Faro, and Portimão.  A tourist hotspot, Albufeira is especially known for its night life. Personally, the tremendous geographical variety of Portuguese beaches makes beach hopping near Albufeira a more enjoyable activity to me at this stage of the game than clubbing.  However, all of it gets mighty crowded in the summer, so if you’re looking to avoid the hoards, Albufeira is more enjoyable if you skip it in July and August.  If you’re 20, it might be more enjoyable if you go in July and August.

City: Tavira

Tavira

Restaurant: À Mesa

Modern, Portuguese-inspired cuisine, the food is regional with an emphasis on seafood. An extensive list of cocktails can start you off, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Tavira is a beach town about a half-hour from the Spanish border.  The best beach is Praia de Cabanas on the Ilha de Cabanas, or Cabanas Island.  (Simple boat ferries from the mainland run all day.) The ocean temperature tends to be substantially warmer in Cabanas than, say, Albufeira so if you pick your beaches by what your favorite ocean temperature app says, Cabanas will probably be where you want to be.

City: Faro

Faro

Restaurant: CHECKin

A more modern take on regional cuisine, CHECKIn innovates by collaborating with researchers to incorporate microalgae into its dishes.  Try the cavala e carabineiro, mackerel and prawn, which showcases this technique.
Faro is the second largest and the capital city of the Algarve.  Since it’s also home to the region’s main airport, it sometimes serves as a launching pad for visitors headed to other Algarvian destinations, but there’s more on offer in Faro than just being a travel hub.  Besides the historic city center and the marina, Faro is situated on the bank of the Ria Formosa nature park, a saltwater estuary with marshy areas.  There are several lovely beaches in the area, and you can take a ferry to the Ilha do Farol, the lighthouse island, which has a gorgeous beach, too.  The restaurant is just a few minute’s walk to the ferry terminal, and they run about every 90 minutes.
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