Sometimes our travels take us to places we never even knew existed. This happened the first time when we won a trip to "Brazil" and ended up in the quiet village of Santa Catarina. This year we ended up in Fuzeta (aka Fuseta). We ended up here because I was desperate for a beach vacation, but I wanted nothing touristy.
We had done almost a week in Albufeira two months before. What a mistake that was. If you are planning a beach vacay in Portugal, do yourself a favor and stay away from that place. Yes...the beaches are gorgeous...if you can get past the gaggle of drunken British tourists that frequent the city. Albufeira is crowded, loud, and overpriced.
Having made this mistake before, I decided to find the most boring, quiet town I could find. I came upon Fuzeta - mission accomplished. This is not to say that boring and quiet is a bad thing. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. It will make for a great (boringly perfect) vacation (especially with these tips).
Fuseta Travel Tips & Information
Fuseta is a quaint Portuguese fishing village on the eastern coast of the Algarve on the Ria Formosa lagoon. This means that if you're into nature, this is a wonderful home base. I'll start off the post with some information on the park:
The Ria Formosa Natural Park is stunning. If you're into nature - you'll love this place. This protected area is a coastal lagoon which is constantly changing due to the continuous movement of winds, currents and tides. Our vacation rental (found on AirBnB) sat directly in front of the Park. Each morning we'd wake up to a different landscape and fauna. It was quite exciting.
This 18000 hectare park sits along the cities of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António (between 5 barrier-islands and 2 peninsulas);
Faro Island: The official name of this place is Peninsula of Ancão. This is closer to Olhao than it is to Fuzeta, and it is said to be the best beach in the area - sadly, we learned this the day before our departure - so if you end up going - let me know how it is.
Barreta Island: Also called Ilha Deserta.
Culatra Island: This is home to the lighthouse of Santa Maria.
Tavira Island: South of the city of Tavira, this beach can only be reached by boat, which departs from the city center and from Quatro-Aguas.
Cacela Peninsula: It's no longer a Peninsula, but an island since in 2010 nature decided to divvy things up. It's very pretty and even boasts a fortress.
This place is basically heaven for birdwatchers. Something like over 20,000 birds nest there in the winter. It's also a busy migration point between Africa and Europe, so you get to see birds you'd never see elsewhere. The park is also where the Portuguese water dog is said to have originated (we saw dogs frolicking in the national park on a daily basis).
I also loved that every morning, as low tide came in, shellfish farmers would be digging up all the local goodies I'd be eating later.
THINGS TO DO IN FUZETA
1. Dolphin & Whale Watching: You can pick up tickets right where the ferry is at for a one hour excursion to check out these gorgeous sea mamals.
2. Bird Watching: You can do this directly from the beach with no cost, or you can go to the park for a guided tour. Sadly, I had just given up my more serious camera (iPhones take awesome pics, but not so much from far away). Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, bring binoculars and a camera. Species you may see: flamingos, white storks, bustards, kite, shrikes, and more.
3. Golf: There are tons of golf courses in the Algarve. Twenty-two according to our host.
4. Cemitério da Fuseta: I have a thing for somewhat morbid things...this cemetery is gorgeous. There are structures set up to house entire families. It is sad and beautiful at the same time. Definitely check it out.
1. When to Visit: The weather is lovely any time from April through to mid October. We were there in September and I think this would be the best time. The beaches (there are two) were not at all crowded and the water was still warm.
2. Beaches: There are two beaches in Fuzeta. There are many others in the area, but these are minutes away from the center of town on foot.
Praia dos Tesos: The beach in the lagoon is perfectly fine. The water is clean and calm - perfect for a leisurely swim, there is a nearby kiosk where you can buy sandwiches, but that is as far as it goes for amenities. This beach is free.
Ilha de Armona: You could swim there from Fuzeta since it sits right across the lagoon. There are very little waves. I opted to take the ferry which cost 1.60€ and takes only 10 minutes. Once you get there, for 5€ per person, you can rent a chair and umbrella. The water here is also calm and clean. There are two kiosks where you an buy beer, food, and sweets. You can also get a massage on the beach. It's 15 minutes for 15€ (not worth it when I got a 15 minute massage for 5€ in Lisboa).
3. Nightlife: There is no "nightlife" in Fuzeta. Locals will gather at the city's pubs and restaurants, but if you're expecting nightlife...anyway - if you feel the need to party it up a bit, there are plenty of towns nearby where you can party it up a bit.
4. Food Shopping: There are some tiny markets, and a really good Talho (butcher). If you want to go food shopping, hop in your car and head to Olhao. The ride is 10 minutes and they have plenty of supermarkets including Jumbo and Aldi.
5. Dogs: If you are afraid of dogs, I'd suggest staying away from Fuseta. Dogs run loose through the town. I found them quite charming and cute.
GETTING TO FUZETA
Train System in Portugal: There's a train station right on the outskirts of town. We did not partake since we had rented a car, but I was told this train takes you to all the nearby cities and that with a quick transfer you could take the train to Lisboa or Faro.
Planes: The closest airport is in Faro. If you have a car, it will take roughly 30 minutes to reach Fuzeta. You want to get off at Fuzeta-A (not Fuzeta station which will leave you off in the town of Montcarapacho).
WHERE TO EAT IN FUZETA
Fuseta is small. There are maybe 10-15 restaurants in total...most serve the same type of food (no surprise it's Portuguese seafood). This was a bit of an issue with Antonio's allergy. Luckily, we had a great kitchen and got to cook plenty. If you do decide to venture out, check out these places (or go to Pizza na Pedra or 7 Imeo in Olhao).
Casa Corvo & Cafe dos Mestres: Why do I put them together? First, they are nextdoor to each other. Second, they serve the exact same stuff. Basically, each restaurant has a grill. You decide what you are going to eat and everything is prepared the same way: grilled with a touch of salt. Food is relatively cheap here (although in my opinion, more expensive than it should be). Service is nice and they are frequently packed (even off season), so get there early.
Crispim: This one is right outside of Fuseta. Nice outdoor area and cheap, basic Portuguese food. Service is a little slow...but you're there to relax anyway.
A Concha: I'm 50/50 on this one. I was so hoping for French food (the owner is French), but on the night we went he had no French dishes. We had two dishes; a hamburger and a "pizza". The burger was glorious. Cooked properly (mal pasada - rare) and spiked with some sort of sausage. The chef/owner made the blend himself. The pizza...was not much of a pizza. Chef said it was a playful interpretation. Hmmm...yeah...I'd say atrocity. Potatoes with cheese and bacon on top. I had hoped for a tarte flambee. I was bummed. Reviews are pretty good overall...so maybe give it a try. Maybe you'll get lucky and go when he has his famous coq au vin.
WHERE TO STAY IN FUZETA
There are plenty of vacation rentals in Fuzeta. That being said, the town is not "luxury" by any means. If you're not on a budget, I'd suggest you stay at Del Mar Village. This was where we stayed and we could not have loved it more. Our apartment was a 2 bedroom, 3 bath. It was super modern and had a great balcony for us to have our morning coffee (and evening wine). It also came with a gorgeous infinity pool and was perfectly manicured. It was also only $135 USD - incredibly affordable for this type of luxury. There are cheaper places to stay at, but I would not recommend this if you want working air conditioning, hot water, and a pleasant stay.
***BTW - I'd be thrilled if you used myDiscount for Airbnb. You get a $25 Airbnb credit from me. I get $25 when you travel and $75 when you host.
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