There are many stories told about the Algarve, but rarely are the real, less touristy places in the Algarve – like Castro Marim – talked about. The fact is, the Algarve can be very touristy if you’re in the wrong places. When I say “wrong”, I only mean wrong for those of us who are not looking for crowded beaches, but for the authentic and serene!
Now I have some really good news for you explorers! I have found a place that combines exactly what you are looking for. Rejoice and let yourself be enchanted by the charm of Castro Marim.
Everyone already knows the Sandalgarve and where to find the most beautiful beaches, but few know the small historic town of Castro Marim. I share with you my top 6 sights in this wonderful area of Castro Marim. Enjoy the read!
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Experience Castro Marim on your own
If you want a real authentic experience at Castro Marim, you should rent a car and explore the countryside on your own. This way, you can take your own time to take pictures, sample the culinary highlights and simply relax in this small town on the foothills of the Rio Guadiana known for its salt production and golf club. There’s no organised excursion to book from our hotel TUI BLUE Falesia to this dinky little town, but if you’re holidaying with TUI BLUE you can always ask our BLUE Guides what tips and insider knowledge they have for you.
Where is Castro Marim?
Castro Marim is on the border to Spain in the very east of the Algarve. The neighbouring town is Vila Real de Santo Antonio. From Albufeira, the drive takes about 1 hour. From Faro it is 60 kilometres to Castro Marim.
1st castle of Castro Marim “Castelo de Castro Marim”
Castro Marim with its whitewashed houses looks like a film set and has a great history, even though the place itself is small. Archaeological finds point to very early human settlement. Directly above the village, the first thing that catches my eye is the imposing and unique castle that was built a long time ago.
The weather was cloudy at first, but then the beautiful sun came out – typical Algarve weather. From the medieval castle you really have a fantastic view over the whole village with a view of the Guadiana River, the border with Spain, the salt pans of Castro Marim, as well as the surrounding hills and from far away the sea. Castro Marim, by the way, means “castle by the sea”. In the past, the Atlantic Ocean reached all the way here and the changing lords of the region liked to take advantage of this strategic location.
2nd fortress of São Sebastião
If you look to the other side, you can get an excellent view of the fortress of São Sebastião. This was built on the opposite hill to protect the city from attack: Did you know that the defensive wall that surrounded the medieval city on the hill was adapted according to the latest war techniques, including the introduction of artillery?
I didn’t have time to check it out as it was already closed, but I’m sure there are some spectacular views from up there too.
3rd main church “Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Mártires”
One of the most impressive buildings in Castro Marim, and therefore one of the main sights is the town church, the Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Mártires. Dating from the 18th century, the church impresses with its dome and bell tower.
4th Viewpoint Revelim de Santo Antonio
View of the viewpoint mountain Revelim de Santo Antonio
Passing all the pink flowering trees, you will reach another sight of Castro Marim: it is the impressive viewpoint with a 360-degree view of the river Guadiana and the salt flats. You can almost get lost in this enchanted place with a small chapel and windmill on the hill and the Arabic Gardens. There used to be a small fort there, which served to control the border river.
We are so impressed by the view and the colours that we can’t stop taking photos. All Instagrammers: this is the place for you!
5. Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila de Santo Antonio Nature Reserve
From everywhere you can see one of the largest salt flats with 2,000 hectares of marshland. The Sapal was the first nature reserve in Portugal to be created as one of Portugal’s most important wetlands. Located near the mouth of the Guadiana River, it consists of salt marshes, brackish waters, salt pans and mats, as well as a huge flora and fauna.
This unique ecological habitat is best known for the flamingos that stop here to find food. Unfortunately, we are not here at the right time to see them, but it really is very idyllic here. It is also home to many other species of animals and plants. There are literally hundreds of other bird species here, including storks, avocets and spoonbills, some of which live here all year round.
To learn more about the reserve, it’s worth visiting the visitor centre at Cerro da Rocha, which has suggestions for itineraries in the region.
6. The Coast of Castro Marim – “Praia Verde”
The coast around Castro Marim consists of three stretches of beach: Praia Verde, Praia da Alagoa and Praia do Cabeço. You may see a slight difference between the beaches on the coast from west to east. The beaches are fringed by low dunes and pine trees and offer calm and warm waters in summer.
A magnificent panorama awaits you at Praia Verde, one of the most popular beaches, especially among Spaniards, located just beyond Castro Marim.
In addition to its incredible natural setting, Praia Verde is surrounded by a variety of great restaurants. A visit to the Infante Panorâmico restaurant is well worth it to enjoy the fish and seafood specialities and the magnificent views!
The waiter Paulo greets us with his most beautiful smile and lists some dishes, the specialities of the house. He has been working in this restaurant for almost 6 years and knows his way around very well. We squint at the neighbouring tables and all the dishes look damn tasty, like “Espetada”, a grilled prawn skewer. We can hardly decide. Paulo recommends fish “Rodovalho” and “Arroz de Lingeirão”, rice with mussels. Just look at this incredible dish!
It’s really delicious and the portion is huge. The fish – a type I hadn’t eaten before – was fresh and excellent.
In addition to the food, we take in the magnificent view and don’t regret for a moment that we chose exactly this restaurant.
By the way: If you are a water sports fan, Praia Verde is also a popular spot for kitesurfers, especially in winter.
For us, a completely successful day in Castro Marim comes to an end. Just rent a car on your Algarve holiday and come here. You will love the place, we promise!
Tip: On the last weekend in August, Castro Marim hosts a medieval festival. The “Medieval Days” feature street theatre, traditional fencing and food stalls with local delicacies. I will be back to report on the medieval festival!