Travel Guide - What is the Eastern Algarve?What is the Eastern Algarve?

The Eastern Algarve is the extreme south-east corner of Portugal. It is bordered by the Atlantic to the south, the N2 Faro-São Brás-Lisbon road to the west, the Vascão stream which forms the border with the Alentejo to the north, and the Guardiana river which forms the border between Portugal and Spain to the east. It is a small area, a parallelogram of about 45km south to north and west to east. Anywhere can be visited in a day trip from Tavira in the centre of the coast.

The Eastern Algarve is also called the Sotovento Algarve in Portuguese, or ‘lee-ward Algarve, as the whole area lies in the lee of the prevailing south-westerly wind behind the southernmost point of the Algarve (and the whole of Portugal) at Cabo de Santa Maria on Ihla Desserta. As it is the lee-ward coast, it enjoys a milder climate and warmer sea temperatures than the Central or Western Algarve.

The Eastern Algarve has four distinct geophysical zones:

  • the Guardiana river system marking its eastern flank and the border with Spain
  • the coastal strip of long sand beaches, barrier islands and the Ria Formosa wetlands
  • the coastal plain of good agricultural land characterised by vineyards and citrus orchards - the barrocal
  • the hills or Serra, sparsely populated, which account for most of the land area. The river valleys drain into the Ria Formosa or the Guardiana River.

Map showing the Eastern Algarve



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