I know, I know the Algarve isn´t the “real” Portugal. It´s the built-up touristy area in the south of the country (which is a little ironic, considering the name “Algarve” is from the phrase “the West” in Arabic). Still, you´re definitely missing something if you don´t visit the center of the old town.
Walk past the busy shops and cafes (and avoid Jumbo altogether), and you´ll be rewarded. The walled old city is a lovely, roughly circular area of small streets, which center on a small, Gothic church from the 13th century and a small square.
Everywhere, wintering storks can be seen perched up in nests, high above the square.
I stopped in to buy hand-painted ceramic tiles from the 17th and 18th centuries in a dusty little shop. You know, it´s kind of a wonder that the old town isn´t filled with cafes, boutique hotels, and stupid T-shirt shops, like similar areas all around Europe. It´s truly lovely, and couldn´t have been more picturesque than just after sunset, as the nightingales started singing.