“The sun does not forget a village just because it is small” African Proverb
Ferragudo is reputedly the most photographed village on the Algarve – I’m not sure if that is true – although we have taken more than our fair share of photos of this beautiful place over the years. So I thought it would be fun to go on a tour, and introduce you to the little fishing village that we have fallen in love with.
We call Ferragudo a village although it is actually now designated as a town – and has actually been tipped to become one of the Algarve’s new hot spots… although I hope this does not mean that some of its charm and unspoilt beauty is lost along the way.
Ferragudo is a real surprise, located across the river estuary of Rio Arade, and hidden away at the end of an unremarkable approach road that leads you through the residential area of Parchal – but keep going and turn left at Lidl’s roundabout (your only local supermarket). You will drive past the new Centro de Congressos do Arade (link) which is quite an incongruous building in its surroundings – but looks quite spectacular when it is lit up at night. On past the old sardine canning factories (which is still rumoured to become a multi-million pound marina development – apparently work will begin ‘in October’ except we have heard that said every year for the past 6-7 years!)
And then suddenly you turn a corner and there it is – a real jewel nestling in the hillside, bright water sparkling across the harbour, boats bobbing gently, and all overlooked in a paternal manner by the old 14th century ‘Church of Our Lady of the Conception’
Many of the houses in Ferragudo are traditional fisherman’s homes and there is a sense of an unhurried and gentle way of life. Most activities centre around ‘the square’ – the Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, with its many cafes and small restaurants, and it’s a great place to have a coffee and a pastry and watch the world go by. In the summer evenings free entertainment is often laid on in the form of music and dancing, although it is often hard to find out in advance what is actually planned (look out for hand printed signs in shop windows!)
The main shops, such as they are, lead off from the square, with a few tourist shops selling the usual gifts, homeware and nick nacks. There’s a post office, newsagents, three banks (all with cashpoints), bakery, butchers, chemists, and a market (fish, fruit and veg) but nothing too flashy or ‘tacky’ really. There’s also a new art gallery in one of the side streets which is next to our favourite ‘sell it all’ tourist shop we have nicknamed ‘new stock Wednesdays’ – the lady that owns the shop is so helpful! There is also a small children’s play area across from the square and the ACD Ferragudo, a cultural and sporting venue (link) with a wide range of activities and classes on offer. Leave the main square and you are off up the cobbled streets exploring the many steps and windy streets that eventually lead you to the church, with its magnificent views of the town, beach and across to Portimão and Praia da Rocha.
The church is well worth an unhurried amble around, and if anyone can tell me why there is a monument outside to Baden Powell (Founder of the Scout movement) I’d be very grateful as this has always been a mystery to us!
The name Ferragudo (according to this link) has its origins in a piece of equipment made in iron (Ferro –Iron, agudo – sharp) which existed on the Angrinha beach for lifting the catch of fish from the boats anchored there in the middle of the 15th century. The boats and fishermen still play a part in the life of the village, and a walk along the waterfront, past the many fish restaurants with their enticing smell of freshly grilled fish, is a real treat, especially in the early evening as the sun is setting.
There are so many restaurants in the village I am sure you could come here on a two week holiday and eat out somewhere different every night. A few of note for us include our favourite stop for a coffee in the square ‘Marina’s’ – it’s one of the ones where the locals tend to meet, João the owner is a real character, and if it’s good enough for José Mourinho (yes he has really been there and sat having a coffee at the next table to us a few times!) then it’s good enough for us!
You can choose different menus and styles of food each day – there are two Italian restaurants, and some good Portuguese places (‘Velho Novo’ always has a queue, and ‘O Barril’ has a good lunchtime ‘prato do dia’ menu. There’s a European restaurant ‘Farragood’ which is very popular, and a new restaurant ‘Fim do Mundo’ run by Jo (good food and very bubbly host!) and there are also some ‘English menu’ restaurants in the square. Along the waterfront are some good fish restaurants of which ‘Sueste’ is the ‘poshest’.
A quick tour of the internet will find you flats and houses to rent in the village, and there are three main hotel resorts in and around the village:
Vitor’s village resort (link)
Vila Castelo (link)
and Água Hotels Riverside (link) which is the newest spa resort situated in Parchal.
Walk along to the end of the waterfront and behind the lifeboat station is the path to Praia da Angrinha beach, which is separate from the larger and more popular Praia Grande beach. It’s smaller and popular with locals, with car parking on the unmade road running alongside the fishermen’s huts.
Praia Grande is the main beach in Ferragudo and has a long, wide sandy beach overlooked by the castle. Parking is along the hill leading up to the beach, or on the same parking area as Angrinha beach. There are watersports in the summer and inflatables and sun loungers to hire. There are a number of beach bars and restaurants and this is a very popular beach in the summer months, although it never feels overcrowded. In the winter months it takes on a completely different feel, more unspoilt and traditional, and a lovely place to go for a stroll and a paddle.
Praia do Mohle
The next beach past Praia Grande, beyond the sea wall is Praia do Mohle. After that you’ll need a car or a long walk to reach the beaches of Praia da Pintadinho and Praia dos Caneiros. There are some lovely rocky cliffs and gentle beaches to be explored, all with fantastic views and amazing blue seascapes along this coastline.
The Fort of São João de Arade began life in the 15th century as a lookout tower and then was extended in the 17th/18th century as part of the fortifications protecting the mouth of the river. It has been likened to an overgrown children’s sandcastle, and is a stunning feature of the landscape. At the beginning of the 20th century it was turned into a home on the initiative of the poet, Coelho Carvalho, and is now private property, which is a real shame as I would love to have a nosey around!
Property for sale
There are a number of old fishermen’s cottages usually for sale in the village, and they tend to fetch a premium, such is the attraction of the village. Many often need a lot of work doing! The best way to find them is to wander the streets looking for a ‘vende se’ sign, or trawl the internet. There are also some new developments, including flats and the new ‘Ferragudo Breeze’ houses (link) . Oh and of course, the long rumoured marina development!
You are not more than a 10-15 minute drive away from many of the activities and resorts of the Algarve, and a short hop across to Portimão and Praia da Rocha if you want a more lively nightlife or a bar showing English football! But the main charm for me has always been the gentleness of this village and its people, a place to stroll, sit and watch the world go by, or eat a leisurely meal. As the sun sets, the village takes on a magical quality, and never fails to calm me with its peaceful beauty and character.
If you have enjoyed our photographs of Ferragudo, why not check out Dave’s photography on his website – link – and explore more of this beautiful country and people?
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