We've been coming to Olhao and Ilha da Armona for a few years and wouldn't choose anywhere else. The combination of fabulous miles of deserted beaches a short and enjoyable ferry ride away, the unique character of the old town and the fabulous markets (especially for fish!), is a very special combination. But what I love most is the way in which the low-rise, unspoilt and unpretentious feel of the place absorbs tourism without ever really embracing it. Where else do sophisticated visitors sit comfortably on the cafe terraces drinking coffee alongside beer-swigging fishermen wearing waders and carrying a bucket of squid? Where else do you find designer boutiques next door to a marine diesel engine repair workshop? These unselfconscious contradictions are all part of the charm of the place and are the best reason I can think of for heading east from Faro to avoid the Algarve as most people think of it.