In the hills behind Faro there are some wonderful towns and villages which remain relatively unaffected by tourism. Loulé is a typical, bustling market town with lots of history and remnants of its Roman and Moorish past, including the old castle walls and mosque-like churches. As the coast has developed, gradually more villas have been built on the almond tree filled hills surrounding Loulé but this has not changed the character of the town; if you wander down the cobbled side streets, you will find workshops with craftsmen busily working on leatherware, weavers making baskets and metal workers beating out copperware.
São Brás is a sleepy town 12kms from Loulé with a central square, an interesting museum, several restaurants and few tourists. Close by is the village of Estoi which has Roman ruins, an 18th Century palace and an excellent market held on the second Sunday of each month. Santa Bárbara de Nexe has several very good restaurants including inexpensive, traditional cafés and an Italian with live music on Sundays. For the adventurous traveller, Seville, just across the Spanish border, is an easy drive, just two and a half hours via the motorway.
The centre of Boliqueime is in the hills just in front of the motorway and a short drive to the coast. It retains a village atmosphere yet is just a fifteen minute drive from the centre of Albufeira and about the same to the golf courses at Vilamoura. The centre still has some cobbled streets with local shops, a post office, chemist, a couple of cafés, one or two good restaurants and there is an annual fair, held during the summer in the church square, with stalls selling locally produced handicrafts and food. The surrounding countryside is hilly, with pine and almond trees and dotted with gleaming white villas. This is the way to get the best of the Algarve if you do not mind a short drive to the shops and beaches. Salir is well known for its 12th century castle, originally built by the Moors to protect the countryside and its peoples from a Christian attack, It is situated at the top of the village and there are some outstanding views across the town and the surrounding countryside. It is close to the Rocha da Pena national park which is a popular hiking area, with locals and visitors alike.
Pros: The villages in these areas are largely unspoilt and most of our villas are in peaceful locations. The restaurants are usually very reasonably priced and offer authentic Algarvean cuisine.
Cons: You will have to drive to the beaches and barking dogs can sometimes spoil the tranquillity of the countryside.