Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a traditional and calm Portuguese town that is situated on the mighty Rio Guadiana at the very eastern edge of the Algarve. The town was constructed during the 1760s, at the height of the Portuguese empire, and there is grandeur about Vila Real that far exceeds the importance of the town. Vila Real has had a varied history, being originally an important fishing port, then an industrial centre for canning, and later the gateway between Spain and Portugal.
Today the cross-border traffic uses the expressway bridge to the north and has left Vila Real with a quiet and sleepy atmosphere, but is highly reliant on tourism as the main source of revenue. Vila Real is one of the most relaxed destinations in the Algarve and can make for an enjoyable, alternative cycling destination for tourists who wish a slower holiday. Vila Real is a popular destination as a day trip and is very different from the bustling resort towns.