A traditional Portuguese village with a cosmopolitan atmosphere - we know that sounds like a contradiction, but the recipe works.
Nestled among hills and orchards, Santa Barbara de Nexe is a perfect pocket of unspoiled Algarve countryside. Portuguese restaurants rub shoulders with international cafes, so there is a wide choice of places to eat. You will also find a bank, post office and medical centre here.
In terms of sights, there is the 15th century church and the Bronze Age hill fort which was also used by the Romans. Plus there is plenty to explore in the surrounding area. The Saturday morning market in Loule is a must, considered to be the best handicraft market in the Algarve, it sells locally produced candles, lace, wrought iron work and pottery to name but a few.
There is another Saturday market in Sao Bras de Alportel, a pretty town with streets of white houses and some great local restaurants. Heading south, Tavira and Olhao both make great destinations for a day out, with offshore beaches and charismatic town centres. Don't overlook Faro either, which has an equally fascinating Moorish old town surrounded by sturdy city walls, where cobbled streets are lined with colourful restored buildings.
Golfers have the fabulous courses at Vale Do Lobo and Quinta Do Lago within easy reach. Time to get exploring...