By Nadine Mellor, Kids Collection Editor

For October half-term, our Kids Collection Editor, Nadine, wanted a relaxing break with her family after a busy work year. They loved their time in the eastern Algarve with its charming small towns and delicious seafood, staying in a couple of high-spec rentals.

We were after a low-key holiday, having had a busy year of work and focusing on family, and settled on the beguiling eastern Algarve as a good bet for a tranquil time. The three of us (my husband Colman and our 12-year-old son Cormac) flew into Faro, picked up a hire car, and within 25 minutes were in attractive Tavira, our first stop, which straddles the River Gilão, just inland from the sea. The historic centre has cobbled streets, cafes, restaurants and craft shops, with salt pans stretching to the coast.

Stop 1: Tavira Boutique Apartments

On the outskirts of town, a former Cistercian convent has been reimagined as contemporary apartments, with a couple of sea-green swimming pools in the former cloisters, which Cormac lost no time in road testing. We stayed here at one of the two chic Tavira Boutique Apartments, which come with a pair of bedrooms (both ensuite), and a well-equipped open-plan kitchen/diner/lounge. While compact, we noted the clever use of space, including a sit-out at the front overlooking the salt flats, where we watched waders probing the brackish waters under big skies.

On our first evening, we strolled into town, dined on seafood, browsed the shops, and admired the evening lights on the river when standing on the famous 12th-century arched bridge. A big storm hit on our second day so we were confined to barracks, but luckily the welcome hamper you get for booking through i-escape is very well-stocked with supplies! After the deluge, we ambled along the salt flats, marvelling at the clarity of colour as the sun emerged at the end of the day.

On our final morning, we took in a couple of churches and climbed medieval Tavira Castle’s ruined battlements for long views across the town and the river, before heading to the coast to charismatic fishing port Olhão, for the second half of our trip.

Stop 2: Olhão House

We stayed in one of the beautiful Algarve Design Houses, which are located in different towns in the eastern Algarve, but all share a stunning modern aesthetic that includes terracotta tiles, poured concrete, arched windows, local ceramics and excellent kitchens that include a wine fridge apiece.

The Olhão House is a former fish warehouse, with triple-height ceilings in the living area and glass doors opening onto a gorgeous patio with plunge pool. A spiral staircase leads up to the roof terrace above. Here we had sundowners while looking over rooftops and storks on chimneys, to the sea beyond. The two minimalist bedrooms, both on the first floor, came with walk-in showers, and we loved lying on the beds with a good book as the shafts of light from the windows moved with the sun across the rooms. The townhouse is set one block back from the seafront, with a supermarket across the street, and within easy strolling distance of everywhere.

Olhão is the Algarve’s largest fishing port and faces the lagoons and islands of the protected Natural Park of Ria Formosa, which shield the town from the open waters of the Atlantic. The waterfront is lined with pleasure craft, commercial fishing vessels and tourist boats. This is also where the renowned fish market is housed; we found ourselves popping in every day to gaze at the incredible array of fish and seafood. Next door, another covered building is home to fruit, veg, meat and sweet treats. We made out like bandits in both, cooking up a storm every night – Cormac as sous chef getting stuck into prawns and sea bass.

We took a boat trip to the islands in the tidal lagoon, spying birds including herons and egrets, flamingoes and spoonbills, plying their trade alongside the clam diggers in the mud. We visited the Mar Morto attraction where we floated in saline water and purchased salt-based gifts for family back home. We strolled through the cobbled streets, browsed ceramic shops, dined out on more seafood, and walked along the salt pans for large horizons and more birding.

It was just the chilled break we all wanted.