Situated in the Eastern end of the Algarve, close to the border with Spain, Vila Real de Santo António is, most of all, a great commerce centre: an intense tourist activity as well as many shops for different tastes, transform this town in a quite busy centre. Sardine and tuna fishing off the Algarve coast turned Vila Real into an important fish canning centre throughout almost the whole of the 20th century. At the same time, as a port, Vila Real de Santo António witnessed a great deal of traffic through the boats that transported the ores extracted from the mines of São Domingos, having at one time been one of the richest and most dynamic towns in the Algarve at the beginning of the last century. Nowadays, the municipality is noted for the diversity of its natural habitats, with its broad river estuary and salt-marshes to the north and east and the protected area of pinewoods and the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Vila Real de Santo António is a busy cosmopolitan centre but at the same time has the quietness of a well spent dusk in one of the numerous charming esplanadas, with a large offer of peaceful beaches and islands, perfect for the most demanding visitor.