10 min read
When visiting the Algarve, Monchique is frequently recommended by many as a beautiful place to visit. However, despite being steered in that direction, quite often, we are not actually aware of how much natural beauty and history is packed into the haven of mountains and valleys in this stunning corner of Europe.
Monchique is comfortably nestled in a privileged spot with the Alentejo bordering on the north side, São Marcos da Serra to the East, Silves to the south and Aljezur to the west. Accessing Monchique is relatively easy by road along the N267 from Aljezur or on the N266 - off the N124 that runs along the parish of Silves, with easy access to the motorway.
For a quick route there from the Nice Rent office in Faro, you can travel along the A22 motorway, exit at junction 5 and follow the signs along the previously mentioned roads. If you would like to take a more scenic route, you can join the N2 in Faro and after a short 35-minute drive, join the N124 followed by the N266 on to Monchique. Although both routes are quite straightforward, if you would like peace of mind, our Nice Rent hire extras include an option to add GPS equipment.
At 902m above sea level, the summit of Fóia is the highest point in the Algarve. To say that the views are spectacular could possibly be an understatement. These views must be experienced in person as they are indescribable!
On a clear day, you can see the southern coast all the way from Faro to the Atlantic Ocean at Cabo de São Vicente in the west. Northwards, you can see as far as Serra da Arrábida, near Lisbon!
At the base of the mountain, the oldest structure of the area can be found - The ruins of Nossa Senhora do Desterro Monastery which date back to 1632.
One of the trails up to Fóia starts from Monchique and the other starts at the summit and makes a round-tour. Both are clearly marked and are relatively easy to navigate.
Taking the hiking trail up to Fóia is the preferred option for many though it is also possible to drive up to the summit. If you choose to take the drive up, you can rest assured that our vehicles will make this a safe and comfortable journey which will enhance your overall experience.
This is the second highest point in the Serra de Monchique at 774m altitude though it is steeper than Fóia. The panoramic views from this point which take in a long sweep of the Algarve and the sea are breath-taking.
This spot is particularly rich in terms of flora with an interesting forest of holm oak offering good conditions to spot various species of wildlife.
A tarmac road takes you up approximately 50m where you can park your vehicle and continue the rest of the journey to the summit on foot.
The village itself is small and modest - with its typical white houses separated by cobbled streets that lead to the cosy main square. Here you can enjoy a coffee on one of the terraces in the shade of the trees.
There are also many opportunities to sample regional products such as ham, honey and the famous Algarvian Medronho (arbutus berry) brandy. You will also see many examples of traditional goods made from leather, straw, cork and wool.
For a great overview of the village itself, visit the 17th Century Franciscan convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro. Here you will enjoy the beautiful views of the village and surrounding rolling hills from the perfect vantage point on offer.
This early 16th century church, that was partially rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, is dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição and is packed full of magnificent architectural features of its period.
Gorgeous Manueline doorways and windows adorn the exterior of this beautiful building and on the inside, we are treated to three striking naves, separated by granite columns that support the crisp white arches.
The church is blessed with baroque altarpieces and statues of great quality and the Holy Sacrament chapel, which remains untouched, is covered with tiles and marked with Christ’s cross on top. A truly unique place to visit.
Here you will find an 18th century farmhouse located in Vale do Boi where you will get an insight into the ancient agricultural techniques of this rural area.
The inside décor of the house is typical of its time and in the exterior areas, you will have an opportunity to explore a traditional Medronho distillery as well as visiting an old mine.
If you are an animal lover, there are opportunities to enjoy spending time with the many farm animals and to admire the various species of birds of the area.
Of course, we mustn’t forget the world-renowned thermal baths and mineral water springs that have been used since ancient times for treatments.
This idyllic location is not only home to spa treatments and accommodation (among other services), it is also a wonderful spot for enjoying a stroll through nature, taking in the fresh air and having a picnic in the small square surrounded by the trees and fountains.
This resort is the only thermal complex located in the Algarve - huddled amongst lush vegetation of the Monchique Valley and bathed in glorious Algarvian sunshine.
It is located in Caldas de Monchique, approximately 250m above sea level and about 5km from the village.
In Roman times, the waters were deemed as sacred and were used to treat bodily and spiritual fatigue. Today, the spa offers a variety of treatments for a range of conditions including rheumatic, muscular or skeletal problems as well as respiratory conditions.
The resort offers a choice of hotels, a gym, outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant, three bars and a variety of shops. They also offer activities such as guided walks, quad rides and a gastronomic tour.
Three kilometres from Monchique Village you will find this rustic hotel overlooking the village itself. This accommodation benefits from an outdoor pool with terrace, a restaurant and living room with a fireplace and a large dance floor with bar area.
If you are partial to a bit of a boogie, salsa nights in the summer under a starry sky may be a new experience for you to try. All the rooms have private balconies and offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Charrette restaurant serves up great regional cuisine in a cosy and well decorated environment. Awarded the Tripadvisor certificate of excellence, this eatery is well worth a visit.
If you’re looking for good honest and wholesome regional food served up in generous portions and at reasonable prices, Tasca do Petrol is the place for you. Although the starters here are of particular acclaim, don’t get carried away… make sure that you leave enough room for the main course and dessert!
Café Império is the third in our list of Tripadvisor certificate of excellence rated restaurants. Here you will be treated to BBQ piri piri chicken that has been the subject of many rave reviews with their regional cheese and prosciutto selections also being highly regarded. A surprising element on their menu that has also been frequently praised, but is not often mentioned in restaurant reviews, is their mixed salad – described by many as ‘divine’.
For a calm place to have a drink and a bite to eat, Café da Vila offers good ambience and good music in a central location.Another good location where you can enjoy a light lunch or a choice of teas from a varied selection is Ochalá Tea Room. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to sample one of their home-made cakes – scrumptious!
For a more energetic break in Monchique, you have quite a varied range of activities for all different levels of ability to keep you entertained. One of the best ways to make the most of this wonderful location is to participate in a hiking experience. Walk through the plush green forests away from civilisation and let the fresh air fill your lungs.
Alternatively, you can take part in a spot of birdwatching. Thanks to the density of the vegetation, you will have a rare opportunity to observe several species of birds that are rare and cannot be seen along the coast. Examples of birds you can spot here are the woodlark, Iberian chiffchaff, firecrest, rock bunting and the red-rumped swallow.
If you’re looking to do something a little different, you might wish to opt for a Segway tour through the forest whilst observing the diverse wildlife and admiring the unique views along the way. A great alternative to walking that is not often available in areas such as these.
A slightly more energetic option would be to take a downhill cycling tour off the beaten track. For activities such as these, all the equipment is generally included in the package as well as expert advice.
Also on an adrenalin vein, but with a slightly more romantic twist, you could opt for a sunset jeep safari. This is a great way to explore the historic villages in the area, take part in a gastronomic tasting experience and finish the day watching a gorgeous Algarvian sunset, with its golden tones illuminating the picturesque Monchique skyline.
So, there you have it! A more detailed guide of things to do in Monchique that will no doubt get the ideas flowing and help you plan your next exciting and memorable Algarve road trip.
Do you have any questions? Or, would you like to know more about our vehicles?
Feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you!