Just about 30 minutes from the ocean lays Monchique and its mountains. Monchique Algarve is considered to be the Garden of the Algarve, one of the most attractive areas of this region, unique and different from the coastal tourism. Monchique Mountains, Fóia, with an altitude of 902 metres, and Picota both feature gorgeous coastal views and are a Protected Natural Reserve. Monchique Portugal is ideally situated to explore both coasts of the Algarve – the Southern beaches of Praia da Rocha, Ferragudo and Alvor or the unspoiled West coast with its deserted beaches.
The tranquil ancient village of Monchique with its traditional architecture is quite different from the coast: hilly narrow streets that open up new perspectives at every step among camellias and hydrangeas, fruit trees, gardens and evocative orchards. Caldas de Monchique is a complex of curative springs and spa, just a few minutes from the village. It has been famous for its waters, which have healing properties since Roman times.
Caldas de Monchique is a graceful village that has long been known as a pleasant destination for health and holidays, famous for its tranquillity, purity of water and spectacular panoramic views. Monchique offers many walking paths, natural forests, freshwater lakes, botanical gardens, and local sites of historical interest. The highlights of Monchique Algarve are:
- ‘Igreja Matriz’ (parish church) – One of the finest examples of the 16th century Manueline style.
- ‘Nossa Senhora do Desterro’ convent – Next to it stands the tallest Magnolia in Portugal (26 metres high).
- Foia Mountain – The highest point of the Algarve with spectacular views over the Southern coast.
- Caldas de Monchique – This Roman spa is famous for its natural spring and thermal waters for treatment of rheumatism and bronchitis.
- Barranco dos Pisões – Beautiful natural area with a clear water stream and a restored water mill, excellent for picnics in the cool shade of a centuries-old sycamore tree.
- Centennial trees – In Monchique there are “monumental” heritage trees that were classified as being of public interest. Due to its age and size, these trees are strictly protected.
- Outdoor Activities – Guided walks, mountain biking, trekking and canoeing, among others.
- Alternative Medicine / Wellness – Massages, chiropractic, aromatherapy, acupuncture, yoga and meditation.
Activities & Events Monchique
The north-western village of Monchique in the Algarve is a great alternative to the busy coastal towns. Monchique offers total relaxation, with spectacular scenery, plenty of places to walk and explore and lots of cafés and restaurants to choose from.
Monchique is famous for its fairs and markets which attract many visitors all year-round. Some of the local productions are the home-cured ham, a vast assortment of homemade-style sausages, honey, marzipan sweets and Medronho – a strong liqueur made from the fruits of the arbutus (strawberry) tree. Basketry and weaving are part of the traditional crafts of Monchique; also very popular are the traditional Roman-style ‘scissor’ stools and chairs. Artisans can be seen producing knitwear, cane work, pottery, tiles and sculptures.
The village of Monchique plays host to several car rallies and cycle races each year. It is ideal for outdoor sports and activities: pony trekking, canoeing, forest walks, hiking, climbing and abseiling, mountain biking, bird and nature watching. Monchique also has two lovely outdoor swimming pools that are free.
Restaurants & Bars Monchique
There is an abundance of restaurants in Monchique and on the road up to Fóia where you can enjoy typical local food, its exquisite pastries and desserts. Some of the most popular dishes are the roasted chicken ‘piri-piri’, wild boar, black suckling pig, eels stew, suckling pig, rabbit stew, beans or chickpeas stew, octopus and fish stews.
It is fun to stroll around the village and stop for a light snack at lunchtime soaking up the lovely atmosphere of Monchique. There are numerous cafés and pastry shops (pastelarias) that serve delicious, mouthwatering cakes.
Barlefante and Café da Vila are the main local bars in the centre of Monchique, both with friendly, pleasant atmosphere, with DJ’s, live music, theme parties and more.
The mountain range of Monchique is a natural heritage that encourages visitors to contemplation – amazing views and landscapes full of eucalyptus and chestnut woods, fields of wildflowers and bushes, crystalline streams that meander at the bottom of steep valleys. Equipped with high environmental quality, the freshness of the mountain presents itself as an excellent alternative to the high temperatures of Algarve’s coast.
- Fóia and Picota are the two hills dominating the landscape, offering dramatic views to the southern and western coast of the Algarve – wild valleys, cliffs and meadows with a variety of vegetation, terraced fertile fields.
- Caldas de Monchique is a picturesque spa hamlet, home to the only natural springs in the Algarve. It lies approximately 6 kilometres south of Monchique village centre amidst the exuberant vegetation of its surrounding hills.
- Alferce and Marmelete are charming villages in the surroundings of Monchique Algarve and are made up of houses built in the style typical of the Algarvean countryside. Their fairs and markets are very popular in traditional handicrafts, which feature wicker baskets, wooden spoons, lace and embroidery, rag dolls, jewellery and decorative arts. Gastronomy is also a strong point of these two Monchique parishes where you can also find the traditional sausages, honey, sweets, and distilled spirits.
- Barranco dos Pisões (Pisões Ravine) is situated in the heart of the woods with a stream flowing nearby, this is a beautiful spot for a walk and a picnic. The nearby Moinho do Poucochinho, an old watermill for grinding cereal is also worth a visit.