Monchique is a picturesque Algarve village! It embodies the Algarvian highlife and is famous for its alkaline waters. For some it means “sacred mountain” and for others “green garden”. But for everyone Monchique means relaxation and well-being!
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The typical gastronomy of Monchique is synonymous with health and flavor and is another of the great attractions of the village! In this region of the Algarve we find unique handmade products and various vestiges of the past, such as the Manueline porticoes and the famous skirt chimneys. The whole atmosphere is relaxing and mythical! The mountains offer unforgettable walks and the practice of leisure and adventure sports. In Monchique you will find everything you need to recover from the stress of everyday life and to connect with nature! Join us on our journey!
WHERE IS MONCHIQUE?
Monchique belongs to the district of Faro. Hugging” Monchique are Odemira, Silves, Portimão, Lagos and Aljezur.
HOW TO GET TO MONCHIQUE?
The cheapest way to get from Lisbon to Monchique is by bus with Mundial Turismo. The bus leaves from 7 Rios (in Lisbon) heading to Portimão. Upon arrival, catch the “Blue Fleet” bus bound for Monchique (ticket – 4,55€) and get ready for a 25-kilometer route that can be covered in approximately 30 minutes. In total, the trip takes 5h30m and costs 35 euros.
Another more comfortable option is to go by car. A 2h50 trip with a cost varying between 30 and 45€ (between petrol and tolls). From the capital, you also have the option of taking the train from the Oriente or Entrecampos station to Messines-Alte (3h21m and the ticket costs between 17 and 25euros). From this point in the Algarve to Monchique you will have to take a cab to travel 44 kilometers in 40 minutes (be prepared for a cost of 40 to 50 euros just by cab).
WHAT TO VISIT IN MONCHIQUE?
There is a lot to see in Monchique! To make the article easier to read, we decided to organize Monchique’s attractions in 5 blocks: 1-Best viewpoints, 2-Natural attractions in Monchique, 3-Cascades, 4-Monuments not to miss, 5-Other activities and experiences in Monchique.
BEST VIEWPOINTS IN MONCHIQUE
To help you organize the sequence of your walks, we have prepared a map with the location of the most spectacular viewpoints in Monchique. We hope it will be useful!
SÃO SEBASTIÃO VIEWPOINT
It is located right in the center of the village. From the Parque de São Sebastião you can see the whitewashed houses and photograph the typical skirt chimneys. The base of these chimneys is usually the width of the entire kitchen of the house. It was in this place that, in the past, families would stay and talk. The fire was made under these Algarvean chimneys. It served as a fireplace for heating the house, as a stove, and as a smokehouse for “curing” sausages and the like. Besides the town center, from this strategic point we can also see the church towers, the pools and the old convent.
It is near the entrance to Caldas de Monchique (at the site of Barranco do Banho). It is an area with many archaeological remains and is a good option to start the visit to the southern area of the Serra da Picota. From this viewpoint you can see Caldas de Monchique in all its splendor.
Fóia (at 902m altitude) is the highest point in the Algarve. On clear days, the magnificent landscape stretches from Cape St. Vincent to the Serra da Arrábida. A perfect place to breathe in the oxygen of the mountains and go for a hike.
FONTE SANTA VIEWPOINT
From this elevation we can see the entire coastal area of the Western Algarve. It is very frequented and sought after by picnickers. There you will also find a spring of water from the Serra de Monchique. If the fog clears on the day of your visit, you will enjoy a fabulous panoramic view.
NATURAL ATTRACTIONS IN MONCHIQUE
Here is a map to gauge the distances between the main natural attractions in the Serra de Monchique!
CALDAS DE MONCHIQUE
6 kilometers from the town center, we find Caldas de Monchique (often called Termas de Monchique). It is a village but also a spa resort. The quality of the water in the hills, called “sacred water” by many, has been famous since the time of the Roman occupation of the peninsula. There are eight springs from which the water comes with a PH of 9.5 – the most alkaline in the country. Water from the Monchique serra is rich in numerous chemical components and is an ally in the treatment of various ailments (especially respiratory and digestive problems). The water breaks the surface between 27 and 31,5 degrees.
The top of the Monchique mountain range is the highest point in the Algarve and rises to an altitude of 902 meters. It offers a 360 view of the entire region and gains special beauty at sunset. If you can have dinner there and enjoy this unique spectacle. At this elevation you can also buy your souvenirs of the region. There you will find honey, sweets and handicrafts from the region (ceramics, scissors chairs and board chairs). Near Fonte Fóia we find the Adventure Park where you can go climbing, slide and tree climbing. A place that makes the delights of the more (and also of the less) young.
The second highest point of the Serra de Monchique (774m) presents a panoramic view of Monchique, Silves and Portimão. We suggest a walk between granite blocks, looking for the geodesic vertex and the forest watchtower. A site with parking area, souvenir stores, bar and restaurant.
Finding the waterfalls in the Monchique region can be challenging. To help you in this adventure we have created a map with you in mind!
It is one of the most sought after places in the mountains of Monchique! The Barbelote waterfall is one of the most beautiful in the county! To get there you can use a car and take the Vale de Largo-Barbelote road or you can follow a trail that can be done on foot.
PÉ DO FRIO WATERFALL, CHILRÃO
It is near the road that connects Marmelete to Chilrão. A waterfall that invites a calm visit to observe the beauty of this magnificent waterfall. To enjoy the waterfall, a visit is recommended between the months of October and May.
MUST-SEE MONUMENTS IN MONCHIQUE
It is also known as the church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição. The main church of Monchique is the result of a mixture of architectural styles that can be explained by the many changes and renovations that the church underwent over time. Some elements that date back to the foundation of the church, such as the Manueline style portals, still remain. If you visit this church, take a few minutes to see the small museum inside this temple. There you will find several instruments used in religious ceremonies.
MONCHIQUE CHURCH OF MERCY
It is located right in the heart of the village. The outside of the church is quite simple but still beautiful. Inside the church, one should highlight the carvings in the pulpit and on the altar. Also of note is an image of São Francisco and a set of panels that used to be used in Monchique’s processions.
NOSSA SENHORA DO DESTERRO CONVENT
A monument of Manueline style, erected in 1631 by order of Pêro da Silva (the Mole). Of it only the ruins remain, which still stand in a high place. It offers a very beautiful view over the region. Near the convent one can also observe the fountain of the birds. To get there safely and comfortably, wear appropriate footwear for a steep climb. It is hard to understand how the municipality does not proceed with the restoration of this convent.
MAP WITH THE LOCATION OF THE MAIN MONUMENTS OF MONCHIQUE
OTHER ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIENCES IN MONCHIQUE
Kneading and baking bread in the community oven in the village of Alferce is a different experience that will stay in your memory. An experience that will be complete with a nice glass of wine to accompany the bread you make! An activity that you can do in the bread workshop of Alferce.
PICNICS AT MONCHIQUE
In addition to exploring the Serra de Monchique and admiring the magnificent views of the region, you can also experience a picnic in one of the many shady spots the mountain has to offer. There are many options for you to organize your event, here are a few!
PARQUE DE MERENDAS DO BARRANCO DOS PISÕES – Is in the valley of the Ribeira de Seixe. A park where small waterfalls and a leafy grove abound. It is a very cool park with a water source good for human consumption. In the picnic park you will find many benches and several tables where you can put your things.
MONCHIQUE CALDAS PARK – It is located right in the center of the Caldas, near the Amores Fountain. A park with lots of shade and perfect for picnics. It has very comfortable benches and tables.
MARMELETE – Leaving Monchique in the direction of Marmelete, we find two places where we can have our picnic. The first is near the main road before we get to Marmelete (on the left-hand side) – it’s called the Santinha picnic park. The second is called Parque de Merenda de Barranco da Cruz and is on the EN267 in the direction of Aljezur.
SPA TREATMENTS AT CALDAS DE MONCHIQUE
A magnificent option for a morning or afternoon of pure relaxation and pleasure! At the spa in Caldas de Monchique you can have massages and various SPA treatments. The strong point are the unique qualities of the waters of the Monchique mountains. Not to be missed!
VISIT TO THE ARTISANAL SPIRULINA PRODUCER
On the way to Fóia, in the place Restolho de Aveia visit the artisanal production of algae spirulina, in the only official producer of this “superfood” in Portugal. The spirulina is a microalgae that reproduces in tanks of water. After being sucked it is pressed on cloths to remove excess water, dried at room temperature until it is ready to be packaged. Spirulina is rich in iron, antioxidants, and vitamins that help regulate cholesterol, stimulate the immune system, and give you more energy.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR MONCHIQUE?
To get to know the village of Monchique well and calmly, 3 days is the time we suggest. In case you don’t have enough time, know that near Monchique there are other places that deserve your attention. Our suggestions are: Portimão, Vila do Bispo, Lagos and Aljezur.
30 minutes and 25 kilometers separate Monchique from the city of Portimão. There is plenty to explore in the Algarve’s most urban city. White sandy beaches, activities for children, surfing, boat trips, a go-kart track and many iconic beaches nearby (Praia da Rocha, Vau, Carvoeiro and Ferragudo).
58 minutes and 64 kilometers separate Monchique from Vila do Bispo, a simple village close to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. If you go there, besides the beaches, don’t forget to visit the fortresses and historical monuments, the dinosaur footprints (Salema beach), the archaeological remains and excavations and the famous menhirs of Vila do Bispo.
The Serra de Monchique is often called the “Sacred Mountain”, a felicitous expression that had its origin in the Arabic expression “Munt Saqir”. The presence of Roman civilization in the region is undeniable especially in Caldas de Monchique. Enamored by the healing capabilities of the waters of the mountain, the Romans surrendered to the sacred mountain and built several thermal structures that lent great importance to the region. An importance that is evidenced by the presence of King Dom João II in the 15th century and King Dom Sebastião in the following century.
Weaving and basketry were activities that helped in the economic development of the region. In 1773, Monchique became a town, gaining its autonomy from Silves. For many centuries, Monchique based its economy on agriculture and pastoralism. Nowadays, it’s tourism that commands most of the attention! But not only that, the production of handicrafts and commerce are other sectors that drive Monchique’s current economy.
MONCHIQUE TYPICAL CUISINE
The preparation method for the traditional dishes of the Monchique region is a knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation. Papas moiras, beans with cabbage, milhos, xerém à antiga and sausages (chouriça, morcela, presunto and farinheira) are some of the most important delicacies of the region! All these “petiscos” accompany the magnificent pork that can easily be found in the many good restaurants in the Serra de Monchique.
But if you prefer fish, you should know that in Monchique you can also find excellent options! Here fresh fish keeps you company with potatoes in cold sauce. Whether you eat fish or meat, at the end of your meal you have to try the regional sweets. The bolo do tacho is the “star of the company”, a dessert with corn flour, olive oil, coffee and cinnamon. Another magnificent possibility is the almond cake and, of course, Dom Rodrigo, the most representative sweet of the Algarve.
To digest the meal more easily, finish off with a glass of aguardente de medronho, a drink with cinnamon, lemon, and honey. All in moderation, of course!
RESTAURANTS IN MONCHIQUE
There are many good restaurants in Monchique. Our option and our suggestion is for a cheap restaurant that offers the best value for money in the region.
RETIRO DA BOLA RESTAURANT
Cheap restaurant. It has a google rating of 4.6 stars and more than 50 comments on google. The compliments mention with insistence the friendliness of the staff, a welcoming space, the quality of the food with typically Portuguese dishes and the price in account.
HOTELS IN MONCHIQUE
Finding accommodation in the Monchique area is easy enough. There are options for all pockets and for all tastes. Here is one suggestion!
RIO ARADE HOTEL
A 3-star hotel with more than 75 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.6 stars. The comments insist on the tranquility of the place, the quality of the breakfast, the impeccable cleanliness and the friendliness of the staff.