This is our Monchique tour. We are now on day 21 of our Algarve tour and today we leave the west coast and head east into the mountains. Monchique is an unspoilt town located amidst the highest mountains of the Algarve. From the peak of Fóia to the natural springs at Caldas de Monchique there is a lot to see in Monchique.
I woke up with a knock on the door, the call for breakfast at Cerro da Fontinha. Here, breakfast is ordered the night before and delivered to the house the next morning at any time you want! My bags were already packed, so once I finished eating, I put them in the car and set off to Monchique. I drove along the Costa Vicentina one last time and when I got to Aljezur, I took the N267 towards Monchique.
Before reaching the town centre I did a quick detour to visit Parque da Mina. The park offers a variety of activities but the most interesting part for me was the medronho distillery where they explained how they make this strong spirit that is so popular in the Algarve.
After the park, I headed to Caldas de Monchique, a small town known for its natural springs. I got a thermal circuit pass at the spa and spent the rest of the morning taking turns between the thermal pool and the sauna.
I came back out around noon and couldn’t wait to get some lunch. I spotted Luar da Foia on the side of the road to Monchique and decided to give it a go. The restaurant offered the most incredible views of the surrounding mountains and the sea far off in the distance. It seemed like fish was no longer the main star on the menu, instead, it was all about the pork, so I ordered “Assadura com Migas”, roasted pork seasoned with olive oil, garlic and coriander.
I thought the view of Luar da Foia was breathtaking, but I was even more amazed when I got to Fóia, the highest mountain in the Algarve. Standing up here, I could see the town of Monchique and massive hills stretching for miles and miles covered with trees and wildflowers.
After taking a couple of pictures from the top, I started making my way down to the centre of Monchique. Large eucalyptus trees lined each side of the road and occasionally there was a glimpse of those same hills I had captured from Mount Fóia. Hidden among the trees, I saw an old convent in ruins that must have been impressive in its day. One by one, the houses began to emerge and when I finally reached Monchique, the dark concrete road turned into a series of narrow cobbled streets that lead straight to the centre.
I parked the car near the church and went for a quick stroll. While I was wandering around, I found an art gallery called Arte Bongard. Inside, there was a fantastic collection of ceramic sculptures inspired by the nature and wildlife of the Algarve.
I left Monchique at 5 pm and drove up to the Odelouca Dam, the last stop of the day. When I arrived there was no one in sight. It was just me, the river and the hills, a magnificent landscape - all to myself.
For dinner, I returned to the town centre and ate at A Charette, one of the oldest restaurants in Monchique. The wine was already on the table, all I had to do was order some food. I asked the staff for a recommendation and they suggested the stuffed squid, which was absolutely delicious.
As for the hotel, the team of Iberian Escapes booked me a night at the Monchique Resort & Spa and I was lucky enough to stay in one of the rooms with a view of the mountains.
My road trip around the Algarve is almost over, only six more towns to go! Tomorrow, I’ll head to the far north eastern corner and explore Alcoutim.