Today is our São Brás de Alportel tour. It is day 29 and the final day of our Algarve tour. São Brás de Alportel was the old cork centre of Portugal long before the industry moved to the north of the country.
Despite its incredible scenery, São Brás welcomes very few visitors compared to most towns in the Algarve. I left Moncarapacho and drove up to São Brás de Alportel, the last town of my journey around the Algarve.
On my way to São Brás, I stopped by Novacortiça, one of the most important cork factories in Portugal. Iberian Escapes booked me a tour around the factory, so I could learn more about the history and the process of making cork. We started by visiting the cork tree plantations and then we saw the different stages of the cork transformation. The tour finished at the factory shop, where we could buy bags and umbrellas made of cork!
After the visit, I got back in the car and continued driving towards the centre of São Brás. I went for a quick walk around Jardim da Verbena and then headed to the Algarve Costume Museum.
I was immediately dazzled by the front of the museum with its iron gates and walls covered in tiles. Inside, I found a variety of costumes used in the Algarve during the 19th and the 20th century. The museum also featured a set of religious sculptures and a couple of old vehicles put on display in the gardens.
I had lunch at the restaurant Beira Serra, a few miles away from the centre. As I looked around me, I saw prawn skewers on pretty much every table. I figured that was the house speciality so I decided to order the same.
My next stop was the Miradouro do Alto da Ameixeira, a viewpoint set along the hills of Serra do Caldeirão. I stood there on my own with nothing but lush green valleys ahead of me. It still baffles me how you can come across such a landscape in a region that is famous for its beaches.
From there, I drove to Parque da Fonte Férrea, another hidden gem in São Brás de Alportel. Families were setting up picnics as I arrived and kids were having fun balancing on the stepping stones that crossed the stream. I went for a stroll around the park and then settled down for a coffee at the Restaurante Fonte Férrea.
On the way back to São Brás, I passed by another viewpoint - Miradouro do Alto da Arroteia. This viewpoint is slightly closer to the coast so I could spot the ocean emerging behind the hills.
For dinner, I went to Restaurante Ysconderijo. The restaurant is located near the tourism centre and is known for its eclectic menu, which mixes flavours and ingredients from all around the world. I tried a variety of dishes, from fish cakes and spring rolls to the rack of lamb and a sweet créme brûlée to top it all off!
Iberian Escapes took care of my accommodation and reserved a room at a rural hotel called Quinta dos Poetas. Halfway between São Brás de Alportel and Faro, Quinta dos Poetas was the perfect place to spend my last night in the Algarve. I only wish I could have stayed longer to enjoy all of its perks.
I can’t believe my journey has finally come to an end! I spent nearly a month in the Algarve exploring its deserted beaches, sailing across rivers and relishing the views from the top of its mountains.
My flight leaves tomorrow but I’m sure I’ll be back again in the summer and revisit some of these towns. The team of Iberian Escapes was a major help during this trip. They arranged all my accommodation in the Algarve, created the itinerary for the road trip and were always on hand for suggestions of places to visit so that I wouldn’t miss a thing!