Things to do in Alcoutim - 1-day itinerary

Nearly touching the Spanish border is Alcoutim, a small riverside town in the Eastern Algarve. The town is surrounded by wooded hills and the Guadiana river, which separates Portugal from Spain.

As you get closer, you’ll notice the cluster of whitewashed houses scattered along the valley. Alcoutim’s quiet streets feel miles away from the bustling resort towns in the south. Among the attractions here are a castle, a church, and a small river beach. If you travel a few miles out, you’ll encounter Roman ruins and megalithic sites.
Our itinerary below shows you the best things to do in Alcoutim, from the top landmarks to day trip suggestions.

Day 1

Morning: Castelo de Alcoutim

Dating back to the 14th century, Alcoutim Castle was erected to protect the border between Portugal and Spain. Inside is a small archaeological museum where you can learn more about the history of the region and the numerous battles that were fought here in the past. Standing at the top, you can spot a similar castle on the Spanish side of the river overlooking the village of Sanlúcar de Guadiana. It was in Alcoutim that Dom Fernando I of Portugal and Don Henrique II of Castile signed a peace treaty after years of conflicts between the two regions.

Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição

Continue your tour at the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição. The original building is from the 16th century, but the main doorway is the only thing that remains from that era. Most of what you see today is from the 18th century, including the stunning Baroque features. These include the gilded altar and the stone staircase leading to the atrium, where you can enjoy incredible views of the surrounding countryside.

Afternoon: Praia Fluvial do Pego Fundo

Spend the afternoon relaxing at the nearby river beach. Hidden amidst the trees, the Praia Fluvial do Pego Fundo feels like a quiet oasis compared to most beaches on the Algarve Coast. The water tends to be slightly warmer here, which means you can come for a swim pretty much any time of year. There are a few thatched umbrellas dotted around the sand, but you can bring your own too. You’ll also find a volleyball court, a bar and a picnic area.

Menires de Lavajo

From the beach, set off to explore the megalithic complex of Lavajo, near the village of Afonso Vicente. This complex includes two menhirs that date back to 3,500 / 2,800 BC, which have been interpreted as territory marks or sacred spaces. The tallest one is 3.14m and is among the biggest menhirs in Portugal. A third one is on display at the Archaeological Museum of Alcoutim, but is severely damaged.

Day 1 - Alcoutim Tour Map

Other things to do near Alcoutim:

  • Limite Zero: Adrenaline seekers will enjoy a ride on the Limite Zero. This zip line connects the neighbouring town of Sanlúcar de Guadiana in Spain to Alcoutim. The starting point is in Spain, so first, you’ll need to get across the border. The easiest way to get there is to take the 10-minute ferry from Alcoutim.

  • Villa Romana do Montinho das Laranjeiras: About 10km south of Alcoutim is a Roman settlement known as Montinho das Laranjeiras. The earliest construction here is from the 1st century BC, but there is evidence of it being occupied throughout the Visigoth and Islamic period.

Day trips from Alcoutim

  • Sanlúcar de Guadiana (Spain): Sanlúcar de Guadiana feels like a sister town to Alcoutim, with its whitewashed houses and castle high above a hill. While you can drive there, it’s much easier to reach it via boat.

  • Castro Marim: About 30-minute drive from Alcoutim is this charming village known for its historical landmarks and natural beauty. Visit the castle and explore the nearby marshland, where you can learn more about salt production and observe various bird species.

  • Vila Real de Santo António: Drive all the way down the east coast until you reach Vila Real de Santo António. The town has a distinct architecture with beautiful squares lined with orange trees. Take your time wandering through the historic centre, visit the Praça Marquês de Pombal, and relax on the golden sands of nearby beaches like Monte Gordo.

  • Mértola: Head north to the Alentejo region to visit the picturesque town of Mértola. It is full of historical landmarks, including a medieval castle, a Paleochristian basilica and Islamic ruins. Explore the town's numerous museums and enjoy the river views from the castle walls. For a trip back in time, don’t miss the Islamic festival held every two years around May. You can reach Mértola by car or boat.

Things to do with kids in Alcoutim

Alcoutim offers a few family-friendly attractions. You can explore the castle grounds and take in the views from the river or hop on a boat to nearby towns like Mértola in the Alentejo or Sanlúcar de Guadiana across the border. In summer, you can enjoy a swim at the Pego Fundo beach and try activities such as kayaking or paddleboarding.

Where to eat in Alcoutim

The gastronomy in Alcoutim is influenced by its location, between the Alentejo and the Algarve. Restaurants here serve mainly fish from the river, like lamprey and eel, but there are also dishes with lamb, wild boar and black pork. For dessert, don’t miss the torta de alfarroba, which combines regional ingredients like carob, honey and almond. Below are some of the best places to eat in Alcoutim:

  • Taberna do Ramos: Set on the outskirts of Alcoutim, this traditional restaurant used to be one of those places where truck drivers would stop to eat. Now, with better road connections, it has become a favourite among tourists visiting Alcoutim. The specialities here are game dishes such as fried rabbit, roasted wild boar and partridge.

  • O Soeiro: Located near the riverfront, O Soeiro is a popular spot for a casual meal. The daily dish includes local specialities like chickpea stew, but there is also a variety of grilled fish and meat.

Where to stay in Alcoutim

  • Hotel D’Alcoutim (4 stars): About a 10-minute walk from the centre is this modern hotel facing the Guadiana River. Guests have access to a garden, an outdoor pool and a dining area.

  • Pousada da Juventude de Alcoutim (3 stars): If you’re on a budget, you can book a night at this local hostel, complete with a shared kitchen, living room and a pool. Choose between private rooms, dorms or an apartment.

Best time to visit Alcoutim

Alcoutim has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. You can visit the town all year round and get a different experience. Spring and autumn offer the ideal temperatures for a hike along the river and the hills. Summer, on the other hand, tends to be quite dry, with temperatures reaching up to 30ºC. This is the ideal season for a swim or to catch one of the local festivals. The temperature drops during winter, with an average of 10ºC to 18ºC. There are fewer crowds then, and you’ll often have the streets to yourself.

Alcoutim Festivals

  • Festival do Contrabando: On the last weekend of March, Alcoutim pays homage to the region's history of smuggling along the Guadiana River. The festival includes reenactments, cultural activities, music, and entertainment.

  • Feira dos Doces d’ Avó: Held around Easter, this event allows visitors to sample delicious local sweets and includes festive workshops, like egg painting and baking easter cakes.

  • Festa de Alcoutim: In September, Alcoutim hosts this lively three-day festival. Many travel to this area to join the festivities, which include concerts, dancing and fireworks.

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