Monchique is a small town located amidst the highest mountains of the
Algarve. The views from the Fóia peak are breathtaking, with houses
surrounded by lush green fields.
You can hike up to the mountains or
relax in the nearby thermal springs of Caldas de Monchique. The town is
also known for its “medronho”, a local spirit made from the fruit of
the arbutus tree that grows in the region, which you can sample at the
local distillery inside Parque da Mina.
Our one-day itinerary features the best things to do in Monchique, including top restaurants and places to stay.
Before heading to the centre of Monchique, it’s worth stopping by Parque
da Mina. This theme park features several attractions, but the
highlight is the medronho distillery. Here you can learn more about this
traditional firewater made with local medronho berries.
After visiting the park, head to Caldas de
Monchique, a small town known for its natural springs with temperatures
reaching 32ºC. Get the thermal circuit pass at the spa and spend the
morning relaxing in the thermal pool and sauna. The water is said to
have medicinal properties and has been used for treatments since ancient
A bit further north is this
incredible viewpoint overlooking Caldas de Monchique and the trail of
Barranco do Banho. It is a good starting point to explore the south side
of Picota, the second-highest point in the Monchique mountains.
Drive up the mountains towards Fóia, the highest peak in the
Algarve at 902 metres above sea level. Standing here, you can see the
town of Monchique and massive hills stretching for miles and miles,
covered with trees and wildflowers. You can also stop at the Picota
viewpoint a bit further down and take in the views of the southern
coastline. The whole area offers the perfect setting for activities such
as hiking, mountain biking and birdwatching.
Slowly make your way down to the
centre of Monchique. Large eucalyptus trees line the road, and
occasionally, there’s a glimpse of the hills in the distance. Hiding
among the trees are the ruins of Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro, a
17th-century convent. Eventually, you’ll reach the town centre and its
maze of cobbled streets.
Once you get to the town, visit the Igreja
Matriz de Monchique. This 16th-century church stands out with its
Manueline doorway featuring a pointed arch and plant motifs. Inside
you’ll discover a collection of figurative tiles from the 18th century
and a Baroque altarpiece. Attached to the church is a small museum with
religious objects, including some found in the nearby Convento de Nossa
Senhora do Desterro.
Take a wander through the town’s streets and stop by
Studio Bongard. Run by Sylvain and Tara Bongard, this art gallery
features a fantastic collection of ceramic sculptures inspired by the
nature and wildlife of the Algarve. You’ll also find plenty of
sculptures in the surrounding garden. The pieces are inspired by the
nature and culture of Portugal, with items such as sardines, roosters
Finish the day at the Odelouca Dam, where
the river meets the hills. The dam is fed mostly by small streams born
in Monchique. Enjoy the views from the top or take a walk along the
water. The area is also a popular spot for fishing.
Silves: About half an hour south of Monchique is the historic town
of Silves. It is home to a well-preserved Moorish castle and a stunning
Gothic cathedral. Take a stroll along the narrow streets and enjoy the
scenic views of the Arade River.
Portimão: Head down to the coast
and visit the vibrant city of Portimão. This is one of the busiest
resort areas in the Algarve, packed with shops and restaurants. Enjoy
the nightlife scene, learn more about the town’s history at the
municipal museum and unwind by one of the surrounding beaches, like
Praia da Rocha.
Lagos: About 40km southwest of Monchique is the
charming town of Lagos. Explore the old town, visit paradisiacal beaches
like Praia Dona Ana or Praia do Camilo or hop on a boat to the nearby
Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve: Between Portimão and Lagos
is this large nature reserve home to diverse birdlife, tranquil lagoons
and unique flora. You can follow the boardwalk along the sea or book a
guided kayak tour to learn more about the region.
Immersed in nature, Monchique offers plenty of outdoor activities for
families. You can follow one of the numerous hiking trails through the
mountains and stop for a picnic to take in the views. Another
alternative is to book a donkey walk with the Happy-Donkeys Sanctuary.
Kids will also enjoy exploring the Parque da Mina, a theme park based
around an 18th-century mansion that showcases the crafts of Monchique,
from woodworking to bread making and distilling. There is a small farm
with animals, a viewpoint, and play areas for the littles ones. For a
more relaxing holiday, head to the spa town of Caldas de Monchique and
take advantage of the tranquil gardens and the thermal baths.
The gastronomy of Monchique is based on a
lot of pork dishes and homemade sausages like “farinheira”. Honey is
also an essential ingredient of the regional cuisine and is used in most
of the local cakes and desserts. Below are some of the best places to
eat in Monchique:
Luar da Fóia: Located on the road leading to
Fóia, this restaurant provides incredible views of the surrounding
mountains and the sea far off in the distance. The menu focuses on pork
dishes, like the “Assadura com Migas”, roasted black pork seasoned with
olive oil, garlic and coriander.
A Charette: A Charette is one of
the oldest restaurants in Monchique. Located in the old town, it serves a
variety of regional delicacies, including grilled meats and hearty
stews. Don’t miss the stuffed squid and the honey pudding.
Império: This no-frills restaurant is set on the EN266 road, about 5km
from Monchique. The speciality here is the barbecue chicken, which comes
with fries and tomato salad. You can eat it here or order takeaway.
Monchique Resort & Spa (5 stars): This upscale resort offers a mix
of rooms and apartments with private terraces, most of which face the
mountains. Other amenities include three swimming pools, four
restaurants and a spa. It also provides plenty of activities, including
guided walks, yoga classes and movie nights.
Villa Termal das
Caldas de Monchique (4 stars): Located within Caldas de Monchique, this
hotel offers comfortable rooms, a thermal spa, and stunning gardens.
Guests can access the wellness facilities, where they can enjoy
treatments like massages and steam baths.
Quinta do Tempo: This
charming rural guesthouse is set amidst Monchique's lush countryside. It
offers a range of studios with fully equipped kitchens, a garden, and a
barbecue area. Guests can enjoy the peaceful setting and explore the
nearby hiking trails.
Vilafoia (3 stars): This cosy guesthouse is
located near Fóia, the highest peak in the Algarve. The comfortable
rooms feature Portuguese terracotta tiles, granite and pinewood. You can
also book a variety of experiences, including massages, yoga classes
and rental bikes.
The weather in Monchique tends to be much cooler than the coastal towns.
That said, there are still very distinct seasons, with spring and
summer averaging around 25ºC, while winter ranges between 10ºC and 15ºC.
Visit between March and July if you want to make the most of outdoor
activities like hiking and swimming. Or come in early fall and winter to
catch some of the local crafts markets, sit by the fire and relax in
the thermal baths.
Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais: This annual fair held in early March
celebrates Monchique’s regional sausages. Dozens of vendors get together
to sell these cured meats, most of which are made with black pork.