Things to do in Monchique - 1-day itinerary

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.

Day 1

Morning: Parque da Mina

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.

Caldas de Monchique

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 times.

Miradouro das Caldas de Monchique

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.

Miradouro da Fonte Santa

More than a viewpoint, this spot features a small fountain where you can stock up on water from the Monchique springs.

Afternoon: Monchique

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.

Igreja Matriz de Monchique

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.

Studio Bongard

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 and pomegranates.

Miradouro de São Sebastião

For the best views of Monchique, head to the Miradouro de São Sebastião. From here, you can see the whole village, including the church towers, the old convent and the surrounding park.

Odelouca Dam

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.

Day 1 -  Monchique Tour Map

Day trips from Monchique

  • 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 sea caves.

  • 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.

Things to do with kids in Monchique

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.

Where to eat in Monchique

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.

  • Café 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. Cash-only.

Where to stay in Monchique

  • 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.

Best time to visit Monchique

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.

Monchique Festivals

  • 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.

  • Feira do Presunto: Around July, Monchique honours its cured ham with a small food market. It’s a great chance to sample this local delicacy, along with other treats like honey and medronho.

  • Artechique: On the first weekend of September, there is a craft fair at Largo dos Chorões in the centre of Monchique. Textiles, baskets and ceramics are a few things you can expect to find here.

  • Monchique Serra Natal: During the holiday season, Monchique hosts a variety of activities, including a Christmas market, food fair and live music. There are also plenty of attractions for kids.

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