Things to do in São Brás de Alportel - 1-day itinerary

São Brás de Alportel was the old cork centre of Portugal long before the industry moved to the north of the country. You can still find plenty of oak trees dotted along the landscape and some remaining factories, though production is much quieter now.

The town borders the hills of Serra do Caldeirão, offering incredible views of the Algarve coast from its peak. Despite its incredible scenery, it welcomes very few visitors compared to other towns in the region. Below are some of the best things to do in São Brás de Alportel, including local festivals and day trip suggestions.

Day 1

Morning: Beekeper Experience

Around São Brás de Alportel are several farms and rural estates. Some offer unique experiences like beekeeping. You’ll get to see the honeybees up close, learn how to create a honeycomb and speak with local beekeepers about their daily routine. At the end of the tour, you’ll often get a chance to sample some of that delicious honey.

Igreja Matriz de São Brás de Alportel

In the heart of São Brás de Alportel is the parish church. The original building is from the 15th century, but much of it was altered after the 1755 earthquake. Highlights include the Baroque baptistery and its unique marble altarpiece. Behind the church, there's a trail leading to an ancient Roman road known as Calçadinha Romana.

Jardim da Verbena

Around the 17th century, São Brás was the summer residence of the Algarve bishops. Their Episcopal palace was located right here in this garden. Only a few things remain from that original complex, like the Baroque fountain. More recent additions include a bandstand and the municipal swimming pools.

Algarve Costume Museum

Continue your tour at the Algarve Costume Museum. The front of the museum stands out with its iron gates and walls covered in tiles. Inside, you'll find a variety of costumes used in the Algarve during the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum also features a set of religious sculptures, an exhibit on cork, and a collection of old vehicles.

Casa Memória EN2

São Brás de Alportel is one of the last stops along the EN2, an old road that crosses Portugal from north to south. This museum pays tribute to this route and the people you’ll find along the way. You’ll learn more about the tradition of limestone extraction and the cantoneiros, the people who helped maintain the roads throughout the years.

Afternoon: Miradouro do Alto da Ameixeira

After exploring the town centre, drive a few miles north towards the Miradouro do Alto da Ameixeira, a viewpoint set along the hills of Serra do Caldeirão. Standing here, you’ll see nothing but lush green valleys ahead of you.

Parque da Fonte Férrea

From the viewpoint, it’s only a few minutes to Parque da Fonte Férrea, another hidden gem in São Brás de Alportel. Set amidst pine trees and eucalyptus, this park is an ideal spot for a picnic. There’s a little stream with stepping stones and several trails that take you across the forest.

Miradouro do Alto da Arroteia

At 368 metres high, the Miradouro de Alto da Arroteia offers some striking views. It is slightly closer to the coast, so you can spot the ocean emerging behind the hills.

Day 1 - São Brás de Alportel Tour Map

Day trips from São Brás de Alportel

  • Faro: The capital of the Algarve, Faro, is only a 25-minute drive from São Brás de Alportel. Spend some time exploring the old town, stopping by the Faro Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace. On the way there, you can pass through the town of Estoi, where you’ll find a Roman Villa and a romantic 19th-century palace.

  • Olhão: Head a few miles south towards Olhão, one of the biggest fishing ports in the Algarve. Bordered by the Ria Formosa Natural Park, the town is the perfect jumping-off point to explore the islands of Culatra and Armona. Other highlights include the fish market and the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário.

  • Loulé: The main attraction in Loulé is the municipal market. Erected in 1908, the building stands out with its Neo-Arab features. Inside, you’ll find a variety of fresh produce stalls and traditional handicrafts. Other popular attractions include the medieval castle and the contemporary art galleries. The town really comes alive in February, during the carnival festivities.

Things to do with kids in São Brás de Alportel

São Brás de Alportel offers a few family-friendly attractions. In the summer, you can take advantage of the municipal pools located just behind Jardim da Verbena. At the Costume Museum, kids can learn more about the clothes and culture of the Algarve during the 19th and 20th centuries. Beyond the town centre, you’ll find plenty of viewpoints and trails that take you across the countryside. The Parque da Fonte Férrea, for instance, is the starting point for three walking routes ranging from 2km to 10km.

Where to eat in São Brás de Alportel

The cuisine of São Brás de Alportel is very much based on meat, such as chicken, lamb and rabbit. Almonds, honey and figs are used for desserts, often paired with traditional drinks like carob liqueur and medronho. Below are some of the best places to eat in São Brás de Alportel:

  •  Beira Serra: Just a few miles east of the centre is this traditional restaurant specialising in grilled meats. From Monday to Saturday, they offer a lunch deal that includes drinks and dessert.

  •  Ysconderijo: Located near the tourism centre, Ysconderijo is known for its eclectic menu, which mixes flavours and ingredients from all around the world. You can try a variety of dishes, from pad Thai to lamb chops.

  • Sabores do Campo: As the name suggests, this place focus on the flavours of the countryside. The daily lunch menu includes a mix of fish and meat dishes. Popular choices include the wild boar and the black pork loin.

Where to stay in São Brás de Alportel

  • Casal da Eira (4 stars): This B&B sits on a quiet farm near São Brás de Alportel. It offers a variety of rooms and a studio apartment that can take up to three people. Other amenities include a shared living room, kitchen, terrace and an outdoor pool. The surrounding countryside is ideal for a walk or cycle, and many trails begin near the guesthouse.

  • Quinta dos Tesouros (4 stars): This charming rural estate offers spacious rooms and a vast garden with olive trees. Guests also have access to a swimming pool and a terrace with panoramic mountain views.

  • Hotel Rural Rocha da Gralheira (3 stars): Located near the Miradouro do Alto da Arroteia, this three-star hotel is an affordable alternative. It has several rooms, including options for families. There's also a pool and a restaurant on-site.

Fancy a vacation rental instead of a hotel? Here is our selection of the best vacation rentals near Sao Bras.

Best time to visit São Brás de Alportel

The best time to visit São Brás de Alportel is between spring and summer. The town is pretty quiet most of the year, but it comes alive during these seasons thanks to local festivals like carnival and the Festa das Tochas Floridas (see below). Temperatures can reach 30ºC in summer, but spring is slightly cooler. It is the perfect time to hike the Serra do Caldeirão and enjoy a picnic amid the countryside.

São Brás de Alportel Festivals

  • Carnival: Like many towns in Portugal, São Brás de Alportel celebrates Carnival around February/March with colourful parades and street parties.

  • Festa das Tochas Floridas: This religious celebration takes place every year on Easter Sunday. During the event, the streets of São Brás are paved with flowers, balconies are decorated with colourful bedspreads, and people carry flower torches as part of a procession. The party takes place around Largo de São Sebastião and the parish church.

  • Feira da Serra: On the last weekend of July, São Brás hosts Feira da Serra, a large event with live music and stalls selling local food and crafts.

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