Flanked by beautiful mountains, the magnificent town of Monchique is the ideal destination to anyone who desires holidays surrounded by nature in its purest form. Here you can find a unique blend of well-being, nature, and handicrafts.
Monchique has some of the richest forests in the Algarve, filled with cork trees, eucalyptuses and chestnut trees. Apart from that, you can visit zoos, take pedestrian circuits as well as safaris. Join us in the discovery of all this wonderful region has to offer you!
1. What to visit in Monchique?
1.1. The Village
It is a beautiful and winding village, with narrow streets and colorful houses that are its trademark and gives it a strong character. It is very quiet and the central square, with plenty of fountains and flowers, makes it very beautiful. As you walk around the village you will also find some hidden alleys that are so interesting to photograph.
Near the town’s center you can find the Matriz church or Mother Church, built in the sixteenth century and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755. It is well preserved and has a very beautiful door. Inside, among many interesting images, a stunning sculpted statue that represents Jesus on the Cross stands out.
1.2. Caldas de Monchique
It is one of the most beautiful places in the region, known for having the best water in the Algarve. It lies close to the town and it is said that the spa’s hot water has a temperature of around 31º Celsius and has therapeutic properties for rheumatic and respiratory diseases, being also used for relaxation. The healing properties of this miraculous water that has its source in the mountain were discovered long ago by the Romans.
It is not only the water that impels us to stay, however, the trails to explore near Caldas de Monchique also invite us to walk along them. For about 6 hours, you can do the whole 18 kilometers of these wonderful circuits, a unique way to gaze at the nature.
1.3. Parque da Mina
Close to Caldas de Monchique, you can also visit Parque da Mina, a little themed park that explains the functioning of an ancient iron ore mine and which offers entertainment. There is a little zoo here where children can feed the animals and, in its basement, you can learn to make licor de medronho (arbutus berry liquor).
1.4. Serra da Picota
Serra da Picota is the second highest point in the Algarve (at an altitude of 774 meters), being part of Serra de Monchique. Picota enjoys a prominent view of the mountains of Serra de Monchique, in the south of Portugal. From its peak you can see the region’s highest mountain, the neighboring Fóia, also stretching over the cliffs of the Algarve.
In the path’s start point you can admire the hot sources of Caldas. The vegetation also enchants us with its eucalyptuses and dense plantations of heather, strawberry and other aromatic herbs. Go up to the Picota panoramic point, it will be worth it!
1.5. Monte Fóia
At 902 meters of altitude, Monte Fóia is the highest peak in the Algarve. The mountain range is part of Monchique and there are several ways you can reach its peak, so you can choose whether to hike, ride a mountain bicycle or drive a jeep.
This peak offers panoramic views as if you were on top of the world, but mind the weather forecast, since if you want to enjoy the view at its best, the day should be sunny and free from clouds, then you will be fascinated by the view.
When you decide to visit Fóia, do not forget to bring some warm clothes because it could be rather cold and windy due to the altitude. Along the road to Fóia you can find plenty of restaurants, therefore you do not need to worry with bringing any snacks with you.
2. Where should I sleep? Unforgettable refuges…
If, by this time, you’ve already packed your bags and asking where you should stay to enjoy the beauty of Monchique, then here goes a wholly different suggestion.
Vilafoia is a lodge with just twelve rooms, which will allow you all the quietness you wish and desire. Located in Monchique and surrounded by a cork forest with a view to the sea, it is a place that will dazzle you, as the landscape is surely breath-taking.
Here hosts are divided into two groups. For the first, the lodge offers outside activities such as cycling, walking, trails, mountain hiking, among others. For the second type of hosts that look to connect with the nature, this wonderful refuge offers yoga, meditation, reiki, birdwatching, among other serene and relaxing activities, in a unique immersive experience that will leave you completely relaxed.
A highlight in the outside space is the enormous wooden deck with a view to the mountains of Monchique and to the sea, which is used for yoga, meditation as well as small events. On the other hand, the grass-covered terraces close to the breakfast room and the swimming pool also allow the practice of these activities there.
Breakfast is always included in the price and the jacuzzi, which is open all year round and has a magnificent view to the mountains. You can also enjoy the swing, a chill bed, and a spring water cascade.
The place also organizes activities such as guided tours by the trails of Monchique, Happy Hour Yoga at the end of the day with ambient music, culminating in the jacuzzi, or you can still be invited to do mindfulness between the trees or relaxing with therapeutic massages.
For the more spiritual guests, this lodge also offers the called “forest bath”, a therapy that was born in Japan and which translates into a nature immersion that is said to provide for a reduction of the arterial tension and improve the blood flow, the best trees for this therapy being the eucalypt, pine tree and cork oaks. Michael Izaú, owner of Vilafoia, refers that guests call the lodge “a paradise in the mountain, given the combination of a unique and dazzling view of mountains and sea”.
2.2. Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro
An interesting curiosity about this convent is that it is located on private property, but the owner welcomes the guests without charging a cent.
The monument is located on the hills upwards from the town. It is the ruins of a Franciscan convent known as Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro. It is a monastery built in 1631 that was completely destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. From the top of the convent you can enjoy a superb view of Monchique and its surroundings. Be aware that if you want to walk from the convent to the town it will take you about 15 minutes.
2.3. Another option for your stay could be Hotel Termal de Monchique that offers thermal springs, indoor pool, sauna, as well as a souvenir shop and even wedding service, or, alternatively, Pure Monchique Hotel that offers moments of perfect tranquillity, with its amazing panoramic over the Natural Park of Serra de Monchique.
3. Where to eat?
There are several good restaurants in Monchique, some of which will be suggested in here.
Luar da Fóia is a local restaurant on the slope of the hill which enjoys a magnificent view over the region. The food is cooked perfectly and the price is fair.
Charrete offers good service and good food, with quite generous portions. The black pig stands out in its menu and the variety of dishes on offer is big. Its location in the narrow streets of the town of Monchique also makes it a very typical option, accessible and pleasant.
A last suggestion would be Foz do Banho, that offers an excellent relation between quality and price. The meals are delicious, and the service is good. The spicy chicken is one of its specialties and it can be found near Caldas de Monchique and Monchique Resort & Spa Hotel.
After guiding you by the wonders of Monchique, it’s now time for you to pack your bags. Let yourself be fascinated by everything this place has to offer.