Monchique is a mountainous town in the Algarve countryside with around 2300 residents. It is a calm town known for its healing thermal waters.
To get there you will have to drive 900 metres upwards between trees and picturesque panoramic views. But it is worth it!
The Romans were the first to discover Monchique and its magical waters. After the Islamic period, the area was known for its production of honey and medronho (arbutus brandy). Nowadays it is a fresh air haven where you can relax and wander in peace.
Monchique is 35-45 minutes away from Portimão, Lagos or Carvoeiro, which allows for the possibility of staying in a mountainous region and visiting the beautiful Algarve beaches anytime you wish.
If you enjoy staying by the sea, make sure you take a tour of this town, through its most important places and most beautiful sceneries.
Where to stay?
Although this is a small town it has several types of accommodation available.
Luxury at Monchique Resort & Spa- an elegant hotel, built to minimize its impact on the environment. This is a 5 star haven for families, close to town and leisure activities.
Hotel Central – this 4 star hotel is located in the newly renovated Villa Termal Caldas de Monchique Spa Resort. Here you can enjoy thermal water treatments, massages and other wellness treatments.
If you enjoy typical houses and to get a feel of how residents live in Monchique there are over 40 local propertiesprepared to host you in the most welcoming manner in the region.
We highlight Casa da Nave that offers accommodation, a garden and a patio about 4.4km away of Termas de Monchique. This house has a panoramic terrace with views of the sea.
Rural tourism or agrotourism is a tourism modality that aims to offer the tourist more direct and genuine contact with nature, agriculture and local tradition through hosting in a familiar and rural environment.
Quinta da Idalina is a great option for those who are fans of this type of tourism or that wish to try it out. Located in Caldas de Monchique, Quinta da Adalina offers wide views of the mountains and the sea. It is 1 km away from Termas de Monchique and 5km away from the town of Monchique.
Vale Carrasqueira Rural Campsite
This park is very environmentally friendly and encourages quality of life.
It has all the commodities necessary for an enjoyable stay. It has 14 individual parking places where each caravan has an electrical pitch, water, toilet cleaning facilities and a support table.
As well as all this there is a grass area with clothes lines, washing tanks and laundry service.
You can lay by the pool and enjoy nature. What else would you need on a holiday?
What to visit?
You can visit the town but the surrounding areas also have a lot to offer.
In the historical town centre, Monchique’s houses have traditional Algarve architecture in both their white walls and coloured bands around the windows and doors. The chimneys are also different from those you will find on the coastline.
Houses climb the steep hills and on each narrow street new perspectives of the hill are seen. A good motive to enjoy a long discovery walk in a different corner of the Algarve, filled with fruit trees, hydrangeas and eucalyptus.
To truly enjoy the beauty of Monchique, you should walk over to Largo de São Sebastião.
The white houses seem to lower step by step down the hill, decorated in greenery, flowers and freshness.
The Urban Park is a recreational area of leisure and environmental culture for both the local population and visitors. This space is located on a riverside that resulted* from a valley covered in vegetation. You can enjoy a walk through the pedestrian paths or rest on the garden benches or picnic tables. It is a good place to spend a summer afternoon.
Monchique’s Main Church
This is a pretty Manuelino style 16th-century church with decoration that is allusive to the vegetation of the surrounding mountains. It has a small museum and a collection of artifacts there were used over the years. It is open Monday to Friday between 08h30 and 17h30, free entry.
Santo António Gallery
This gallery is located in the old 18th century Santo Antonio church and is a cultural space used to host temporary exhibitions and concerts. Visit it! You’ll most likely find something happening.
Basket making and weaving are a big part of Monchique’s traditional handicraft and you will find in town different shops with different typical products. Because this region is so rich in cork trees, it is probable that you will also find craftsmen working with cork and making products that you can buy as souvenirs.
You can walk down from town and visit two of the most emblematic and famous coastal towns in the Algarve: Portimão and Lagos. Both are very connected to the sea and fishing life and are places where you can snorkel, take tours to the maritime caves, take boat tours and lay your towel on golden beaches.
Beaches close to Monchique
It is a fact that Monchique is in the mountains but a mere 40 minutes drive away you can find beautiful beaches:
Praia da Rocha (37.115780, -8.535805)
With an immense 1km long beach this beach is protected by orange and red cliffs. It is one of the best known beaches in the Algarve and it is visited by both Portuguese residents and foreigner holiday makers.
It has wooden paths and walkways along the beach and several places where you can rent a canopy and beach loungers.
On the avenue next to this beach you can enjoy restaurants, cafes, bars, a casino and Portimão Marina.
Although is is an urban and touristic place, the natural scenery overpowers that due to its beauty, no wonder it is so famous!
Praia do Benagil (37.087487, -8.425717)
This beach is at the bottom of a valley and by Benagil fishing port, the village is at the top of the cliff.
Only after you have walked through many fishing and tour boats will you arrive at the beach that is famous for its hole from which you can see the sky.
The rocks in this area are very rich in fossils which shows that in the past this area was covered by the Atlantic ocean. Given the high tourist interest in this beach, the best and most peaceful way to visit it is by boat tour which you can board at Carvoeiro beach or another close town such as Portimão.
Meia Praia (37.119491, -8.638040)
The beach of Meia Praia accompanies the wide bay of the city of Lagos. It starts by the jetty of Bensafrim and goes for 5km until Alvor’s Ria. On the western side, you can see Ponta da Piedade, a place with wonderful panoramic views of the ocean.
It is the only soft sanded beach in the Lagos region and there are several beach and watersports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, volleyball amongst others.
A network of boardwalks extends over the dunes and protects the vegetation that maintains them, decade after decade.
When is the best time to visit Monchique?
In the summer, Monchique is warm, dry and the sky is mostly clear but the winter is long, cold and has strong winds (due to its altitude) and the sky is partially covered.
Throughout the year, in general, the temperature varies between 6 °C and 26 °C and is rarely lower than 2 °C or higher than 31 °C.
The best time of the year to visit Monchique and partake in warm weather activities is between mid-June and mid-September. In the winter you can take thermal treatments, cosy by the fireplace or take shorter pedestrian walks.
Where to eat?
Monchique is known for its pig farming, proof of which is the pork sausages (molho, morcela de farinha or farinheira and chouriça) and hams showed at the annual Sausage Fair (Spring) and the Ham Fair that usually takes place in July and attracts a lot of visitors.
The arbutus brandy (medronho) produced in this region is also very well known as a brand in itself and attracts a lot of people to try it out. Liquors made with regional products are also very sought out, the most famous of which is Melosa and is made from arbutus brandy (medronho).
In regards to local sweets, Monchique has a regional traditional sweet that is called Bolo de Tacho and is made with cocoa, honey and fennel.
You can try all these delicacies at the restaurant A Charrette. Chose the Cozido à Monchique, a sort of local variation of Portuguese stew and for desert, the quince baked in port. The restaurant itself is very cosy and has very traditional decor. Definitely, a place you can’t miss in Monchique.
Monchique at night
In Monchique there aren’t any discos or bars open till late, it is a place of rest.
If you are looking to dance and drink till sunrise you should visit Portimão, Albufeira or Vilamoura where the nightlife is very lively.
How to get to Monchique
From Porto drive down the A1 to Lisbon and from Lisbon the A2 to the Algarve. Monchique is at 263 km from Lisbon and 63 km from Faro.
From Lisbon drive down the A2 (25th April Bridge) or Vasco da Gama Bridge. On Via do Infante (A22) leave at the Monchique exit and take Estrada Nacional 266.
If you arrive at Faro Airport you can get a transfer or a taxi. For a more economical option, you’d best get a bus from Faro city centre.
You can also get a train from Faro to Portimão and then a taxi or bus from there.
Activities in Monchique
To visit Monchique’s mountains is to visit a mountainous area with great vegetational diversity and mild climate affectionately called “Algarve’s garden”.
It is natural patrimony with crystal clear streams at the end of rugged valleys that relaxes you and allows for contemplation. It is a cool place for a change from the heat of Algarve’s coast.
It is worth climbing up to Picota or to the highest point in the Algarve, Fóia, from where you can see the great extension of land between Cabo de são Vicente and Serra da Arrábida. Poucochinho in Barranco dos Pisões, where you can have a picnic on the stone tables under the shade of a plane tree, is also worthy of a visit.
If you are going to Monchique visit the Thermal Springs and their medicinal waters used since ancient times to treat ailments. Book a massage!
Activities in Monchique are connected to pedestrian walk and observation of the fauna and flora. Walk around the areas of Alferce, Marmelete and Monchique and enjoy the architectural, historical, cultural and gastronomic patrimonies.
Have you heard of Spirulina? Spirulina is a superfood algae, source of proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and is produced in Monchique. It was elected by ONU as the “best food for the future” as it offers complete nutrition in a simple way and combats world sub nutrition.
On your way to Fóia take a detour to the right into an area called Restolho da Aveia, there you will find the pioneers of this production in Portugal.
If you are not staying in Monchique:
Even if you are not sleeping in Monchique exactly you can visit the village and meet the wonderful people who lives there.The tours include transportation so you can rest and taste the medronho as much as you want.
Check the best choices for you:
Algarve Fun is sure that you will not forget your visit to Monchique and that you will want to come back.