Monchique is the Algarve’s only official mountain being 902 metres above sea level; it makes an ideal day to visit taking a break from beaches. Monchique is set in the serra de Monchique borders. Towards the Alentejo region where the Algarve ends and Central Portugal begins, with its thick Forrest all the way to the border.
Check the skies when planning your visit; you don’t want a wasted journey as often Monchique can be cloudy with poor visibility.
A good easy drive on the main road to Monchique, the drive up gives the feel of an adventure ahead. The road is lined with eucalyptus trees & yellow flowering mimosa trees. On the road up is the small hamlet called Caldas de Monchique. This is the natural spring spa reputedly having healing properties first witness in the roman period.There are two further hot spring sites, one south of Picota hidden in a valley named Fonte Santa.
Caldos de Monchique has a small chapel and many unusual design houses; with restaurants, bars to stop off for lunch. As many at the top of Monchique in the main square are mostly snack bars. Caldos small hamlet offers a building that is open nearly all year round with different events mainly art and craft exhibitions. The area has many picnic areas to enjoy so well worth thinking of taking a picnic and having lunch in its beautiful surroundings.
As you head towards Monchique you will find on the right hand side Parque da Mina. Open all year it has a waterfall to the entrance. Well worth visiting taking you back in time with its many displayed themes and vintage items.
Following its many sharp bends something appears round every corner.
Look out for the man and his donkey, which lets you, sit on its back for a photo opportunity. Further along are large pottery shops with hand painted tiles and other gifts. Well worth a browse as these are slowly declining in numbers across the Algarve. On reaching the top, the square has undergone a revamp so even if you have been in the last few years well worth a return. The first thing you will notice is the top of a huge tree a member of the pine family sitting in the ground of a small park. In the centre square they have restored a Nora (well) which has tin buckets that go round to fill up water buckets, now turned into a fun water feature. In the past driven by donkeys that would pull up water for up to 10 hours a day.
Strolling around you’ll find bronze lifelike figures of adults and children. On your walkabout, you will also find the working public laundry no washing machines here. Still used by the locals to wash and scrub their clothes, linen before taking it back home to dry. From the town looking up into the hillside you will spot the ruin of a 17th century Franciscan monastery. You can have a wander around, a nearby house in the grounds, lived in by a family. They offer a few vegetables grown in the gardens for sale to keep the geese and other birds that live around the ruins.
Caldas de Monchique
Bread oven & picnic area
Restored water nora
Traditional horse cart
Monchique main square
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