Monchique - Serra de Monchique
Travel advice for outdoor holidays in Monchique in the heart of the Serra de Monchique, framed by the mountains Picota and Foia, the highest elevation of the Algarve and southern Portugal: Accommodation & restaurants, hiking & mountain biking, thermal springs of Caldas de Monchique, …
- District: Faro > Municipality: Monchique > Parish:
- Population: 6.045
- Distances: Faro Airport 96 km, Lisbon Airport 266 km
- Tourist Info: Posto de Turismo de Monchique
Monchique is a village (vila) and municipality (concelho) in the district of Faro (Algarve), the most southern region of continental Portugal. At an altitude of 485 meters, Monchique is not only the highest village of the Algarve, but is also known as a therapeutic spa resort and the starting point for hiking trails in the Serra de Monchique.
Monchique location and access
Getting to Monchique
The municipality of Monchique lies inland, in the mountain range of Serra de Monchique and borders the neighbouring Alentejo region. The village nestles between two peaks, Fóia (902 m) in the west, and Picota (774 m) in the east.
Monchique lies beyond the main roads of the Algarve. From exit 6 (Portimão/Monchique) off the A22 motorway, a national road winds its way up to Monchique and further to the north. Another route of scenic interest, the EN267, crosses the Serra from the Costa Vicentina in Aljezur, leading up to Monchique and continuing on through São Marcos da Serra.
Access to public transport is very limited. There is only one bus route to Portimão, run by the Frota Azul bus company.
Monchique sports and leisure
What to do in Monchique
The mountainous landscape of the Serra de Monchique is virtually untouched by the mass tourism of the Algarvian coastal areas. The mountain range is of volcanic origin and consists of two distinct rock layers: Slate is prevalent up to a height 300 - 400 meters; above this is a massif of syenite, a special type of granite. Hiking trails cross the mountains, and there us a wide variety of outdoor activities available: canoeing, abseiling, rock climbing and mountain biking, amongst many others.
A few miles south of Monchique is Caldas de Monchique, a famous spa resort. Caldas was already well known in the time of the Roman Empire because of its warm, sulphurous water, bubbling up with a constant temperature of 32° C.
From time to time, in years of extreme drought, larger parts of the vegetation are affected by forest fires, often caused by human negligence and even started deliberately.
Monchique shopping and gastronomy
In the picturesque narrow and steep lanes that have kept their typical rustic charm, you can find many craftsmen who have their workshops open to the public.
Typical regional products are sausages and ham from the black pig or Iberian pig. The famous brandy, Medronho is also produced here, distilled from the fruit of Arbutus tree that is part of the authentic vegetation of this area.
Surroundings of Monchique
Serra de Monchique: Fóia and Picota
Fóia is the highest peak not only of the Algarve, but the entire southern part of Portugal. From the top of this mountain there is a magnificent panoramic view as far as to the nearby Alentejo, in the north, and down to the Atlantic coast between Portimão and Lagos, in the south.
The way from Monchique to Fóia via the N266-3 passes by a very special locale: Quinta do Bento. The estate, once a summer residence of the royal family, is still owned by the Duke of Bragança. However, today it houses a small hotel and restaurant. It is well worth a visit because of the charming location, a rich vegetation and reasonably priced meals.
A popular pastime is walking up the track from Monchique to Picota. Our friend Uwe organizes this tour lasting 2.5 hours for small groups of walkers. South of Picota, hidden in a valley is the Fonte Santa, whose warm waters are reputed to have healing properties.
History of Monchique
Known since Roman times: Caldas de Monchique
Aiming to take advantage of the hot springs at Caldas de Monchique, the Romans built the first urban settlement here under the name of Mons Cicus.
In 1773 Monchique was raised to village status and the municipality of Silves was dismantled. This development underlined the growing importance of the cork and forestry industries, and pig and cattle farming at that point in time.
Municipality of Monchique
Besides the village itself, the rural parishes of Alferce and Marmelete belong to this municipality.