Nestled in the densely wooded Monchique mountains, this pretty market town is steeped in history and charm. Flanked by whitewashed buildings with coloured borders around their doors and windows, the narrow cobbled streets of Monchique wind their way into a beautiful square dotted with pavement cafes and pastelarias. Enjoying the afternoon sun with a coffee and one of the delicious, local pastries as you watch the rest of the world go by is an absolute must! Anyone in search of stronger-tasting refreshments will not be disappointed here as Monchique is famous for its production of Medronho – this famous Portuguese liquer is made from the fruits of the arbutus trees which grow abundantly in the surrounding hills. Spectacular views can be enjoyed on the road down from the mountains where the famous Caldas de Monchique can be found. Built by the Romans to take advantage of the natural spring waters produced by the mountains, these thermal waters are still in use today inside the thermal treatment centre. A good selection of traditional, Portuguese restaurants are available to those wishing to dine out and the Algarve’s beautiful beaches can be reached within a 20 minute drive.
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With such a large coastline it’s no surprise the Algarve is a great place for all kinds of fish and seafood, with restaurants commonly serving fresh sardines, bream, cod, monkfish and tuna. Another famous dish of the Algarve is chicken piri-piri great for a relaxed atmosphere! Most dishes will be served with served with boiled potatoes and vegetables or salad.
Monchique offers a variety of restaurants that cater to all many of them with excellent terraces where you can enjoy both the food and the view.
Barranco dos Pisões (Pisões Ravine)
Walkers will adore the Pisoes Ravine, a truly wonderful unspoilt area of woodland with a flowing spring. Enjoy a shady picnic under the branches of the stunning one hundred-year-old tree
Situated in the heart of the woods with a stream flowing nearby, this is a beautiful spot for a walk and a picnic under the shade of the magnificent, hundred-year-old plane tree that grows here.
Igreja Matriz de Monchique
The 16th century parish church of Monchique is dedicated to Our Lady of Conception and has an unusual portal carved in stone to resemble knotted rope. Inside, the church has three naves and its huge arches are supported by broad granite columns. Though the rest of the church was damaged in the 1755 earthquake, the domed Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament remained intact and is covered in lovely 17th century tiles.
Monchique’s central square
A delightful place to rest your feet and people watch over a coffee and a pastry, the main square is also home to some beautiful bronze sculptures and a Moorish-style water wheel forming the central water feature. There are also numerous art galleries and craft boutiques in and around the square.
Caldas de Monchique
Just 6 kms to the south of Monchique lies the peaceful Caldas de Monchique, home to natural springs of 32ºC that are recommended for their therapeutic properties even today. Pretty 19th century houses with distinctive roofs surround a central square and the spa hotel here offers a chance for guests to experience the healing powers of the springs. Whether or not you choose to buy the bottled spring water, it’s a lovely spot for savouring the cooler mountain air and enjoying a walk in the beautiful surroundings.
At 902 metres, Foia is the higher of the two peaks between which the town of Monchique nestles, and the highest point in the Algarve region. You can drive up to it through the nature reserve that’s bursting with wild flowers, chestnut, pine and eucalyptus trees and wildlife and enjoy the fresh mountain air. At the top, the view is spectacular ? on a clear day you can see as far as Cape St Vincent in the west to Faro in the east, as well as the Serra da Arrabida near Lisbon to the north.
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