8 Best Things to Do in Monchique

Situated among the gorgeous hills of the Algarve, Monchique has a lot to offer the visitor who makes their way inland from the region's nearby beaches. In addition to a quaint historic heart, Monchique is set up with plenty of bird watching, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities. These make use of the region's excellent weather to lead through forests of native cork oaks and eucalyptus towards the Algarve's highest peak, the 902 metre Mount Fóia.

Those seeking out more leisurely pursuits are likely to find solace in the Caldas de Monchique natural geothermal springs, while food-lovers won't find themselves disappointed either, given the range of regional products available in the town from the Monday market or the small independent stores.

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  • Convento Nossa Senhora do Desterro - Monchique
    Convento Nossa Senhora do Desterro
    Peter Broster | BY-SA

    A fifteen-minute uphill walk from the cobbled streets of central Monchique is the Convento Nossa Senhora do Desterro. This ruined seventeenth century monastery had been used by the Franciscan order of monks until one day in 1755 when it was shaken to its foundations by the same earthquake that destroyed much of Lisbon.

    Since then, it was first partially rebuilt and then eventually abandoned for a second time, creating a unique, eerie atmosphere that has seen the natural surroundings slowly creep among the ancient stones, including what...


  • Mount Foia at night
    Mount Foia at night
    Rui Glória | BY-SA

    The highest peak in the Algarve, Mount Fóia is the guardian of the Serra de Monchique mountain chain. At 902 metres high, its summit provides views all the way to the tempting waters of the coast at Portimao, Lagos and Cabo de São Vicente.

    Several hiking trails run towards the peak of Mount Fóia from Monchique, with the most commonly used following the walk laid down as part of the longer Via Algarvana before it detours to the top. It's just six kilometres in one...


  • Barranco de Pisoes
    Barranco de Pisoes
    Rui Glória | BY-SA

    One of many natural attractions that can be found in and around Monchique, the Barranco de Pisões is a wonderful place for anyone who enjoys time in the natural world. Named after a prominent family that once owned the land, the site offers shady woodland walks past hundred-year-old plane trees and wonderful spots for a picnic. These echo to the sound of clear mountain streams which eventually form the Ribeira de Seixe River that demarks part of the provincial border between the Algarve and Alentejo.

    On the same site you'll also come across the Moinho do Poucochinho, a water-powered...


  • Igreja Matriz - Monchique
    Igreja Matriz
    Peter Broster | BY-SA

    Monchique's primary church, the Igreja Matriz has been standing in the town since the sixteenth century, around the time when Henry VIII was King of England. Its structure is a fine example of local Manueline architecture, although it is also somewhat unusual in the fact it demonstrates a nautical theme despite its relative distance from the coast. Check out the tops of its columns in the main nave to see a pattern of twisted ropes carved out of the stone.

    Other objects of religious art include a statue of the Virgin Mary attributed...


  • Igreja de São Sebastião
    Igreja de São Sebastião
    Bextrel | BY-SA

    Records show that the second most-important church in Monchique was built upon the orders of King Sebastian of Portugal in the 1500s after he visited Monchique. Perhaps understandably, he had it named after the saint that shared his regal name.

    Situated on the southern side of town, from the outside it looks closer to a fortress compared to the florid decoration of other churches in the region. This harks back to the era when Portugal was ruled by the Muslim kingdoms of North Africa and local Christians felt threatened in practicing their faith.

    Inside, the Igreja São...


  • Caldas de Monchique
    Caldas de Monchique
    Sergei Gussev | BY-SA

    The small village of Caldas de Monchique comprises just a couple of roads in the Serra de Monchique mountains. It lies just a short distance south from the larger settlement of Monchique town.


  • Parque da Mina, Monchique
    Parque da Mina
    Zbigniew Rutkowski | BY-SA

    The Parque da Mina is a theme park with a genuine theme. Centered on an old iron ore mine the park provides an an entertaining view of the workings of the mine along with a range of fun activities in the surrounding park.

    On the heritage side of things you can learn about the workings of the mine, visit the medronho (moonshine) distillery and tour the 18th century manor house. There is also a nature trail through the landscaped surrounds of the Sierra de Monchique with plenty of picnic spots amongst the trees.

    The park is home to a small petting zoo with a range of animals to...


  • Autódromo Internacional do Algarve
    Autódromo do Algarve
    Klugschnacker | BY-SA

    The last time Portugal hosted the Grand Prix was in 1996.  Since then $250 million has been spent putting the infrastructure in place to bring Formula 1 back to Portugal.  The Autodromo, just outside Portimão is a 2.9 mile (5km) circuit which has been compared to the old Nurburgring for its big downhill slopes and hair-raising sharp turns.

    It has been used since 2010 as a F1 testing site and hosts regular motoring events, including the World Superbike Championship and the F1A GT. A five star hotel and a number of apartment blocks can also be...



Monchique travel guide »

Rising up between the Algarve and neighbouring Alentejo region is the Serra de Monchique, a range of rolling mountains clad in heavy forest. Here you will find the highest point on the Algarve; standing at 902m (2,959ft) is the peak of Fóia...