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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Monchique

Monchique, Portugal

The first thing that will hit you on your holiday to Monchique, Algarve is the sensational scenery. Sat on a mountain top in the Serra de Monchique mountain range, this picturesque town looks down over rugged hills and green valleys. Ancient olive and eucalyptus trees surround this market town, and the temperature is pleasantly a little cooler than on the beaches of its coastal neighbours.

Whitewashed walls, brightly coloured windows, and terracotta roofs line the streets climbing up the hillside. Leave your troubles at home and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this Portuguese paradise.

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Outdoor pursuits

What do you do on holiday in Monchique, an area of outstanding natural beauty? Head for the great outdoors, of course! Take a trek through the forests of Serra de Monchique. If you follow the donkey tracks you'll see eucalyptus and cork trees, and maybe even an orange grove. Keen cyclists can whizz downhill on a mountain bike, splashing through streams and rushing past the forest's animal inhabitants.

If you fancy something a little less energetic, take a jeep safari to the coast, and go off-roading. Stop to take awesome photographs and check out local landmarks along the way. You could even go on a Segway tour around Monchique, stopping at the São Sebastião park lookout for a perfect photo opportunity.

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Portuguese
  • GMT - None

A gastronomic tour

Monchique has several restaurants and cafés. If you've got a sweet tooth, you'll be right at home on your Monchique holiday as you dive into local specialities where honey is usually an ingredient. Try Bolo de Tacho made with chocolate and honey or Pudim de Mel, a pudding made with eggs and honey.

If you've got a savoury palate, meat features heavily on the menu in the Algarve. Try locally made chouriça (spicy sausage) or morcela (black pudding). Feijoada is a hearty bean, bacon, sausage and pork stew. If you prefer fish, Bacalhau (dried salt cod) is as traditional as you can get. Finish your meal with a shot of Medronho, a fiery liqueur made locally.

Nuns and guns

Holidays in Algarve like to offer something different for the discerning holidaymaker, and Monchique mixes it up with a 17th-century convent and a nearby military communications centre. The ruins of Nossa Senhora de Desterro stand on the hillside above the town. It's an uphill walk but worth it for the views of the surrounding countryside, and the chance to see the biggest magnolia tree in Europe which stands in the convent gardens.

Then, it's off to Foia, the highest point in the Algarve. Don't even think about walking as it's 902 metres high. You'll need some layers when you get there, as its chilly and windy. It's here you 'll get the best views across the Algarve but also of the unsightly communications installations that mar the landscape.

You don’t have to go far for a spa

About 15 minutes down the road you'll come to Caldas de Monchique, where the Romans built baths using the natural spring waters thought to have therapeutic properties. The village was restored in 2000 and is now one of the Algarve's secret tourist treasures.

The village is nestled among towering trees with a cobbled square flanked by attractive 19th-century buildings, including one that looks like a fairytale castle. You can also see the Santa Teresa chapel, next to which are steps leading to a picnic spot beside a stream. Book into the thermal spa for treatments to experience the power of the curative waters.

Get active at the beach

It would be wrong to go on holiday to Algarve and not spend a day at the beach. Only half an hour from Monchique is the resort town of Praia da Rocha, made for fun in the sun. With its lively holiday atmosphere, the resort is packed with golden sands, water sports, bars and restaurants. Top up your tan on the beach or take the family out for a banana boat ride. Grab a jet ski and pound the waves or parasail over the resort and take in the fabulous views.

Thirsty? Stroll over to the main street, Avenida Tomas Cabreira with its themed bars or take a trip to the marina where you'll find a multitude of restaurants and bars to choose from.

Monchique offers respite from the bustle of the Algarve, yet is ideally situated to get a quick fix of urban delight when the mood takes you. Whatever you expect from your Algarve holiday, you'll leave this enchanting hilltop town rested, rejuvenated and raring to go.