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22, apr 22 | Reading: 7 min.

Monchique: A Complete Guide | Casas do Barlavento

Monchique is the greenest town in the Algarve and lies in the mountains, away from the tourist life of the beachside towns. The mountain reaches an impressive height of 902 metres, making the Monchique mountains the highest elevation in the Algarve. If you are thinking about living in the Algarve but prefer a quiet place away from the big crowds, Monchique could be your answer. We have put together everything you need to know about Monchique in this article.


view of the Monchique mountains

Photo by Alena Torgonskaya – Unsplash


Where is Monchique located?

Monchique is a municipality divided into three parishes: Monchique, Alferce and Marmelete. It borders Portimão to the south, Lagos to the southwest, Aljezur to the west, Odemira to the north, and finally, Silves to the east.


The main town of Monchique is situated at an altitude of 458 metres, surrounded by green and hilly landscapes. As it is a mountainous region in the Algarve, the beaches are a little further away than usual, but a short 35-minute drive will take you to Vau beach in Portimão.



Activities in Monchique?

Monchique is a breath of fresh air for those who live in cities, or even for those in calm regions such as beaches. Here you can breathe pure air, contemplate the green landscapes, walk along the pedestrian mountain paths and enjoy the unique gastronomy of the Algarve hills. It is only the white walls of the whitewashed houses that denounce the presence of man amidst the fresh landscape.


The white houses have a typical mountain chimney on the roof, the so-called skirt chimney (chaminé de saia), the base of which is generally the same size as the kitchen. Even today, families gather in front of the chimney in winter to entertain and warm themselves.


The Algarve's heritage is concealed among the mountains in Monchique, where the region's historic traditions are still preserved. In the mountains of Monchique, you will find a different Algarve, quieter and without the big tourist crowds, you have on the coast. The tranquillity of the mountains overlooking the sea conquers the people who live there!



Discover some places in Monchique that we highly recommend you see.


We start at the highest point of the mountain, Fóia, with 902 metres of altitude, is one of the places you must visit. From Fóia you can see the sea, Portimão, Lagos and much more if it is not too cloudy. At the same place, you will find a restaurant with a pleasant terrace, where you can enjoy all the beauty of the highest point of the Algarve. A few metres from this restaurant, you will also find a small bar called "Alecrim", where parties with live music are occasionally organized.


In Fóia, you can start a hike that leads through the mountains. Due to the Mediterranean and Atlantic influences, you will find unique native flora on the slopes. If you are lucky, you may also come across endangered species such as the water lizard or the Bonelli's eagle during your hike. This is a circular trail, and the difficulty level is medium. Here you can find the map of this trail at Fóia de Monchique.


Fóia de Monchique pedestrian trail Algarve

Photo by Algarve Promotion


Like all the other places in Monchique, this is a wonderful place, and here you can gather the family to relax while you enjoy a snack in the picnic park. Take a bottle with you and fill it with alkaline water, one of the few in the world of its kind. Even the Romans relied on the power of Monchique's water to cure tiredness of body and mind and gave it the name "holy water". Because of the health-giving effects of these waters, a thermal area has been set up there dedicated to the well-being and relaxation of body and mind, where you can enjoy massages, saunas, Turkish baths or indoor and outdoor pools.


If you are still in the picnic area of Caldas de Monchique, climb the stairs and discover a restaurant where the menu is small but with recipes full of flavour. Eat the best chicken Piri Piri ever, with homemade chips and organic salad, and try the typical Monchique smoked ham as a starter. Spend a fantastic day at the picnic park in Caldas de Monchique and finish it with a well-deserved dinner at Café Império. Book your table in advance at this family restaurant.


Thermal pool in Monchique

Photo by Algarve Promotion


This is a secret place full of animals and hundred-year-old trees that provide the best shade on a hot summer afternoon. Prepare a picnic, come early and choose your table. Here you can grill meat or fish for lunch, drink water directly from the spout, relax to the sound of birdsong, go hiking or even visit the Poucochinho Mill, a water mill restored by the Monchique town hall where you can still see the old mechanism for grinding grain.


In this place, unknown to the masses, stands a centuries-old plane tree, classified as a tree of public interest. This natural monument is so large that it takes four people to embrace it. Since this is an area like something out of a fairy tale, a clear watercourse cannot be missing here, flowing with great force. It is the Seixe stream, which begins in Odemira, Baixo Alentejo, and ends in the Atlantic.


To reach this oasis in the middle of the mountains, head towards the centre of Monchique. From here, simply follow the GPS directions, as the way there may not be sufficiently signposted.


Seixe stream in the Barranco dos Pisões in Monchique



  • Waterfalls in Monchique

Monchique's calling card is nature, and to complete the range of natural sites, there is another undiscovered activity: the municipality's three breathtakingly waterfalls. You can reach them by car or, best of all, on a long walk.


The first is the Barbelote waterfall. The way there is not easy and is via a road that leads from Vale de Largo to Barbelote. You can also take this route via a path, but beware of the instability of the stones. To avoid the winding path, observe the waterfall in the middle of the path.


The second is the Penedo do Buraco waterfall. Getting it is easy as it is right on a road, but you should follow the paved road east of the Fóia Museum Centre, make a diversion and drive down the old Fóia route to the waterfall. Do not follow the directions from GPS, as you may be misled.


Finally, the Chilrão waterfall is also located on a road and is very easy to reach. Located between the village of Chilrão and Marmelete, it is a small waterfall surrounded by greenery. If you visit it in the warmer seasons, the waterfall may not have running water.



Monchique Gastronomy

We believe that the discovery of local gastronomy is the discovery of the people. In Monchique, there are many delicacies to try, from sweet to savoury; the journey through the flavours of the mountains will be long but very pleasant.


  • Honey from Monchique

Honey has a dark yellow hue and is produced by Apis mellifera bees, a species native to the Iberian Peninsula. The bees pollinate various plants such as lavender, eucalyptus or the arbutus berry tree, a plant with reddish berries characteristic of these slopes. The taste is bittersweet and can be eaten pure, in pastries or meat dishes. In the centre of Monchique, you will find several shops selling jars of this PDO honey.


  • Arbutus berry liqueur (Medronho)

Anyone who has heard of Monchique will have heard about medronho. The Portuguese word "medronho" gives its name to the reddish fruit that grows on the steep slopes, and also to the fermented drink with its translucent hue. Those who know and appreciate it can tell the good from the bad by the smell and drink it from a small glass to warm the soul.

Find this drink at Mel e Medronho shop right in the city centre and get to know the makers of each brand. The shop opened in 2011 as part of a partnership between honey producers and medronho (arbutus berry) growers in the municipality. The aim has always been to promote regional products and show all the work that goes behind the harvest of the medronho fruit and the "estila", the moment when the fruit is transformed into the Algarve's most famous drink.


  • Smoked ham

We have already mentioned the smoked ham of Monchique, but what we have not said is that this product is unique, genuine and exclusive. This is because of the way the pigs are raised and fed. Monchique smoked ham is raw meat extracted from the leg of a black pig in a lengthy, multi-stage process.


Every year, the ham fair is held to promote this mountain delicacy and other products such as sausages, sweets and, of course, medronho (the local spirit made from the arbutus berry).


illustrative image of Monchique honey

Photo by Arwin Neil Baichoo – Unsplash


Now that you know a little about Monchique, you should get to know the wonders of this municipality. Those who live in the mountains of Monchique are lucky to combine the quality of life with a low cost of living. The Monchique Town Council has taken several measures to welcome new residents, including a minimum percentage of IMI (municipal property tax) and an IRS (personal income tax) of 2.50%. Learn more about IMI and IRS for 2022 in the different cities in the Algarve.


Want to know more about properties for sale in Monchique? Take a look at our portfolio of properties for sale and get in touch with us. We would be delighted to find your home in the municipality of Monchique.