Culture

The mountain village of Monchique is situated between the two highest mountains of the Algarve, the Picota (774m) and the Foia (902m). Both peaks can be explored by well-marked trails. The narrow, winding streets offer excellent photo opportunities. There are various places to shop, a bank and a post office, a small market hall and many handicraft shops. Bars, cafes and restaurants invite the visitor to linger a little longer. The farmers of the area are renowned for distilling the famous Medronho, a strong brandy from the fruit of the Arbutus bush.

 


Caldas de Monchique is situated in a narrow valley around 7km below Monchique. The thermal baths with their warm springs and sulphurous mineral water have existed since Roman times, and have recently undergone an extensive restoration project.

 


Caldas de Monchique is situated in a narrow valley around 7km below Monchique. The thermal baths with their warm springs and sulphurous mineral water have existed since Roman times, and have recently undergone an extensive restoration project.

 


The route to the beaches of the West coast passes through Aljezur, a small market town situated in a fertile valley. An old Moorish castle is situated just above the old town with its many white houses. Many natural beaches of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina can be found to the North and South of Aljezur.

 


In the 15th century Henry the Seafarer and Gil Eanes started their expedition to Africa from Lagos. The city wall, built after the great earthquake of 1755, still partially surrounds the well-preserved old town. The old town has a very nice market hall, cultural facilities, restaurants, cafes and various shopping facilities. The palm-lined promenade of the harbour can be reached from the historic city centre through steep alleyways. Many fishing boots begin their journey from here to Ponta de Piedade, a crag with many bizarre grottos. The lighthouse jutting out from this crag offers fabulous views of the bay of Lagos as well as the long sandy beaches of Meia Praia and Alvor.

 


The locality of Sagres is situated near Europe’s most south-westerly point, the Cabo de São Vicente. Henry the Seafarer also began his many adventures from here in the 15th century.   Directly outside the main town is the fortress Fortaleza de Sagres. The countryside between Ponta de Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente is a nature preserve and one of the last wild and untouched coastlines of Southern Europe.

 


Alvor is directly on the coast between Portimão and Lagos. Despite all the tourists and the amenities that are attached to them, the original sense of a small fishing village can be felt with its narrow alleyways, whitewashed houses and harbour.   A wooden walkway runs alongside the coast for kilometres and makes walks through the protected salt marshes and lagoons possible. It is a bird watcher’s paradise with hundreds of species including flamingos.

 


Portimão is situated at the mouth of the river Arade. Boat trips along the Arade river to Silves or whale-watching along the coast start from the modernised promenade here. The restored preserving factory is home to the really interesting Museu de Portimao and documents the history of sardine fishing.

The annual Sardine Festival takes place in August and is not to be missed.