Monchique is a lovely old market town high in the mountains of the Algarve in Southern Portugal. The town is small and unpretentious, a hillside cascade of white houses around a central church. For those who can only survive by being on the doorstep of crowded beaches, golf courses, night clubs and Karaoke then this is not a first choice destination. It is a place to wander, explore, sit and watch the world go by slowly; and take a deep breath of fresh mountain air.

Monchique, Algarve

Monchique. Photo by Fenners1984

Monchique’s central square has a small paved area with benches, trees, statues and tiles, a few cafés and shops, sculptures, and a pretty water feature with a Moorish-style water wheel. Most attractions lead off from the square and this is a good base to work from. Be warned – there are some steep cobbled streets and hills to overcome if you want to fully explore this lovely place!

Monchique, Algarve

Monchique. Photo by Glen Bowman

Part way up to Monchique, the spa village of Caldas nestles in a deep wooded valley. People have been coming here since Roman times to drink or bathe in the local natural spring water.

Monchique is famous for the local fire water which is produced by distilling the fruit of the Strawberry Tree Arbutus which seems to grow everywhere around the Monchique countryside.

Main sites
* Fóia, highest mountain in Algarve – There is a paved road right to the summit which is topped by several telecommunication facilities including the Radar Station N°1 of the Portuguese Air Force. On a clear day the Atlantic Ocean is visible.
* Nossa Senhora do Desterro Convent
* Monchique Church or Nossa Senhora da Conceição Church
* Saint Anthony Chapel
* Parish Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation

From the southern Algarve coastal strip, Monchique is a 20-30 minute drive from Portimao, following the N266 road which winds its way up into the hills. This road is served by a regular bus service.

Nossa Senhora do Desterro Convent, Monchique

The convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Our Lady of Exile). Photo by muffinn