22kms North of the coastal city of Portimão, Monchique is a quaint market town up in the Serra de Monchique, a thickly wooded mountain range separating the Algarve from the Alentejo region of Portugal. The mountains offer spectacular views and are different from coastal Algarve.
Monchique is a very quiet place with a laid-back atmosphere, the charming historic center is characterized by lots of narrow cobbled streets featuring a number of cafés and restaurants.
In Caldas de Monchique the Romans built baths to utilize the natural spring waters. The spa is still in use today and offers thermal baths and other health treatments. The spring water is known for ist high PH value and is famed all over Portugal for its healing qualities.
From the highest peak of the region, Foia (902m high), you have an amazing view stretching from Cape St. Vincent in the West to Faro in the East and the Serra da Arrabida, near Lisbon in the North.
Monchique offers total relaxation, plenty of places to walk and explore and several restaurants to choose from for dinner. Although it may sound quite remote it isn’t. So if you want to spend a day at the beach it’s only about a twenty-minute drive to the stunning South coast and 30 minutes to the spectacular beaches of the West coast.
A couple of walking trails start directly outside Bodhi Bhavan. There are many different trails to explore, longer or shorter ones, as well as in varying difficulty categories. It is a beautiful short walk to the top of Picota mountain, which offers a stunning view over the coastal Algarve.
The closest beaches are in Portimão, a 30 min drive South; Praia da Rocha being the most famous one. Nearby Alvor or Praia Grande in Ferragudo offer alternatives. Though these beaches are located in cities they still are magnificent beaches in their own right.
Very popular and spectacular beaches you’ll also encounter along the trail from Praia de Marinha to Benagil. You can walk on top of the cliffs looking down on fantastic rock formations.
You can also make a short boat trip to the famous cave beach of Benagil or go on an excursion to watch dolphins.
The West coast of Portugal offers a unique atmosphere and is famed for its world-class surfing conditions. The beaches are fantastic too, vast and almost always deserted except during a short period at high season.
Great beaches on the West coast are Monte Clerigo, Amoreira or Arrifana (all near Aljezur) or Praia Bordeira in Carrapateira.
Lagos is a beautiful city to explore, shop and eat. Old streets, small shops, and quaint cafés invite for a leisurely Saturday afternoon stroll after the market. Lagos also offers a wide range of beaches as well, including the Family-friendly Meia Praia, a 4km stretch of pristine golden sand.
Faro has an old town and cathedral worth visiting. A beautiful small harbor and access with boats to the islands which shelter Faro from the sea – Paradise island is a beautiful unspoiled sandy beach.
Silves is close to Monchique and is a picturesque old town to visit. It used to the old Moorish capital of Algarve and is still surrounded by a city wall with 11 towers. You can walk around the town on the wall enjoying the views of the town and surroundings.
The markets of the Algarve are colorful and full of exotic fruits and vegetables, as well as local specialties and worth a visit. To look for markets and additional information about the Algarve: