Monchique is a spa town
set in the hills planted with cork, eucalyptus and fruit trees. There are some lovely walks through the woods with stunning views of the mountains. Pamper yourself with treatments in the Spa Hotel Termal in Caldas da Monchique.
Explore the town of Lagos,
famous for its sea faring traditions and the former capital of the Algarve. Take a rest in the Praça Infante Dom Henrique and enjoy a well earned cool drink.
The highest peak on the Algarve is nearby Foia,
which at 902 metres, affords fabulous panoramic 360 degree views.
The Portimao Retail Park is worth a visit for some retail therapy. Shop until you drop at the many outlets in air conditioned comfort. It is situated on the Urbanizacao Vale which can be found either by exiting the A22 motorway at Junction 4 or from the EN125 at Sitio de Chao das Donas. It is about 2 kms north west of the town.
The hills around Monchique
are where you will find the best Medronho on the Algarve. The red berries of the arbutus shrub grow in abundance around here. They are picked in the autumn and left to ferment for 3 months or more, producing the strong, clear spirit, similar to schnapps. When in Rome……!!
The new Autodromo Internacional do Algarve opened at the end of 2008. It is just off the A22 between Portimao and Lagos and is well signed. Check out the events for this forthcoming season on www.autodromodoalgarve.com for both cars and motorbikes. The petrol heads in the party will love the experience.
Visit the World of Sand.
This international sand sculpture festival is usually held between May and October. Reportedly the biggest sand city in the world, this fascinating and spectacle will amaze all members of the family! There are sand sculpture activities for children and it is illuminated by night. Take Exit 8 off the A22 (Algoz/Pera), or from EN125 at Pera and follow signs.
Visit the Sitio das Fontes,
just a few kilometres north of Estombar, between Lagoa and Portimao. This old mill sits on a branch of the Rio Arade and has been made into an ecomuseum and includes the miller’s house, the old mill and the working waterwheel. There is a picnic area, children’s play area, amphitheatre and an environmental education area established to help preserve the surrounding wetlands.
Lagoa is one of the main wine producing areas of the Algarve.
Pay a visit to the Adega and sample some of the excellent local wines. The Adega Cooperativea de Lagoa is located on the EN125. Tel 00 351 282 342 181. Wine tasting tours are from 09.00-12.00 and 14.00 – 18.00
Try sardines along the quay at Portimao
– freshly caught and simply served with salad and local wine. Explore the narrow streets of the old quarter with their fascinating shops, some specialising in leather goods.
The castle town of Silves is worth spending a day exploring.
The Cathedral, built in red stone, and the Moorish castle both offer beautiful views over the orange and almond groves below.
Faro is the regional capital and has a delightful old town,
which is well worth spending an afternoon or early evening having a wander around. Stop for a drink and ‘people watch’ along the Rua de Santo Antonio, which is lined with shops, bars and restaurants.
The whole family will enjoy a day at Slide and Splash water park.
It is on the EN125, just west of Lagoa. It is open from the beginning of April until the end of October and open from 10am to 6pm daily.
Visit the most south westerly tip of Europe at the Cabo de Sao Vicente,
which has reputedly the most powerful lighthouse in Europe. To watch the sun setting here is a truly memorable experience.
When in Rome…….
don’t forget to sample the many different types of port wine! Chilled white port makes an interesting aperitif and can be a serious rival to sherry. Accompanied by some delicious local olives, it’s a great way to preface a supper of freshly grilled sardines!
Horse riding around the area of Bensafrim, just north west of Lagos,
among the almond and cork oak trees makes a lovely outing. Quinta do Paraiso Alto riding centre. Tel: 282 687 596.
For the truly energetic, there are some excellent mountain bike trails and tracks suitable for all abilities, both coastal and inland.
Visit www.themountainbikeadventure.com, who are based in Lagos, for information regarding the hire of bikes and helmets and trails available. Tel: (00 351) 918 502 663.
Spend a day at Zoomarine
– one of the biggest attractions on Algarve. It is both a theme park, Aquarium and there are water shows with dolphins, seals and sea lions to entertain all ages. It is on the EN125 at Guia. www.zoomarine.com . Tel: 00 351 289 560 300.
Take a leisure cruise and see this magnificent coast from the sea.
The itinerary might include stopping off at a sandy cove for a barbecue and for swimming and snorkelling. Details of all of the cruises on offer can be found along the quayside at Portimao.
The Algarve is a stop off point for migrating birds and as such is a haven for birdwatchers. One of the most important sites is the Parque Nacional do Ria Formosa, close to Faro and the wetlands are considered to be amongst the most important in Europe in terms of birdlife. Amongst the species that have been spotted are white stork, flamingo, hoopoe, stone curlew, Caspian Tern, Iberian Chiffchaff…..
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