The Algarve is world-famous for its impressive coastline. However, you only have to drive a short distance inland to discover that the hinterland is equally worthwhile.
Along hills and valleys
Just a 20-minute drive north of the coastal town of Portimão is Caldas de Monchique. It lies in the low mountain range ‘Serra de Monchique’. The drive there is an experience in itself.
The road winds slowly up in sharp bends. A new breath-taking view follows each bend. Contrary to what you might expect on a dry summer, the landscape is very green.
As you climb higher, it is denser and denser with bushes and trees. You can smell the fresh air of eucalyptus leaves and wild thyme. On some slopes, you will suddenly see young forests emerging. These are the marks of the fierce forest fires in 2018. It is reassuring to see how nature is restoring itself.
Parque de Mina, an extraordinary theme park.
Driving along the N266, you will come across a special park on the way. A wooden sign reads “Parque de Mina” in yellow painted letters. The park is a mix between cultural heritage and entertainment.
There is a natural swimming pool and exciting suspension bridges over the waterfall. Especially with children, it is a fun and educational stopover.
A few kilometres further on, you will find the village of Caldas de Monchique on your left. You can see from the rich architecture of the buildings that wealthy Portuguese settled here to live close to the springs. This is where the famous Monchique water flows. It originates in higher underground rivers. The special thing about this water is that it has a PH value of 9.5. One of the highest values in the world.
Due to its high alkaline and mineral value, it is said to have a beneficial effect on vitality and help cure various physical ailments. But not only that! The water also won an ‘international Award for ‘most superior taste’ this year.
Lunch along a babbling river
The water is poured in Michelin-starred restaurants and sold in supermarkets. The nice thing here is that you can tap it directly from a rock into a keg. Among others, there is a tapping point in the subtropical-looking park behind wine and beer bar ‘O Tasco’. Bring your picnic basket to enjoy your lunch at one of the tables and chairs made from tree trunks.
The literal highlight of this area is the ‘Foia’. It is at once the Algarve’s highest mountain at 902 metres. From this mountain, on clear days, you have endless views and can see the ocean in the distance.
The view of this ‘garden of the Algarve’ invites you to choose from the numerous hiking routes marked out here. Put on your walking shoes and feel at one with the beneficial nature.
Would you like to stay longer in this wonderful area? Then take a look at the holiday homes available through Portucasa in the central part of the Algarve.