Serra de Monchique: At the Top of the Algarve

Located about 40 kilometers inland from our home in Lagos, Fóia is the highest point in the Algarve. It has an elevation of 902 m and is part of the Serra de Monchique range. We can see it from our back yard and seemed like an ideal place to begin our explorations of this part of the Algarve. This drive is about 100 kms return and you should allow plenty of time to fully enjoy the scenery and for stops along the way.

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From the summit looking towards Lagos

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Mount Foia as seen from our home in Atalaia

We chose to take the less traveled M532 north from Portimão to the village of Casais. Initially driving through orchards, vineyards and villages you soon enter the foothills of the Serra de Monchique.

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Along Route M532

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Lowland area near Alcalar

Once you pass the village of Alcalar this is a picturesque and quiet drive with few vehicles and scattered quintas (farms) nestled among the rolling hills. Charred trees contrast with new growth, evidence of the damage of past forest fires.

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In the foothills of the Serra Monchique

You soon meet the N267 which crosses from Alzejur in the west to Monchique, at the sleepy but scenic village of Casais. This winding stretch of road has many scenic vistas as it snakes its way past traditional villas and modest homes perched on the hillside.

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Near the village of Casais

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Cork farm as you enter Monchique

We chose not to stop in the historic town of Monchique this time, but will definitely return for a longer visit. After passing through Monchique there is a well-marked road to the left that is the start of a very scenic loop that takes you to the top of Fóia. Several hiking trails and small lanes invite you to slow down and walk along the terraced hillsides. Another reason to return.

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A pleasant drive to the summit from Monchique

At the summit there are several telecommunications antennas, a military radar installation as well as a gift shop, restaurant and a craft gallery. It was a beautiful day when we were there with a light westerly breeze and bright sunshine. Perfect for a picnic.

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Restaurant and gift shop

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Craft gallery at the summit

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A small sample of the local crafts on display

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Panoramic view to the West Coast (Costa Vincentina)

The views to the south and west are spectacular and expansive, reaching to the Atlantic in both directions. As you start the drive down from the summit there is an attractive picnic area with a spring-fed fountain. The vendor selling snacks and drinks looks as if he is there every day.

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A pleasant rest area just below the summit

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As we are quickly discovering, the back roads of this part of the country hold many hidden treasures and offer an excellent opportunity for us to learn more about our new home.

About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
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9 Responses to Serra de Monchique: At the Top of the Algarve

  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for the trip report and beautiful photos. I too like to find the highest point in any area I visit to get my bearings and enjoy a panoramic view. With your peaceful drive through the countryside, It looks like a very enjoyable day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah – those views! Funny to think of Fóia as our mountain in the Algarve after so many years of living in Montana but, as your photos show, it’s not the size that matters. 🙂 Your tip about taking ‘the less traveled road’ via Casais is wonderful to keep in mind as there are many roads winding here and there and small villages scattered throughout the Algarve to explore. And interestingly, this post is a great analogy to your future in the Algarve and the landmarks and landscapes just waiting to be discovered! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is at least the third STOP sign that I have noticed in your pics …. is there much ENGLISH spoken/understood?

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      In this part of the country there is quite a bit of English spoken, but everything including signage is generally in Portuguese. Menus in the more touristy areas have generally Portuguese and English (along with German, French and Spanish) but once you get off the beaten track everything is Portuguese.

      Like

  4. Gilda Baxter says:

    We visited the Serra de Monchique last year and lovEd the drive and views from the top. On the way down we stopped for the most delicious chicken piripiri at a roadside restaurant with great views. Sounds like you are having a lot of fun exploring 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We are really enjoying having a car as it opens up so many opportunities. There are a lot of great restaurants everywhere you go and chicken piri piri is one of the specialties in this part of the country. The prices are excellent so you can eat out more often and not break the bank.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kemkem says:

    Very lovely views indeed. You picked a very nice area of Portugal didn’t you ? So glad you’re enjoying it, back roads and all :-).

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks Kemi. We certainly do love this part of the country, and especially now that we can explore at our own pace. It opens up so much. Our thoughts are with you, and thank you again for being a wonderful host.

      Like

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