Things to do in Monchique and Algarve.
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Tourist Information Monchique Office.
This should be your first port of call on day 1! The tourist information office is in Monchique near the roundabout and above the free underground car park. Here you will find details of all local attractions and importantly, dates and times of local fairs, exhibitions, music festivals and so on, held throughout the year.
The highest point in the Algarve. On a clear day take a drive from the villa turning left at the top of the road by O Luar restaurant and it is about 5 minutes to the top. There you can enjoy 360º stunning views of the south and west coast and the Alentejo. Hike and Bike here too!
Caldas de Monchique
Famous for the spa water and is well worth a visit just down the Portimao road from the villa. There is a super café/bar in the centre and if you are there in the morning you can often see the ladies baking the bread with chorizo (sausage) in the bread ovens and you can purchase it freshly made. Take a beautiful shaded walk up from the café, very tranquil. There are also spa/massage facilities you can use in Caldas, use your Villa Vida Nova voucher and take advantage of their offerings.
Parque de Mina
A revamped typical Portuguese farmhouse situated on the Portimao road about 10 minutes drive from the villa. It is a half day visit and is interesting to see a typical Portuguese manor house fully furnished and farm including animals and the workings of the farm.
The Algarve is on one of the major bird migratory routes and there are many spectacular places to visit just a short drive away. Here at the villa we have identified over 50 different species to date.
Walking,hiking and biking
There are no trespass laws in Portugal so if you see a track take it, but observe signs and do not pass through gates or climb fences, then you will be okay.
The nearest golf course is Morgado situated just off the Portimao/Monchique road approximately 20 minutes drive from the villa. It is a relatively new course and has its own Golf Academy.
Johnny's Way Algarve 4wd Tours
Personally guided 4wd tours of the west coast and Algarve interior. Full day (includes lunch) half day and sunset tours. Pick up at the Villa..
Motor Racing and Go-Karting
The recently opened track situated 15 minutes drive from the villa is open for various motor and bike racing events and there is a large go-kart track open to the public. You can find out about events by going to their website http://www.autodromodoalgarve.com/Default.aspx?lng=en
At Guia An excellent day out which you should not miss based on similar lines as the American Sea Worlds and is, in our opinion, as good. The shows are spaced out during the day so to fully enjoy everything going on get there at 10 am, the first dolphin show usually starts at 10.30 and different shows continue throughout the day at half hour intervals. No need to take a picnic lunch although there are plenty of places to picnic on site but the cafes serve good food for the price. Booking online saves money and avoids queuing. Zoomarine is situated on the EN125 just before Guia, you can´t miss it.
Also well worth the trip. We have been out a few times and always managed to see a large number of dolphins in their natural habitat. We used Seafaris which can be taken from both Lagos Marina and Portimao, the views to the caves from Lagos are particularly good.
You can also take boat trips to the Caves in Lagos. You can book trips from Lagos marina. Also Porto de Mos just outside Lagos has a number of small fishing boats that will take you round the caves, there are also stairs that you can walk down.
To see sea life in its natural habitat, head to Mar Ilimitado at Sagres, which specialises in marine wildlife-watching. Accompanied by a couple of marine biologists, guests go out in a RIB and are likely to see sea turtles and porpoises as well as storm petrels, shearwaters and gannets; marilimitado.com.
Sand Sculptures Exhibition
AT Guia is one of the largest in Europe and very impressive. There is a different theme every year. Be warned though, do not go in the middle of a hot summers day, there is very little shelter. Late afternoon/evening is good and it is impressive at night when lit and open until late. The exhibition is clearly marked and is on the Algoz road off the EN125 at Pera.
There a number of aqua parks in the Algarve, one of the most popular is Slide n Splash at Lagoa.
Is small but well run and a very pleasant afternoon out, Follow signs as you enter Lagos on the EN125.
Krazy World Zoo
Wonderful place for all the family especially with younger kids, pools, quads, Mini Golf, Petting Farm, Animal Presentations, Follow signs off the Algoz to Sao Bartholemew de Messines Road
Sagres Natura Surf School
Head to the west coast for ideal surfing conditions; there are various schools for beginners, including Sagres Natura (sagresnatura.com), which picks you up and takes you to whichever beach has the right conditions for the day.
Waterskiing can be done in the calmer waters off Quinta do Lago (lagowatersports.com), as can banana boat rides, jet skiing and other watersports.
There are too many beautiful beaches in the Algarve to list them all but here are a just a few. Head to the West Coast if you prefer quieter beaches without developments. Head out on the Marmelete road towards Aljezur and from there you can visit:-.Arifana for those who enjoy watching the surfers (or indeed surfing yourselves). Monte de Clerigo close by is excellent for families with young children. Praia de Odeceixe is also excellent for children and has a number of good beach cafes.
From Aljezur you can also drive south where there are also many lovely beaches plus walkways onto the beach without the high rise developments. O Chaparro restaurant opposite the police station (GNR) in the main village of Odeceixe is excellent value and has fantastic food! Zambujeira Do Mar is just a bit further north up the coast and is a typical west coast fishing village, there is a safe beach and plenty of restaurants.
A few kilometers north of the village is the harbour of Zambujeira Do Mar which is quite spectacular to see from the top of the cliffs, you will need to drive through the fishermen huts to get to the O Sacas restaurant, they do excellent seafood here, well worth a visit. There is also a level Board Walk with access to viewing points along the cliff edge running between the main village and the harbour.
UK's Financial Times travel journalist Paul Richardson describes the West Coast...........
”The Algarve’s western seaboard, running from Sagres to Odeceixe, “may be the best preserved 60km of coastline anywhere in southern Europe”, he adds, with beaches like Bordeira, Amado and Arrifana “for connoisseurs of real beaches”.
But none were as “flagrantly fiercely beautiful as Castelejo, a few miles out of Vila do Bispo” - a place for those who crave “primitive wildness ...not massages and Magnums”.Anyone who knows and loves Castelejo, and its neighbour Cordoama, can only agree with Mr Richardson, and say: “Shhhh....This is one of those secrets you don’t want to share”.
If you prefer the busier beaches head for Portimao and the South Coast:-
Praia da Rocha is one of the nearest beaches and it is particularly good at the Marina end where you can enjoy the sands and also refreshments in the new restaurants/cafes close by with views of the new marina.
Alvor is a lovely old fishing village and has not been spoiled by high rises buildings. There are a number of excellent beaches in the vicinity and great board walks along the beach and lagoon. Awesome seafood restaurants.
Silves A vacation in the Algarve would not be complete without seeing Silves. A historic town dominated by a moorish castle narrow cobbled streets and some good restaurants.
Lagos has a number of very good beaches including Meia Praia and Porto do Mos. The town itself is delightful with a bustling marina and many shops and restaurants. Visit the slave market and take a boat ride into the marine caves. Boats from the marina
CITY VISITS AND FURTHER AFIELD
If you are staying longer and want to take some full day trips out then here are some suggestions.
Lisbon is worth a visit and there are many tour operators organising trips there which is the easiest and most relaxing way to see the city.
Sevilla also has many organised trips and is certainly worth a visit. Be warned though that in the peak i.e. July, August, September it is very much hotter than the Algarve, can be in the 40’s
Alentejo this is the province just north of the Algarve, steeped in history with many cathedrals, convents, castles, walled towns, authentic villages and superb gastronomy. It is also one of the major wine regions in Portugal with many farms and adegas open to the public.