Over the past 50 years, the Algarve has evolved into one of Europe’s top travel destinations. With a perfect climate, 300 days of sunshine and being within three hours’ flight time from most European cities, it’s not surprising.

Often overlooked is that the Algarve is quite diverse – offering a variety of cultures, scenery, lifestyle and holiday opportunities. It’s all neatly packaged into a coastal strip 50km wide and 100km long.

The south coast offers every type of accommodation, from high end luxury to very affordable family units, from opulent classy golf resorts to all inclusive beach hotels.

The wild west coast is vastly different – no opulence or resorts whatsoever. This side of the Algarve is mostly a protected reserve, and accommodation is mainly privately
owned villas, cottages and farms nestled among some of the wildest and most beautiful coastline in Europe.

Beach near Monchique in the Algarve

Away from the coast, there is a scattering of small traditional towns and villages, each tempting exploration with their own uniqueness. Slightly inland and at the western end of the Algarve you will find a mountainous region, Serra da Monchique, with its highest peak just a tad over 900m.

The accessible summit affords magnificent 360 degree views of both west and south coasts and to the interior plains of the Alentejo.

Monchique, the region’s largest village, is perfectly located within a half-hour drive to the attractions of either coast, so it has become a popular holiday destination.

There is nothing pretentious or plastic about Monchique. Here you will find the real deal – authentic Portugal at its best.

Renowned for its spa waters, excellent regional food, stunning scenery, friendly
locals and, above all, a peaceful and unhurried ambience. No clubs or karaoke (thank goodness), entertainment centres around some of the best restaurants in the Algarve – more than 30 of them catering for Portuguese and European tastes. It is a “foodie’s heaven”.

A photo from the infinity pool at Villa Vida Nova, overlooking the Monchique hillside.

A photo from the infinity pool at Villa Vida Nova, overlooking the Monchique hillside.

Accommodation is available in one of two spa hotels or self catering villas and cottages.

The hustle and bustle of shopping, golf, karting, fishing, beaches, dolphins, whatever, are just a 30-minute drive away. This can all be left behind when you return to relax at your own villa or hotel to just take in the air and views.

A glass of wine, a few apples, a dip in the pool, near silence only interrupted by
birdsong. Did I mention the abundant nature in Monchique? What could be better than renting your own private villa, turning a steak on the barbecue whilst watching the sunset and the twinkling lights along the coast?

The village of Monchique is a delightful place to take a coffee and people watch.

Fascinating narrow cobbled streets with local galleries and craft shops alongside typical shops for the locals too. An underground parking lot that seconds as a car museum, not by design but because locals still own and drive 30-70 year old cars. Quirky, absolutely.

Hiking and biking trails abound, waterfalls, watermills and abandoned villages and a ruined monastery all invite you to explore.

Consider Monchique for your next vacation or even a place to retire, it will be one of the best choices you will ever make.

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