Great Walks

Serra de Monchique

Whatever you do don't follow the official advice!

You have to time it just right if you want to walk up here as Fóia is highest summit in the Algarve, and consequently can be very hot, very cold, very cloudy, very wet and/or very crowded with tourists! If you get it right though then you will love it as the views throughout the walk are fabulous. The official trail name is – PR3 Fóia Trail – and the official way round is clockwise. However whatever you do don’t follow the official advice! Go anti-clockwise instead and not only will no-one be walking in front or behind you, but the climbs become enjoyable rather than painful. Panoramic views just below the summit

In fact we advise not even commencing at the summit. Begin at Restaurante Rampa which is on the road up to the summit, still go anti-clockwise and not only do you avoid the long drive up to the summit (902 metres (2,959 ft)) but you can get to enjoy a beer halfway round at the summit and then again at the end! We of course didn’t realise we would be walking past the restaurant on our way up so blissfully unaware drove past. If we decide to return however we will definitely try this option!

Telecommunications, radar and peopleThe summit is covered in telecommunications, radar and people. Can’t do much about the technology but fortunately very few people were doing anymore than taking photographs of the views, climbing rocks, drinking a beer or looking around the gifts shops. And so within minutes of beginning the walk we found ourselves alone, because we were sensibly going anti-clockwise we soon found ourselves on a south facing descent enjoying even better views that those at the summit. It was though very steep in places, and there was no break in the descent.

The knees were certainly very aware of how fast we were dropping down, however we looked in far better shape than a couple going up who we passed about halfway down! We were mainly walking through eucalyptus and rhododendron. The latter is only found in the Serra de Monchique, and so it is considered rare. The eucalyptus however seems to be as big an environmental problem as rhododendrons are in Wales. It was introduced to this area as a crop in the 1970s, and its aggressive growth is/was affecting water courses. We didn’t see huge areas of eucalypti, possibly because of the terrible fires last summer, however a large lorry carrying wood did past us on the descent so clearly it is still being ‘farmed’.

The descent finished with a short section on the main summit road. It is not a pleasant road to walk on as there are no paths, lots of sharp bends and it can be busy. It is however a short section and we were soon back on quiet tracks. The paths were surprisingly wet underfoot in places; reminding us even on a gloriously sunny day that this is the rainiest place in southern Portugal. So rainy in fact that the locals apparently call this area the ‘chamber pot of heavens’!

It was a steady climb from the road but the gradients were gentle and there was so much to see from the beautiful terraces and views around Monchique, to fauna, to flora, to the Monchique syenite. These are just a tiny few of the photographs I took.

As we approached the latter stages of the walk we met quite a few people going the other way. I really didn’t envy them their climb at the end on a hot afternoon. If only they had taken a more careful look at the topographic profile of PR3, the zig zag really doesn’t help. For us though it was an easy ascent back to Fóia and to my delight there was a Cabra Algarvia traffic jam en route!

Now I haven’t said much about the terraces of Monchique, and I’ve only given you glimpses of them in my photographs. The reason is that I have discovered quite a bit about them and so thought I’d keep the detail and the photographs for another post.

We did ponder stopping for a beer once we got back at the summit, but decided we’d make our way back to the east. It hadn’t been the easiest drive to get here because the road from Monchique up to Fóia is so busy with cars, coaches and other commercial traffic. Don’t let this put you off though! The views on this 7km walk are so fabulous that I am really glad we squeezed this walk in before the end of our winter sojourn.

26 comments on “Serra de Monchique

  1. Sorry for the 3 Comments, but WP keeps telling me I’m not logged in and insists on me logging in again, and again, and again. I will do so once more, just for this comment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hee hee . . .wordpress can be a pain sometimes can’t it. Don’t worry I love comments and like Jo happy to chat away 🙂

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  2. Glad to have found your post (thanks to Jo) and love your photos and the walks. Look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to have found your post (thanks to Jo), and love your photos and the walks. Look forward to reading some more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo is wonderful at introducing us all isn’t she . . . . glad you are enjoying the walks. Got a short city one coming up this week so hope to see you again soon.

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  4. Glad to have found your blog. Lovely pix and looks like you manage to suss out the best places wherever you go. Walks I can handle, too. My days of long treks and hikes are over I’m afraid, and I limit myself now to under 8 kl.

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    • I’m so glad you found me too . . .and nothing wrong with short walks. Short ones enable you to take the time to see more I always find, as long ones your focus is getting to the end!

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  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Blast Beach, orchids and P’s in a Pod | restlessjo

  6. Pingback: The terraces of Monchique – It caught my eye in Portugal

  7. ejunerobinson

    Look forward to doing this walk one day

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like you’ve had an unforgettable adventure here. thanks for sharing.

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  9. Aren’t beer breaks an ideal way to break up an already exhilarating hike/walk? So glad I met a fellow outdoor traveler. Looking forward to seeing where you go next!

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  10. A gorgeous walk and super images. I have visited that area a couple of times but never with anyone that was up for walking, so thanks for showing me what I missed!

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  11. I’ve been up twice. One was too hot, the other the coldest I’ve ever been in the Algarve (and it was beautiful down on the coast 🙂 ) I will think at least three times before going up there again.
    🙂 I prefer the area around Caldas de Monchique but don’t know of a walk around there.

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    • We were extraordinarily lucky me thinks with weather but MrB is with you on thinking carefully before returning…..will start hunting down a walk for us in Caldas de Monchique 😊

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      • I haven’t put this one on the walk for this morning, Becky, as you have Military Steps on there. I can include it if you like, or hold for next week? 🙂 Happy Monday!

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      • Ooh let’s hold for next week 😊
        And a very Happy Monday to you – sun has got his hat on here, hope he’s the same with you x

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      • And no banging next door because it’s BH? 🙂 🙂 Sun’s gone but we’re out for a little tootle with the group shortly. Have fun!

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      • Silence every weekend and yes today too – love BH 😀 thanks for caring x
        Have fun walking

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  12. And the freshness of the air? just amazing…

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  13. We haven’t tried walking in the Serra de Monchique yet, even though we can see the summit from our apartment! I’m so glad there are still lots of signs of plant life after those terrible fires last summer.

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    • It is amazing how much has grown back since the fires and like you delighted so much did survive. Must have been terrifying if you lived up there. Do hope you try walking up in the serra one day, but as I said in my post plan your day carefully weather wise!

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