Monchique, Portugal

A pleasant and haunting surprise.

Alek, Alexia and Paul all smile in front of a Vila Monchique sign
Monchique, Portugal (2022)

Monchique was a pleasant (and haunting) surprise.

This charming mountain village was a quick morning stop for us as we drove from Sagres to Lisbon.

We hadn't originally planned to come here, but something about Monchique called to us. We decided to take a detour and spend a few hours here before we left the Algarve. The drive up into the mountains was beautiful as we watched the scenery change.

We even had the unexpected opportunity to see hundreds of nesting storks, something that only happens during the months of March and April.

Monchique stands at the highest elevation across the Algarve region. Unlike the rest of the Algarve, this area is green and lush. The town is spread across the mountain range, broken up by winding roads and tucked into the rolling hills.

We strolled up and down through the narrow streets of the city centre, catching glimpses of the mountain range through the colourful buildings. Oranges and lemons hung from trees and the air was crisp and sweet.


Doce & Arte

A local pastry shop (pastelaria) called Doce & Arte was the perfect place to grab a coffee and a snack.

I ordered a slice of orange cake which was absolutely to die for! Unimaginably moist and not too sweet with a really natural, juicy orange flavour. I had never eaten anything like it!

The ruins of Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro

An old convent building from the outside
Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro, Monchique, Portugal (2022)

Looking over the town, at the top of a steep hill (I need to do more cardio) are the hauntingly beautiful ruins of an old Franciscan convent, Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Convent of Our Lady of Desterro).

Built in 1631 and despite being damaged in the Great Earthquake of 1755, the convent still stands and is slowly being reclaimed by nature. It sits on private property but the caretaker, an older gentleman who doesn't speak English, allows visitors to come and explore the grounds.

Chickens cluck and peck around in the main courtyard of the property as you wander through the different wings of the eerie, dilapidated building.

We were completely entranced by this place. The energy here had a kind of wistfulness about it.

We could have stayed here all day.

On our way out, the caretaker offered us some beautiful homegrown oranges, which we gladly accepted and ate on our walk back into town, the sweet juice making our fingers sticky.

If you love spooky old building ruins, don't miss the chance to visit this beautiful and unique place.

Our advice to you:

  • There is no entrance fee but there is a bowl for donations, so do leave some money on your way out
  • Take some time to walk around the surrounding grounds, there are trails you can follow and the area is quite lovely

Something about this place just felt special to us. We would have loved to spend at least a full day or two here.

If you find yourself in the Algarve, we highly recommend taking the time to visit.

We really were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed our short time in Monchique.

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