Monchique is a beautiful town, unspoiled by tourism and authentically Portuguese. It’s a lovely little spot if you’re looking for somewhere to get away from it all.
Being at the base of the Serra de Monchique mountain range, it is also a great starting point for people looking to immerse themselves in nature, with a variety of walking and hiking routes to suit people of all abilities.
The great thing about Monchique is that it has good weather all year round and not just in the Summer! Even in winter, average temperatures can hover around 17 degrees Celsius, meaning that hiking here is an option all year round. It may also be worthwhile, thinking about when you might go, depending on how quiet you would like it to be!
This article will give you two examples of great routes, starting from Monchique itself, as well as information on what items to pack for a hiking trip.
What to pack
Before you set off into the forest clad Monchique mountains, it’s best to be prepared!
First of all you will need a good set of walking boots, something with a sturdy non-slip sole, depending on which route you decided to take, you will be on your feet for a while and perhaps also tackling some tricky climbs.
It’s also important to break your footwear in prior to arriving. You want to ensure that your chosen footwear is going to be comfortable and not leave your feet covered in blisters!
Also important is to pack some layers. It will likely be quite warm when setting off from Monchique, but if you’re tackling one of the higher climbs, it can certainly get quite breezy nearer the top, regardless of what time of year you climb.
Lightweight fleeces make a fantastic option, light enough to easily carry in a backpack, but handy to have to shelter you from a breeze.
Speaking of backpacks, you also want this to be lightweight, the last thing you need is a heavy backpack before you’ve even put anything in it! Look for features such as padded shoulder straps, mesh for ventilation and body straps, to help with keeping you comfortable.
Depending on the length of hike you’re planning, ensure you have plenty of water to prevent dehydration, perhaps you may want to pack some snacks to keep you going when on your hike too.
It’s also important that others know where you are! Especially if you’re planning on a solo hike. Let others know where you’re going and what route you intend to take. Think about whether your mobile will have a signal or would it be a good idea to have a radio to signal for help if you should need it.
Routes – Foia
Of course the first route I had to speak about is Foia! The peak of Foia is the highest point in the Algarve at 902 metres or 2959 ft high. There are incredible views from the top looking over the south and west coasts of the Algarve.
There are several options if you are looking to enjoy the views from the top of Foia. It is a huge tourist attraction and there is actually road access to the peak with a large car park. There is also a cafe, restaurant and art gallery at the top too.
You can always drive to the car park, or get a taxi from Monchique and then there are several small routes from the car park around the peak of Foia. These are great options if you want to experience the incredible views from the top, but don’t have the time or skill level needed to climb Foia yourself. Most of these routes would take you a couple of hours to complete and are readily signposted from the car park.
Another option, for the more adventurous and able among you, is to start in Monchique itself and tackle Foia. This is approximately 6 kilometres each way and takes approximately 6 hours, so is not one for the faint-hearted! The climb has been described as difficult in spots by many, so definitely best for people with some hiking experience rather than beginners!
As this is a popular option, with several amenities at the peak, this is definitely the most populated route within the Serra de Monchique. Keep this in mind, as if you’re looking for a quieter option to get away from it all for a bit, then perhaps another route may be better for you.
Serra da Picota
This is the region’s second-highest peak at 774 metres high. Surprisingly, given this, it is a much more peaceful and rural option than Foia.
This peak also offers the option to drive to it, though I wouldn’t recommend it. The route is very narrow and has a single track road for most of it, with very few spots to pull in if you meet a car coming the other way!
This peak is approximately a 2-hour hike from Monchique. It also offers some incredible views from the peak. There are several picnic tables dotted about which make lovely little spots if you’re needing to take a break on the way up and refuel. The purple heather scattered around the area is beautiful.
The lower half of the trail is very well signposted, then as you get further up, it branches off into several paths you can take to reach the summit. This climb, while not being as steep as Foia, still offers a relatively difficult climb and again might not be suitable for beginners.
The start and end of the routes take you into/out of Monchique and as such you’ll be walking on main roads. Always ensure you’re aware of your surroundings and any traffic and other people that are around you at all times.
The paths on both routes are well signposted, you should stick to these routes and not venture off track where you could get yourself into trouble and it would be more difficult for help to find you, should you need it!
Most of the tracks are very well maintained, however, further up some of the tracks turn into loose gravel paths. Keep this in mind and as already mentioned, make sure you’re wearing good footwear to be able to handle this!
This really is a lovely part of the Algarve, where you can truly feel like you are getting away from it all. The views from both Foia and Picota are stunning and really highlight the diversity of the Algarve region.
A fantastic choice for the more adventurous among you!
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Monchique Algarve Guide