"I recently went to Monchique for the day and was struck by its beauty and there was so much to do! We did the Monchique Challenge and spent the morning canoeing and the afternoon climbing. A really good day of activity if you are a couple or friends looking for an active day out."
Monchique is a market town up in the Serra de Monchique, which is a thickly wooded mountain range separating the Algarve from Alentejo. The journey up (and down) to Monchique offers spectacular views and is totally different from coastal Algarve. Monchique is also known for its delicious Medronho (no conservatives), which is a liqueur made from the fruits of the arbutus (strawberry tree). It is an acquired tasted and be warned, rather strong! The Wine Bar at Monchique Spa, we have been reliably informed, is a great location to try a homemade medronho.
Katie (Social Media & Marketing Manager)
"My boyfriend and I went to the beautiful island of Armona (“Ilha de Armona”), which is a 15-minute walk-on ferry from Olhão. Perfect for a day visit, the island is pedestrianised so no crazy cars anywhere and the beaches were really quiet. We took a packed lunch but had dinner and drinks at the stunning Armona 4, which has a roof terrace – perfect for catching the evening sunsets!"
Ilha da Culatra which is one of the islands that separates the sea from the Ria Formosa.
The island consists of three parts: Culatra, Farol and Hângares. Culatra is a small fishing village, that is mainly inhabited by fishermen. Farol is a small village with a lighthouse (Farol in Portuguese), with a nice and quiet beach. This part of the island is sometimes called Ilha do Farol, suggesting it is another island than Ilha da Culatra, but actually it is a different part of the same island. Culatra and Farol are the only villages on the island. Hângares is a quieter area, with very little infrastructure and few tourists.
Ilha Deserta is an uninhabited ilha with just one very popular restaurant on it Restaurante O Estaminé offering traditional flavours from the Atlantic and Ria Formosa. If you want to lunch here then you need to book! Though quiet and tranquil, this beautiful beach still provides its users with sunshades, sunchairs and a few environmental friendly boats to rent. Its Blue Flag distinction (awarded by the European community) signifies this particular beach has excellent water and beach quality.
The ferries to Farol (which is the western end of Culatra) and Deserta run from Porta Nova Pier in Faro. The pier is just to the east of the marina, around the corner past the fire station - follow the railway line and you can't miss it.