Monchique
Garden
of the
Algarve

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 Information about Monchique Algarve Portugal, Villas to Rent, Property for sale


Whether you want to holiday, visit, buy a holiday home or retire to the Algarve then Monchique should be high on your list of possibilities!



Serra de Monchique
(published by Algarve Property Magazine)

Traffic lights have recently been sprinkled liberally where previously there were none along the main road between Portimao and the hillside town of Monchique.  They are not just any old traffic lights.  They aim to regulate speed at 50 kph through the villages rather than control road intersections – and they are powered by solar panels.  A pertinent sign of the times, you could say.Monchique Algarve Portgal

 This may be the last bastion in the Algarve of mule carts and moonshine aguardente, but things are changing in the Monchique hills, albeit very slowly.  For example, the Portuguese population in the area is declining as elder generations pass away and their off-spring move to the coast for easier jobs and better pay.  Conversely, a cosmopolitan range of foreigners are buying abandoned homes and trickling up into the hills in greater numbers than ever before.  There are probably fewer than 7,000 people living in the Monchique district; that´s down to mid-19th century levels and less than half the number during the most populous years between the 1930s and 1960s.

The Serra de Monchique is still the old Algarve, touched but not overtaken as elsewhere by modernity, tourism and spreading development. Its robust old-fashionedness is the very thing that draws expatriates to visit and to settle.Terraces in Monchique Portugal
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 It is the peace and quiet, the pervasiveness of the evergreen environment, the airy spaciousness, the friendliness of the people, the social simplicity and the slow pace of life, with or without traffic lights, that is so appealing.  Even the climate is milder and more equable than down by the coast, and it is not as cloudy or wet as the plain-dwellers sometimes make out. Frost in low lying areas, particularly coastal areas make for some slippery early mornings, not so in the Serra de Monchique, winters are frost free save for a few areas in the valleys ell to the north.

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The Serra de Monchique is a fairly broad range of steep, wooded hills and valleys stretching from Sao Marcos de Serra to Aljezur across north of the Algarve and into the southern Alentejo.  Historically it formed a natural barrier between the peoples of the Algarve and the rest of Portugal.

 

 

Great swathes of the indigenous forests were felled in late medieval times for material to construct boats and buildings and provide fuel.  Chestnut, walnut and a few other deciduous species still grow alongside plantations of evergreen pines and cork oaks, but much of the area has been planted with fast-growing antipodean eucalyptus destined to become pulp and paper.Monastery Monchique Algarve Portugal

  The town of Monchique is small and unpretentious, a hillside cascade of white houses around a central church.  The villages east and west are few and insignificant, the hamlets many and hardly noticeable.   Large parts of the Serra are almost uninhabited.  The highest summits are not that high, with Foia peaking at 902 metres and Picota at 773 both accessible by foot or by car so that you can take in those magnificent views.Monchique Algarve Portugal

 

 For those who can only survive by being on the doorstep of crowded beaches, golf courses, hypermarkets, night clubs and Karaoke then this is not a first choice location. The Serra de Monchique is for self-contained souls content to buy and dine out in typical local shops and restaurants, enjoy country pursuits and make only occasional forays down into the glitz and bustle of the towns and resorts below.Holidays in Monchique Portugal

That´s not to say a home in the hills is akin to living on Mars.  There are good tarmac roads leading in and out of Monchique to the north, south, east and west.  You can be down onto the trans-Algarve A22 motorway just north of Portimao, in 20 minutes.  It takes about the same time to drive over to the pristine west coast beaches and villages, or in the opposite direction to the village of Sao Marcos de Serra next to the A2 Algarve-Lisbon motorway.

There are villas and cottages to rent for holidays in almost every location. Similarly there are properties for sale scattered over the whole area and the choice is surprisingly wide, ranging from total ruins to magnificent modern homes.Monchique Algarve Portugal 

Ruins suitable only for demolishing and rebuilding are now scarce anywhere on the Algarve coastal plain or the so-called ´Barrocal` band between the coast and the hills.  Those that exist usually come with silly price tags or cannot be sold because they cannot be extracted from multiple ownership under Portugal´s laws of inheritance.  In the Serra de Monchique, however, many ruined properties are still available at reasonable prices.

Local estate agent Susana Barreira of First Reality has sold about 200 ruins and says it is a myth that they nearly always come with complications – not in the Monchique district anyway. She says that ruins and building plots in the hills have generally doubled in value, or even trebled in select places, over the last five years.Villas to rent in Portugal

Every ruin can be demolished and rebuilt and the right to do this does not diminish with time.  “To make an investment now and build later secures the land at today´s prices,” says Susana  “I can´t tell you how many times we have heard the words “we wish we had bought a plot or ruin years ago”.  If you invest in the Algarve now, whatever you decide to do, you have an asset which is going up in value and is far more profitable than cash on deposit and certainly without the risk of the recent bank collapses and the stock market gamble.”Villas to Rent in Portugal Although there are always local planning restrictions on size and style when rebuilding, the Monchique municipal council has the reputation of being more tolerant and helpful  than most.  Still, there is no point in buying a ruin without being prepared to eventually go through all the proper design and construction stages under the guidance of qualified professionals.  Rule out, for example, dreams of a DIY log cabin that nicely blends in with the natural surroundings at little cost.   Wooden structures for habitation still require full planning permission the same as a conventional houseMonchique Holiday DestinationEven so, buyers need not feel out on a limb up in the hills away from the Algarve´s main urban centres. There are fully-licensed, professional estate agents, lawyers, architects, project managers, engineers and builders close at hand to help.  A total rebuild can usually be accomplished in 18 months from purchase and a major renovation in half that time.

Cadas de Monchique Algarve Portugal

The quicker though more costly option is to buy an existing good quality home.  Prices of these are influenced not only by size and condition but by the view.  The most desirable properties occupy prime sites on the south-facing slopes between Monchique and Marmelete below Foia, and in the vicinity of Alferce and Fornalha below Picota.  On clear days they look down over a broad stretch of distant shimmering sea.  On hazy days, layers of foothills fall away into the blue and purple yonder as in a Chinese painting.Monchique Algarve Portugal

 

 

 

   Monchique expatriates, who have seen what is happening on the mountain slopes outside places like Los Angeles, Vancouver and Cape Town, feel the Serra de Monchique may be on its way to becoming “ Upper Algarve”, a reference to more than just its geographical elevation.Convento Monchique Portugal

 However, the Serra de Monchique is not yet deemed to be sufficiently posh to warrant prices as high as those being asked along the coast.  Up-market properties with three or four bedrooms are mostly in the 300,000 – 700,00 euros bracket, but you can pick up an old ruin for as little as 50,000 euros or a modern mansion for as much as 1.5 million euros or more.

Private Villas in Algarve to RentFew expatriates who move into the hills move out again, except in dire personal circumstances.  

Of the future, there is talk – and that is all it is at present – of creating golf resorts in the hills.  That´s when some of the Monchique purists may start campaigning not just for a sprinkling of irritating traffic lights, but for stop and diversion signs galore.

 Monchique (published in Welcome magazine )

The pace of life is slower in the Monchique hills, and the climate more friendly.

Monchique Western AlgarveThe EN266 road up to the town of Monchique follows tight bends through tall trees, most of them mimosas, which in early spring are smothered in yellow blossom. 
 

 

 Part way up to Monchique, the spa village of Caldas nestles in a deep wooded valley.  People have been coming here since Roman times to drink or bathe in the local natural spring water.

 The entire village was renovated a few years ago and it is well worth a break for a stroll in the peaceful woods (where nightingales sing in early summer) and to sample the spring water.Villas to rent in Portugal here in Monchique

Alternatively, take in the atmosphere over a coffee or beer in the picturesque square and perhaps try a fresh roll with spiced sausage (pao com chourico) baked in a nearby old-fashioned oven and sold in the adjacent café.
Its only a few more kilometers up to Monchique town, where there´s ample free parking, including an underground facility.

An interesting  sign-posted walk through the narrow cobbled streets of the town takes in the parish church with its Manueline doorway and Sacred Art Museum and other points of interest.  There´s a good view of the area from the ruins of a 17th century Franciscan convent.  Observe the beautifully laid out gardens dotted with sculptures in the valley.  Note also the terracing on the hillsides, a farming method used since Moorish times to grow oranges, figs and almonds, as well as cork oak trees.  Old House Monchique PortugalThere are also many peaceful tracks for walkers in the surrounding countryside, affording wonderful panoramic views down to the coast.  Organised walks to Foia and Picota start at the tourist information office above the under-ground car park, other activities include downhill biking and canoeing.

The Monchique area is a handicrafts centre; artisans can be seen producing knitwear, cane work, pottery, tiles and sculptures, for example, all on sale at reasonable prices.  Several cobblers still make shoes by hand, and such diverse homemade products as honey and soap are available locally.Serra de Monchique Algarve Portugal

Take a drive up to Foia for the best views of all.  Like the EN266, this road is dotted with typical chicken piri-piri restaurants for which the area is famous.  Although piri-piri is Monchique´s signature dish, there are also many restaurants specializing in other local delicacies including kid, game and wild boar.  Choose a clear day to make the most of the panoramic views.  Your Foia visit may well be one of the lasting memories of your holiday.

Get the Lowdown on Monchique – The Upper Algarve, Natures Paradise (extracts of interview) published in Get Real newspaper  

Why did you choose to live in Monchique?

We have lived in a number of locations in the Algarve but love Monchique best of all because it is unspoilt, the local people are warm and friendly and the countryside is picturesque and green all Algarve Beachesyear round.  There is a cosmopolitan community here but is not for those wanting to live in a Little Britain with nightclubs and English style pubs.  

  
Monchique has a quaint town centre with cobbled streets and alleys to explore.  If descending from the town there are well tended gardens leading down to a stream – an ideal place to chill out on those hot summer days!

Local attractions?
The town has three swimming pools, one indoor and two outdoor (one for kids).  The outdoor pools are free.Holidays in Monchique Portugal

 

 

 

There is an abundance of water in Monchique all year round and so the mains water is of particularly good quality.  Many properties have their own supply from natural springs, we have two on our land giving us a constant supply, definitely a bonus if global warming is to have its way!

Monchique plays host to several car rallies, and cycle races each year, is ideal for pony trekking, forest walks, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, bird and nature watching.  There is an abundance of natural picnic sites which attract people from all over the Algarve especially at the weekends.Authentic Monchique

 Summer and winter comparison?

A bonus for us is that Monchique does not get too congested in summer with tourists, there are only day coach trips and safari jeeps certainly not enough to bother us.

 Some people have the idea that Monchique, in winter, is colder than elsewhere but we have compared the temperatures and the difference, if anything at all, is minimal, a very small price to pay for magnificent views and to enjoy nature at its best.Foia, Monchique Algarve Portugal

 Availability of local schools?

We hear very good reports about the local state school educating children of many nationalities all seeming to be happy there.  In the summer holidays they have a great activity programme visiting all sorts of places including Zoomarine, Crazy Golf and activities like kayaking and swimming. 

Nearest beaches?

 Superb Beaches Algarve PortugalWe have the privilege of having both the west and south coast beaches to choose from and particularly love to visit the unspoilt beaches on the west coast especially at Arrifana to watch the surfers.Algarve Beaches

 

 

 


Real Estate?

House prices vary greatly depending on location and views but in general reflect excellent value for money compared with other areas of the Algarve.  A small house can start from as little as 35,000 euros and a four bedroom villa from 375,000 euros upwards. AlgarveWe believe, because of the increasing interest in Monchique, that investment potential is huge.

 Nearest supermarket and shops?

O Padeiro da Serra Alisuper next to the roundabout on the Foia road has its own excellent bakery, good fresh fruit and vegetables plus more unusual items not normally available.  Carlos the owner is very friendly and helpful and will even carry your heavy bags to your car.   The supermarket Mini Preco has a very good butchers and also sells ready cooked food to take away, a different meal every day. Intermarche  where you can buy anything from groceries to washing machines and TV's opened in 2012.

Nearest main hospital?

We have also heard excellent reports about the local health centre and if required the nearest hospital is Barlavanto in Portimao, just 20 minutes drive away.

  Where to Stay        

 There are plenty of places to stay in and around Monchique, from luxury hotels to country cottages. Here are some that have been recommended by our clients;

Villa Vida Nova A luxurious private villa available on a weekly basis from April to October. Walking distance to town and restaurants. Infinity pool, BBQ, alfresco dining, http://www.algarvevillaforrent.comVillas to Rent in Algarve

Termas de Monchique situated between the green of the mountain and the blue of the sky with guest accommodation ranging from a four star hotel, three star hotel and tourist apartments. http://www.monchiquetermas.com/

 

 

 

 Albergaria do Lageado Enjoy a stay in the restful environment of this hotel situated in the spa town of Caldas de Monchique 282912616 Fax 282 911310 www.albergariadolageado.com

 Hotel/Restaurant Bica Boa Decorated in the traditional style this small hotel is situated a short distance from the town of Monchique and has an excellent restaurant. 282 912271 bica-boa@sapo.pt

Casa Rosa Branca Enjoy the tranquility and beautiful scenery from the comfortable accommodation at Casa Rosa Branca. 282912893 www.casarosabranca.nl
 
info@casarosabranca.nl

Quinta das Oliveiras Monchique www.a-gites.com/siteweb11813/ Cottages set in picturesque gardens within walking distance of restaurants and the town of Monchique paindavoine6@gmail.com or paindavoine6@live.fr

  

 

 

 

 

 
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