EXPLORE PORTUGAL

Places To Visit (Inland)

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Loulé

Loulé 18km inland of Faro, has always been an important market town and has recently grown to a fair size, though its compact centre doesn’t take long to look around.  Its most interesting streets, a grid of whitewashed cobbled lanes, lie between the remains of its Moorish castle (now a museum housing a range of Roman, Moorish and early Portuguese finds from Loulé and the surrounding area) and the thirteenth-century Gothic Igreja Matriz, with its palm-lined gardens in front. This is a market town. The best time to visit to see things in full bustle-mode is mid-Saturday morning.

The outskirts of the town are unmistakably modern, so unless you’re a fan of latter-day urban sprawl, you’ll head for the centre of the old town.  The central market area has interesting Moorish architecture. The pinkish domes are impressive and worth to have a look.

Loulé even offers a museum of modern art and, staying with the contemporary, just to the west of the town, jutting out of a hill top, is the futuristic church of Nossa Senhora da Piedade.

Silves

Eighteen kilometres’ northeast of Portimão, Silves – the medieval residence and capital of the Moorish kings of the al-Gharb – merits a half-day’s detour. It has a superb castle and a highly dramatic approach, with its red ring of walls gradually revealing themselves as you emerge from the wooded hills. Under the Moors, Silves was a place of grandeur, described in contemporary accounts as “of shining brightness” within its three dark circuits of guarding walls. Such civilized splendours came to an end in 1189, with the arrival of Sancho I who, desperately in need of extra fighting force, had recruited a rabble of “large and odious” northern crusaders. The army arrived at Silves toward the end of June and the thirty thousand Moors retreated to the citadel. There they remained through the summer, sustained by huge water cisterns and granaries, until September when, the water exhausted, they opened negotiations.

Silves has a very pretty central square, Praça do Municipio, with palms and flowers, beautiful gardens, and a newly paved river front.

The municipal market building is on the main street opposite the river, and along this same street are numerous cafés with outside seating offering lovely river views. Within the town, there are cobbled streets, cafés and shops, some beautiful buildings from the times when Silves was a rich merchant’s town and remnants of the old walls, including the tower which now houses the municipal library.

Although the castle sits on the hill, it is still right in the heart of Silves, with the Cathedral right next door and cafés and houses around and in between.

Castelo do Paderne

The atmospheric ruins of Paderne Castle sit in splendid isolation high on a hilltop deep in the Algarve hinterland. Built by the Moors in the 12th century, on the site of an earlier Roman fortification, the castle overlooks the Quarteira River where a well-preserved Roman bridge can still be crossed. The castle, however, has proved less impervious to the ravages of time. The still impressive outer walls remain, as do vestiges of the tower gate, but little else. The site, though, affords a glorious sweep of the countryside, especially evocative during spring when the slopes are flecked with flowers. Paderne, a charming but sleepy smudge of a village, is worth a quick look before seeking out the castle. Visitors should note that the castle is unsupervised, and the steep dirt track leading up to the entrance should not be driven during wet conditions.

Location: Near Paderne, approximately 13 km’s northeast of Albufeira on the N395

Monchique

Around 24km north of Portimão lies the Serra de Monchique, a wooded mountain range of cork, chestnut and eucalyptus that provides the western Algarve with a natural northern boundary. This area bears the brunt of summer fires that seem to rage annually, but the woodland is generally quick to recover, and it remains ideal hiking country.

Caldas de Monchique is a celebrated spa since Roman times. In 1495 Dom João II came here to take the waters (though he nevertheless died soon afterwards in Alvor), and in the nineteenth century the town became a favourite resort of the Spanish bourgeoisie. It was sympathetically restored in 2000, transforming a somewhat ramshackle spa resort into a tourist village – and the results have been fairly successful. The cobbled, tree-shaded main square, fronted by the pseudo-Moorish windows of the former casino – now an exhibition hall – is surrounded by lovely nineteenth-century buildings and the setting is as beautiful as any in the region. At the foot of the village, the modern thermal spa (wwww.monchiquetermas.com) offers various specialist water treatments – including water massage, jet-showers and steam room – on the ground floor of a modern hotel.

Also worth a brief exploration is the town of Monchique, 6km to the north of Caldas de Monchique and 300m higher up the range. The sizeable hill town’s market is held on the second Monday of each month (by the helipad) and is famous for smoked hams and locally made furniture – especially the distinctive x-shaped wooden chairs. There’s also a weekly Sunday market on the main square, Largo 5 de Outubro, though the town is liveliest during the March Traditional Sausage Fair, when restaurants lay on special menus. The old town is dotted with beautifully crafted metal sculptures of local characters made by a contemporary Lisbon artist, which you can spot on the waymarked route to the ruined seventeenth-century monastery of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, signed uphill from the bus station. Only a rickety shell of this Franciscan foundation survives, but it’s a lovely fifteen-minute walk up here through ancient woods.

From Monchique it is a short drive (there is no public transport) to Fóia, 8km away – at nearly 900m, this is the highest of the serra’s peaks. It’s a beautiful winding drive, though bristling with radio masts, and capped by an ungainly modern complex sheltering a café-restaurant and shop; the summit itself, on a clear day, offers wonderful panoramic views of the south coast and west across to Cabo de São Vicente.

Alte

Alte is a delightful village in inland Algarve, situated north of Albufeira on the N124. It is a typical, Algarve village of whitewashed houses with lattice work, handcrafted chimneys and narrow, cobbled streets nestling in the foothills of the Serra do Caldeirão. The church is at the centre of the village, and there are numerous little cafes in the surrounding area, to relax at and soak up the tranquillity of the village.

At the eastern end of Alte, past the school, are the springs (fontes) for which Alte is well known. The area around Fonte Pequena (little spring) is picturesque…a bridge across the stream, the beginning of a series of waterfalls as the water flows down the hillside, a grassy area on the banks ideal for picnicking, and ducks making the most of the waters and the sunshine!  There is a pretty, paved, garden area in front of the ‘Fonte Pequena Inn’ dedicated to Alte’s famous poet, Cândido Guerreiro.there are tiled plaques on the wall with some of the poet’s works on.

Alte is ideally placed for exploring the towns and villages of the central Algarve with Messines and Silves to the west, Salir and Loulé to the east and Algoz, Boliqueime, Paderne and Albufeira to the south.

LOCATION

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Quinta De Barracuda offers a wide variety attractions and places of interest, all within a short travelling distance of the apartment.

City Sight Seeing

Getting Around

Taxis, cars and busses are never hard to come by if you don’t fancy driving.

Attractions

Attractions

From water parks to sea life centers, you’ll never be short of something to do.

Places to visit - West

Places to Visit (West)

Explore the cultural spots and experience Portugal at it’s best.

Places to visit - East

Places to Visit (East)

From bustling towns to sleepy fishing villages, there’s lots to explore.

Places to visit - Inland

Places to Visit (Inland)

Visit or medieval castle or relax and play some gold. Its all here!

Golf

Golf Courses

Play a game of golf on one of the many courses in the area.