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Monchique - Algarve

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Monchique is a municipality of southern Portugal, in the district of Faro (formerly the province of Algarve).

This hilly range lies to the north of Portimao and is located 13 miles south of Saboia Station on the Lisbon-Faro railway. Monchique is one of the main Portuguese health-resorts, finely situated among the wooded heights of the Serra de Monchique, which rise on the west to 2963 ft. There is a woolen factory and medronho, a local brew made from distilled medronho berries (Albutus/Strawberry Tree), is produced. Originally created in back room stills. medronho is now a commercial product chiefly in Silves and Monchique. The berries are collected in late autumn, fermented and then left for months before being distilled in large copper stills.

Home-made medronho is usually clear and drunk neat, like schnapps. Early spring, when distilling is underway, is the best time to track down some of this brew in Monchique. You can find commercial brands of medronho (a locally made firewater) everywhere in Portugal, but according to those who have suffered enough hangovers to know, the best of all is the Monchique privately made brew.

A fiercely beautiful, lilting landscape surrounds this small, bustling hill town in the forested Serra de Monchique, Algarve's mountain range. It's a crisp-aired contrast to the coast, and a great region for biking, walking or horse riding. If you're not feeling energetic, there's a spa hidden in woodland with hot sulphur springs, baths and a sanatorium 4 miles south in 'Caldas de Monchique' (Spring of Monchique).Also tucked away in this area is and a wonderful private zoo housing endangered species.

This area is best visited by car so you can really explore the magic of the Monchique. There are many vantage points and pic-nic areas for you to stop along the way and enjoy the panoramic views along the Algarve Coastline.