Take a trip up the hills of the Serra do Caldeirão, and find an offbeat Algarve! Visit traditional villages, learn old ways of life that still prevail, and get an insight into the making of popular crafts.
This tour will take you to the rolling hills of the Caldeirão Mountains, between the scent of thyme and lavender, in a muted green landscape of scattered cork trees and harsh scrubland.
This range of small mountains and undulating hills is only a short drive away from the most known coastal resorts, although it seems to belong on a different planet. Few people live here, mostly an aging population dedicated to traditional activities and to welcoming visitors.
In the historical centre of São Brás de Alportel, there are simple whitewashed houses built in the traditional Algarvian style and grand manor houses of the former industrialists and businessmen of the cork trade. Those have richly decorated façades with elaborated tiles, carved stonework, and wrought-iron verandas. From the courtyard of the Main Church, there is a fine view of the Caldeirão hills.
At the Ethnographic Museum of Costumes, we’ll have the opportunity to visit the traditional handicraft exhibit and get to know more about the importance of the cork in the region and its transformation processes. The Museum is set in the former 19th-century manor house of a cork dealer, and all its grace and charm have been kept.
The cork from this region is worldly renowned for its top quality, and the Algarve is the world’s largest cork grower and exporter. The cork from the Algarve is used for everything from Champaign and fine wines, to fashion, and even NASA spaceships.
We then pay a visit to Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, where tiles are still handmade in the traditional artisanal way. Today there are few remaining tile factories in the east Algarve using these techniques, which produce beautiful tiles in gorgeous pink hues. From the ovens where the tiles bake, comes an earthy smell of holm oaks and almond shells burning.
The village is surrounded by orange groves that flourish in this fertile land, and the lovely hamlets along the away dot the landscape with strokes of crisp white.
Here, you’ll find the character and authenticity of an Algarve rich in diversity.
Find secret places and special moments off the beaten path and discover the Algarve others do not know about!