Sitting just 3 kilometres from Portugal’s border with Spain, the ever popular beach resort of Monte Gordo is one of the many holidaymaking highlights found along the much-visited Algarve coastline. Given its close proximity to its (very near) neighbour, it won’t surprise many to learn that Monte Gordo offers a heady fusion of both Portuguese charm and Spanish vibrancy, while the climate from almost spanning the two sunshine states is nothing less than expected (i.e, hot, hot, hot!). flat, expansive beaches are also the accepted norm hereabouts (Monte Gordo is reputed to be the largest), while the inviting waters are warm to the feel and instantly hospitable. In fact, tourists will observe some of the warmest waters the Algarve has around Monte Gordo, helped by the proximity of the resort to the River Guadiana. In terms of convenience for visitors planning on making Monte Gordo their summer holiday 2018 choice, the resort is but a 2 hour transfer from the airport.
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The previously mentioned River Guadiana acts as a natural (yet unofficial) border betwixt the countries of Portugal and Spain in this part of the Algarve, and therefore among one of the most popular leisure pursuits to enjoy when taking a holiday in Monte Gordo is to take a river cruise. Because let’s face it, there are few things in life as leisurely as a cruise, full stop. And when you consider the scenery you float past, then peace and tranquillity are all but assured. Indeed, Monte Gordo is situated in close proximity to both the Sapal and Ria Formosa nature reserves (for those visitors with a preference to take a walk on the wild side), while fellow explorers might instead wish to get acquainted with local history by running the ramparts at Castro Matrim’s medieval castle. Which also affords the budding Indiana Jones the opportunity to take in what can only be described as far-reaching and stunning vistas across Spain, on account of the height at which it stands.
Aside from some of the best beaches in Europe, a spread of nature reserves and some impressive historical architecture, perhaps the Algarve represents something else to holidaymakers of an altogether different persuasion. And the merest mention of the word, ‘golf’ will probably serve as the biggest clue as to what we’re getting at. But of course, the staggering array of challenging and scenically-enhanced golf courses aren’t the only way for those choosing to holiday in and around Monte Gordo can keep relatively fit during their break, as elsewhere there’s amount of walking, hiking and cycling opportunities presenting themselves.
Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and all manner of international culinary flavours and dishes are well represented at Monte Gordo’s various bars and restaurants, yet that being said you’ll kick yourself if you overlook the more locally-sourced, traditional menus which can be found in eateries throughout the popular coastal resort. Seemingly a gastronomique’s wonderland, the palette of the denizens of this most eastern end of the Algarve tends to centre round an extensive selection of seafood and pork. Tuna figures prominently (be it putting in an appearance in rissoles or pizzas, or independently by way of being grilled or cooked with onions and tomatoes). Cataplanas (a blend of monkfish, cod, prawns and clams amongst other fish) cooked in the sealed vessel to keep all the flavours in, the aforementioned risotto style dishes with seafood and straightforward grilled sardines with boiled potatoes or a salad (or just some fresh bread) are other variations on this fishy theme. While wine is plentiful (thanks to the Algarve-located vineyards of Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira areas), in Monte Gordo’s restaurants and bars, don’t forget the national tipple is of course, port. Brought to alcoholic fruition from a delicate fusion of wines, port comes in ruby, tawny and white guises. Also worth noting that the Algarve region is also home to a collection of revered spirits, including Aguardente and Medronho; both of which should be served with a government health warning on account of the effects both might have on your equilibrium or stomach after consumption!
Monte Gordo provides a wealth of get-at-able away days both near and far-ish to those of you with a family in tow this summer, as the broader Algarve region covers just about every leisure and sporting base for those with children who need constantly entertaining. Beaches only hold their interest for so long, which is why it’s important that nearby alternatives exist when planning a family holiday to somewhere like Monte Gordo. Thankfully everything from cave and coastline boat trips and catamaran tours (not to mention dolphin watching excursions) to off-road tours and pirate ship cruises are in the offing. Surfing lessons and bicycle trips can also be easily arranged for the more demanding of offsprings who have even more energy to physically burn off. Indeed, a network of safe cycle paths was constructed to service this need and there is route that extends the length of the Algarve to enjoy. Popular family-based day trips include the classic 18th Century town of Vila Real, which was built in a mere 6 months. From Vila Real a ferry can be caught to travel across the Guadiana river to the Spanish town of Ayamonte. Another potential excursion might take in the pretty fishing port of Tavira, which is regarded as the most charming town in the Algarve. The choice as they say, is all yours!
From watersports and tennis to indoor karting and sea fishing, the action and adventure is both fast and furious in Monte Gordo and its surrounding areas of the Algarve. And let’s remember, for those holidaymakers who like their throttles less full, there’s always the golf. With three excellent championship standard courses situated close to Monte Gordo, there’s all the excuse golfers need to pack their clubs and hope that it doesn’t exceed their accumulative luggage weight this summer. Walking and cycling is also well starred in the area for those wishing to explore via different means, while surf schools and jeep safaris can be participated in by journeying a bit further from your holidaying base.
With mile upon mile of golden sand stretching out before you, the sun, sea and perhaps most important of all, sand-seeking visitor to Monte Gordo is spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches. From Vila Real de Santo António to Manta Rota and everything golden between, the beaches of (or at the very least, in immediate striking distance of) Monte Gordo are in abundance. However the beach located right in the midst of Monte Gordo takes some beating. Praia de Monte Gordo is an absolute joy to behold, and in the glare of the midday sun the sand is almost white in colour to the naked eye. Just for the record, it’s only the eyes which are naked. This beach is many things to many people/holidaymakers, yet a nudist one it most certainly isn’t! Plus, it’s soft and clean and there’s plenty of it to go round. What’s more, it’s easily accessible (the beach is at the same level as the palm tree-lined promenade at Monte Gordo) and there are plenty of amenities, including over 10 beach-serving bars and restaurants.
Meanwhile for those wanting to travel a little further from their comfort zone (but to even more relaxing hot spots) then Praia da Altura (Alagoa) and Praia da Lota aren’t too far distant, while Praia Verde is just further along from Praia de Monte Gorde. As probably the least developed of the beaches along this long eastern sand strip, this sandy reveal is ideal for anyone looking to escape the hordes, as is nearby Praia da Manta Rota and by an even more remote degree, Praia de Cacela Velha. Geographically an extension of Manta Rota, it forms a sand spit with a lagoon which separates it from the shore. Access is either by foot along the sand from Manta Rota or by boat from Sítio da Fábrica. And put it this way. If you crave absolute peace and quiet (and for all intents and purpose, your very own island, minus any bars, restaurants, sunbeds or probably, body else!) then this is just the ticket.
A short distance from the promenade at Monte Gordo is where lovers of nightlife will be able to continue the fun and games once the long Mediterranean days turn into the equally long nights. It’s within this vicinity of the tourist-appealing town that hotels, bars and clubs reach out to attract the nocturnal revellers with all manner of activities; everything from drinking and dancing to one of Monte Gordo’s very latest pleasure button-pressing late night additions, a casino. Yes, the resort has now added a glitzy new casino to its hitherto disco (and folk dancing) venues, which is already drawing in the holidaying punters, to coin the appropriate phrase. For those visitors fancying a flutter while enjoying their holiday, then where better to spend an evening than here. Black jack, poker, glitzy shows, 217 slot machines, interactive feature games and American and French roulettes are just some of the features awaiting holidaymakers at Monte Gordo's Solverde casino, where you are invited to channel your inner James Bond around the craps table. All via a stylish, Art Deco-influenced facade.
Growing in popularity with tourists in recent years, Monte Gordo is equally a hit with couples looking to get away from it all, as it is with families looking to immerse themselves in everything on offer. Thanks to a number of quieter beaches to explore just a little further off the beaten track, couples experiencing Monte Gorde holidays for the first time can almost disappear off the radar in a bid to escape the rat race. Yet the town itself is more than accommodating of the requirements of all holidaymakers, and itself provides a romantic backdrop for those hoping to fall for each other all over again, together with the breath-taking scenery for what might be the very first time.
Naturally enough, even the most loved-up and quiet corner-locating couples will want to let their hair down once the evening beckons, and where better to do it than here in Monte Gordo. With various bars and a brand new casino, you’re sure to discover one way or another to ramp up the excitement and get hot under more than just the collar. And if couples really wish to push the party boat out, then a little further along the coast lies Tavira; where first appearances can be somewhat deceptive. Beneath the traditional and calm exterior is one of the best clubs of the eastern Algarve, called Ubi. Converted from an abandoned factory and transformed it into one of the trendiest venues of the Algarve, Ubi is open every day during the summer season, yet the biggest, loudest nights are at the weekend when banging club music continues until the sun rises.
Alcoutim is well worth a day trip from Monte Gordo, and holidaymakers can take a river boat cruise all the way from Vila Real de Santo Antonio up to Alcoutim, along the River Guadiana. And while there, why not familiarise yourself with Alcoutim's castle, which offers superb views of the surrounding Serra da Caldeirao hills. Or at the same time, run the rule over Alcoutim's Roman remains and ancient copper mines; clear evidence of human presence dating back to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic period. The current Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceico church dates from the 18th Century and an old Moorish settlement situated about 1km outside the town at Castelo Velho will be of particular interest to many tourists keen to find out more about this part of Portugal. Meanwhile in July every year, nearby Cacela Vehla stages the Noites da Moura Encantada; a festival which takes place over 4 days and recreates the times of the Arab occupation in the area; interpreted through music, traditional food, belly dancing and a traditional Souk market selling both Arabic and Algarvian goods.