Country Quest Portugal, Alcoutim
Right outside the town of Alcoutim, there is a beautiful, tranquil spot on a hill where Country Quest is. A house on the hill, with stunning views of the valley, river and Spain. No neighbours, no traffic, no noises, only nature and horses. The layout has been designed to bring the horses as close to people as possible. Look out from any window of the house and chances are you will see a horse looking back at you. Wonder outside with your morning coffee and within few steps you are surrounded by the herd. In fact, you cant come in or leave without meeting a horse on your way! It doesn’t get much better! Just remember to close the gates as you go!
On the northern edge of Algarve, right by the river bordering Portugal and Spain there lays a beautiful Portuguese village called Alcoutim. It is a real hidden treasure of the Algarve. This interesting river town is set among rolling green hills. Here you will find the perfect combination of history, nature and tranquility. In only a 30 minutes’ drive from the famous coastal area of the Algarve you find yourself in this picture perfect region. Especially during spring this is a must see town to explore as the wild nature is in full bloom. The decor of the town is typically Portuguese, the narrow streets are packed with small coffee shops and restaurants where you can enjoy a coffee and a pastry for less than 2e. There is a post office, banks, cash machine and a small mini market for your daily essentials. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, everyone knows each other and the postman cheerfully shouts his greetings as he whizzes through the narrow cobbled streets on his scooter.
The town also has a beautiful river beach and there is a frequent shuttle boat that takes you across the river into the Spanish town of Sanlucar de Guadiana. Alcoutim is a base for many of the hiking routes of Via Algarviana, these routes we can also explore on horse back if walking is not your thing.
Gypsy Markets and Medieval Towns
Within a driving distance from Alcoutim are many interesting sights and places to explore. A gypsy market travels through the different towns weekly and is an interesting experience, even if you have no intention of buying anything. The markets are worth a visit just for the atmosphere alone! Those who are interested in history, you will find castles and ruins to visit in Alcoutim, Silves, Faro, Viana do Alentejo and Evora. The town of Evora, which is one of the most well preserved medieval towns in Portugal is a 2h drive away and is an enchanting place to delve into the past. Inside the 14th-century walls, Évora’s narrow, winding lanes lead to striking architectural works: an elaborate medieval cathedral and cloisters; the cinematic columns of the Templo Romano (near the intriguing Roman baths); and a picturesque town square, once the site of some rather gruesome episodes courtesy of the Inquisition. Aside from its historic and aesthetic virtues, Évora is also a lively university town, and its many attractive restaurants serve up hearty Alentejan cuisine. Outside town, Neolithic monuments and rustic wineries make for fine day trips.
Hippie Market and Cliffside Beaches
Across the Algarve, in Lagos, you will find a really cool hippie community. In Barao de Sao Joao they arrange a hippie market every last Sunday of the month. Although it is a couple of hours drive away from us, it is well and truly worth a visit. Nomads from across the Algarve gather to chill, hang out and to sell their produce, talent or eccentric items from the back of their vans. You will find barefoot people sitting in circles playing guitar and dancing and stopping only to revitalise with a home made, full vegan meal someone has cooked there on the spot. While in that end of the Algarve, check out Sagres and Capo St. Vicentina, the most western point in Europe!
Stunning Sandy Beaches
Down in the coastal Algarve you will find many spots for beautiful beaches. Starting from Tavira, ending in Sagres, there is a 155km of coast line to explore. Some of the busiest and most popular beaches are in the tourist destinations of Albufeira, Carvoeiro and Portimão, but you can also find some more secluded spots if you look carefully. Shopping opportunities there are plenty, check out some of the biggest malls like Aqua in Portimão, Algarve Shopping in Guia and Forum in Faro. If you want some serious bargains and don’t mind the travel, then there is a great outlet central in Lisbon with many different brand outlet stores in one location.