Springtime or summer gataway for a little visited part of Portugal but with many options to enjoy during your holidays. Enjoy and relax in the unknown Algarve and Alentejo countryside.
The beginning of our itinerary begins in Faro, the central city of the Algarve and where the international airport of Faro is located. We will drive in direction of Spain and arrived at Castro Marim, on the banks of the Guadiana River, we will follows the direction to Alcoutim. The road that links Castro Marim to Alcoutim (The IC27) is in excellent condition and as is normal in the Algarve interior, has little traffic.
In Alcoutim, riverside village, we can visit the excellent river beach, near the banks of the River Guadiana. But Alcoutim does not end up only with the beach. You can visit to the ruins of the small Castle, take the views to the Spanish village of Sanlúcar and cross the border in the first cross-border zip line of the World in just 50 seconds. Yes, it is possible. The ticket includes the boat crossing between the shores and in Sánlucar you will be directed to the launch platform that is at 100 meters. Then just enjoy the ride over the river and the boats that are there anchored. The reservation to this cross can be made at the address www.limitezero.com.
Do not forget to also enjoy the magnificent dishes of the Algarve's cuisine of this small village and enjoy a late afternoon, sitting on the banks of the river.
After that and continuing along the same road we will reach Alentejo and the small village of Mértola.
Mértola sits above the Guadiana River, ending here the actual navigable part of this river. The Castle, with impressive look allows to observe the very irregular geography of this zone. Once again, you need to visit to castle and a walk through its walls are necessary. Being an Alentejo village, in Mértola there are very good suggestions to taste the specialties of this corner of Alentejo. Migas, gaspachos, wild pig, black pork, cheeses and all other specialties are not lacking in the menus of the various restaurants in the village.
In Mértola you can also dives on the Guadiana River. Yes, in the Guadiana river, in a very quiet area, formed by the old water mills and now recovered as a leisure park and picnic. However it is an unguarded area and wild camping.
A few kilometers from Mértola, on the N265 you will find the small village of Mina de São Domingos and just at the entrance it is the lake beach. When you arrive you may think you are suffering from sunstroke and may be seeing a mirage. It's not even real. The beach of Mina de São Domingos has entertainment, has sand, has water sports, beach bar, shadows and lots of water. This is a place to enjoy as much as you can.
This village is also an open-air museum. During the morning or late afternoon, explore the old Mine, visit the Museum and the Mineiro house. You can begin your visit to the lagoon of contaminated waters resulting from the exploitation of metals. The remaining route must be done by car or mountain bike since it has a few kilometers. The route accompanies the one that was the first private train line in Portugal and which linked the old mine to Pomarão (on the navigable margins of the Guadiana River). The whole area of the mine and the route that follows the old line is devoid of vegetation and the ruins of the old factories that treat the extracted products from the mine are also visible.
For an overnight stay we have listed two options. The Alentejo Star Hotel right in the Mina de São Domingos village and the Cantar do Grilo, 15 mins drive in direction to Serpa. Alentejo Star Hotel has a private star observatory and swimming pool. The Cantar do Grilo offers the immensity of the Alentejo landscapes in a four-bedroom property and swimming pool.
Serpa, the ending of our journey is at thirty minutes from the Mina de São Domingos and its historic center is within by walls that served to defend the city from threats. Serpa should be visited in the morning or at the end of day as the heat during the spring or summer can make the visit less enjoyable. It is also a place with excellent options for lunch and dinner. Enjoy the various options that allow you to taste the typical Alentejo food and wine, taste the famous Serpa cheese and on summer evenings enjoy the esplanades of the various breweries.
To return from your journey you can always go back to the same road or enter in Spain, in the Serpa area, take a jump to Aracena and visit the famous Gruta de las Maravillas Wonders Cave. Then it is descending toward Huelva and then returning to enter in Algarve at the border of Vila Real de Santo António.
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