From São Marcos da Serra it is never far to all the different places of interest in the Algarve. It is an ideal start to discover this region by car. Within a limit of 35 minutes you can reach the beautiful beaches, interesting towns like Silves or Loulé, villages like Alte or Lagoa, the nightlife in Albufeira and a whole lot more.
Of course it is also worth while to go for a walk or biking tour through the mountainside, enjoying the beautiful nature and the great biodiversity of the serra. You can also visit the west coast (a beautiful 1 hour drive), or have a look across the border into the Alentejo.
There is a very nice route through the mountains from the village of São Marcos da Serra to the town of Silves and another one leading to the Monchique. There, on top of the Fóia (902 m), you have a wonderful panoramic view over villages and woods.
Below you will find a selection of things to do when you are in the Algarve.
Feira do Folar
The Feira do Folar (Easter cake fair) takes place in São Marcos da Serra in the Easter weekend.
Near the church square all the local specialities, such as the special Easter cake of S. Marcos, sausages, honey or medronho, can be tasted and bought and in the afternoon and evening there will be folklore, dance and music. For an impression of the feira have a look a this video http://videos.sapo.pt/vfVocjYDOzW4iRSbdEGC
One of the things you should not miss, is visiting a local market (only open in the morning). The market days of S. Marcos da Serra take place at 24 April, 28 June, 15 September and 11 December, next to the cemetery. There is a market held in the neighbouring village of S.B. de Messines on the 4th Monday of every month. A listing of all the markets in the area can be found on the page useful information.
You can buy a variety of goods, such as clothes, vegetables, cheese, chicken (grilled or alive), plants, pots and pans etc. Some markets also have livestock. And of course you should eat a "frango grelhada" (grilled chicken) accompanied with a wine or beer and enjoy the scene.
the "Fatima" of S. Marcos da Serra
You don't have to travel far to visit a sacred place. We have one right here in this freguesia! It all started in 1998. A man working on the construction of the IC1 discovered a cork oak tree (sobreiro) that smelled like roses, right next to the road. He spoke about it in the village and soon more and more people went to the tree to experience this strange phenomenon. People started to take a stone laying next to the tree or a piece of its cork home as a souvenir and soon the tree was getting in trouble. Other people tried to protect it, but one night a man went there with his saw and cut the tree. On the spot where the tree used to be, you can now see a statue of Our Lady of Kindness (nossa senhora de bondage) with the text: "Our lady of kindness showed herself here on the 16th of February 1999. You should come here on every first Sunday of the month at 12.00 hours to pray. " Some people still experience the smell of roses here.
Every first weekend in March the Feira Enchidos (sausage festival) is held in Monchique. Here you can try and buy the famous sausages made of the meat of the black pigs (porco preto), but you can also find other regional specialties like medronho, presunto, sweets and honey here. Enjoy the festivities with live entertainment in this typical village of the serra.
Every summer in August there is a Feira Medieval in the town of Silves.
It is a great experience to see how the historical centre of this old little town is transformed into medieval times. Everything is in style and you really can imagine how life must have been a couple of hundred years ago. There are many performances to see, the food is great and there are many nice things to buy. You can even participate yourself by renting (for a symbolic price) a costume and walk around dressed up as a knight or a lady or a beggar. The market starts at 6 in the evening and ends at 1 in the night.
For more info have a look at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Feira-Medieval-de-Silves/231860703494421
Barragem de Odelouca
The Odelouca dam (barragem) is now realized and there is an huge lake developing that reaches São Marcos da Serra.
Since the dam was closed in the summer of 2009, it is now ready to store water and will become the main water supplier for the western Algarve, with a capacity of storing 134.000.000 m3 of water. The barragem is a beautiful place for recreation in this region.
Pay a visit to the sleepy town of Silves and walk around the the old Moorish castle walls. From there you have a wonderful view over the area.
Also worth seeing are the Archaeological Museum and the Cathedral, both near the castle. Here you find a list of opening hours and entrance fees of the castelo and all museums in the municipality of Silves.
For more information on the city have a look at www.silvesuncovered.com
Parque da Mina
In Caldas de Monchique, the Parque da Mina is worth a visit. In this theme park you get some insight in the habits and customs of the people of the serra. Amongst other things you can see an old mine, a distillery for Medronho, the making of bread and a furnished old farm house. There is a play ground for the small ones, picnic area and a small cafeteria.
Open from 10 a.m. till 7 p.m. (5 p.m. in the winter season)
Entrance fee: € 5 for kids, € 8 for adults.
Krazy World Zoo
If you have children, Krazy World Zoo in Algoz could be a nice day out for the family.
There are not only animals, but they also have a swimming pool, live shows, carting, mini-golf and a restaurant.
For more information www.krazyworld.com
Castro da Cola
Drive up the IC1 north for about 20 minutes and you reach he exit to Castro da Cola. If you follow this road it takes you right to the remains of an ancient settlement, well worth visiting. Not only interesting, but also you can enjoy magnificent views over the countryside.