Monte Gordo in the Algarve: also loved by seniors!

Those looking for a suitable holiday spot often have a specific wish list. That list can be age-oriented or zoom in on what will appeal locally and what will deter. Older people are usually not looking for a lavish nightlife 24/7, but rather a place with all the necessary facilities within reach, local color and suitable leisure activities. Seniors who want to spend the winter also have decisive requirements. For example, how high are the rental prices of the apartments for a long period of time or are the medical facilities such as a thrombosis service good and within reach? Given the returning seniors, it is clear that modern Monte Gordo in the Algarve meets the needs of the most discerning visitor.

  • Can the term senior be defined?
  • Portugal and the Algarve
  • The Algarve
  • 2nd phase beach facilities
  • The climate in Monte Gordo
  • Beaches of Monte Gordo and surroundings
  • Fishing in Monte Gordo
  • Traditional architecture in the Algarve
  • The nature reserve of the Mata Nacional das Dunas Litorais de Vila Real de Santo António
  • A spot for bird watchers: Reserva Natural do Sapal
  • Feast days of Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Dores in Monte Gordo


Can the term senior be defined?

There is a large group of people who enjoy early retirement in 2018. In addition, there is a large group of very elderly people and of course the group between those with early retirement and the very elderly. Some are fit and vital, others have age-related health problems. The bandwidth surrounding the term senior is very broad. In that respect, it is not really possible to give a fixed definition of ‘the senior’. It is a group that is (too) versatile to summarize: the senior cannot be pigeonholed. Trends, wishes and developments among this versatile group can
sometimes be indicated when it comes to travel . For example, what might a wish list of the average senior in 2018 look like? A small selection of the possibilities:

  • Local attractions or natural beauty;
  • Sports options such as golf, tennis, cycling, swimming or walking;
  • Dutch-speaking doctors;
  • The necessary facilities in the vicinity (medical, post office, ATM, supermarket, etc.);
  • Hours of sunshine during the winter months;
  • Budget-friendly options for longer stays during the winter months;
  • A varied cuisine, the availability of Dutch products;
  • Mobility has been carefully considered;
  • Peers;
  • There is local color.

For example, the average senior often seeks out quieter destinations where certain hobbies can be practiced outdoors. A trend is to spend longer periods abroad as a snowbird or as a retiree. The on-site medical facilities are important and the presence of Dutch-speaking services. Excellent mobility (scooter – walker – crutches – wheelchair) at the destination is a must for the disabled senior. It is therefore not surprising that more and more seniors are discovering the flat Monte Gordo in the Algarve as a destination.

Portugal and the Algarve

Until 1976, Portugal was divided into eleven provinces, of which the Algarve was the southernmost province of Portugal. The name Algarve originated during the Moorish occupation of the area. The Arabic ‘Al-Gharb’ means the west. This is the geographical location of the region as seen from the area of the occupying forces (Berbers and Arabs). After 1976, the provinces were politically replaced by districts. The coastal town of Monte Gordo is located in the district of Faro, which is approximately the same size as the former province of Algarve. The use of the term the Algarve (Costa Algarvia) as an area designation has remained. The N125 is the provincial coastal road (there is also a toll road), which connects all places on that coastal strip and provides access to the beach roads (praia). A regional railway line has been constructed between the border town of Vila Real and Lagos (past Faro as seen from Monte Gordo) and serves the coastal cities of Portimão, Tavira and Faro, among others. Of course, there is also a public bus service (stop in Monte Gordo).

The Algarve

Among the range of travel destinations in the Algarve, some places are strongly preferred because of their favorable location, (low) prices, available facilities and microclimate. The city of Monte Gordo scores well on all these points. It is particularly budget-friendly, making a stay of several months affordable, it is flat with wide pedestrian areas, it is easily accessible for the disabled and there is plenty to do in and around the city in the low season. In addition to the local traditional cuisine, there is a choice of tapas, fish, shellfish and crustaceans, and for variety there is also an international range of catering establishments, such as Chinese, Italian and Nepalese. Various take-away options, coffee bars and ice cream parlors are available. The Portuguese tourist also likes to stay in Monte Gordo. Many residents from the Lisbon area holiday in Monte Gordo during the summer months. This then gives the city a more authentic ‘buzz’. Reservations in restaurants are recommended during the busy periods. In the low season when winter visitors settle in Monte Gordo, some restaurants and shops are closed, so it can be a bit quieter.
Monte Gordo is the smallest train station on the regional route and located one kilometer from the edge of the city. Tickets for short journeys must be purchased on the train from the conductor, otherwise – such as during a transfer – you must reserve places due to the limited number of seats. walkways along the beachMonte Gordo is located on the Bay of Cadiz close to the Spanish border. It can be reached within 40 minutes by car from Faro Airport. The promenade is split into two parts by the main road. Part of the promenade therefore runs parallel to the road and the beach, the other part is pedestrianized and of course also runs parallel to the beach. The main road in town runs between the town side and about half of the promenade and beach side. The main road therefore separates part of the promenade, car parks and beach from the city side where the hotels, apartments, shops, bars and most restaurants are located.
There are of course also catering facilities in the pedestrian part of the promenade. Some dining options are located on the beach. The Monte Gordo casino, the tourist office and several newspaper and magazine kiosks are also on the beach side. The promenade is neatly paved with square cobblestones. The surface is therefore easily accessible for people who have to travel by wheelchair, mobility scooter or walker. There are benches on the promenade and several cooling parks with palm trees and oleanders. The whole is neatly maintained.
Beach catering Monte Gordo

2nd phase beach facilities

Parking is free out of season. A number of catering establishments are Dutch-speaking with Dutch products for when homesickness strikes or a change in diet is desired. A sturdy walkway has been built over the full length of the beach with wide ascending and descending passages and stairs. The ascending and descending passages allow disabled people to access the entire beach. It is frequently used for walking. Monte Gordo has undergone a major upgrade since 2017 with the help of EU subsidies. There are six toilet facilities along the entire beach at the walkway. Trendy catering establishments with roof terraces have also been built along the walkway.

The climate in Monte Gordo

Statistically, July is the hottest month of the year (average 26°C) in Monte Gordo with the most hours of sunshine. January is statistically the coldest month (average 11°C), while December is the wettest month. The sea water (Atlantic Ocean current) is very fresh and reaches approximately 22°C in summer (July).

Beaches of Monte Gordo and surroundings

Many beaches on the Algarve coast are only accessible via a boat connection (for example Cabanas) or with a tourist train (Barril). This is because the Rio Formosa National Park runs along a large part of the Algarve coast and therefore the beaches and cannot simply be entered. The ebb and flow of the tide also creates islands or sandbanks, which make accessibility difficult. There are also stretches of coast with many cliffs. Due to all this, a number of beaches cannot be accessed directly. Monte Gordo is geographically located above the national park, so protective restrictions do not apply. Cliffs have made way for rolling dunes. High tides have no effect on the beach, as happens in the national park. The beach opposite the town itself is called ‘praia de Monte Gordo’ .
Other beaches in the vicinity of Monte Gordo are:

  • praia de Adão e Eva (unguarded);
  • praia de Santo Antonio;
  • praia da Ponta da Areia (near Spanish border)

the beach of Monte Gordo, Portugal Praia de Monte Gordo
The beach of Monte Gordo is wide and clean with fine sand. In terms of structure, it resembles the sand on Dutch and Belgian beaches. There is a wide range of lounger, parasol and sunshade rental. The sea and beach are well monitored during the season. There are manned lifeguard posts at regular intervals along the entire length of the beach (recognizable by the red and white lifebuoys). The lifeguards can be recognized by their bright yellow T-shirts and distinctive beach jeep. Of course, the chirinquitos should not be missed on the beach.


Chirinquito is Portuguese for beach house or simple beach bar. They sell coffee, water, ice cream and small snacks. The operator is often also the rental company of the sunbeds and awnings. It is possible to reserve beds on his piece of beach. This is especially useful in high season, when the beaches are very busy. Sometimes walking back through the hot, loose sand to the chirinquito is too much to go buy something to satisfy the hunger. Fortunately, itinerant traders (they keep shouting ‘bolli bolli’) regularly pass by on the beach, selling edibles such as the bolas sem crem (the Portuguese donut).
boats on the beach of Monte Gordo Awarding the blue flag
Naturally, the organized beach also has areas where bathers can spread out their towel or unfold a chair if they wish. This is always possible on the wide strip of sand along the surf (except near the boats). The various colored parasols that flutter there make it a cheerful whole. The beach carries the blue flag quality mark (2017). The blue flag is the internationally recognized quality mark for beaches and marinas. In Portuguese the blue flag is called ‘ Bandeira azul’ . It is a must for countries that focus on the tourism industry. To qualify for the blue flag quality mark, the high requirements for clean bathing water and clean beaches must be met. Litter must also be tackled. A striking detail is how successfully active waste separation is done in Portugal. Furthermore, conditions apply for taking safety measures, such as the presence of rescue materials and a first aid post. In addition, certain environmental requirements apply to, for example, the water or the presence of clean toilets.

Praias Douradas

Monte Gordo has also been awarded the national gold quality flag (Quercus 2017). This award comes from the Portuguese Association for Nature Conservation. The Quercus has particularly strict requirements for bathing water.
Boat tow by tractor, Monte Gordo beach

Fishing in Monte Gordo

On the west side of the city, local fishermen store their boats on the beach. There are also the workshops (recognizable by their wooden gabled roofs) and the association buildings of the Asociacion de Pescadores (fishermen) and the Asociacion de Mariscos (shell fishermen). The boats are pulled ashore using a special tractor, while the boat crew sits on the stern to facilitate pulling. The boats sail back and forth all day long and are a unique spectacle to see when they are pulled onto land or put into the water. The brightly colored boats are criss-crossed on the beach amid piles of net bundles, buoys and waving flags and offer special photo opportunities. It gives the city its unique local color. Recreation is not allowed in this part of the beach due to the understandable dangers.
Telhados de Quatro Águas

Traditional architecture in the Algarve

The majority of the original buildings in Monte Gordo have had to make way for modern apartments and hotels (high-rise buildings). Over time, Monte Gordo has evolved from a fishing village into a modern coastal town. Sometimes one finds an authentic gem among the modern buildings. The original houses are easily recognizable by the pagoda architectural style of the roof. This is called Telhados de Quatro Águas in Portuguese, which means roofs of four waters). The origin of this Chinese-looking architectural style is uncertain. One suspects that it was motivated more by aesthetic reasons than by practical considerations. The traditional roof tiles ‘telha de canudo’ are of Moorish origin and have the shape of a semicircle. They are fired from red clay after first being shaped on the tiler’s thigh.
Those who want to experience the architecture of the authentic Algarve can indulge themselves during a trip to the small, neighboring village of Cacela Velha. Given the many food and drink options, the village has bowed to tourism, but the charm remains. The view from the city walls over the cliffs and sea is enchanting.
In Monte Gordo everything is within reach. There are many ATM kiosks to withdraw money, a post office and a pharmacy. There are neighborhood supermarkets and larger supermarkets. It is even possible to order or buy Dutch products. There is a medical center. The nearest hospital is in neighboring Vila Real, as well as a campsite.

The nature reserve of the Mata Nacional das Dunas Litorais de Vila Real de Santo António

The largest forest (pines) and natural park (440 ha) in the Algarve is ‘the Mata Nacional da Dunas Litorais de Vila Real de Santo Antonio’. It is located east of the city between Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo Antonio. It is a pine forest in a dune area and is the natural habitat of the so-called Chameleo Chameleon. Walking routes have been laid out through the forest (no toilet facilities or catering in 2017). Nature lovers can spot (forest) birds there and discover a variety of mushrooms and fungi that grow there in the autumn.

A spot for bird watchers: Reserva Natural do Sapal

Between the towns of Castro Marim, Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo António, there is a nature reserve (salt marsh) called Reserva Natural do Sepal. Nature lovers can spot a variety of birds there, including storks and flamingos. Because of its unique location and layout, it is the ideal pit stop for migrating birds (spring and autumn). Of course, the permanent residents are not absent from the reserve. The nature reserve is the permanent habitat of many plant species, reptiles, mammals and amphibians.
In addition to the many hiking opportunities, Monte Gordo offers active people the opportunity to rent bicycles or to tee off a golf ball nearby or to participate in various water sports. Sometimes it is possible to participate in evenings organized by the hotels, or to use the fitness room or swimming pool there. Our Lady of Sorrows, Monte Gordo

Feast days of Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Dores in Monte Gordo

The population of Portugal is predominantly Catholic. The parochial village church of Our Lady of Sorrows (the patron saint of Monte Gordo) is centrally located in the city. It is located on a square approximately at the beach area where the boats are moored. The annual celebration (festa) of this parish is from September 5 to 12. During that period (Sunday), the image of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried through the city, including the beach, during a procession, announced by loud honking from the fishing boats. During that period, in addition to the ‘permanent’ stalls with clothing and jewelry, there is also a traveling fair on the promenade. The festa is further surrounded by many music performances and dancing.
The tourist office on the promenade has a monthly publication Algarve (free), in which various celebrations and festivals are printed. The magazine also contains, among other things, the dates and locations of the local markets. A handy map of the city can be picked up (free) at the desk.

Monte Gordo


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