The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
Monte Gordo is a lively resort town situated on the finest beaches of the eastern Algarve.
This glorious beach has transformed Monte Gordo from a minor fishing village into a modern and popular holiday destination. The town attracts a wide selection of nationalities, including many Portuguese, who simply adore the region.
Being a modern resort town means Monte Gordo lacks any Portuguese charm or character. Huge white apartments tower above the beach, and mass tourism has completely replaced fishing.
As a holiday destination, Monte Gordo is purely focused on the beach, and the beach is simply stunning. There are kilometres of soft golden sands, which are lapped by calm seawaters and surrounded by pristine pine forests.
During the summer, Monte Gordo has a calm and personable ambience. This is ideal for families or if you want somewhere less hectic than the large resort towns (such as Albufeira or Lagos). Monte Gordo also provides exceptional value for eating out and socialising. This is due to the large number of Portuguese tourists, who would not pay more than in the rest of their country.
An entire holiday to Monte Gordo could be easily spent lounging on the magnificent beach, but there is a lot to see and do within the eastern Algarve. Just a short train ride away is the historic town of Tavira, there are the two castles in Castro Marim, or the charming town of Vila Real de Santo António.
Monte Gordo may not be as well-known as the resort towns of the central Algarve, but there is a lot going for it, especially for a beach holiday. This guide will provide an introduction to Monte Gordo and show you why you should have a holiday here.
Related articles: Tavira guide - Vila Real de Santo António
The Praia de Monte Gordo – A glorious beach, which is part of the 14km long sandy coastline that extends from the Spanish border. The Praia de Monte Gordo provides some of the calmest sea waters in Portugal and is sheltered from the Atlantic sea-breezes.
Vila Real de Santo Antonio – A delightful fishing town, with grand Baroque architecture that sits on the mouth of the mighty Guadiana River. Vila Real is only 3.5km from Monte Gordo, and is the perfect balance to Monte Gordo's characterless modernism.
Monte Gordo holiday atmosphere – Relax on the beach, eat delicious food, socialise in the bars – what more could you want for the perfect holiday!
Mata Nacional das Dunas de Vila Real de Santo António – The pristine pine forests that surround Monte Gordo, which were originally planted to stabilise the regions sand dunes. Today this established forest provides tranquil walks, deserted beaches and the perfect habitat for Portugal's chameleons (the Chamaeleo chamaeleon) to hide.
Monte Gordo is the largest resort town of the eastern Algarve, but it is only a medium-size town when compared to the central Algarve, with its significantly more tourist-developed.
The town is surrounded by pine forests and the rolling Algarve countryside, and the giant apartment buildings of Monte Gordo seem out of place in the low-key eastern Algarve.
Within Monte Gordo is everything needed for an enjoyable holiday. There is a wide selection of restaurants, shops and bars, and even a casino (the Casino Monte Gordo). Along the beach front is a pleasant beach promenade, which is lined with numerous restaurants and in either direction leads to deserted beaches.
Being in the far eastern Algarve, Monte Gordo is a long distance from the waterparks and theme parks, and can feel remote from the buzz of the central Algarve. There are many fascinating sights and day trips in the eastern Algarve, but they tend to be cultural, historical or nature focused (such as Tavira, Castro Marim, or the flamingos of the Castro Marim nature reserve).
The interactive map below shows the sights, beaches and day trips of the Monte Gordo region. The main tourist area of Monte Gordo is highlighted in yellow and is marker 1. (Note: Zoom out to see all of the markers)
Sights of the region: 1) Monte Gordo town 2) Casino Monte Gordo 3) Mata Nacional das Dunas de Vila Real 4) Sapal de Castro Marim nature reserve 5) Parque Aventura (tree & high rope adventure course) 6) Monte Rei Golf 7) Cacela fort 8) Portugal-Spain ferry
Day trips: 9) Vila Real de Santo António 10) Castro Marim 11) Tavira 12) Cabanas
Beaches: 13) Praia da Manta Rota 14) Praia Verde 15) Praia do Cabeço 16) Praia de Monte Gordo 17) Praia de Santo António 18) Praia da Ponta da Areia
Monte Gordo is the perfect holiday destination for your holiday, if the beach and relaxing is your primary focus.
This is ideal for families with young children or couples wanting a calm and low-key destination.
Monte Gordo is great for young children, as the beach is one of the safest of the Algarve, with small waves, no strong currents or sea breezes. The town has a calm environment and does not have any of the excessive drinking culture or riotous behaviour as found in the larger resort towns.
Older visitors will enjoy Monte Gordo, as the town has a very welcoming attitude, and the atmosphere is relaxed and social.
Heading down to the beautiful sea
The modern appearance of Monte Gordo and its location, also means it's not really suitable for many types of visitors.
The eastern Algarve is a long way from the bustling excitement of the central Algarve, there are no waterparks or theme parks close by. Teenagers, twenty-year-olds and party focused groups should be based in the central Algarve.
If you are after a cultural or authentic Portuguese holiday, then Monte Gordo's modernism is not for you. The closest most tourists to Monte Gordo come to any Portuguese culture is eating sardines or drinking Sagres beer in one of the many cafes. For Portuguese character, we would recommend a holiday to Tavira (18km to the west) or for a village setting, Cabanas.
Insight: The majority of the eastern Algarve, escaped the massive tourist development of the 1980s and 1990s. This was due to the majority of the coastline being lined by the lagoons and mudflats of the Ria Formosa Nature Park. The beach of Monte Gordo is the only one which is easily accessible from the mainland.
The majority of visitors to Monte Gordo come for the beautiful beaches and glorious climate, but there is actually a lot to do within the region.
A suggested itinerary for a 1-week holiday to maximise your time could include:
Day 1 – A relaxing day on the beach with a stroll along the Praia de Santo António and walk through the Mata Nacional das Dunas pine forests
Day 2 – A day trip to Vila Real de Santo António and catch the ferry to the Spanish town of Ayamonte
Day 3 – A day trip to Tavira and explore the most characterful town in the Algarve. There is a train from Monte Gordo to Tavira
Day 4 – Visit the tiny but picturesque fortified village of Cacela Velha, and then head to the relaxing village of Cabanas
Day 5 – Day trip to Faro, a historic city with a delightful walled quarter and Bone Chapel (Train from Monte Gordo)
Day 6 – If you have a car drive to the scenic village of Mértola positioned high above the Guadiana River (this is a long drive)
Day 6 - (Alternative) – A day trip to the fishing town of Olhão, (by train), with its large fishing harbour and boat tours of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
Day 7 – Visit the two castles of Castro Marim and see the large flock of flamingos in the Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim salt marshes
The Ponte Romana bridge spanning Gilão River in the historic centre of Tavira
The main attraction of Monte Gordo is the beautiful sandy coastline that extends for 14km from the village of Manta Rota in the west to the Spanish border and the mouth of the Guadiana River in the east.
The Praia de Monte Gordo lies halfway along this sandy coastline, and is the widest section of the beach, with a 200m width from the beach promenade to the edge of the sea. This huge beach can easily accommodate all of the summertime tourists to Monte Gordo.
The prime section of the beach is reserved for paid parasols and sunbeds (€12 per day), but there is plenty of space if you wish to bring your own towels and parasols.
From the central area of the Praia de Monte Gordo, it is only a short walk (400m) to near-deserted sections of the beach. To the east is the pristine beach of Praia de Santo António.
The seawaters of Monte Gordo are the warmest in Portugal, but are still chilly, only reaching a maximum of 24C in the summer. Being on the eastern side of the Algarve, the Praia de Monte Gordo is a long distance from the powerful waves and strong sea breezes that buffer the western Algarve. This is a calm and safe coastline and is great for families.
The Praia de Santo António beach is always deserted
Monte Gordo is relatively small, and no hotel is more than a couple minutes' walk from the beach or the main promenade of shops and restaurants.
Monte Gordo is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2023, as visitors seek holidays to safe and established destinations within Europe.
The combination of returning visitors (who know how good the Algarve is), and new tourists, means that Monte Gordo will sell out. We highly recommend that you book accommodation and flights as soon as possible, before prices increase and sell-out.
The map below shows the best hotels and rental rooms in Monte Gordo; if you adjust the dates to your holiday, it will display current prices and availability.
The height of the summer season for Monte Gordo is from July through to August. During this season, the hotels are full, restaurants are busy, and there is a great atmosphere around the town. The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until mid-October. Outside of the summer season, hotel bargains can be found, but the town will feel very quiet.
The main international airport of the Algarve is Faro Airport which is centrally located along the southern coastline. Monte Gordo is located 60km to the east of Faro, and it is advisable to organise a pre-arranged pick up from the airport due to the limited public transport connections. Never get a taxi from the airport to Monte Gordo as this will be very expensive.
The main terminal building of Faro Airport
The Mata Nacional da Dunas Litorais de Vila Real de Santo Antonio is the largest forest in the Algavre. This forest was planted during the early 20th century to stabilise the sand dunes of the region.
Today the natural park provides a unique pine forest ecosystem, and is an important home to the Common Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon). These timid reptiles are extremely difficult to see. The forest is the perfect place to escape the summer crowds, and there are pleasant, shaded footpaths across the 440 hectares of forest.
The shaded paths of the Mata Nacional da Dunas Litorais
Monte Gordo Portugal Holiday Guide