Alcoutim

If you’d summarise a day in Alcoutim using just four words, it’d be something like ‘relaxing on the riverside’. Located in the north-eastern part of the Algarve, with only the Guadiana as Spanish border, life in the small town flows as gently as the river does. Enjoy the Algarve spends a chilled out day in the surroundings of Alcoutim and tells you what not to miss when visiting.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine March 2016

Pictures by Kyle Rodriguez

Explore the town

Alcoutim isn’t big, but the variety of height levels makes it fun to explore. It’s a terraced town with loads of steps, stairs, inclinations and some cool fountains. Make sure to include the higher bits, like the church, in your walk as they offer good views over town and its surrounding landscape. Even if you don’t plan on visiting the 14th Century Moorish castle ruins, walk up almost to the entrance and then around the building instead in order to enjoy the outside views for free.

Admire some art

Casa dos Condes, the residence of the counts, located in the centre of town, is where you’ll find the house of culture of Alcoutim. There’s a library on the lower level and a small art gallery with changing exhibitions on the upper floor. At the time of visiting stone sculptures by Fernando Colaço and wood creations by da Silva Vieira could be admired and also bought. Looking for something arty that doesn’t cost a few hundred euros? Local artist Isabel Ferréira sells homemade pottery and tiles in her stall Cerâmicas de Alcoutim, just outside the Casa dos Condes.

 

Canoe on the river

Or, if you’re not into canoeing, you can swim, sail or SUP on the Guadiana, the international river that divides Portugal and Spain. Whatever your preferred activity is, just be aware that the Guadiana is a tidal river. Easiest if you go up north towards Mértola when the tide is getting high and make your way down south towards Vila Real de Santo António when it’s lowering again. (In need of some hard-core exercise? Time your movements so they go against the tide).

 

Visit Spain

From Alcoutim, the opposite side of the river is easily visited by ferry. Tickets cost €1 per person one way – you pay on the boat, which leaves pretty much whenever you want – and a ride of only a few minutes brings you to Spain. To Sanlúcar de Guadiana to be precise, which is a sleepy town with a lot of white houses, some nice plazas and a church. It isn’t incredibly special, but worth visiting just for the trip over the river. Also, this place is where you’ll need to be for the zipline (see point 5).

 

Go for a zipline ride

Why make your way back to Alcoutim by boat again if you can also go by zipline? The 720m jump from Spain into Portugal is a thrill ride. It’s also quicker (depending on your weight and the wind, you can reach speeds of up to 80km/h) and offers you a chance to enjoy the scenery from above. What’s not to like? Want to know how it feels to whizz above the Guadiana river? Enjoy the Algarve has tried it in June 2015.

 

Take a hike

The unspoilt natural surroundings of Alcoutim make it a must-visit destination for walkers. The most famous of all the signposted tracks is of course the Via Algarviana, which starts in Alcoutim. The first section of the track follows the Guadiana river for a bit. Hear the bells of the goats while walking over dirt roads, through fields, almond and fig orchards before heading inland again towards Cortes Pereiras. The track is pretty well signposted, look out for the white and red signs like this one (pictured).

 

Relax on the riverside

Either do this directly on Alcoutim’s pontoon where there are benches to chill for the lazy, fitness apparatus for the active, and boats moored up, owned by people who must be the masters of relaxing on the riverside. Or, visit praia Fluvial. Praia? Yes, it’s a riverside beach just outside of the town centre. It comes complete with white sands, restaurant, parking, toilets etc.; an ideal picnic spot for families.

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine March 2016

 

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