Alcoutim - Algarve - Portugal
Welcome to Alcoutim Uncovered! Your guide to Alcoutim holidays!
Welcome to Alcoutim Uncovered! Your guide to holidays in Alcoutim, in the eastern Algarve, Portugal. For tourist information about Alcoutim, its beautiful river beach, accommodation, local gastronomy, things to do (including boat trips along the Guadiana river that separates Portugal from Spain) and local events. Also discover the fascinating areas that surround Alcoutim, such as Vila Real de Santo António and Castro Marim, that make the eastern Algarve such a wonderful region, especially for anyone interested in history, traditions and outdoor activities such as walking and observing nature.
Alcoutim is a pretty village on the banks of the Guadiana river, about 40km north of Vila Real de Santo António. As long ago as 2,500BC the region around Alcoutim attracted people because of the deposits of copper, iron and manganese and in Roman times a number of mines were established. The ores were smelted locally and then shipped down the Guadiana to the Mediterranean.
Alcoutim became quite an important settlement as it is here that the river becomes tidal and the ships often had to wait for hours for the tides.
The remains of a 14th century castle can be seen on the hillside overlooking Alcoutim and now houses a small archaeoligical museum. Similar castle remains can be seen on the hill on the Spanish side of the river, overlooking the village of São Lucas do Guadiana. They are visible reminders of the times when Portugal and Castile were at war with each other, and it was in the middle of the river opposite Alcoutim that Kings Henrique and Fernando I signed a peace treaty.
Alcoutim is a hillside town of cobbled streets, small squares and a paved promenade along the river front which is overlooked by a handful of cafes and restaurants.The river is quite narrow at this point and various sailing boats and river craft float gently on the waters, with a backdrop of rolling, green hills. The church near the river front originates from the 16th century, but has been re-built on a number of occasions. Over the porch are the arms of the Marquises of Vila Real and Counts of Alcoutim.
Even if you are not staying in Alcoutim it really is worth driving there, not only to see the town itself, but also to enjoy the unspoilt countryside that you pass through. If you follow the EN122 north from Castro Marim, the first small detour is to the left on the 1132 to the Barragem do Beliche (dam). Go back to the EN122 and continue north until a right turn to Foz de Odeleite (on the 1063). This is where the Ribeira (brook) de Odeleite joins the Guadiana river, the surrounding area is rich in wild flowers and there are a few houses interspersed with vegetable gardens and fruit trees dotted along the roadside.
There are a few moorings along the banks of the river as it gently meanders through the countryside with the rounded, green hills in the background. It is so peaceful and a wonderful area to walk in, and is quite unlike the Algarve that most people know. Carry on through Álamo to Laranjeiras and Montinho das Laranjeiras (where the remains of a Roman villa have been uncovered) and finally to Alcoutim.
Alcoutim is in a beautiful setting - sitting on the bank of the Guadiana river with rolling, green hills as a backdrop. In the springtime the countryside is full of wild flowers of all colours - a perfect time for long walks. It is so different from the south coast beach resorts and yet only about half an hour's drive away.
There are lots of places to explore around Alcoutim - a journey along the N124 takes you to Pereiro and Martinlongo, or head northwards on the N122 to the southern Alentejo and the picturesque town of Mértola (approximately 30km from Alcoutim). It is a quiet riverside town in the Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana with ruins of a 13th century castle and a church converted from a mosque in the 12th century.
South of Alcoutim is the historically important town of Castro Marim - the ruins of it's Moorish castle and 17th century fort were built to defend the Algarve border with Spain and to protect shipping using the Guadiana river. The castle offers panoramic views over the salt pans, Castro Marim Nature Reserve and Spain across the river.
Just a few kilometres south of Castro Marim, Vila Real de Santo António sits at the mouth of the Guadiana and the golden, sandy beaches of the Algarve start and go on and on!
This eastern end of the Algarve, bordering the Guadiana, really hasn't seen much in the way of modern development yet and is a wonderful area to visit if you want something a little bit different. A car is essential to get around, but the roads are good and very quiet and it does give you the opportunity to see so much.