The vast majority of tourists head for the stunning beaches or golf courses, and you can’t blame them. There is though so much more to the Algarve, and right on the Spanish border you will find something special – the Rio Guadiana and Alcoutim.
The Rio Guadiana rises in Spain and for most of its journey to the Gulf of Cádiz, around 500miles, flows through Spain. The final section in the Algarve is a border, separating Portugal and Spain. Many navigate from its mouth at Vila Real de Santo António up to Alcoutim in the Algarve hills.
We have had some glorious drives beside it from Castro Marim up to Alcoutim, using minor roads rather than the IC27. Although we have yet to take a Rio Guadiana cruise, we have as you will have seen in “Magical Road Trips” travelled by road as far as Mértola where the river becomes un-navigable by boat. But as usual I am getting sidetracked!
I really wanted to tell you about Alcoutim. We visit Alcoutim regularly, it is a delightful village with a castle, wonderful restaurants and numerous sculptures.
You can ramble round the cobbled streets, go round the Castle, join the local residents as they watch the world go past or even hop on a tiny boat for the 5 maybe 10minute crossing to the village opposite – Sanlucar de Guadiana in Spain. Out of season Alcoutim is very quiet. We’ve never visited at the height of summer but even in May it was not too busy.
The countryside surrounding the village is some of the least populated in Portugal, and if you leave the IC27 at junction three heading towards Foz de Odeleite you will have had a wonderful drive through the hills and wild flower meadows.