Sao Bartolomeu de Messines is in the municipality of Silves, located in the Albufeira countryside about 15 minutes’ drive from the coast. There is a lovely church in the middle of the older part of Messines (Igreja Matriz), originating from the 16th century in a Renaissance style. Messines is a typical inland Algarve town, set in a valley to the North East of Silves and offers a good choice of local restaurants, cafes and bars. The countryside around Messines is lush and green with orchards on both sides of the roads. There are also lots of road side stalls selling fruit along the way. It really is well worth exploring the little villages around the area as they are very typically Portuguese and give a taste of the real Algarve. There is always a cafe to stop at and soak up the atmosphere.
Local Markets and Shopping
Messines offers you a good choice of shopping facilities, a big supermarket and various local mini markets in the centre of the town, as well as in the nearby villages. There is also an amazing fruit, fish and vegetable market held in the market hall right in the centre, open every morning except for Sundays. Enjoy the wide selection of freshly caught fish & sea food as well as fruits & vegetables, dried fruits, olive oil or ‘medronho’ - a liqueur made from the strawberry like fruit of the arbutus, all produced by the local farmers.
Bars and Restaurants
Messines has quite an assortment of cafes and restaurants to choose from, both in the town and in the nearby villages. It seems to cater well for all tastes and the menus are very reasonably priced. Although it appears to be quite a 'Portuguese' town, it still caters for the visitors. The gastronomy of Messines is part 'barrocal' (inland) and part 'litoral' (coastal). It uses ingredients like coelho (rabbit) and pork, corn and beans, fresh fish like Sardines and seafood - clams, sea bream and lobster. Dishes are often served as stews, roasts and grills, cataplanas and risottos amongst others! Nowhere in the Algarve is far from the coast so the fish are always fresh and the fertile land of the barrocal region produces the fruit and vegetables.
There is a choice of beautiful sandy beaches on the Algarvian coastline, all within 20 minutes’ drive away from Messines, like Gale with its wide sandy stretch of several miles, the Fisherman's beach in Albufeira old town or the lively Armacao de Pera beach with a great choice of water sports & boat trips. For those who like the shelter of smaller beach coves hidden in between picturesque rock formations, there are several located along the coastline further west including the beautiful Praia de Marinha, Benagil and Caramujeira.
Slide and Splash Waterslide Park is known to be one of the best waterparks in Europe and is a short drive from Messines. This park has plenty of rides and pools to make sure that both old and young visitors are catered for. Alternatively, visit Zoomarine, a theme park home to exotic marine life including dolphins, sea lions and turtles. The park also has an alligator farm and museum as well as the aquarium. Definitely a great family day out. For the water sport fanatics visit Praia Grande Beach with plenty of water sports such as windsurfing, surfing, Whitewater rafting and kayaking.
Places of Interest
A town yet to be touched by volumes of tourists, has the traditional way of life with an authentic restaurants, cafes and bars dotted around the lovely church. The front of the church really is rather impressive with the contrast of white walls, red sandstone around the doorway and the tower standing tall amongst the other buildings. A place that should be visited for a spot of total peace and tranquillity is Funcho Dam, just a 15 minute drive away. The views are spectacular with mountains all around. Last, but not least, to the east of Messines is the village of Alte, one of the most typically Algarvean villages you will come across. Its pretty white washed houses are scattered on the hillside around the central church and at one end a stream runs down from a spring creating a small waterfall near the main road.