Flavours & Traditions

Flavours & Traditions

Did you know that the best cork in the world is produced in the hills of the Serra do Caldeirão? That Portugal is the world's main exporter and that apart from supplying corks for the best wines, cork is for example increasingly used in fashion and used in Nasa spaceships. 

The cork oak tree (Quercus suber) grows mainly on soils of schist and will live on average for 150 to 200 years. Cork has unique characteristics such as impermeability, elasticity, lightness, its combustion is very slow and it is a good thermal and acoustic isolator. It is a natural, recyclable and biodegradable material. A cork forest attracts a huge variety of species of fauna and flora. But besides triggering a complex food chain, the exploitation of cork also serves as an important economic resource for the people of the Serra do Caldeirão. 

From the tree to finished products, the cork undergoes several processes: the stripping (removal of bark), the rest period and the industrial process. For each tree this cycle is repeated every nine years. The Algarve cork production reached its peak in the 19th century and had its centre in São Brás de Alportel. 

On this tour we want to show and explain you the production process and its impact on the natural and social heritage of the Serra do Caldeirão and São Brás do Alportel. It is a small town, quite typical of the Algarve in its architecture and activities. Here we visit a cork factory. The cork that is harvested in the surrounding area is brought to this factory, prepared, treated and then exported. We visit local typical cake shop renowned for its traditional produce - carob bread, almond cakes and honey cakes. There is time also to visit the fascinating São Brás Ethnographic Museum.

After free time for lunch (not included) onward we go on our journey through the inland Algarve, specifically the area known as Barrocal, to the bucolic village of Salir where you can see the remnants of the ancient castle and its walls. Our final stop is Quinta do Freixo, a large estate where bio agriculture is practised. Here you can learn and taste the secrets of their famous artisanal production of medronho, honey and various fruit compotes. An excellent opportunity to sample the delights of this fascinating region.

  • Full day activity
  • Tours on Mondays and Fridays
  • Guiding by experienced tour guide 
  • Pick up at hotel or accommodation

Price: 52 euro pp, children 0-11 years old: 26 euro

Bookings & enquiries: toursandtracks@mail.telepac.pt