São Bartolomeu de Messines (Guide)

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São Bartolomeu de Messines (normally just called Messines or S.B. Messines) is not a town that many people visit. Located inland, it doesn’t have a beach. It also – in fairness to Messines – isn’t as picturesque as other nearby rural towns like Silves and Monchique. 

While all of those things might seem like cons rather than pros, they do mean that Messines has not become as touristy as other parts of the Algarve. If you’re looking for a more authentic slice of rural Algarve life, Messines could be the perfect destination for you.

Messines is changing as well. In recent years, a number of new restaurants have opened up and the town is slowly going through a process of redevelopment. Scratch the surface and you’ll find plenty of interesting buildings as well as a well-mixed expat and Portuguese community. 

This bar in Messines looks like something you’d find in Cuba rather than the Algarve

The João de Deus Cinema in the town centre, for example, is an interesting example of Art Deco architecture. It’s not something you expect to find in Messines. 

It can also be a good base for exploring the Central Algarve. Silves and Alte are both just a short drive from Messines, while the mountainous town of Monchique is a little further again.

And even though Messines is located inland, it’s still not too far from the beaches. The nearest beaches, which are those around Armação de Pêra and Albufeira, are around 30 minutes drive away.

Handpicked accommodation in Messines

  • Bartholomeu Guesthouse – One of the most popular accommodation options in Messines, Bartholomeu Guesthouse offers rooms with a shared kitchen and onsite restaurant.
  • Feliz Apartments – 1 and 2-bedroom apartments with free wifi, a BBQ, and an outdoor swimming pool.
  • Guia Guest House – Offers simple rooms with free wifi and essential mod cons like air conditions and flat screen TVs.

Things to see & do in Messines

João de Deus

Messines’ main claim to fame is that educator João de Deus was born there. João de Deus (1830-1896) was a poet and educator who reformed the Portuguese educational system, although, in Portugal, he is mainly remembered as a poet. He is considered to be one of the greatest Portuguese poets, alongside Luís de Camões and Almeida Garrett, and is buried in the National Pantheon in Lisbon (a major honour in Portugal). 

You’ll find numerous odes to João de Deus throughout Messines, and you can also see the house where he was born as well. There’s also a museum, the Casa Museu João de Deus, on Rua Dr. Francisco Neto Cabrita. 

Igreja de São Bartolomeu de Messines

The beautiful Igreja de São Bartolomeu de Messines is situated right in the centre of Messines. The church was built sometime during the early 16th Century, and it has undergone many renovations over the centuries particularly in the 18th Century. 

It’s charming both outside and inside, and it has a pleasant courtyard area outside that’s a pleasant place to sit and take in the peaceful atmosphere. 

Quad biking

There are several quad and buggy bike companies located in and around Messines that offer quad, buggy, and moto bike tours and rentals along the dirt tracks in the surrounding hills. For more information visit Experitour.com.  

Getting to Messines

From Faro Airport

  • Airport transfer: Numerous airport transfer companies operate at Faro Airport, including Welcome Pickups, and this is the fastest and easiest way to get from the airport to Messines.
  • Rental car: Although Messines is on the train line, and there are local bus services, if you’re staying in Messines, it definitely makes sense to rent a car at Faro Airport. Messines is just 35 minutes from Faro Airport on the A22 toll road, or 50 minutes on the normal roads (see: renting a car at Faro Airport). 
  • Taxi (or Uber): Taxis are available from outside of Faro Airport, and there are normally Ubers in the area as well. These are typically more expensive than a pre-booked airport transfer.
  • Public transport: There isn’t a direct train or bus between Faro Airport and São Bartolomeu de Messines. To get to Messines, you’ll first need to take a taxi or the airport bus (bus #16) into Faro and then take connecting transport to Messines (see below).

From Faro

  • Taxi/Transfer: Welcome Pickups is one of several companies offering transfers from Faro City Centre to Messines.
  • Train: There is a direct train between Faro and S. B. Messines, which runs several times per day. Tickets are available from cp.pt.
  • Bus: There isn’t a direct bus between Faro and Messines.

From Lisbon & the rest of Portugal

  • Bus: Long distance buses are available from Lisbon and other parts of Portugal. Tickets are available from rede-expressos.pt
  • Train: There are trains to Messines from Lisbon and other parts of Portugal. Tickets are available from cp.pt and discounts are available if you book in advance.

Written by James Cave, author of the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple and creator of Portugalist.com.

Originally published: September 2020 & Last Updated: June 18, 2021.


  1. Having lived just a few minutes outside Messines for over 20 years I can honestly say that this town and surrounding area is a hidden gem in the Algarve.Serious investment by the local camara and private companies is finally bringing Messines slowly into the modern age but without losing it's charm and quaintness.As I've always said,here you have the best of both worlds,20 mins drive to the coast and all that comes with that but the tranquillity and rural life still with cheap prices. Possibly one of the last authentic working Portuguese towns that doesn't rely on tourism left in the Algarve!

    • Google shows a few different taxi services e.g. Táxis de Messines (+351 282 330 160) but and ATC (+351 968 578 583), both in Messines. I would keep a few phone numbers to hand.

  2. I am looking for my Uncle and his friend, Michael Wesson & Eddie Woods. They live just out side Messines and we have not seen or heard from them in over a year. They are both 80+ and not in the finest of health. If anyone knows of them would you please get in touch.

  3. Considering moving to Messines as it seem to be quite affordable and I like the fact that it isn't full of tourists. If you want that sort of thing its a short drive in the car to the beach but its nice to be able to escape it.


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