São Bartolomeu de Messines Guide: 3+ Things to Do

Last Updated: November 29, 2023 / 10 Comments

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Messines, formally known as São Bartolomeu de Messines, is a town located in the interior of the Algarve region. Unlike the bustling coastal towns that the Algarve is famous for, Messines offers a quieter, more traditional experience. The town is emblematic of the region’s historical and cultural heritage, with its whitewashed buildings and winding streets showcasing authentic Algarvian architecture. 

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. 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. 

The town is historically significant and has been a notable point of interest in the Algarve’s timeline. Being located inland, Messines is surrounded by the beautiful landscapes of rolling hills, making it a favourable spot for those seeking to explore nature. 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. As with many towns in the region, its local market is a hub of activity, providing fresh produce and goods to residents and visitors alike. For travellers looking for a more authentic slice of rural Algarve life, Messines could be the perfect destination. 

Useful Resources for Your Trip to São Bartolomeu de Messines 

Here’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to São Bartolomeu de Messines . 

  • Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Messines. 
  • Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental. 
  • Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at Faro Airport, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups
  • Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in São Bartolomeu de Messines. 
  • Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal. Be sure to read out article on luggage storage options in the Algarve for a full list of options. 
  • Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For longer distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal. 
  • Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal. The nearest airport to São Bartolomeu de Messines is Faro Airport. 

Where to Stay

  • 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.

What to Do

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 Igreja de São Bartolomeu de Messines is a prominent architectural and spiritual landmark in the town of Messines. Originally built in the 16th century, this church stands as a testament to the historical and cultural evolution of the region. Its façade, adorned with traditional Algarvian elements, offers a picturesque view with its ornate bell tower standing tall. Inside, visitors are greeted with beautifully crafted woodwork, especially the main altar, and a series of religious artworks that provide a glimpse into the devout nature of the local community. As a functioning church, it remains at the heart of religious activities in Messines, serving both residents and visitors alike, offering them a serene space for reflection amidst its historic walls.

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 Here

  • Flying: The nearest airport to Messines is Faro Airport, which is situated around 40 minutes by car from the town of Messines. 
  • Train: There is a direct train between major stations like Faro and Lisbon and S. B. Messines, which runs several times per day. Tickets are available from cp.pt.
  • Bus: Buses are available from Messines to other parts of Portugal. For tickets and timetables, see Rede Expressos or Flixbus.pt. 
  • Car: Messines is just 35 minutes from Faro Airport on the A22 toll road, or 50 minutes on the normal roads. 
There are 10 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  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!

  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. Did you move to Messines in the end? We are considering getting a place there too and wondered what it was like.

  4. 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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