The Ultimate Alentejo Guide
Between Lisbon and the Algarve, lies the Alentejo, Portugal’s largest
region. The name stands for “beyond the Tejo”, as it sits past the river
Tagus, below Lisbon.
Vast fields dotted with olive groves,
vines, and lonely cork trees, that is the image most people have of
Alentejo, but there’s much more to discover in this balmy region. To the
north, bordering with Spain, you’ll find hilltop villages with castles,
and to the south, a beautiful coastline of quiet beaches.
Faro, is the gateway to Algarve, in Alentejo, all roads lead to Évora.
This city is the heart of Alentejo, a World-heritage site where Roman
ruins meet Gothic churches and megalithic dolmens.
beaches, and delicious wine, there are endless reasons to visit
Alentejo. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to this stunning region,
and show you the best places to visit, as well as tips on where to eat
Évora: The Capital Of Alentejo
As the capital of Alentejo, Évora is one of the best places to settle
and explore the region. Its historic centre is a UNESCO-world heritage
site, and it’s here that you’ll see the Roman temple, along with other
attractions like the Cathedral and the University.
abounds with churches, but one of them, in particular, lures visitors
with an eerie bone chapel—the Church of São Francisco.
suggest spending one or two days in Évora, visiting monuments and
getting lost in the cobblestone streets, before venturing further out.
Check out our Évora itinerary, so you don’t miss any of the main
Note: If you’re travelling without a car, there are
train connections from here to Beja and buses that will take you to most
of the main towns in Alentejo.
Towns worth visiting near Évora:
- Montemor-o-Novo - Set amidst the Alentejo countryside, this
unassuming town stands out with its castle ruins towering over the
village. Throughout the centuries, this was the site of several historic
events, such as deciding Vasco da Gama's route to India. Surrounding
the town, you'll also find several neolithic monuments.
- Arraiolos -
This town is famous for its hand-woven tapestries, which have been
around since at least the 12th century. Today there are carpet shops all
over Arraiolos and a small museum dedicated to this craft. Other
attractions include the castle with is unique circular structure, and
the Convento dos Lóios, a 15th-century convent fully decorated with blue
and white tiles.
- Evoramonte - On the road between Évora and Estremoz
sits Evoramonte, a tiny village with around 500 residents. The
highlight here is the castle with its cylindrical stone turrets. It's
worth coming here to enjoy the views of the countryside and wander
around the quiet cobblestone streets.
- Estremoz - Estremoz is a lively
Alentejo town, with its central plaza lined with trees and outdoor
cafés. Every Saturday, this plaza welcomes a traditional market selling
anything from fruit to regional cheeses. It's also the land of marble,
and you'll notice that all over, from the benches at the bus station
to the town's church façades and the castle's keep. Part of the castle
is now a hotel, but visitors are still welcome to go inside and explore
- Monsaraz - Enclosed by medieval walls, this hilltop
village sits on the edge of the Alqueva Lake. Visitors come here to see
its medieval castle, which provides incredible views of the lake and
the surrounding olive groves. It's worth taking some time to explore the
narrow streets and visit the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Lagoa. Nearby,
there are several vineyards offering tours, as well as a river beach and
an observatory where you can gaze upon the stars.
- Vila Viçosa - Like
Estremoz, Vila Viçosa is also one of Alentejo's marble towns. The main
attraction here is the Paço Ducal, a 16th-century palace featuring a
stunning marble façade. For a while, this was the home of the Dukes of
Bragança, the last noble family in Portugal. Today, the palace is open
to visitors and includes several sections, from a carriage museum to an
armoury room. The castle of Vila Viçosa also stands out with its
circular towers. Inside there are two museums—the Museum of Archaeology
and the Museum of Hunting.
- São Pedro do Corval - Set 5km away from
Monsaraz, this pocket-sized village has an active community of potters.
There are dozens of ceramic shops around here where you can watch the
artists at work or buy a souvenir, such as pots, plates or decorative
Alto Alentejo: castles and hilltop towns
Mountains are the last thing people picture in Alentejo but head north
from Évora, and that’s what you’ll find. The region of Alto Alentejo
features hilltop villages with castles that boast incredible views over
the São Mamede mountains and the frontier with Spain.
is the centre of this northern section. The city itself is small, but
it does offer a few interesting sites, like the castle and a tapestry
museum. Textiles are a big tradition in Alentejo, especially in the town
of Arraiolos, but Portalegre gave them a modern twist. Through the
years, many artists have worked with the factory to create a tapestry
version of their art. Inspired by this collaboration, the city decided
to create a museum where visitors can admire these elaborate pieces up
Towns worth visiting in Alto Alentejo:
- Marvão - Set in the North of Alentejo, Marvão juts out on a rocky
crag amid the São Mamede Natural Park. Within this fortified town,
there's a cluster of houses, outdoor cafés and a castle with spectacular
mountain views from its battlements. It's worth visiting in the summer
when the town organises a classical music concert inside the castle.
de Vide - Surrounded by lush mountains, this tiny village stands out
with its castle towering over a maze of whitewashed houses. For a long
time, Castelo de Vide had a community of Jews, and you'll still find
traces of it in the Jewish quarter. Other attractions include the Fonte
da Vila and a Baroque church located at Praça de Dom Pedro V.
- Standing shoulder to shoulder with Spain, Elvas is famous for its
series of bulwarked fortifications, which earned the title of World
Heritage Site in 2012. For centuries, these star-shaped strongholds have
protected Elvas against numerous battles and also served as a military
base. Beyond the fortresses, there's a medieval castle, a few museums
and a beautiful cathedral.
Baixo Alentejo: archaeological finds and secluded villages
Touching the Algarve, this is the southern section of Alentejo, a region
punctuated by small whitewashed villages and wheat fields.
is the main city of Baixo Alentejo. Like Évora, it also has Roman roots
but receives only a fraction of visitors, leaving you plenty of room to
explore the streets on your own.
Most attractions in Beja are
right in the centre, such as the castle and the Regional Museum, housed
in a former convent. A bit further, you can visit the city park and the
Roman ruins of Pisões.
Towns worth visiting in Baixo Alentejo:
- Mértola - Perched on a hill above the Guadiana River, Mértola is
one of the most picturesque villages in Alentejo. Its medieval streets
hold an impressive collection of museums which feature Roman ruins and
an Islamic residence. For the best views of the river and the town, make
sure to climb up to the castle.
- Serpa - Serpa is a tiny whitewashed
village with a quiet atmosphere. Standing above it all is the castle,
which offers views over the surrounding countryside. It's famous for its
delicious creamy cheese which you can purchase in one of the many
queijarias (cheese shops). The town also has a clock museum and a
small modern art gallery which opened in 2019.
Alentejo Litoral: beaches and hiking trails
This is where Alentejo meets the ocean, a wild coast made up of cliffs,
and long sandy beaches that stretch from Troia to Odemira.
beaches of Alentejo are among the finest in the country, and yet they
remain largely unexplored by visitors. Even at the height of summer, you
can still find a quiet patch of sand here. Some of the best beaches in
the area include Praia da Comporta, Praia do Malhão, Praia do Almograve,
and Praia da Samoqueira.
Along the coast, there are also two
reservoirs and a natural park famous for its hiking trails. There’s the
Sado Reservoir near Troia, a meeting point for dolphins. Further down,
the Lagoas de Santo André and its wetlands offer the perfect setting for
birdwatching and canoeing. And then there’s the Costa Vicentina, a
rugged coastline that stands between Alentejo and the Algarve. Its
beaches attract a crowd of surfers, and the high cliffs provide many
opportunities for scenic walks.
Towns worth visiting in Alentejo Litoral:
- Troia - Standing amid the Sado Estuary and the Atlantic, this sandy
peninsula lures you in with its pristine beaches and luxurious hotels.
There are plenty of entertainment options here, including a casino and a
golf course. Troia is also a meeting point for dolphins, and it's worth
taking a boat trip to observe them up close. You can drive here from
Comporta or take the ferry boat from Setúbal.
- Comporta - A few
miles south from Troia, is this stunning coastal town. Most people come
here for the beach and to enjoy a seafood meal in one of the many local
restaurants. It's also possible to take horse riding lessons or tour the
vineyards of Herdade da Comporta.
- Álcacer do Sal - Set on the
banks of the Sado river, Alcácer do Sal is an old fishing town
surrounded by rice paddies. There are a few historical sites here
including an Archaeological museum and a Moorish castle, which houses a
hotel since 1998.
- Vila Nova de Milfontes - Vila Nova de
Milfontes is one of the many towns located along the Costa Vicentina, a
coastal stretch lined with beaches and numerous hiking trails. There are
three beaches near the centre, some of which face both the ocean and
the Mira river that flows here. Further out, there are many more
beaches, including one on an island which you can access by boat.
Besides swimming, you can take a surf lesson or rent a kayak to sail
along the river.
The weather in Alentejo tends to be very hot and dry, compared to other
regions in Portugal. In the summer, temperatures can reach as high as
37ºC, especially in the south. The best time to visit Alentejo is during
the spring, between March and June or in early September, when it gets a
How long to stay in Alentejo
You should allow at least one day to explore Évora, and then take a few
day trips around the region. A week is enough to see most of the main
towns like Estremoz, Mértola, Marvão and Monsaraz. With a few extra
days, you can also spend some time on the beach. If you want to be near
the coast, however, it’s easier to travel from Lisbon. Of course, you
can create your own Alentejo itinerary, maybe you’ll stick to a week of
sunbathing or maybe, you prefer hiking along the mountains in the north,
or you can always pick both.
Alentejo cuisine features many traditional delicacies like porco preto
(black pork) and cação (dogfish). Bread is an essential part of the
local diet, and it’s the main ingredient of a dish called açorda .
This dish is famous throughout the country, but it’s mostly eaten in
Alentejo. Besides bread, it includes coriander, garlic, olive oil and
poached eggs. There are several varieties of açorda , but the most
popular one is Açorda de Marisco made with shrimp and other shellfish.
Most restaurants in Alentejo will serve at least one pork meal.
You can have it by itself like a platter of Plumas de Porco Preto or
mixed with clams in the famous dish Carne de Porco à Alentejana . By
the coast, seafood takes over the menu, with clams, barnacles and
oysters on offer.
The regional cheese and wine are also worth
mentioning. Some of the best wines in Portugal come from the Alentejo,
most of them from Reguengos de Monsaraz and Borba, and the creamy cheese
from Serpa is the perfect spread for Alentejo bread.
There are vineyards scattered all over Portugal, and Alentejo is no
exception. The region is famous for its full-bodied red wine and sweet
Alentejo wineries are usually part of a Quinta or
Herdade . These rural estates offer tours and wine tasting sessions,
and some of them even provide accommodation.
In Évora, you’ll
find the headquarters of Rota dos Vinhos do Alentejo, the Alentejo
Wine Route. Here you can sample wines, grab a map of the route, and
schedule visits to the wineries.
The best wineries near Évora are
Adega da Cartuxa, Monte da Ravasqueira and Herdade do Esporão.
This last one also includes a high-end restaurant and a wine bar, where
you can have a personal tasting session, in case you missed one of the
In the north, Adega Mayor draws visitors with its unique
building designed by Portuguese architect Siza Vieira. Here you can do
wine workshops and participate in the harvest when the season comes.
south, Herdade dos Grous offers a 5-star hotel amid vineyards and
olive trees. Guests can enjoy visits to the wine cellar, as well as
guided tours around the farm on foot, by horse or even in a hot air
Besides tasting wine, there are many activities you can indulge in
Alentejo. Along the Costa Vicentina, you’ll find many routes for
hiking and cycling.
The beaches by the Atlantic provide good
opportunities for water sports like surf and kayaking, while the river
beaches with its calm waters are ideal for a relaxing swim. Near the
Sado Reservoir, in Comporta, you can ride horses on the sand with
Cavalos na Areia.
To learn more about Alentejo’s heritage, a
hands-on workshop organized by Rotas dos Compadres will teach you a
variety of skills, from bread baking to mural painting.
Best Alentejo Hotels
One of the best ways to explore Alentejo is to base yourself in Évora and then drive around the region. We suggest staying at Albergaria do Calvário, a family-run hotel located in a quiet neighbourhood near the city centre. It offers 22 guest rooms, a delicious homemade breakfast, and an outdoor courtyard where you can enjoy a glass of wine late at night. If you're bringing the car, you can park here for free.
As you travel through Alentejo you might decide to stay the night in another town or even spend a week in a specific region. Here are a few of the best hotels in Alentejo:
- Convento do Espinheiro, Historic Hotel & Spa just outside of Évora, this is a 5 star hotel housed in a renovated 15th century convent. It offers the 8 hectares of beautiful gardens, indoors and outdoors swimming pools, tennis court, spa, 2 restaurants, piano bar and a church. The rooms are modern and luxuriously furnished.
- L’AND Vineyards - A quiet retreat near Montemor-o-Novo, this 5-star hotel features a spa, two pools and a Michelin-star restaurant. The modern white building is a stark contrast against the fields of vineyards that surround it. You can arrange a wine course here or schedule visits to nearby wineries.
- Pousada de Estremoz - Set in a 14th-century castle, this hotel stands out with its tall marble tower. Inside, the decor takes you back in time with antique furniture, and golden frames decorating the rooms. Some rooms have four-poster beds, so you can sleep as the royals did. There's also a restaurant, an outdoor pool and a small garden where you can go for a quiet stroll.
- Herdade dos Grous - A few miles away from Beja, you'll find this quiet countryside estate surrounded by an artificial lake. Here, you can go horseback riding, take a birdwatching tour and learn everything about organic farming. Surrounding the hotel, there are also olive plantations and vineyards that produce award-winning wines.
- Quinta do Barrieiro (near Marvão) - Art and nature come together in this rural estate amidst the São Mamede Natural Park. Guests can stay in one of the houses that range from one bedroom to three bedrooms. All of them include a kitchenette, a living room and spectacular mountain views. Aside from the houses, there's also a pool, a natural lake and a sculpture park featuring pieces by the artist Maria Leal da Costa.
- Alentejo Marmoris (Vila Viçosa) - A few steps away from the Paço Ducal in Vila Viçosa, this luxurious hotel stands out with its marble decor. Every room features a marble bathroom, and some of them offer a private terrace. There's a restaurant on-site that serves sophisticated meals using locally-sourced ingredients. Guests can also enjoy the two swimming pools or relax in the spa which offers a variety of treatments, from stone massages to hydrotherapy.
- Herdade do Amarelo (near Vila Nova) - Close to Vila Nova de Milfontes, you'll find this unique farm stay dating back to the 19th century. There are six types of suites, all featuring hot tubs and mountain views. Guests can follow the hiking trails across the property or enjoy the diverse amenities which include a spa and a salt-water swimming pool.
Best Alentejo Restaurants
- Taberna Tipica Quarta Feira (Évora) -
Set in Évora's old town, this local tavern doesn't have a menu, so
you'll have to go with the flow. Pick a drink and then wait for the
assortment of dishes, which usually includes appetizers, a main dish and
a dessert. Make sure to reserve ahead and bring cash with you.
Vineyards (Montemor) - Set on the outskirts of Montemor, surrounded by
vineyards, this Michelin-star restaurant is lead by local Chef José
Miguel Tapadejo. The tasting menu features dishes from the land and the
sea, all using locally-sourced ingredients. Make sure to pair your meal
with a selection of wines curated by the house sommelier.
- Venda Azul
(Estremoz) - The lively atmosphere of Venda Azul is reason enough to
visit Estremoz. The restaurant offers a daily lunch menu, but the
highlight here is the grilled black pork. The portions are quite
generous, so make sure to bring a friend or two to help out. To finish
off, the staff will offer you a shot of abafado or ginjinha .
- Mil Homens (Marvão) - This family-run restaurant has been delighting
visitors with its cuisine since 1967. You'll find it in Portagem, a
small village near the Sever river on the way to Marvão. Highlights
include the sarapatel soup and the lamb stew.
- Molhó Bico (Serpa) -
Set in a former wine cellar, Molhó Bico offers a taste of Alentejo
cuisine to anyone who visits Serpa. The menu includes Iberian Pork, lamb
stew and the açorda , a typical bread soup from this region. Alento
(Vila Nova) - Just off the road to Praia das Furnas in Vila Nova de
Milfontes, you'll find this restaurant housed in an old primary school.
The menu features a selection of innovative dishes, all based on
regional ingredients. Most meals are prepared in a wood-burning stove,
and there's always fresh seafood available which you can see before you
- Dona Bia (Comporta) - On the way to Comporta, you can grab a
meal in this local restaurant. Specialities include rice dishes, seafood
and fresh grilled fish. The portions are pretty big, so make sure to
bring a friend to share.