Off the Beaten Path in Portugal’s Alentejo Region

It’s no secret that both Lisbon and the Algarve region are tourist hot spots in Portugal. But if you’re looking to experience the real Portugal, there are countless cultural attractions to be discovered in the region of Alentejo, found in between the two regions. The Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region, which stretches from east of Lisbon to just north of the Algarve. The rural landscape is filled with sprawling fields, forests, and open plains. If you’re a history buff or just looking for an authentic, laid-back destination, this region is for you.

Driving east from Lisbon toward Spain, you will find the city of Évora, Alentejo’s capital. The historical landmarks here showcase the importance of this city throughout centuries. Admire the ruins of the Roman Temple of Diana and visit the Cathedral, built in the late 12th C in the Transitional Gothic style on the site of a former mosque. And don’t miss the Church of São Francisco with its mystical and macabre ‘Chapel of Bones’. It’s no surprise that Évora’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The nearby town of Vila Viçosa is known as the “Princess of Alentejo” for its charming and noble nature. It was once the seat of the Dukes of Bragança and the summer home of Portuguese Royalty. See the beautiful Ducal Palace whose 300 ft façade is covered with marble, an abundant material in this region. Make sure to stop at the medieval castle as well, built in the 13th C.

Elvas is a quiet city, but its past was full of battles and bravery. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its two large fortresses on either end. These constructions have a star shape when seen from above and they protected the locals from many Spanish invasions. See the grand aqueduct, completed in 1622, and the medieval city walls.

Many villages, vineyards and cork forests can be found throughout this charming region. Finally, Alentejo’s coastline is full of pristine beaches and charming villages. We recommend stopping in rustic yet elegant Comporta. Its expansive beach has made it a sought-after destination among Europe’s famous. Catch a glimpse of the flamingos at the nearby Nature Reserve or just relax on the sand.

Reach out to the Valesa team to plan your next trip to these traditional Portuguese villages.