A short drive from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, is a deeply rural, fascinating area of countryside, full of wild flowers, cork forests, rolling hills, small hilltop villages built from ancient stone, vistas across a huge man-made lake where you can stay on a houseboat, canoe or windsurf, and a wild coast with hundreds of bays and beaches, with views to the west and wonderful sunsets.

Alentejo Coast Alentejo Coast

Fresh air – there’s no pollution – views in all directions that are devoid of crowds and traffic, and some of the best wine and food in Europe – at budget-boosting prices.  Where is this visitor heaven?!

It’s the Alentejo (the name means “the region below the River Tagus”).  The Portuguese pronounce their “j”s, unlike the Spanish, so the word is pronounced “Alen-tay-joe”:  think Jose Mourinho, a well-known Portuguese, whose “j” is also pronounced.

This region makes up a third of the land mass of Portugal, has just 6% of the population and produces 46% of Portugal’s wine, now increasingly recognised as top-notch on the world wine stage.  You can drive for an hour or more without seeing more than a few tractors and a handful of cars, through delightful countryside that begs to be photographed.  Storks nest on telegraph poles and in trees, their huge messy nests forming homes for many much smaller birds in the massive structure beneath where the storks’ offspring themselves – usually just one or two white, very large chicks – sit; whole communities of sparrows enjoy social housing courtesy of the storks’ largesse.  This is a photographer’s dream – fields of sunflowers, huge cork forests, roads lined with tall, silvery-leaved eucalyptus trees, and olive groves – with something to catch the eye at every turn, all backed by sunshine and bright blue skies from February (when temperatures on the beaches can reach 26°C) to November.

Aqueducts, largely intact, built by the Romans to supply water to their towns, massive fortified castles and beautiful marble pavements and fountains testify to the wealth that this region enjoyed in times gone by.  Portuguese explorers brought wealth back to their home country – spices, silks and styles of cuisine that are still echoed on today’s menus, plus the funds with which to create new building styles to celebrate their return.  Manueline columns – sinuous curves replicating the ropes used on their ocean-going galleons – are just one such echo of the past.

Castle Marvao - Alentejo Castle Marvao - Alentejo

The cultural offering of the Alentejo is huge and spans 7,000 years, from prehistory (visit the huge stones, hundreds of them, just outside the ancient walled city of Evora, just 75 minutes from Lisbon – they were discovered only in 1966, just 51 years ago, despite being one of the largest groups of such structures in Europe) through Roman, Moorish and Knights Templar times.  Evidence of previous visitors, long since departed, can be seen in all the small towns and villages, many perched on hilltops for safety, whose cobbled streets and stone walls remain, and where sitting outside in the sunshine, people watching, is a happy and relaxing pastime to enjoy.

Ancient crafts are still practiced – from carpet making by hand, using old weaving looms, to pottery, to which whole villages are devoted.  Cork is hand-harvested, and used for a wide range of goods, from bracelets fashioned from cork to umbrellas.  Astonishingly, cork from 46 specially-selected Alentejo cork oak trees was used to insulate the space shuttle on re-entry into earth’s atmosphere; it’s one of the materials with the best insulating properties known to man, and its light weight-to-insulation ratio made it ideal for this important role.

Cork Trees, Alentejo Cork Trees, Alentejo

The beaches of the Alentejo will claim your heart – white sand, pristine and largely deserted, with hundreds of little bays to explore – while the Dark Skies of the region are reason alone to visit, with the Milky Way and millions of stars to gaze at; we forget just how wonderful the night skies are, and how little of them we see from large tracts of the UK.  In the Alentejo, there is very little light pollution to hide the constellations from the naked eye.

The active will love the wide choice of outdoor pursuits – from gentle walking on waymarked paths to cycling, hot air ballooning, horse riding, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing in both river estuaries and upriver, birdwatching and much more.  The Alentejo provides food for the mind, soul and body – it’s a charmingly relaxed place with no stress; the perfect antidote to our busy lifestyles in the UK.

Porto Covo, Alentejo Porto Covo, Alentejo

For further information on this fascinating region and a range of suggested holiday itineraries, please browse our website.

The Sunvil Family

By The Sunvil Family

11th June 2017



The Sunvil Family
The Sunvil Family
The Sunvil Family

Sunvil's holidays are designed by passionate travellers just like you. Our reservations experts and product teams, many of whom have been with us for many years, are passionate about our destinations and, through their personal, first-hand knowledge can answer any questions that you may have. They are well qualified to advise and recommend, based on your own holiday criteria. We can point you to those special, little-known places, some not found even in guidebooks.

Call one of our experts to discuss your next holiday with Sunvil on

020 8568 4499

We're open today till 5:30 PM

Make an Enquiry

Please use this form to request further information about a Sunvil holiday or destination.

We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

Required Information

* Mandatory Information
Title *
First name *
Surname *
Telephone number *
Alternative telephone number
Email address *
Confirm email address
Preferred method of communication *
If you would like to be called during a specific period, please specify

Details

Preferred departure date *
Duration *
Preferred UK departure airport *
Party size *

Back

  • Adults(12+ yrs)
  • Children(2 to 11 yrs)
  • Infants(Under 2 yrs)
Budget range
Other comments:

Email newsletters

We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

Required Information

* Mandatory Information
Title *
First name *
Surname *
Telephone number *
Alternative telephone number
Email address *
Confirm email address
Preferred method of communication *
If you would like to be called during a specific period, please specify
Booking reference number *
Alternatively, please enter your query in the box below:

Email newsletters

Thank you for your enquiry

Thank you for your enquiry. A member of our specialist reservation teams will be in touch shortly.

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

Your details have been saved

Feel free to continue to browse the site and add to your enquiry. Don't forget to send the enquiry before you leave!

My Suitcase

We understand that so much choice can be overwhelming which is why we have developed 'My Suitcase'. This facility allows you to save and compare your favourite holidays, and even allows you to return to your selection at a later stage.

Why not use 'My Suitcase' to compile a wish list of your future Sunvil holidays?

 

Sign in


New to Sunvil?

Create Account


Already have an account?

Password reset

Back

Close

Close