Overview

Introduction

Inland, beyond the mountains of Monchique and the Serra do Caldeirao, stretch the plains of the Alentejo, a magnificent landscape of sweeping fields of wheat and sunflowers dotted with tiny whitewashed villages, forests of pine and cork and mighty rivers which encompasses one third of Portugal.

The coastal region of the Alentejo, the Costa Azul, is still practically deserted and like the Algarve 40 years ago, with just a handful of pretty seaside villages such as Vila Nova de Milfontes, Zambujeira do Mar and Porto Covo with their fine sandy beaches.

Evora, the capital of the Alto Alentejo province, is one of Portugal’s oldest and most interesting cities and once famous throughout Europe as a seat of culture. There is plenty to explore in this UNESCO World Heritage site. The town is full of narrow streets, fine buildings, old palaces, churches and fountains. From here there is easy access to historic Vila Vicosa, Estremoz and the traditional carpet making town of Arraiolos.

A visit to the region would not be complete without seeing one of the famous ‘white towns’ of the Alentejo. Redondo, renowned for its pottery is a medieval town set in the heart of the Alentejo’s wine region. To this day, local families continue to produce Roman-style jugs and bowls that they sell from their tiny white houses. Close to the Spanish border is the pretty hilltop village of Monsaraz which overlooks fields, vineyards and the Alqueva Lake. Further north the medieval mountain-top village of Marvao, with its incredible 360 degree panorama, is one of Portugal's most spectacular fortified white villages. Nearby is the pretty Roman town of Castelo de Vide with its atmospheric medieval Jewish Quarter, where time seems to have stood still, with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, most of which have Gothic doorways and potted plants on the doorsteps.

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Highlights

  • A pristine Atlantic coastline, similar to the Algarve of 40 years ago. Secluded, sandy beaches are the perfect place to watch the beautiful Portuguese sunset.

  • Arguably some of the best wines in Portugal, grown in sun-drenched vineyards; why not explore the Alentejo Wine Routes during your holiday?

  • Picturesque whitewashed villages and historic hilltop towns crowned by Medieval Castles; perfect for the Alentejo Culture Vulture.

  • For those who like to explore, the walled town of Mertola and the stunning mines of Mina de Sao Domingos are two little pieces of history unique to the area. Take a look at more information on Mertola and Mina de Sao Domingos.

  • The largest man-made lake in Europe at 250sq kms  Alqueva Lake is a wonderful area to visit, whether you’re holidaying as a family or you’re on a romantic break. The area also has wonderful wildlife; Castro Verde is a protected nature reserve for birds. This semi-natural habitat called a pseudo-steppe area, is one of the most important in Europe. The Great Bustard, Lesser Kestrel, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Common Crane and Montagu’s Harrier are dependent on this ecosystem. 

  • Gastronomic delights which include fresh fish, local cheeses and the region’s famous ham from acorn fed black pigs; the area is a haven for foodies.  If you get the chance, try the ‘Golden Soup’, a traditional dessert made from egg yolks, cinnamon, bread and almonds.

  • The Royal City of Evora – a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is filled with stunning examples of architecture from a number of historical periods.

  • Stunning views; perfect for those interested in a painting or photography trip, or just for lovers of the outdoors. Why not visit the public gardens in Beja? After a 1 million Euro makeover, they have re-opened with an unexpected centrepiece; the Wollemi Pine tree is the world’s oldest species of tree, pre-dating dinosaurs and one of just four in the world.

Festivals

Festival Musicas do Mundo (21 - 29 July)
The largest Portuguese world music event held in Porto Covo and Sines Castle.

TMN Sudoeste Festival (01 - 05 August)
Zambujeira do Mar hosts the biggest summer festival in Portugal with band performances and electronic music.

Note: Dates subject to change.

Alentejo for lovers of the outdoors

For keen photographers or painters, the highly photogenic scenery and ancient, white-washed villages and towns with their hill-top castles, gardens and distant views will offer plenty of opportunities to practice their art.

For walkers, cyclists and lovers of the outdoors, there are cork forests, fields of sunflowers, vines, olive groves and citrus trees to enjoy – all with the luxury of space and no-one blocking views or the little-used roads and paths.

For those keen on water-sports, there’s surfing on the Atlantic coast, plus Alqueva Lake, the largest artificial lake in Europe at 250 sq km (96km long), where you can live on board a boat, (see Marina Houseboats), or just explore the waterside villages at your leisure and watch the bird life.

There are also vineyards which can be explored – with rows and rows of leafy vines basking in the warm Portuguese sun. Many vineyards still press the grapes traditionally, by foot – so you could even see some wine in the making! See our guide to wines in the Alentejo region for more information.

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Michelle Vincent
Michelle Vincent

Talk to our Portugal expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

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Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal

Alentejo

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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
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  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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