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.
Holidays In Alentejo
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.
- 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. Watch a video about coastal holidays in the Alentejo
- 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. Watch a video about Lake Alqueva
- 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. Watch a video featuring Evora
- 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.
The Alentejo - Festival of Food
We’ve provided some information about our favourite restaurants in the Alentejo. We have visited all of these restaurants, bakeries and local food producers and recommend that you do, too!
Festival Musicas do Mundo (July)
The largest Portuguese world music event held in Porto Covo and Sines Castle.
TMN Sudoeste Festival (August)
Zambujeira do Mar hosts the biggest summer festival in Portugal with band performances and electronic music.
Note: Dates subject to change.