Alentejo Portugal is a little known gem of Portugal and is located between the Algarve and the Lisboa regions. I had never heard of it prior to my visit and I fell in love with it from day 1. This region is mainly countryside, vineyards and farmland and and there are various towns and small cities scattered throughout. Each one is picturesque and full of character and worth a half to full day of exploring. The Alentejo region is known for wine production and for a variety of specialty dishes like migas, black pork and sericaia. It’s a great place to visit if you are a foodie and you want a break from city life. The villages feel like traditional Portuguese villages: laundry hangs from lines outside, little children play in the streets and all is quiet come evening. It’s a little slice of European paradise. The map below highlights the region for reference.
AN AREA OF PORTUGAL TO DISCOVER: ALENTEJO PORTUGAL
ALENTEJO PORTUGAL MAP
How to get there?
Your adventure in Portugal will begin with a flight to Lisbon (check out this article: 3 days in Lisbon ). TAP is the country’s main airline and provides smooth flights from the USA, although there are a few airlines in Portugal that you could use. It was my first experience with them and I’m excited to fly with them again in the future because of how well the entire process went. As a side note when traveling to other parts of Europe, TAP also recently introduced their free layover option where you can add a few days in Lisbon on your way to your ultimate destination so that makes it even more appealing. I flew business class on the way to Portugal and the flight included fully reclinable seats and food created by top chefs. Economy class was great as well with plenty of foot room and quality food.
Once you land in Lisbon, I’d recommend a car rental as you’ll be pretty far from major cities and the best towns are easiest to access by car. You’ll also have more flexibility with a car.
Which towns to visit?
There are a lot of small towns scattered about this area of Portugal and my short list doesn’t even cover half of them but I would highly recommend visiting Évora, Monsaraz, Marvão, Elvas and Castelo de Vide. Each has its own charm and most of these towns sport old churches and castles. Driving in the actual town can be a challenge, however, so I would recommend looking for parking lots on the outskirts and then walking to the center.
Évora is one of the bigger cities in the Alentejo region. It has more industry (more jobs) and thus more tourists than many of the other villages. It was still a very quiet city when compared to other European destinations like Positano or Oia or another place of equivalent size. Be sure to check out the palace and the view from the top.
Monsaraz is a medieval town with white washed buildings and cobblestone streets. It’s very idyllic and can be toured in just a few short hours. Make sure you visit Thierry’s herb shop (first shop on the left once you enter the gate).
A tiny city on a hill Marvão sports a castle and beautiful mountain views all around.
Elvas is known for its fort, Fort of Graça. This fort has a fascinating history and has never been breached due to its elaborate defensive structure. The tour guide takes you through some pretty interesting facts and I can’t recommend a visit here enough.
Castelo de Vide
Castelo de Vide was probably my favorite town of all and one that I didn’t get the chance to experience quite as much as I would have liked. I wandered through a small section of it but felt that there was so much more lying hidden. I’m definitely returning to this one.
Which restaurants to try?
Cafe de Alentejo – One of my favorite restaurants in Alentejo. Cafe de Alentejo is located in Évora and is located in a small cozy space with a wine cellar of sorts. Their black pork was the best I have ever tasted and the asparagus was the perfect accompaniment to go with it. Recommendations to try: sheep cheese, asparagus, black pork and migas.
Dom Joaquim – Located in the town of Évora, Dom Joaquim is an elegant dining establishment that has some of the best food in the Alentejo region. Start off with their cheese and bread, try their black pork, açerdo de bacalhao and end with their sericaia.
Convento do Espinheiro – This restaurant is located inside the hotel in a very charming cave-like space. I highly recommend their wine; my favorites are listed in the photo to the left. The white wine was like a moscato and was heavenly! All the dishes were creatively displayed and tasted fantastic. Recommended dishes to try: asparagus and mushroom risotto, sea bass and lamb
Herdade do Esporão – This is a winery, olive mill and restaurant all combined into one. Plan for at least one afternoon here because you’ll want to enjoy a beautiful lunch on their terrace as well as browse their olive oil and wine shop. They not only have housemade wines and oils but they also sell Portuguese made jams (try the tomato and pumpkin jams). Herdade do Esporão prides themselves on a constantly changing menu.
Horta da Moura – Another restaurant inside a hotel, Horta da Moura makes it convenient to stay in for dinner. Recommendations: gazpacho soup and cheese and meat platter.
Santa Luzia Hotel Pousada – Located inside the pousada, this Alentejo restaurant has a warm and romantic interior. Their chorizo is excellent as well as their black pork. Save room for dessert as they have a delicious wafer, cream and vanilla cake that’s best enjoyed with coffee.
Mil Homens – If you want traditional country cooking, head to Mil Homens for unique dishes like venison, lamb stew (with organ meat) and goat. This is a very local restaurant located in the middle of nowhere so expect super friendly service and a true cultural experience.
Where to stay?
Convento do Espinheiro – This is countryside luxury in the form of a renovated convent. There are so many paths and rooms to explore that it makes for a fun hunt. The rooms are decked in beige tones. Breakfast is fantastic and offers basically everything and anything you can think of.
Horta da Moura Hotel – This hotel is located on an orchard with plenty of trees and beautiful scenery around you. This hotel was one of my favorites as it had a gorgeous pool and serene location.
Santa Luzia Hotel Pousada – Pousadas used to be government-run hotels but now they are privately owned. This pousada is located on the outskirts of old town Elvas. It’s only a 10 minute walk to town and has a super convenient location. The rooms are charming, perfectly laid out and very clean. And breakfast is served in a super bright and cheery room. *The fresh squeezed orange juice is amazing.
Quinta do Barreiro – This hotel is located on acres upon acres of beautiful land. You’ll encounter interesting artwork that local artists have created along with lots of farm animals. It’s a country lover’s paradise.
PIN FOR LATER…
*Post written in partnership with Visit Alentejo and does contain affiliate links*