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 one. 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.
Ultimate guide to Alentejo Portugal
Alentejo Portugal map
I’ve included this map of the region below for you to study. You can see that Lisbon is about an hour and a half from Évora and is a great airport to fly into for your trip to the Alentejo.
As mentioned above, I would recommend flying into Lisbon unless you are planning on road tripping in Portugal for several weeks. TAP is the country’s main airline and provides smooth flights from the USA, though several airlines fly direct and non-direct flights from the USA. *As a side note when traveling to other parts of Europe, TAP offers a free layover option where you can add a few days in Portugal on your way to your ultimate destination. So for example, if you’re traveling to Germany via TAP, you can opt to have a 1-4 day layover in Lisbon or Porto. The Alentejo makes for a great 3 day layover and is a great way to add Portugal to you itinerary in Europe.
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 Alentejo towns are the best to visit?
Évora – This Alentejo city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage city due to its rich history. Évora is one of the largest cities in the region and is also the most toured.
Monsaraz – Charming and nestled on a hill, this medieval town is perfect for those who don’t love crowded villages. Monsaraz is a bit of a hidden gem and a great place to explore for a few hours.
Marvão – Marvão is another beautiful little village and it features a castle and Roman ruins.
Elvas – Elvas is located close to the border of Spain and is famous for its fort. It’s another hidden gem of a town that is worth adding to your Alentejo itinerary.
Castelo de Vide – This village does not have much by way of tourism but that’s what makes it so amazing. It’s pretty traditional and a lovely place to walk around for photos.
Restaurants in Alentejo
The food scene in Alentejo is phenomenal; while Lisbon and the coast feature fantastic fish, the Alentejo region excels in pork dishes. I never realized how much I loved pork until I tried Alentejo pork, specifically black pork. I would highly recommend you visit several restaurants in the area as they each specialize in something a little different.
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.
Hotels in Alentejo
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.
What to pack for your travels through the Alentejo region
Dresses – the area is so pretty that you’ll want to grab at least a few photos of you strolling along the streets. Even in April the weather is pleasant so you can still wear your short sleeve dresses.
Pants – Wide leg pants are also a great option if you aren’t a fan of dresses. Jeans are also great, though they may be stifling during summer.
Sunglasses – the whitewashed walls of the medieval towns make everything a little brighter so sunglasses will go a long way to helping you deal with the bright sun
Light jacket – depending on what time of year you visit, you’ll be grateful for a light jacket. My go-to for traveling is a denim jacket.
Euros – many of the villages see little tourism so you may run into a few shops that do not accept credit cards.
Hat – I love traveling with hats; they do a great job of shielding my face from the sun and they look cute in photos. Win win.
*Post written in partnership with Visit Alentejo and does contain affiliate links*