Alentejo: A Hidden Gem from Portugal

A view of the beach in Alentejo.

Updated On: May 18, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

In the heart of Portugal, between the Algarve and Lisbon, you will find Alentejo. It is one of the most exquisite countryside regions where you can swim in the beautiful beaches, enjoy nature and find unique places.  Like a coastal route in California in the USA, Alentejo has terrific sights, and depending on your taste, you can take two types of routes: by the sea or by the vineyards.

Both are perfect places to switch off from your work or daily routine and take everything in to find real peace. Most recently known as the “Tuscany of Portugal”, the country receives tourists with open arms and shows them the beauty of living in a safe and harmful place. So what we ask you now is for you to relax and enjoy the trip.

When we think about Portugal, we think about beaches, good wine, nature, good food, and good people. What is from a country with unfriendly people? In Portugal, you can find all of these, but in a way, you can never imagine and will never forget. So put it on your bucket list, and let’s discover Alentejo. It’s one of the best places in Portugal to visit.

Alentejo Region

Maybe you are wondering where the Alentejo region is.

You will find the Alentejo between Algarve and Lisbon. Along the eastern part of the border with Spain in the Alentejo region, you will find landscapes, wineries, and castles, and along the west side, there are good beaches, good food and a mix of cultures you never imagined. Large beaches with a lot of space for your family and soft golden sand are a few reasons to visit the Alentejo region in Portugal. It’s also the largest region in Portugal so you will need time to see everything. If you don’t have much vacation time, you can go every year to visit different things.

 

Alentejo by the Sea

So, if you don’t know where to go, we have new summer vacation ideas in Europe for you. To visit Portugal, you can travel by air to Lisbon, but we recommend exploring more than just the capital… You have no idea what you can find. There are so many beaches where you can enjoy the most potent sunrises in the world. If you’re arriving by Faro, you can rent a car and find a lot of exceptional beaches such as:

Those beaches are part of the Costa Vicentina National Park, which has 100km of coastline that starts in the Algarve and ends in Alentejo.

If you are a nature-free soul, you can discover those good beaches using a caravan, but you can also stay relaxed, enjoying the weather and fantastic places such as hotels or local apartments. In this article, you will find out more about the Alentejo region, such as the historical aspects of visiting the country. Start this journey with us, and you will not regret it.

alentejo by the sea
Malhão (Source: Ana)

Alentejo by the Vineyards

alentejo vineyards
Vineyards in Portugal (Source: Jill Wellington)

Wineries are the most commonplace in Alentejo. You can find one on every corner, and we will tell you about the best wineries in Alentejo. They are beautiful inside when you can find an authentic experience, but the outside is the same brilliant and original. Significant architectural improvements make them unique places to learn more about wine and feel the region’s culture. With the most beautiful scenario, you can visit the most secret fine wineries where you can visit the bodega and taste a glass of red or white wine.

Here is a list of places where you can taste Alentejo wine.

  • Fita Preta (Évora) – A winery that brings two people together: a winemaker, António Maçanita, and an English Viticulture, David Booth. Any visitor can sit at Fita Preta’s bar and have. But if you want to learn more about the wines and taste, you must book a place. You have a few tours and tastings to choose from. They also organize events like wedding celebrations, birthday celebrations, and corporate meetings.
  • Herdade do Sobroso (Pedrógão)
  • Herdade dos Grous (Beja)
  • Herdade da Malhadinha Nova (Albernoa)
  • Herdade do Esporão (Reguengos de Monsaraz)

You can also sleep in some of these places as this is a Country House & Spa.

Summer family vacation ideas

Are you looking for new places to spend your next vacation? Portugal, a safe country, offers many options for staying with your family. You will find good beaches and child-friendly villas in Alentejo where you can spend time with your family. One is Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, with 450 hectares, but you have more.

outdoor family
A family vacation in Portugal. (Source: Jens Johnsson)

Where to stay in Alentejo

From country houses to eco spas, you will find unique places to enjoy this region’s peace. You can relax, read a book from Eça de Queiroz or José Saramago and enjoy the sunrise or the sunset. Look out for a few relaxing places where, if you get lucky, you can also find celebrities like Sara Sampaio, who spent this summer in Alentejo:

  • Convento do EspinheiroThese Luxury Hotels & Spa origins are related to a legend that tells of an apparition of the Virgin Mary above a thorn bush (= espinheiro) around 1400, in 1412. Also, the hotel has an exclusive offer for guests: a guided visit to the Convento de Santa Maria do Espinheiro by a Concierge every day at 5:00 p.m.
  • Sublime Comporta
  • Casa da Moira
  • EcoResort
  • Dá Licença

In Alentejo, you can hike and cycle trails in beautiful places with sublime nature along the Costa Vicentina route or surf at good beaches such as Lagoa de Santo André.

history alentejo
Évora, capital of the region and a World Heritage city by UNESCO (Source: Portuguese Gravity)

Instead of a wine route, you can also arrive in Lisbon and go directly to Évora, the region’s capital and a World Heritage city by UNESCO. One of the best cities in Portugal to visit is Évora. You can see Templo Romano (most commonly known as Templo de Diana, but locals say this is not the correct name). Museum town with an incredible history, this is one the best cities to travel to in Portugal. You can stay for 3 days and enjoy each Roman corner of the historic centre with actual walls of Romans and Arabs. They form a defensive ensemble raised over centuries.

Here a few other restaurants and typical pastries that you can find in Évora City:

But you will also find Pastries like Pastelaria Conventual Pão de Rala, the best place to try typical desserts in Évora. It is a traditional bakery that sells the most typical cakes and sweets. Their recipes are more than one hundred years old and tasty. We suggest you try Pão de Rala or Sericaia, one of the 12 Must-Eat Portuguese Sweets.

Before leaving Évora, you should buy souvenirs in the Oxalá store. There, you will find the nicest products from Alentejo and other places in the country, as well as all national products, from wine to handicrafts.

Bye-bye Évora, See you next time.

island in portugal
The lake of Alqueva (Source: Jorge Sardinha)

You can continue your journey by visiting Monsaraz, a medieval village with a princess castle. Then go to the old Estremoz, a town crowned by a century-old castle with a citadel.

Finally, “take a boat” to Alqueva, the big lake, where you can go boating or just relax on the fluvial beach and enjoy the place with your friends, girlfriend/boyfriend, or family. This will be your route if you prefer the countryside instead of the coast.

To Eat

You can find good restaurants on every corner. Portugal is the kind of country where you get fat quickly! Less than two hours from Faro (Algarve), you will find a lovely sea view: A Azenha do Mar in Odemira, where you can eat shellfish in a cheap, humble restaurant with great food!!

food in portugal
Seafood is a delicacy in Portugal (Source: Daniel Lein)

If you prefer a typical food, you must eat “Migas”, a dish with pork, meat and bread that you can find in many restaurants around Alentejo. In Évora go to O Fialho for Sopa de Cação a dogfish soup. For who is a sweet tooth, you need to taste Pão de Rala a typical pastry created by nuns with eggs, almonds and a lot of sugar! Taste and you will never forget. In the same city, you can also find ¼ para as 9 restaurants and taste Açorda de Marisco, a typical dish with shrimp and bread. So tasty!!

Relaxed? We have more.

What to do in Alentejo

There are many things to do in the region because this is such a beautiful place where you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean and 1 hour later you can discover a palace. As a country with a lot of history, those are just a list of a few examples of activities that you can do by air or by land:

  • Try the food and the wine
  • Appreciate nature more closely
  • Visit castles and palaces and take a trip back in time
  • Surfing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Breath in a peaceful place
  • Farming
  • Ballooning

Live the experience, choose the right place to stay, and leave your comfort zone. This is not the right place for people who like cosmopolitan places, but it is the right place for people looking for a green-brown–unique and safe place. Now it’s time to understand the best time to travel to Portugal. We can help you.

Music in Portugal

Portugal is Fado of Amália Rodrigues and Mariza. Still, in Alentejo, you will find another kind of music: O Cante Alentejano, which is recognized as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  Besides not being related to any class of people, it is often associated with the rural classes in Alentejo.  Songs are related to love, friendship, work and life in the countryside. If you have never heard this traditional music, watch this video recorded at the Millennium Stage in the USA. It’s so unique!

music in portugal
Cante Alentejano culture (Source: Ana)

Travelling to Portugal

You can travel by TAP, a Portuguese airline, or another airline. The main airports are Lisbon, Porto, and Faro, but the best way to arrive in Alentejo is via Lisbon or Faro.

How to get there?

From Lisbon or Faro, get a taxi (there’s a lot outside both airports) by bus or train. Otherwise, rent a car and enjoy the most beautiful destination in the world. Alentejo is very flat land, so it’s easy to drive.

Best time to travel to Portugal

The best time to travel to Portugal is anytime. The high season is during summer, as this is also a local holiday (July, August), but you can visit Portugal in all seasons. It might be a good choice to go to the countryside in autumn/winter (end of September to March) and to the West Coast in spring/summer (April to September), but it’s also good all year round.

Is it safe to travel to Portugal?

A hundred percent YES. It’s safe to travel to Portugal now and always has been. Forbes agrees that “The Alentejo Is The New Region To Go To In Portugal.” So just go and enjoy the weather, the food, and the safety you will definitely find.

alentejo beach
Beach in Alentejo (Source: Miguel Bernardo)

Why travel to Portugal?

Try it once, and you will understand. This country has so many things to discover, such as incredible beaches or vineyards along the countryside, but the best of Portugal resumes in one word: People.

Share your experience in Alentejo using the hashtag #visitalentejo and spread the word.

“Oh salty sea, how much of your salt is tears from Portugal? “By Fernando Pessoa

 Check out some other places you must go if you are a travel lover with good taste for unique places: a coastal road trip | a small town | an island | a beach

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