Alentejo Portugal is a hidden gem aka region of Portugal. When I mention the name, people look at me quizzically because frankly, they’ve never heard of it. Porto? Sure. Lisbon? Definitely. But Alentejo is a mystery to most people; it’s waiting to be discovered as it’s full of rich culture and tradition. These are the 5 towns you cannot miss in Alentejo Portugal!
Évora is one of the bigger cities in the Alentejo region and is located about an hour and a half from Lisbon. 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, Oia or another place of equivalent size.
This city has several attractions for the visitor: a bone chapel, a cathedral with beautiful views overlooking the city, an ancient Roman temple that sits in the middle of a square and Neolithic stones dating back to thousands of years before Christ. Evora has several beautiful hotels for your overnight stay, including the 5 star convent-turned-hotel called Convento do Espinheiro.
Monsaraz is an Alentejano medieval village with whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets. It’s very idyllic and can be toured in just a few short hours. Once you arrive in the town, you’ll have to park your car outside the gate and walk-in. Monsaraz is a car-free area for visitors.
There are several shops at the entrance; one of our favorites is Thierry’s herb shop; it’s the first shop on the left once you enter the gate. He has an extensive collection of herbs and foodie items. Continue along the path and you’ll find yourself weaving your way through empty residential streets and a few artist shops. Monsaraz also features a castle that you can walk into and explore.
Marvão is another Alentejo medieval village that sits on a hill surrounded by walls. This town sports a castle (small fee charged) and beautiful mountain views all around. You can walk through the streets after you tour the castle. Driving through the town is not recommended so you’ll have to grab parking on the outside of the city.
There’s a beautiful little chapel/church with pretty tiles called Convento de Nossa Senhora da Estrela so make sure you peek in.
Elvas is a bit bigger than Marvão and Monsaraz. It 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 really makes touring the castle fun. Elvas also features an interesting aqueduct.
Driving through Elvas is a bit of a pain; if you’re staying at the Santa Luzia Hotel Pousada, you can actually just walk up to the city from the bottom. It’s only about 10 minutes and is a very pleasant stroll. Otherwise, you will have to find parking at the top (driving in the city is fairly difficult as there really isn’t much room to maneuver in the streets).
5. Castelo de Vide
The last town you can’t miss in Alentejo is Castelo de Vide. This was probably our favourite town because of how traditional and non-touristy it felt. Walking the streets was so memorable: we saw several ladies huddled together chatting about their day, a few kids laughed and played, a pup trotted past us intent on getting to his owner. It was the epitome of charm and is one of the most photogenic places in Alentejo.