The Alentejo Region covers almost a third of the country, stretching south from the Rio Tejo to the northern mountain ranges of the Algarve. The name comes from the words “além do Tejo”, beyond the Tejo River. This is Portugal’s garden where large parts are covered with huge cork plantations, wheat fields and vineyards. One will be intrigued by the remarkable traces of successive cultures like Roman and Arab vestiges mingling with the most recent sign of Christianity. Proof of which the numerous medieval castles and dolmens, menhirs and cromlechs are only some examples.
For many visitors, the region’s major attractions are its towns. Two of these have UNESCO World Heritage status: the spectacular fortified town of Elvas, and Évora, whose Roman temple, medieval walls and cathedrals are a “must see”. Perhaps this is the reason that culture and spirituality take on a singular character here. These memories of the past are also shared by other cities, such as Santarém, Portalegre and Beja, and in the former Jewish quarters, particularly in Castelo de Vide.
In Alto Alentejo (High Alentejo), you will find the amazing hilltop villages of Monsaraz and Marvão A little bit more south are the marble towns of Estremoz and Vila Viçosa, where the local marble quarries have given a profuse look to many of the buildings.
South of Évora, in the plains of Baixo Alentejo (Lower Alentejo), the attractions lie further apart and can be difficult to see without a car. However, there are some good overnight targets, including the main town of Beja, as well as nearby Serpa, Moura and Mértola, all enjoyable historic towns with a large choice of good accommodation.
But you must also explore the coast. The landscape here is hilly and rugged, with small sheltered coves between the cliffs, many of which are ideal for surfing. You will also breathe the scents of the countryside here, the aromatic herbs that season the fish, seafood and other regional fare to be accompanied by the region’s excellent wines. Indeed, the entire Alentejo lives according to the rhythm of the earth.
Much of the population make a living from the huge agricultural estates known as latifúndios, Normally these estates are handed down from generation to generation and many have been in existence since Roman times. The spacious farms are generally wildlife friendly which makes Alentejo home to hundreds of species of birds, from black / white storks to great buzzards and vultures, as well as wild boar, Iberian foxes, badgers and Egyptian mongoose, reptiles etc.. The wildlife is still enormous and if you like nature you can visit our natural parks: Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede and Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina.
While in the north, the pace is set by the green and hilly landscapes, further south the flat and endless landscape combined with sun, heat and a slower pace of life, make Alentejo the best place to visit.
Welcome to Alentejo.