If you haven’t been to Alentejo, you may be missing one of the most beautiful areas of Portugal. The area is similar to Tuscany and Provence, with rolling hills, vineyards, and charming small towns. After our recent tour of Portugal with Epic Travel, we’re sure you will want to visit Alentejo Portugal too.
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Where is the Alentejo region of Portugal?
When planning a trip to Portugal, most visitors head straight to Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. Alentejo is easy to access from all of them. The region covers about 1/3 of the country and is the area from the Tagus River in the north to the mountains north of the Algarve. Its eastern border is connected to the western border of Spain.
Map of Alentejo Portugal
Why Visit Alentejo?
1. Unforgettable Alentejo food
I am not a food writer, so odds are I cannot adequately explain the wealth of mouthwatering dishes we sampled in Alentejo. Some of the more popular dishes include black pork (pigs roam freely and eat the acorns that drop from the cork and oak trees), Alentejano bread (simply delicious with local olive oil), sheep’s milk cheese, and codfish. Any of these dishes alone would make a fantastic meal.
We had amazing meals everywhere we went in Alentejo. Some of the most memorable dishes were the roasted duck puffed pie at Palma Restaurante, acorn-fed pork at Hortelão, and an unforgettable picnic at Évora Farm Hotel & Spa, that concluded with the most delicious almond cake. We did not have a single dish that disappointed.
2. Breathtaking sunsets
Having grown up in Arizona, I’m no stranger to a beautiful sunset. I truly did not expect that fabulous sunsets we enjoyed every single evening in Alentejo. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of our favorite Alentejo sunsets.
3. Fabulous Alentejo hotels
We stayed in three different Alentejo properties over the course of three nights and I would love to return and stay longer at each one.
Torre de Palma Wine Hotel
Our first night we stayed at Torre de Palma Wine Hotel near Monforte. This property dates to the 14th century and it is stunning as you walk through its grandiose gates onto the massive estate. It’s like walking onto the set of a movie.
Each of the rooms and suites are uniquely decorated and look straight out of a design magazine. Everything is meticulously selected for a comfortable stay. Families can enjoy one of the junior suites or the master suite with a private pool.
The on-site restaurant, Palma, features Michelin star chef Miguel Laffan, who creates an epic experience for guests with his spin on local dishes.
What I truly loved about Torre de Palma was the variety of amenities it has to offer families. We took a horse and buggy ride around the property, explored the Roman ruins on-site, had a picnic in the olive grove, and did a tour and tasting of their wines. There’s also a spa, horseback riding, a swimming pool, and bicycles. Torre de Palma is perfect for all ages.
São Lourenço do Barrocal
São Lourenço do Barrocal is located about 5 minutes driving from the town of Monsaraz and 45 minutes southeast of Évora. The estate is a former farming village that has been in the same family for over 200 years.
There are three different types of rooms: farm rooms – former family homes with a terrace, winery rooms – located on the path to the winery, and courtyard rooms – smaller rooms that lead directly to the main walking path of the village.
Families might be more comfortable in the suites, or 2 or 3 bedroom cottages. Each one is different, so it’s recommended you call when making a reservation to find the right fit.
Barrocal offers an endless number of activities, including hot air balloon rides, horse riding, archaeology tours of the property’s giant stone barrocais, star gazing, cycling, hiking, and more. There’s also a spa, massive swimming pool and green space, a seasonal restaurant with outdoor grill (Hortelão), and winery.
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova truly feels in the middle of nowhere, but in a good way. The property sits on a 1000 acre estate near Albernoa. There is a vastness to the property due to its rural setting and six individual “cottages” that are easily 5-10 minutes driving from one another.
This Relais & Châteaux property has many lodging options for travelers. The Monte da Peceguina is a country house with 3 suites and 7 rooms sharing a common library, bar, swimming pools, and spa. Casa das Pedras has four enormous suites each with private terraces and pools. Floor to ceiling windows provide stunning views of the Alentejo plains.
Casa do Ancoradouro has 7 suites that have a private terrace and several common areas shared by guests. If you’re with family, consider Casa da Ribeira with 3 suites, a living room, and kitchen.
Casa das Artes e Ofícios is another villa, with 2 rooms, kitchen, and living space. Venda Grande is a home in nearby Albernoa with 4 suites, a kitchen, and living room. You really can’t go wrong with any of these accommodations.
There’s a large variety of experiences that can be booked through the resort. Favorites include off road vehicles, horseback riding, wine tasting and tours, and cooking classes. Don’t miss lunch or dinner at the property’s restaurant and be sure to sample their delicious wines.
Évora Farm Hotel & Spa
The name Évora Farm Hotel & Spa is misleading as this property is not at all what you expect when you hear the words “farm hotel”. This modern resort is 20 minutes from the town of Évora, and is perfect for a family getaway in Portugal.
There are 56 rooms and 5 villas, and each one is perfect for families, depending on the size. Some rooms have bunk beds and private pool access, while others have patios with garden or countryside views. The villas are separate from the main area, but they have three bedrooms, kitchens, living space, and private plunge pools.
This was the one hotel we visited that had a Kids’ Club, and they had several activities geared towards children like their petting farm and kids’ yoga. Families can enjoy cycling through the estate, star gazing, hot air balloon rides, and photography classes. I could see this being a great home base for exploring Alentejo.
4. Charming towns and cities
Probably the most well-known town in the region is Évora. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back over 5,000 years. It was one of the most influential cities in its glory days, and today is home to a Roman temple (the oldest in the Iberian peninsula), a chapel of bones (Capela dos Ossos), and a 16th century aqueduct. There are plenty of things to do in Evora.
Monsaraz is a medieval hilltop top whose castle can be spotted from miles away. Its ideal location provides spectacular views of the Alqueva dam (the largest artificial lake in Europe) and the Spanish borderlands on a clear day.
Another charming town worth a visit is Marvão, one of a few places that still has its original city walls. Feel as though you stepped back in time as you wander among the white washed buildings and the cobblestone streets. There’s even a castle that dates to the 8th century, offering stunning views of the Portuguese countryside.
Elvas might be one of our favorite hidden gems in Portugal. Located near the Spanish border, this town features a stunning fortress (with two other fortresses nearby), a castle, and our favorite, a 7 kilometer long aqueduct dating to the early 17th century. Families will love exploring the city and all of its unique nooks and crannies.
5. Unique activities
Families would not be bored in Alentejo because there are a variety of activities for all ages. One of the more unique experiences we had was cork trekking. At Maroteira Farm, we hopped into an old Land Rover and set off to explore the cork forest (along with the. It was one of the most unique tours I’ve ever experienced.
If you didn’t know, Portugal produces close to 65% of the world’s cork supply (yes, as in champagne bottle stoppers). The cork is harvested from an oak tree (specific to this region), but not until it reaches 25 years of age. Harvests happen every 9 years, and a tree can live for 150-200 years!
Epic Travel planned our afternoon tour with Corktrekking.com, but you can plan for an entire day on the estate which includes the 4 x 4 cork tour, a picnic, and wine tasting. We also sampled wine grapes straight from the vine, which was heavenly!
Other fun activities that families can try in the Alentejo are: hot air ballooning, star gazing (Alentejo is a dark sky region), horseback riding, boat tours in Lake Alqueva, picnics, and bike rides.
6. Unforgettable Wine
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fabulous wines of the Alentejo region, including the crisp and refreshing Vinho Verde and the full bodied Tempranillo red. There are vineyards throughout the region, so don’t miss an opportunity to sample the local varietals.
7. Historic sites
I’ve mentioned the historic castles, fortresses, and towns, but the Alentejo region is far older than all of these. The region happens to have Megalithic monuments dating to between 5500 and 4500 BC. There are some stones on the property at Barrocal, but there are dozens to explore in Alentejo.
The most popular ones are: Almendres Cromlech (near Évora), Xerez Cromlech (near Monsaraz), and Anta Grande do Zambujeiro (between Barrocal and Évora).
8. Alentejo beaches
You might be surprised that the Alentejo region has beaches, but they do! Comporta is one of the most beautiful beaches in Alentejo, and located just 1.5 hours from Lisbon.
There are some great restaurants in Comporta (think beach shack spots) such as Sals, Sublime Beach Club and Comporta Cafe. If your family is looking for a day at the beach, this is a great place to be.
If your group is on the adventurous side, head to Monte Clerigo beach where you can learn how to surf! Or there’s another great surfing beach called Praia do Malhão near Zambujeira.
9. Amazing people
Every single person we met in Alentejo was super welcoming. They tolerated us stumbling through our limited Portuguese vocabulary and made sure we were comfortable everywhere we went.
10. Endless outdoor adventures in Alentejo
Nature lovers will love exploring the Alentejo region. The western coast of the region has the Vicentine Coast Natural Park (Costa Vicentina) with over 42 different hiking trails. Favorite trails include the Dunes of Almograve and the Historical Way.
In Serra de São Mamede you can tackle rock climbing, hike or bike through the region. It’s a great way to see the local topography.
There’s also fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, birdwatching, and swimming. If outdoor adventures are your thing, there’s an endless number of options to try in Alentejo.