Portugal

Let’s Go to the Alentejo Region in Portugal!

The Alentejo region stretches across two-thirds of central and southern Portugal between the Algarve and Lisboa regions. Its pastoral landscape includes endless olive trees, cork trees, vineyards, wheat fields, white-washed houses, roman ruins and charming towns. Much of the population make a living from agriculture. It is often referred to as the new Tuscany. To be honest, I had never heard of this region prior to my visit, but immediately fell in love with it’s simple and tranquil way of life. There is nothing touristy about it. The whole point of coming to this unpopulated area is to slow down and to enjoy nature. And that, is exactly what we did!

Our home base for the next 3 days was Villa Extramuros, which is situated in the countryside on the outskirts of a small village called Arraiolos, only 15 minutes north of Évora. As you drive onto the property of Villa Extramuros, past the cork and olive trees and the herd of sheep grazing in the fields you are mesmerized by the contemporary white house juxtaposed against the bright blue sky and the natural surroundings. The only sounds you hear are the birdsongs and the clanging of bells that hang around the neck of the sheep. It was heaven.

Evora Portugal | More than just a Day Trip | DreamPlanExperience.com

We are welcomed by owners François and Jean-Christophe, who provide a quick tour of their home. The modern architectural design of the exterior completely compliments the minimalist contemporary style of the interior which includes an extensive collection of furniture and decorative pieces from all the great artists and designers of the 20th century. Virtually every collected piece has been carefully chosen and placed. For guests, there are a few common spaces that are large enough to offer a great deal of privacy. A large L-shaped lounge area, a dining room where we enjoyed our delicious daily breakfast, outdoor patios and courtyard space and an incredible infinity pool that overlooks the peaceful countryside. Each of the guest rooms, I think there were 5 in total, have a large private terrace, and our room, #4, had a perfect view of the local village of Arraiolos with the countryside in the foreground.

Evora Portugal | More than just a Day Trip | DreamPlanExperience.com

Confession time…staying at Villa Extramuros was our initial draw to this region. And, if you love and appreciate interior design, Villa Extramuros needs to be at the top of your list of places to stay.

Arraiolos

It is a small village just north of Évora and is infameous for its tapesty rugs, which date back to the 16th century and its designs were heavily influenced by Persian and Turkish carpets. In the center of village, you will find many shops and a museum dedicated to this art. This is a traditional town, full of whitewash buildings with bright gold trim.

The unusual circular castle perched high on a hill. Built between 1306 and 1315 is mostly in ruins now, but still has the old walls that remain intact.
The 14th century church of St. Salvador

Évora

It is a mecca for historical landmarks and museums, and remained undamaged by the great earthquake of 1755, so it is not a city you can see in a just a couple of hours, hence the reason why our home base was only 15 minutes away. This lively and beautiful town full of whitewash buildings with mustard yellow trim features a roman temple, medieval walls, cathedral and many more other historical landmarks that make for a full day of touring.

Alentejo towns we missed, but you shouldn’t

  1. Castelo de Vide – a traditional hilltop village close to the Spanish boarder
  2. Marvão – a scenic hilltop village full of whitewash buildings features a castle and roman ruins
  3. Elvas – a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for being a fortified town is close to the Spanish boarder
  4. Estremoz – an authentic hilltop town made of marble
  5. Monsaraz – a charming and picturesque village nestled on a hill  

We didn’t realize just how beautiful this region was until we got here. There is so much to offer that we will definitely return and explore further. 

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27 Comments

  • Lynne

    I’ve head wonderful things about the Alentejo region. The place you stayed looks cool, but I must admit, I like old homes versus modern when in Europe!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, the region completely surprised me and inspired me to return. Agree, normally we stay at places that are older as well, but this was an architectural gem that was too good to pass up. It is nice to experience a bit of both. They did a wonderful job at using materials local to the area, like a lot of cork, which was interesting design element. Thanks for commenting!

  • Andy Strote

    Nice post. We were in the region two years ago. Originally had planned to stay in Evora, but ended up in Estremoz which we loved. One of the few places with an old castle on the hilltop, but rather than a scenic ruin, it’s a 5 star hotel with lots of stores and a church around it. We had no idea until we went up for a visit. Lots to see in Portugal aside from Lisbon and Porto.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Agree, there is lots to see outside those two cities, and I want to explore more. Especially the town you stayed in. It is on our list to explore more of this region. Thank you kindly for commenting.

  • Jeremy

    Omg, it is so pretty ! Love the cobblestone paths, and the stone walls ruins ! And that villa and the pool are perfect ! You must share how I can book a stay in that villa !

  • Marvi

    Never heard much of Alentejo before, but it does sound like a relaxing place to visit with its historical landmarks. Three days does seem pretty short to visit all those interesting towns. Villa Extramuros looks pretty great too. The bit and pieces of accessories in the room and the common area looks really interesting. I love the pool and how it is surrounded by trees!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, never enough time to visit an entire region. But it was enough of a taste to know we wanted to return and explore further. Thank you for commenting.

  • Neha

    Wow, I am humbled to say that I didn’t even know about the Alentejo region till I read about it here. It does look lovely, and just the kind of place I would like to visit. I love the whole cobblestone and whitewash look of the village in the picture. Gosh, my bucket list grows longer every day!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I was in the same place as you before we arrived, having not known much of this region. But it is definitely an area I want to return to and explore further. It was full of history, tradition and so much diversity of landscape that it really is a hidden gem. Hopefully you get to travel there one day soon. Thanks for commenting. Happy Travels!

  • Leah

    Villa Extramuros looks like something straight from the TV show ‘Grand Designs’… if you haven’t seen it, you’ll love it. I used to go to Portugal a lot, but never heard of this area it looks beautiful!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Leah, Villa Extramuros is certainly award-winning architectural design! This area is a hidden gem, and hopefully it stays that way!

  • Candy

    I’ve never heard of this area either and it was so interesting to see how modern the architecture was. I also really like the decor! I love going to these lesser known areas as it’s more relaxing and it’s usually when you can really soak in the culture and the views 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Agreed! I really hope this area stays hidden. There is much to be discovered beyond the well-known cities.

  • Mohana and Aninda

    The Alentejo region looks like a dream…I could be a farmer living in the countryside with a herd of sheep <3 The cities look attractive too. The architecture and the tile work…all are very appealing.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Glad that you enjoyed the photos, and it for a moment in time allowed you to daydream just a bit as what it might be like to live in that region. Thanks for commenting.

  • Ketki

    I had never really heard about Alentejo Region and I kind of hope less people find about it, because it is too pretty! Loved your experience.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I agree. It is a hidden gem. And, I too would like it a secret. Hope you get to visit it again one day.

  • Mei and Kerstin

    We’ve visited Lisbon two years ago and really loved it (Sintra too). Algarve is on our bucket list, so next time we go to Portugal we’ll make sure to visit Alentejo Region too, and especially Evora! Thanks for sharing this, we love your photos!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for commenting. I am glad to hear that this inspired you to possibly add it to future travel plans.

  • Nicola

    This seems like such a beautiful and authentic region to travel to. We’ve only been to Lisbon in Portugal and that was quite some time ago now, it really makes us realise how much we need to return and also how much more there is to see!

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