Are you looking to visit one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval cities? Then add  Évora to your list!

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this small city has endless sites for you to explore. So much so, that it makes it difficult to really experience this city in just one day.

With its close proximity to Lisbon, only a 90-minute car or train ride away, many might be tempted to visit Evora on a day trip. Don’t. You’ll regret it. Evora is more than just a day trip. Here is everything you need to know about planning your visit to this beautiful, historic city.  (Updated September 2022)

Where is Evora

Evora lies in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal. In fact, this small city is the capital of the Alentejo region= the largest region in Portugal. It sits above the Algarve and stretches from the Atlantic to the Portugal-Spain border in the centre of Portugal.

red rooftops with fields in evora portugal

Considered to be the hidden gem of Portugal, this region offers a rugged western coastline full of rural farmland of cork oaks and olive trees. But it’s here where you will find the best authentic villages just oozing with traditional charm. And, Evora is one of them! 

Such a central location makes Evora a great base to explore all of the Alentejo or a starting point to reach the Algarve or even Spain. 

About Evora Portugal

Évora has been shaped by more than 20 centuries of history. And that history can still be seen today. As a walled city that dates back as far as Celtic times when it fell under Roman rule in 57 BC. Those Roman ruins still remain.

ancient temple ruins in evora portugal

The town was elevated to a cathedral city during the Visigoth period in 584. Then under Moorish rule from 715 to 1165, further improvements were made to the city including a fortified gate and a 13th-century Cathedral. But it was in the 15th century when the Portuguese kings began living in Évora on a regular basis that the city really began to grow and evolve.

At that time, convents and royal palaces sprung up everywhere: St Claire Convent, the royal church and convent of São Francisco, and Os Lóios Convent with the São João Evangelista Church. All of these significant sites make Evora, this well-preserved medieval city,  worth visiting.

First Impression of Evora

Around the walled historic center runs a ring road built in the 20th century. You enter the city on one of the several spoke roads.

What you’ll immediately notice is the stunning architecture of the low whitewash houses, decorated with painted tiles, mustard-yellow trim, wrought-iron balconies, and red tile rooftops.

white buildings with yellow trim in evora
white buildings with yellow trim in evora

All of these features make Évora the best example of a traditional city in Portugal. A city, that was undamaged by the great earthquake of 1755 which destroyed many towns and cities in Portugal, including Lisbon.

Top Sites to Visit in Evora

Like any destination that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, there is a lot to see. In fact, Évora is often called Portugal’s “Museum City” because of its preserved architecture. So, here are the best historic sites to visit in Evora. 

Aqueduct of Silver Water

ancient aqueduct in evora portugal
The Aqueduct of Silver Water or Adqueduto da Agua de Prata is located just outside the city walls. This impressive site was completed in 1530 as a way to bring water to the city. It was designed by Francisco de Arruda, famously known as the designer of the Tower Belem in Lisbon. The Aqueduct is 9 km long and originally continued all the way to the Praça do Giraldo.

Chapel of Bones

chapel in evora portugal
The Chapel of Bones, or Capela dos Ossos is a small chapel connected to the Church of Sao Francisco. As the name suggests, it’s lined inside with human bones (approximately 5,000) dating back to the 17th century. The inscription above the chapel entrance translates as, “We bones who lie here await yours.” Creepy- yes, but it’s a top thing to do in Evora.

Church of Our Lady of Grace

Church in Evora Portugal
The Church of Our Lady of Grace, or Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Graca, is an impressive church to visit. It’s actually tucked away on Rua da Republic, a little off the beaten path in Evora. What makes this church so special to visit? There are just so many details, from the pillars along the entrance to the triple bells and I loved the statues that dangled over the very top.

Diana Temple

Fountain of Portas de Moura

Fountain in Evora Portugal
The Fountain of Portas de Moura is a Renaissance fountain built in 1556. The design of the globe surrounded by water is meant to reference the Age of Discovery.

Palace of the Counts of Basto

White Palace in Evora Portugal
The Palace of the Counts of Basto was once a primitive Moorish castle and later a residence of the kings. Its outer architecture displays features of Gothic, Manueline, Mudéjar and Renaissance styles. However, most of the structure needed to be rebuilt in the 1950s.

Praca do Giraldo

square with fountain in Evora Portugal
Praca do Giraldo is the main and busiest square in Evora. It was named after the 12th century hero of the Reconquista Gerald the Fearless, who defeated the Moors and expelled them after 450 years of rule in the city. The public square was where the public executions took place, mainly during the period of the Inquisition. Today, cafes spill out onto the cobblestones and people come and go as the main hub to explore Evora.

Church of St. Andrew

Church with fountain in Evora Portugal
The 16th century Church of St Andrew, or Santo Antao, sits on the edge of the Praco do Giraldo square, with the pretty fountain in front.

São João Evangelista Church

blue and white painted tiles in evora portugal
The Sao Joao church features one of the most impressive interiors in all of Evora. The entire walls are decorated with blue and white Portuguese tiles called azulejos from the early 18th century. The hand-painted tiles are a mix of leaves and flowers as well as biblical scenes. This is a must-visit when in Evora.

Se Cathedral

Évora, the capital city of the Alentejo region in Portugal. This beautifully historic city is an UNESCO World Heritage site due to its well-preserved old town center and having so many significant monuments.
The 12th century Se cathedral is a great example of Gothic architecture with its asymmetrical towers. It took half a century to be built and was later added to throughout the Middle Ages. This impressive cathedral dominates the city and is almost always visual from anywhere when looking at the skyline of Evora. This is a top place to visit in Evora and should not be missed.

Is Evora worth visiting

I always measure a destination beyond its top attractions. To me, it comes down to the atmosphere and attractiveness. And, Evora checks both the boxes and then some. 

What makes Evora so special, it’s just one of those cities that is perfect for wandering. Whether you are intentionally going from site to site or letting your feet be your guide, you’ll soon fall under its spell.

In the historic center, there are endless narrow winding streets and alleyways just waiting to be discovered. Cobblestone streets, lanterns hanging from the walls, ivy, and flowers cascading over walls everywhere you look there is a great photo op! 

laneway with white and yellow buildings in evora portugal

Wine Tours in Evora

Stop by the wine tasting room of the Wine Route of Alentejo in the old city center. Here you can learn more about the region’s wineries and book tours.

The Cartuxa winery just outside of Evora has daily tastings of wine and olive oil.  Contact them to make a reservation and confirm a tour in English. 

Visit here for more information on the wines of Alentejo.

Day Trips from Evora

The Alentejo region of Portugal is often referred to as the new Tuscany. A pastoral landscape, full of olive and cork trees, vineyards, and wheat fields. It’s rustic, traditional, and not touristy- yet!  The villages are authentic. The food is farm-to-table. And, it’s a peaceful getaway.

If you are wanting to explore more, here is a little inspiration:

  • Arraiolos to Evora – 20 minutes
  • Estremoz to Evora – 35 minutes
  • Monsaraz to Evora – 50 minutes
  • Elvas to Evora – 55 minutes

Best Restaurants in Evora

One of the best reasons why Evora is more than just a day trip is for the amazing restaurants.

Evora is known for its sweet desserts. The origin of sweet custard began here. Nuns used egg whites as starch and they had so many egg yolks left over that they started combining them with sugar and making different types of pastries, puddings, and bread. Down tiny alleyways, you’ll find window bake shops where you can buy these traditional custard treats. Let your nose be your guide. 

bottles of wine and olive oil in restaurant in evora portugal

Here are some of the recommended restaurants in Evora:

  • Botequim da Mouraria – a tiny, unassuming bar-like restaurant that offers some of the tastiest traditional dishes.  Address: 16 Rua de Mouraria
  • Dom Joaquim – a Michelin-star restaurant located next to Porta de Serpa Pinto, one of the access gates to the historic centre of Évora. Expect to find traditional regional dishes and wine. Address: 6 Rua dos Penedos
  • Fialho – a long-standing restaurant tucked away off a side street offering traditional dishes. Address: 14 Travessa Mascarenhas 
  • Origens – a Michelin star restaurant tucked away down a quiet narrow street in Evora’s historic centre. Address: 10 Rua de Burgos
  • Pateo – a casual restaurant with great outdoor terrace dining. Addresss: 53 Beco da Espinhosa

Traveller’s tip: Reservations are required at almost all of the best restaurants.  

Best Places to Stay in Evora

Whether you are looking for a hotel or an apartment stay, here are some options for accommodations in Evora.

  • Pousada Convento de Evora – this renovated convent located between the Cathedral Se and Diana Temple with a courtyard pool offers the perfect mix of historic  
  • M AR de AR Aqueduto – a 5-star boutique property in a former 16th-century palace with luxury spa services located near Diana Temple in city centre. 
  • Vitoria Stone Hotel – a modern hotel offering a rooftop bar and terrace with an infinity pool with views of Evora and within walking distance of the historic centre. 
  • Casa Madre de Deus – a contemporary 2-bedroom apartment near the Diana Temple.
  • Casa Teresa – a 3-bedroom house perfect for family stays and is near the Cathedral Se.
white modern Villa in portugal

Where we stayed in the Alentejo region: 

Villa Extramuros is situated in the countryside on the outskirts of a small village called Arraiolos, only 15 minutes north of Évora. If you are a lover of modern architecture and interior design this luxury property is a must! It’s also a quiet escape in the countryside. You will be treated to the most delicious breakfast, made to order before setting out on your way. 

As a holidaymaker…

So, have I convinced you that Evora is more than just a day trip? It really is a historic city that needs to go on your must-visit list while in Portugal. It has enough charm and things to see and do to capture your interest for at least a 1 or 2-night stay. My advice when you get there, put away the map and simply wander and discover every hidden corner of this beautiful city. Nothing is better than getting lost inside the walls of this old city. 

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90 Comments

  1. I haven’t explored Portugal as much and only made it to Porto and then further North during my Camino hike. Evora would be a place of interest to me and I can see why it’s more than just a day trip. The various architectural styles speak to me and I’d love to explore the Roman and Moorish structures. Thank you for introducing me to a new place. Very refreshing to read about other places and not the same old usual ones.

  2. I love cities like this, the more history the better. This reminds me a little of Trier, a Roman city in Germany. Such amazing old buildings. The aqueduct looks really impressive, and the city is really pretty too. I haven’t been to Portugal yet but I think this would be higher on my list than some of the more popular places I’ve seen people talk about

  3. Unfortunately, I missed visiting Evora when I was in Lisbon. But now that I think of it, I guess it was for good because I should go there for more than a day trip. The history buff in me cannot be satisfied with just 1 day of all those stunning sites than have more than several centuries of history. Aqueduct of Silver Water and Diana Temple remind me much of Rome and Greece. Wine tasting in Alentejo sounds yummm.

  4. I can see what you mean there is so much to learn and discover about Évora. It is true one day is not enough, but if I only have one day I would prefer to visit Diana Temple and Chapel of Bones.

  5. I did not have a clue such a place existed in Portugal. The Diana temple reminds me of the ancient Greek ruins in Athens. I have heard about the Alentejo region before but never about Evora. This is such a useful guide I will bookmark for the future as I really love traveling to Portugal and I have been there several times.

  6. The medieval town of Évora appears to be an excellent spot to visit. The Church of Our Lady of Grace has a gorgeous, albeit dated, façade, which I absolutely adore. While Praca do Giraldo seems like a wonderful area to go around and chill. In addition to visiting its historical landmarks, I’m interested in going on wine tours and eating at some of its restaurants. I’m confident a trip here is worthwhile!

  7. As I am planning for my Spain & Portugal trip in the coming months, I would love to stay a couple of days at Evora. Really loved the blog and the pictures and thanks for sharing this. Saving this for my Spain trip.

  8. We finally made it to the Alentejo region of Portugal this year and did a day trip to Evora. I have to agree with you and say that Evora needs more than just a day trip. We left exhausted and we barely saw some of the major sights. We would have loved more time to just wander slowly and enjoy Evora. And to eat and drink our way around town.

  9. Evora looks like a fantastic place to visit. I love that there are so many architectural styles in the city, blending in together to give it such a unique feel. I’d love to spend many 2 nights there, and explore it as a slow pace. I have wanted to visit Portugal for a while and I hope to make it reality next spring. This guide will be very handy for me then. 🙂

  10. Evora makes such a nice visit to the central part or Portugal and I also enjoyed my visit here and just wandering around, shopping, having long dinners and yes exploring the chapel of bones which I thought was very educational and not in the least scary to visit.

  11. I would love to visit Evora some day. The viaduct looks awesome. I like the idea of the historical city in the centre and ring road leading to it by smaller roads. This city will be the dream place for a photographer with so much of architecture to capture. The Fountain of Portas de Moura and the temple of Diana look beautiful. I must add this to my bucket list. 🙂

  12. I had 2 quite unfortunate trips to Evora (once the last bus to Lisbon just didn’t show up and we were left in the station waiting with no notice) but overall I can say it’s a beautiful town, and a nice way to discover the most authentic Portugal. I love to read these kinds of articles! I love the chapels of bones, the Cathedral, and the main square. And obviously, I had a fantastic wine experience ❤️

  13. What a cool place to visit. It looks like it’s well taken care of and clean! The historic center looks breathtaking!

  14. Èvora looks like an amazing place to explore. I love the historical aspect of this location and the architectural designs of the buildings. They’re so lovely, I’d love to visit here in the future.

  15. I love places like this, what stunning architecture and historical sites. That aqueduct is impressive for sure. This reminds me of a city I visited in Germany with lots of similar Roman history and buildings. It was called Trier. Amazing place, so I know I’d like this one too

  16. I was actually just reading about Evora last night! And I think you’ve sold me 🙂 It looks so gorgeous – I love the architecture and the white-washed homes. So cool that it wasn’t destroyed in the big earthquake. And I’m always a fan of a place where the best thing to do is put away the map and just wander, instead of rushing to specific things. Can’t wait to visit!

  17. I had heard of Evora but really did not know it is such an historic and well preserved city. The Diana Temple looks gorgeous. Your pics evoke such an atmosphere about the town and shows off its prettiness well. I an planning a trip to Oporto (having been to Lisbon) and will look at how I can incorporate Evora into the schedule. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Loved exploring Evora – one thing we missed was the viaducts and now looking at your images makes me sad to have missed walking around and learning about them. Portugal is an incredible country to explore.

  19. I didn’t make it to Evora when I was in Portugal last but WOW! I have been itching to make a return trip to Portugal and now I really must. I always love the smaller cities in a place and Evora clearly has some extraordinary, world-class churches. I love those dangling statues and the beautiful Se!

    1. It’s too bad you didn’t make it this historic city. It’s definitely worth the detour from Lisbon to go or planning to visit this region is also a good idea.

  20. Oh, what a little gem!
    This sure piqued my interest, this is the kind of place I would love to explore when the world open its gates again. The city seems to be filled with little old details that makes the visit well worth it 🙂

    1. Thank you Ann for your comment. This is such a wonderful city full of history and old world charm. It is a must visit kind of city when in Portugal.

  21. We simply love well-preserved European cities with their medieval walls, monuments and statues, cathedrals and temples, narrow alleys and quaint town squares that were typically the market places of the old city. And from your description Evora is all that and more. Portugal is on the list to visit next year … making a note to include Evora in our itinerary.

    1. Thank you for commenting Michael. Indeed it is all that and more! Hopefully Evora will make it onto your itinerary for your future travels to Portugal.

  22. I have a river trip scheduled for Portugal and I hope we get to visit this location during it. I’d definitely want to see Fountain of Portas de Moura and the church. Such beautiful architecture and ruins. Thanks for sharing. I really love Portugal and think it is one of the most overlooked European destinations.

    1. Thank you for commenting Melody. How fantastic that you have plans to travel there soon. You are indeed right, Portugal is underrated, but think it is slowly becoming well known and soon will be overrun by tourism. See it while you can! Happy travels!

  23. My sister visited Lisbon, Portugal and said she had a great time. I would like to visit with her someday and would stay at the recommended Villa Extramuros. I love all the history and the architecture here. That inscription above the chapel really was creepy! Not sure I would want to go in either 🙂

    1. It would be a great city to visit with your sister. If you want any recommendations for apartments, let me know. I stayed at a great one that was in Baixa neighbourhood. That will be another blog!
      Thank you for commenting Candy.

  24. I am inspired by Portugal in general, but Evora definitely makes the list of dreamy, charming places to ensure is on the list. Even though it is not far from Lisbon I know I would appreciate a night or two to fully explore. The architecture is so well preserved, stunning!

    1. Thank you Amy for your wonderful comments. You are exactly right. Evora has been so well preserved that it really is a destination to visit. And, a convenient one from Lisbon, or why not on your way to Spain.

  25. I’ve never been to Portugal so will add this to the list for when I make it there. Lovely photos and the villa you stayed in looks amazing!

    1. Thank you Lou for commenting. I am pleased to hear that you may add this to your destination list when traveling to Portugal.

  26. Honestly, I had not heard of Évora before but it looks as lovely as other typical European cities. Would love to visit someday 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment. What makes this city different than your typical European city is that it is full of locals, not many tourists know about it. So it’s a wonderful place to visit and see architecture from all different periods of influence.

  27. Yes you have inspired me to want to visit this beautiful town. I love the historic buildings, cathedral and the whitewashed homes with yellow trim are beautiful. I’ll definitely add Evora to my bucket list!

  28. Portugal is definitely on our list, but I wasn’t aware of Evora.. something new to add to our list! But… Chapel of Bones??? Creepy!

    1. Thank you for commenting Brianna. Yes, Portugal was long on our list too! Yes, I didn’t go in, so I only snapped a photo from the entrance. Can you imagine all those bones…yikes!

      1. The first time I visited Évora I was 12 years old. As a child I got so impressed with the Bone Chapel. It was the kind of experience that marked me. I totally recommend the visit to Évora and to Arraiolos near by. It has a stunning palace to visit and the traditional carpets handmade are a gem! Thanks so much for sharing

  29. Evora looks and sounds like a great place to visit with lots of history dating back 2,000 years. It’s good it is less than an hour and a half from Lisbon!

    1. Yes, so much history or just a beautiful city to roam around in. Thanks for commenting Carol.

  30. I been to Portugal several times, but mainly to Lisboa, Porto and surrounding areas and the Algarve but never even heard of this place. I love visiting the smaller unknown towns which has a lot of history and I hope to check this place out on my visit. I love the fact most of the buildings are white on the facades which makes the area looks stunning.

    1. Yes, I was very happy to discover this small city. The main square is so beautiful with it’s all white buildings and large marble fountain. You will love it, hope you get to see it one day soon. Thanks for stopping by Danik.

  31. Wow, the history, culture and architecture here is amazing. I bet it was just magical wandering around these streets. Sometimes these smaller cities are so much nicer to explore, you can cover pretty much everything and there are no crowds and only local people. It sound ideal!

    1. Thank you Nic, it truly was a pleasure to visit this small city. It had it all, and that is why I really do recommend more than just a day here. Appreciate your comments.

  32. Those buildings are so beautiful, the whole place seems historically rich in history. When I’m in Portugal I will defiantly pay a visit to Evora.

    1. Thank you Evan for taking the time to comment. I am happy to inspire, and hope you get there one day soon.

      1. I visited Lisbon on a cruise last year and never knew this place was so close. I thought the aqueduct looked great as well as the temple. I think I’d like to visit here if I stopped in Lisbon again, I think I’d even venture to see some bones!

        1. Thanks for commenting Laura. The aqueduct is really quite amazing to see, there are parts of it that you can hike around. You are very brave to want to see those bones.

  33. Evora could be called the White City! These buildings are so lovely, all whitewashed with a touch of gold for effects. I keep reading so much about Portugal that we should pack and visit! Plus the idea of seeing Roman ruins, Moorish monuments, and Gothic architecture all in place would be such a draw.

    1. Thanks for commenting Patricia! I had Portugal on my travel list for so long and then when we got there I was kicking myself for not going sooner. Evora was chock full of historical landmarks, unlike any other place we visited in Portugal. So it would be the destination to see if you are interested.

  34. I have always wanted to visit Spain. Evora sounds like a wonderful day trip. The Castle of Bones sounds fasinating. I love the ruins. This is now on my list. Thank you…

    1. Évora is very close to the Spain border, so certainly feasible. Thanks for commenting Wendy. I am always happy to inspire.

  35. I just love Medieval times. The buildings look so magnificent, although the history is pretty rough sometimes. I’d love to get here myself one day, thanks for the great write up.

    1. Thank you for the time to comment and your kind words. Yes, there is so much history in this small city, that I hope you do get there one day.

  36. This was a lovely read! Slowly adding more places to my bucket list through your posts. Safe travels!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Faith, I am always happy to inspire!

      1. You had me at the architecture! Then add wine tasting and the fact that this is where custard originated, I’m definitely in.

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