Visit Alentejo: Discover Portugal’s Best Kept Secret

Visit Alentejo, the hidden gem of Portugal. This under-the-radar region is often referred to as the new Tuscany. 

With its pastoral landscape, it includes endless olive trees, cork trees, vineyards and wheat fields. Sounds a bit like Tuscany doesn’t it?

With much of the population making a living from agriculture, this natural setting is not overrun by tourists or tourism…yet!

I immediately fell in love with its simple and tranquil way of life. There is nothing touristy about it. The whole point of coming to this unknown area is to slow down and enjoy nature. And that is exactly what I did!

Discover Alentejo Portugal! In this article, I will share more about this incredible region- where to find it, reasons to come, Alentejo highlights and places to see.

Where is Alentejo, Portugal

field with sheep and olive trees in portugal alentejo region

Let’s start first with where you can find the Alentejo region of Portugal.

Alentejo is situated in the southern half of Portugal, bordered by the Tejo River to the north, the Algarve to the south, Spain to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The area stretches across a third of all of Portugal making it the largest region in the country.

With its endless beautiful villages dotted throughout many travellers will be tempted to take a day trip from Lisbon, I recommend staying longer.

How to Get to Portugal’s Alentejo Region

The closest international airport to Alentejo is Lisbon Airport (Aeroporto Humberto Delgado). Alentejo Portugal to Lisbon is approximately a 1.5 to 2-hour drive from most parts of the region. From Lisbon, you can use any of these transportation options to reach your specific destination in the region.

  • By car: from Lisbon, take the A2 motorway south, and then follow the A6 towards Évora and onward to your destination
  • By train: services connect Lisbon to major cities in Alentejo, including Évora and Beja. However, if you are looking to explore smaller towns and villages, they are not accessible by train
  • By bus: services operate between Lisbon and major towns in Alentejo, like Evora and Beja. If you are looking to visit smaller towns and villages, the bus service may not be an efficient use of time due to the limited bus schedules

I recommend visiting Alentejo and exploring it by car, allowing you to take your time and discover hidden gems like I did. It gives you much more freedom to plan your itinerary. And, consider following the “Rota Vicentina” for stunning coastal landscapes or the “Alentejo Wine Route” to explore the region’s rich wine culture.

Why You Should Visit Portugal’s Alentejo Region

lamb grazing on field of grass in alentejo portugal

As Portugal’s largest region, it is also the most diverse. Here are the reasons why I think visiting Alentejo it worth it!

Scenic Landscapes

I was blown away by how diverse and picturesque the landscapes of Alentejo were. From rolling vineyards and olive groves just like what you expect to find in Tuscany to the rugged coastline of the Costa Vicentina, the region offers a visual feast for nature lovers and photographers.

The vast plains, known as the “Montado,” are dotted with cork oak trees and are a unique and tranquil setting often dotted with grazing sheep.

UNESCO World Heritage City

Alentejo boasts many well-preserved medieval towns, castles, and historic sites. But, explore the UNESCO World Heritage city of Évora, with its Roman Temple and medieval cathedral.

Evora, often visited in just a day, is so captivating that you will want to stay longer.

cobbledstone road with houses on visit alentejo in portugal

Medieval Small Towns and Villages

There are so many pretty towns and villages in Alentejo that these alone can keep you busy exploring for a week. Nothing but charm. If you adore visiting them as much as I do, hang tight as I share my favourites further in this article.

Food & Drink

Alentejo is a paradise for food and wine enthusiasts. Indulge in the region’s renowned wines, including robust reds and refreshing whites. Visit local wineries for tastings, and pair your wine with traditional Alentejan dishes, such as migas, açorda, and flavorful game meats.

The Alentejo cuisine reflects a rich agricultural and pastoral heritage making it sometimes hard to find a meatless meal as a vegetarian. Thankfully, the warm hospitality of the locals they made it easy to adapt dishes for me.

Starry Nights and Dark Sky Reserves

Alentejo offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in Europe. The region is home to Dark Sky Reserves, where minimal light pollution allows for an awe-inspiring view of the night sky. Astronomy enthusiasts or simply romantics like me will love the beauty of the stars in Alentejo.

Outdoor Activities

Whether you’re into hiking, birdwatching, water sports, or a beach bum, Alentejo offers a wide array of outdoor activities.

Explore the South West Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, known for its well-preserved stretch of coastline, covering over 100 km, from Porto Covo in the Alentejo to Burgau in the Algarve. There are rare bird sightings and marine life that won’t be found anywhere else. For beach lovers, I share my favourites in Alentejo Highlights found below.

Alentejo Highlights

beach with rock and sand in Alentejo region Portugal

The Algarve region in Portugal gets all the attention! That region is known for being home to some of the best beaches in Portugal.

But as Alentejo is the hidden gem of Portugal, it also means there are a lot of top beaches. As one of Alentejo’s highlights, discover the west coast of Portugal with these incredible beaches in Alentejo.

In the area of Grandola, I recommend visiting these:

  • Troia Gale Beach is best for calm waters and being close to Serra Da Arrabida Nature Park
  • Comporta Beach is best known for being close to the Trioia Peninsula and Sado Estuary Nature Park
  • Carvalhal Beach is popular with surfers and kite surfers
  • Melides Beach is known as the biggest beach in Portugal and offers lots of amenities and water activities (paragliding, surfing)

Go to Sines for these two beaches:

  • São Torpes Beach is known as being the best beach to surf in Alentejo
  • Samoqueira Beach is the best-secluded beach in Alentejo

In the Odemira area, visit these top beaches:

  • Zambujeira do Mar Beach is known as the most picturesque beach with its soaring cliffs
  • Furnas Beach is best for its gorgeous location combining a visit to the coastal town of Vila Nova de Milfontes and Vicentine Coast Natural Park
  • Almograve Beach is thought to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Alentejo with both dunes and rocky cliffs

Best Places to Visit in Alentejo Portugal

low white houses in alentejo region portual


Arraiolos is a village famous for its tapestry rugs. These rugs date back to the 16th century and were heavily influenced by Persian and Turkish carpets.

In the center of the town, you will find many shops and a museum dedicated to this art. This is an authentic town, full of whitewashed buildings with bright gold trim. Looming above this small town is the Castle of Arraiolos or Paço dos Alcaides. This Roman-Gothic castle was built in the 14th century and inside the walls, you’ll find a 16th-century Igreja do Salvador church.


Beja, the main town in Baixo Alentejo, offers visitors lots of interesting and impressive historical sites to explore.

An incredible hilltop castle with views of the sea and wheat fields is worth a visit alone. Visit on a Saturday as it’s market day, and the town is a buzz with activity. A charming square, with pretty architecture and great shops, makes this one town to add to your Alentejo visit.


Elvas is a town heavily influenced by Spain due to its proximity to the border.

Due to centuries-old fears of being attacked, a series of fortifications and walls were built to protect the town. A castle and two fortresses are the top things to see in Elvas.


Estremoz is one of the ‘white cities’ that you recognize from a distance, which simply refers to the colour of the houses, as well as, the deposits of white marble.

Estremoz marble is known worldwide, and this city is the second largest exporter of it. This beautiful walled city features a castle, several historical churches, a fountain and other historical monuments. I especially enjoyed visiting the Estremoz market as the small town was lively with its locals.

castle in portugal alentejo region


Evora, the capital city of the Alentejo region, is one of the best places to visit in Alentejo Portugal.

This beautifully historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its well-preserved old town center and featuring many significant monuments like the Diana Temple, Roman ruins, Evora Chapel of Bones, Aqueduto da Água de Prata, a 16th-century Aquaduct and the many historic Churches like Sao Francisco, Santo Antao, and Graca.


The tiny hilltop village of Marvao offers beautiful views out over the Serra de Sao Mamede mountain range and surrounding countryside.

That’s it, but it is ever worth it! This is quickly becoming a popular place to visit, so hurry now and go see it before the secret is out.


The hilltop village of Monsaraz is very picturesque. Nothing much to see or do, other than an imposing castle and the charm of the whitewashed houses. It’s the view of the surrounding countryside that more than makes up for it.

I recommend a visit to Heradade do Esporao, one of the oldest wineries in Alentejo.


The fortified town of Moura is home to many historical sights and cultural landmarks, like an old castle now in ruins, and beautiful old churches and buildings oozing with charm.

Lots of cozy cafes and restaurants are tucked away in the Moorish quarter making this a delightful place to spend a couple of hours.

Map of Alentejo Portugal

map of alentejo region portugal

After highlighting these 8 places to visit in Alentejo here’s how your itinerary might take shape.

Make Evora, or a nearby area your home base. Here is how I planned my itinerary. On one of the days go south, and on the other head north to make the most of your Alentejo visit.

South Alentejo, Portugal

  • Evora to Beja (80 km)
  • Beja to Moura (52 km)
  • Moura to Monsaraz (50 km)
  • Monsaraz to Evora (53 km)

North Alentejo, Portugal

  • Evora to Arraiolos (20 km)
  • Arraiolos to Estremoz (40 km)
  • Estremoz to Elvas (40 km)
  • Elvas to Marvao (77 km)
  • Marvao to Evora (122 km)

Visit Alentejo in Portugal: 5 Best Tips

winery in alentejo portugal

1. Season Matters

Consider the time of year for your visit. Spring and fall are ideal, with pleasant temperatures and vibrant landscapes.

Summer can be hot, but it’s perfect for beachgoers, while winter offers a quieter experience, which is when I visited (late February to early March).

2. Choose a Central Hub

Use a central location like Évora as your base. It’s well-connected and allows easy access to various attractions, both within the city and in the surrounding regions.

That’s what I did, I stayed (see below) about 10 minutes outside of Evora. Alentejo’s charm lies in its rural landscapes and hidden gems. And, renting a car provides the freedom to explore off-the-beaten-path villages, wineries, and natural reserves at your own pace.

3. Learn Basic Portuguese Phrases

While many locals in the popular cities of Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon speak English that’s not the case for the Alentejo region. I found there was a definite language barrier in the villages.

Learning a few basic Portuguese phrases can enhance your experience and show appreciation for the local culture. Thankfully the people of Portugal are incredibly warm and friendly more than any other country I’ve visited.

4. Festivals Calendar

Follow the Alentejo Tourism Board and check the local events calendar. If possible, align your visit with one of Alentejo’s cultural festivals. From the vibrant Carnival in towns like Beja to the Festa de São João in Évora, and the traditional Portuguese Christmas Markets these fun celebrations will give you great insight into the local traditions, music, and folklore of the region.

5. Plan Downtime

What I loved most about the Alentejo region is it encourages a slower pace. Plan downtime to fully appreciate what makes this region so special and allow for spontaneity in your itinerary.

On the flip side, plan your wine tastings strategically, focusing on specific wine routes like the Alentejo Wine Route. And note that many wineries require appointments, so plan accordingly.

Best Places to Stay in Alentejo Portugal

Our home base to explore the Alentejo region was at Villa Extramuros situated in the countryside near the village of Arraiolos and a short drive to Evora.

interior of villa with bookshelves, latter and bench on places to visit in alentejo

The modern architectural design of the exterior complements the minimalist contemporary style of the interior. It 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 by the owners François and Jean-Christophe.

pool with villa in alentejo region portugal

There are 5 rooms, mine being Room #4, each with a terrace with incredible views. One of the best parts was the yummy full breakfast in the morning setting you up to explore the Alentejo region for the day!

As a Holidaymaker

Confession time…staying at Villa Extramuros was my 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. Staying at Villa Extramuros was one of my Alentejo highlights.

I didn’t realize just how beautiful this region was until I got here. Travel to Alentejo and give yourself lots of days to explore. 

Read More:

I have travelled to Portugal twice and spent time in many areas of the country. Here are a few articles to get you started and they will lead you to more to help with your travel planning.