Alentejo is 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? Much of the population makes a living from agriculture. The natural setting is not overrun by tourists or tourism. And, 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 unpopulated area is to slow down and enjoy nature. And that is exactly what I did!

This is your guide to Alentejo. Reasons you need to visit Alentejo Portugal and everything you might need to know to plan your next trip here. Let’s go to Alentejo!

Where is Alentejo Portugal

Let’s start first with where you can find Alentejo. This area stretches across a third of central and southern Portugal between the Algarve and Lisboa regions. Portugal’s largest region lies southeast of the Tagus River, bound on the east by the Spanish border and on the southwest by the Atlantic Ocean.

Best Places to Visit in Alentejo Portugal

Arraiolos

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 a traditional town, full of whitewashed buildings with bright gold trim. Looming above this small authentic 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

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

Elvas is a town heavily influenced by Spain due to its close 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

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.

Evora

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 having so many significant monuments. Things to do in Evora Portugal:

  • Diana Temple, a roman ruins
  • Evora Chapel of Bones
  • Aqueduto da Água de Prata, a 16th century Aquaduct
  • Churches – Sao Francisco, Santo Antao, Graca

Read more: Check out my guide to visiting Evora with all of the top things to do

Marvao

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.

Monsaraz

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.

Moura

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

After highlighting 8 places to visit in Alentejo here’s how your itinerary might take shape. Make Evora (or a nearby area) your home base, one of the days go south, and the other head north to make the most of your Alentejo visit.

Going South Heading North
Evora to Beja (80 km)
Beja to Moura (52 km)
Moura to Monsaraz (50 km)
Monsaraz to Evora (53 km)
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)

Discover the Alentejo Coast

The Algarve gets all the attention as offering the best beaches in Portugal. Alentejo, as the hidden gem of Portugal, means there are a lot of top beaches in Alentejo that are under the radar. As you discover the Alentejo coast, here are the top beaches in Alentejo.

In the area of Grandola, visit 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 sand dunes and rocky cliffs

Visit Alentejo Nature Parks

The South West Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is known as the best preserved stretch of European coastline, covering over 100 km, from Porto Covo in the Alentejo to Burgau in the Algarve. The landscape is marked by steep cliffs overlooking long stretches of sand. For nature enthusiasts, there are rare bird sightings and marine life that won’t be found anywhere else.

Enjoy Alentejo Wine

Alentejo is well-known for its wine region. This hot, dry area is highly respected for its red wine. The most popular wine tour is found in Evora, Adega da Cartuxa. Take a guided tour of the wine cellar, and food and wine tasting of some of the best Alentejo wines and regional products. 

For architecture lovers, a visit to Adega Mayor is a must. Architect Siza Vieira created a modern horizontal whitewashed building to house the award-winning wines.

Visit Heradade do Esporao, one of the oldest wineries in Alentejo. Add this tour when you visit the small town of Monsaraz.

Guided Tours in Alentejo

Monsaraz and Wine guided tour from Évora. Leaving Evora, why not seize the opportunity to go back in time and explore the medieval village of Monsaraz? Interact with locals at a family owned pottery. Take part in a wine tasting with unique wines. Click here for more information.

Megalithic and Cork Forest guided tour from Évora. Drive across the Montado, the cork oak forest. Discover the possible meanings of mysterious 7,000-year-old megalithic monuments. Click here for more information.

From Évora: Arraiolos Culture and Wine Guided Tour. Discover the wine and culture of the town of Arraiolos on a guided trip. Meet rugs artisans, enjoy breathtaking views from the medieval hilltop castle, and visit a local winery to try their wines. Click here for more information.

Alentejo: Cork Forest Safari with Optional Lunch. Enjoy this 2 hour Jeep Tour exploring the traditional cork forests of the Alentejo. Your local guide will give you full explanations during the tour, as you discover the in’s out’s of the cork world. Click here for more information.

Where 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. 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. There are 5 rooms (our room was #4) each with its own terrace and it includes a yummy full breakfast in the morning.

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. Staying at Villa Extramuros was one of our Alentejo highlights.

As a holidaymaker…

We didn’t realize just how beautiful this region was until we got here. There is so much to explore – from its traditional towns to its beaches and natural parks. Travel to Alentejo and give yourself lots of days to explore. Hopefully, this list of what to do in Alentejo Portugal helps your list of things to do.

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40 Comments

  1. All these towns sound lovely so I think I will have to use your itinerary to visit them all! Good wine, dramatic coastlines, historic towns—this region has it all. Thanks for the overview 🙂

  2. Alentejo Region is my kind of destination. Red wine and lots of beautiful beaches, what more can you ask for. …. and no tourists. If I ever get to Portugal, this is the region I’ll be visiting.

  3. My old neighbours few years back fell in love with Beja and ended up moving there. I have never been but would love to visit all those villages. Monsaraz looks stunning and I like that there is a variety of things to do from visiting beaches and national parks to wine tasting etc.

  4. The Alentejo is my favorite region of Portugal, for the landscapes, the people, the gastronomy. Everything is good in Alentejo. I love Marvão and Castelo de Vide, but I also really like the southern interior region, the Alqueva area. There is a lot to explore in the Alentejo for those who want to get to know a little more of Portugal’s history, outside the major urban centers like Lisbon and Porto.

  5. We spent 4 weeks in Portugal but sadly missed the Alentejo region. But from your post, it is clear we need to fix this when we return to Portugal. How could we miss a region referred to as the new Tuscany! A region that is less touristy will draw us to explore all these charming small towns like a local.

    1. Oh that’s too bad you missed exploring this region. It was definitely a highlight of our entire trip. We felt we needed more time, and look forward to returning to explore it more. Hopefully you get a chance to as well.

  6. Your accommodation looks so very different from anywhere else in the area. But I kinda love it. That said, the historic sites around look amazing. That church! What a lovely region to explore

    1. I completely agree with you on the place we stayed at. The modern architecture does still blend in, but that’s way it was so fantastic.

  7. Thank you so much for introducing me to this region of Portugal I knew nothing about! I absolutely loved visiting Tuscany last year and would love to recreate that vibe in Portugal. I’m so into the idea of a tranquil setting and little towns – and few tourists! My partner and I are wanting to spend a month in Portugal as part of our “baby trip” (travels during parental leave when we have a baby one day) and this might be the perfect area!

    1. You are most welcome Riana. I know you’ll love it, as it is similar to Tuscany- just far less tourists. I hope you add it to your baby moon trip.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

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

  10. 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.

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

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

  12. 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 🙂

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

  13. 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!

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

  14. 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!

    1. 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!

  15. 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!

    1. 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.

  16. 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 !

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

  18. 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!

    1. 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!

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