Tips to enjoy the Alentejo
In the south of Portugal there is a region that for many is unknown. The Alentejo, literally beyond the Tagus, is located just below Lisbon, on the other side of the Tejo. It is a region full of white and blue villages swept by the wind of the ocean, castles on the hills, olive groves and sunflower fields. The Higher Alentejo is made up of plains and marshes. Further south there is extreme heat while to the east a land that looks more like Extremadura and Andalucia (with which it borders) with closed villages in the fortresses and the plain interrupted by huge round stones that seem to be supported by a giant. The architecture is influenced by the Arabs with the gardens enclosed in the white courtyards, while the Roman aqueducts and the amphitheaters emerge from a really far and rich past.
How to visit the Alentejo
The Aletentejo must be visited on the road. Start from Lisbon and crossing the Tejo to arrive at Setubal, which is already in Alentejo. Continue along the coast to Porto Côvo and then turn inland to discover Evora and the villages with enchanting castles on the low hills.
Praia Castelejo on Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano
An alternative way to visit the Alentejo is by foot. In addition to walks in the whole region there is a special itinerary that allows you to travel from the Alentejo to the Algarve following the ancient path of the fishermen. The Rota Vicentina crosses the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano and arrives in the Algarve (at Cape San Vicente) passing by cliffs, beaches and villages. There is also a way that goes through the inland and crosses countryside, cork forests and towns.
Alentejo: what is it unmissable?
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the capital of the region. It is home to the second oldest university in Portugal (after Coimbra).Here you’ll find dolmens and other megalithic monuments, a Roman triumphal arch that marked access to the forum, an imposing aqueduct and other remains of a glorious past of this area of Portugal.
Not far from Evora, there is Monsaraz, one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal. The village has remained almost authentic, on top of the hill, painted white and surrounded by mighty walls. Don’t forget to visit also Santarém and Marvão, Castello de Vide, Alegrete and Mourao.
It is a town with a large port that maintains the character of a seaside village with low houses painted in white and blue.
Zambujeira do Mar
It is a privileged viewpoint on big oceanic beaches. The fishing village is part of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano.
Alcácer do Sal
It is a village on the river with white and blue azulejos; it is famous for the storks that build their nests everywhere.
It is a fishing village on stilts on the Sado estuary, it seems to be closed in a time box. Even here you can enjoy birdwatching.
Alentejo: beaches & rivers
Praia da Samoqueira
In this stretch of coast there are some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. Praia da Samoqueira (Porto Côvo) has tropical colors; Almograve, among rocks and reddish dunes, is one of the most popular beaches for surf and body boarders. In Cape Sardão the white stork nests on the rocks.
At Praia Carvalhal, which can be reached by walking along a pine forest, the sea is usually calm and the wind from the ocean disappears for a while.
Praia das Furnas
The Praia das Furnas is located in Villanova de Millfontes and is a river beach where the waters are calm and less cold than in the sea. Also in Odeceixe there is a river that forms a deep curve on the beach and that flows into the sea together with swimmers who let themselves be dragged along by its current. The water of these rivers is clean and transparent.
Where to stay
Considering as ideal introduction to Portugal’s Alentejo region the Hotel Convento do Espinheiro, Historic Hotel & Spa which has given new life to a 15th century convent, considered a national monument, where important nobles throughout history helped shape Portugal’s destiny. The Convento do Espinheiro & Spa offers a total of 92 rooms with 6 different categories of room, including 6 large suites, decorated in a variety of styles to suit your preference.
It houses one amazing restaurant, the Divinus Restaurant, which is located the convent’s ancient wine-cellar converted into the Wine-Bar. It has an exclusive location, entirely dedicated to tasting and to pleasure of enjoying the diverse, numerous and excellent typical Alentejo regional products. The Hotel Convento do Espinheiro, Historic Hotel & Spa also has two pools, one indoor and one outdor and in this latter there’s a delicious bar that provides great summer heat relaxation.
As facilities the Hotel Convento do Espinheiro, Historic Hotel & Spa also offers tennis and paddle courts with complimentary equipment and bike tours throughout the grounds and local area. The Spa offers many different treatments, all relaxing and perfect to dissolve the tension, designed and studied by different ancient cultures, brought into a meditative, beautiful and peaceful environment.