Alejento - Portugal's largest region, covering a third of the country - is a dreamscape of undulating honey-coloured plains and wonderfully wild coastlines topped off with a generous sprinkling of whimsical, whitewashed villages. Alentejo holidays are all about enjoying unspoiled nature, indulging in afternoon naps in the dappled shade of olive trees and topping on plenty of charming culture... the
ingredients that all the best getaways are made of. If that's not enough, Alentejo also has a rich historical and archaeological heritage to match its landscapes. From the ‘museum city’ of Evora that boasts a collection of majestic medieval and Renaissance palaces meriting UNESCO World Heritage Site status, to the Roman ruins of Mirobriga, Alentejo is teeming with relics of the past. But don't forget there's also a killer coastline of unspoiled beaches to explore. Among the miles of deserted beaches is the hip town of Comporta, Portugal's now not-so-secret haven for Lisbon's beautiful people, and other small coastal and inland towns also getting in on the boho/surf act. All in all Alentejo is a deliciously diverse Portuguese paradise just waiting to be explored.
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What can you find in Alentejo that you won’t find elsewhere?
The Alentejo region is all about 'cork, pork and walk', home as it is to beautiful cork oak forests and rural countryside that could tempt even the most committed urbanite to explore by foot and elegant wine estates. 'Pata negra', Portugal's answer to parma ham (and better, in our humble opinion), is also plentiful in the region thanks to the acorn-fed black pigs. With a beautiful beachfronted coastline and a crop of recent boutique spa hotel openings, we've declared this unexplored location as Portugal's next big thing.
The Alentejo region of Portugal is a favourite for its historic charm and abundance of hidden gems far from the tourist crowds. Located between the Tagus River and the Algarve, Alentejo’s eye-wateringly beautiful countryside is sprinkled with centuries-old olive groves and sleepy villages where ancient trades and traditions from the Moors and Roman eras are still alive and well today. With a bounty of wild beaches along its coastline to boot, it’s no wonder that Alentejo is Portugal's best kept secret.
Who are Alentejo holidays best for?
With its uncrowded corners, tranquil coastline, and bounty of rural guesthouses, Alentejo is full to the brim with countryside charm. Hikers and nature lovers will be in their element here and in the whisper-quite villages and farming landscapes that were devleoped during the Roman Empire, history fanatics too will have found a little slice of heaven. Head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Evora and you'll stumble across oodles of age-old architecture from the Neolithic monuments to the ruins of a 1st century Roman temple.
The best ways to discover Alentejo:
Hop in a rented car and take to the road to discover Alentejo's many charms. Wind through post-card perfect olive groves and down to the sea, stopping off at Alentejo’s many picturesque towns along the way. For an authentic experience of the region, stay in charming guesthouses and get to know the smiling villagers, whose passion for the land is infectious. Of course, there’s no better (or tastier) way to discover a culture than through its food. Indulge in as much cheese and wine as you can fit in your stomach from the local farms, or delight in sensational seafood caught fresh from the coast. If it’s Portugal’s natural beauty that excites you the most, a journey from Duoro to Alentejo is the ultimate scenic road trip. Weave along winding roads through sublime surroundings and hop from quinta to quinta – traditional Portuguese villas – to sleep like a local in the centre of Portugal’s heartland.
The Alentejo has a wonderful climate, making it an ideal holiday destination to visit all year round. The summer months can be a little hot for some, but for those who can handle it and can find a spot by a swimming pool, it can be very manageable. In the spring the Alentejo blossoms and the weather is warm and thoroughly conducive to a short break away from still wintery Britain. This is also a great time to see the harvesting of local vineyards. The autumn and winter months are a little cooler but are great for wining and dining and curling up by an open fire.
Special things to do in Alentejo
- Experience rural Portugal all to yourselves with a stay in a remote hotel. Spend your days gazing upon the gently undulating landscape, reading a book beneath the dappled shade of an olive tree, enjoying refreshing dips in the pool and savouring long pensive strolls through nature.
- It is worth taking a day or two to explore the Alentejo's UNESCO World Heritage town of Evora. It is architecturally rich, with something of a timeline of sites to visit, from Neolithic stone circles to a Roman temple, and a Gothic cathedral to a Renaissance palace. There are also several authentic cafes and restaurants to fuel a day of sightseeing.