Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region and also feels like its most remote. Life takes on a slower pace here, where the population is sparse and the song of birds is heard sweetly in the air. Whitewashed houses sit atop rocky hills surrounded by fields of wildflowers, forests, and rows of cork oak trees used for wine bottles.
Small villages and old forts dot the rolling hills and countryside. Nibble on cheeses in pretty towns where the food is rural and rustic. Fresh seafood is on the menu in the restaurants overlooking the blue waters and rocky cliffs of the Atlantic coastline. Surf the waves or take a stroll on the quiet beaches to discover little coves and rock pools. Watch the fishermen come back to shore with their fresh catch of fish and lobsters.
Castles are a reminder of the age of this wild and fairytale-inspired place. Many towns are perched high up on hilltops, strategically located for defense during historic conflicts. Learn about the rich history of the area in Elvas, with architectural remains dating back to the 10th century. Walk along the stone pathways and explore the old battlements and a medieval castle.
Wander aimlessly in the walled towns of Marvao and Monsaraz. Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage medieval town, features architectural treasures like the 14th-century wall, palaces, and Roman ruins and baths. Climb to the top of the cathedral for outstanding views of the landscape. Sit in one of the little cafes to enjoy a sweet delicacy developed in this area’s convents. Locals often gather at the pastelarias to chat. Walk along the cobbled streets or through its university, built in 1559, with blue and white tile work and marble cloister.
Alentejo is known for its wine. Sip on Cabernet Sauvignon at one of the many vineyards’ tasting rooms housed in white-walled, red-roofed buildings.
This region of Portugal still feels undiscovered. It is a place to unwind with a glass of wine in hand, as time leisurely passes by.