Sun. May 19th, 2024
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Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region, home to innumerous small medieval villages on picturesque hills, as well as some of the best food scenes in the country.

With their increase in popularity, big cities see more and more tourists every year, and for good reason! Évora, for example, is a UNESCO World Heritage city, and home to some of the best preserved Roman temples and architecture. It should definetely be on your itinerary when visiting Portugal!

But the real charm of Alentejo lies in its small and secluded towns and villages that you can find scattered throughout the region. Choosing which ones to visit, however, can be challenging.

For that reason, we listed here some of the many charming towns in Alentejo you should consider visiting, in no particular order! These are some of our favourite villages and prettiest towns we got to experience in the region.

Let’s get started!

Nisa

Located in the Portalegre District, Nisa is a small colorful town with narrow and quiet cobblestone streets full of history.

Famous for its sheep cheese and traditional red pottery, Nisa is full of surprises, despite its small size. The main attractions that you should visit are the remains of its 13th century castle and the Town Gate (known in Portuguese as Porta da Vila).

A very beautiful and instagrammable street called Rua de Santa Maria is also not to be missed! With beautiful floors, carefully decorated with a mix of traditional pottery and marble, it creates a beautiful contrast for really stunning photographs!

With only about 3000 residents, Nisa offers a very quiet environment and a peaceful atmosphere, with great food and a real local feel.

Castelo de Vide

Just half an hour away from Nisa, you will find one of Portugal’s best kept secrets, the beautifully preserved medieval town of Castelo de Vide.

Also known as the “Sintra of Alentejo”, Castelo de Vide is inserted in the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, a protected area and the tallest point in the region. If you are more of an active traveller, you will certainly enjoy some of the best hikes that Alentejo has to offer here, as well as some of the best views!

What sets Castelo de Vide apart from the other small towns of this list is the strong and rich history it has with Judaism. Here you will be able to admire Jewish monuments and explore the best preserved Jewish quarter in the country, as well as a beautiful synagogue. We loved getting lost in its narrow streets, surrounded by gorgeous white buildings with charming yellow decorations.

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Castelo de Vide is truly a wonderful town where one can enjoy the peace and quiet of slow living, while being able to enjoy the best of nature in the region!

Marvão

Marvão is a stunning fortified medieval town, located on top of a hill overlooking the mountain range of Serra de São Mamede.

Best known for its castle and imposing walls, Marvão was once very important in the defence of Portugal against the Kingdom of Castilla, as well as playing a crucial role in many other historical battles. It is home to some of the best preserved 15th and 16th century buildings, as well as the typical Alentejo architecture.

For the most active travellers, there is a very fun activity in the area: Rail Biking. An old and disused train track serves as the backdrop for this activity, and you can cycle along it and fully immerse yourself into the history and nature!

Marvão is the ideal destination for those looking to fully dive into Portuguese history. It is the perfect weekend getaway and a must-visit when on a road-trip around the region!

Elvas

Located right on the border with Spain, close to the city of Badajoz, Elvas is the largest fortified town in Europe, locally known as the “Queen of the Border”.

This is one of the top destinations on our list, and a World Heritage UNESCO site due to its impressive fortification system and strong historical importance. Although you might not notice it while strolling around Elvas, the town is actually surrounded by interconnecting walls in the shape of a star, making for absolutely unique aerial photographs. If you own a drone, you’ll definitely want to bring it with you!

In addition to the stunning fortifications, there are also plenty of museums that you can visit in Elvas, a famous aqueduct, as well as one of the largest pentagonal forts in the World, the Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort.

If you are looking to visit a larger town, full of history and plenty of activities, Elvas should definitely be on your bucket list when in Alentejo!

Terena

Located in the Évora District, Terena is a lovely small village, also known as São Pedro or São Pedro da Terena.

This village is still a secret unknown to most people, filled with typical narrow streets, and white houses topped with colorful stripes. You will see plenty of flower-filled paths and alleys in its historical centre, and it is a delight to stroll around town and take in its beauty and nature.

Located on top of the hill, Terena’s well preserved castle dominates the landscape. It was once a very important landmark in the defence of Portuguese territory, and you can still feel its power and influence as it towers over the village.

Terena is the perfect day trip from Elvas or Monsaraz. Its location makes for a peaceful getaway from the busy cities in the surrounding area!

Monsaraz

If you couldn’t already tell from our list, Alentejo is full of beautiful medieval towns, with plenty of castles to visit in the region. And, you guessed it, Monsaraz is no exception!

The small town of Monsaraz is located on a rocky hilltop and is one of the oldest villages in Portugal. Once inhabited by Celts, Visigoths, Romans and Moors, Monsaraz radiates ancient history, and you can feel it from the moment you step into its narrow streets. It truly is a journey back in time.

Its 14th century castle, one of the most visited in the region, offers amazing panoramic views over the Alqueva Dam, the largest artificial lake in Europe, as well as the valley of the Guadiana river.

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Monsaraz also has quite the food scene, and is the perfect destination for foodies who want to enjoy Alentejo’s amazing cuisine with great views and splendid sunsets!

Santa Susana

Located just one hour and a half away from Lisbon, Santa Susana is the smallest village on our list, but it is no less full of character!

This tiny village has only three establishments: one restaurant, a car repair shop, and a traditional store specialised in selling honey. Because it is so quiet, we found that it made the place feel even more special and peaceful. All of the houses in the village are white with colorful blue stripes, including its church, making for incredible and unique photos.

If you are passing by, don’t forget to check out the lake of the Pego do Altar Dam, also known as Albufeira da Barragem do Pego do Altar. Here you will be able to relax while surrounded by pure nature, go on relaxing walks or even swim in the lake!

Because of its size, Santa Susana is the perfect half-day trip from places like Alcácer do Sal or Comporta, popular summer destinations where you can enjoy perfect turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.

Mértola

Located in the southern part of Alentejo, Mértola is a charming medieval town set on a rocky hill overlooking the beautiful Guadiana river. It is often refered to as vila museu or living museum!

The town of Mértola is rich in Islamic history, with remnants of the Moorish past visible in its cultural traditions and architecture. There is even an annual event that celebrates Mértola’s Islamic past called Festival Islâmico, and it usually lasts for 4 days during the month of May.

Inserted in the Nature Park of Vale do Guadiana, Mértola is surrounded by unspoiled nature and wildlife, with activities like birdwatching being the main attractions. As a matter of fact, some rare species of birds can only be spotted in this region of Portugal.

Mértola is an amazing destination for travellers who love nature and peaceful living, and it is a must-add to your Alentejo itinerary!

Porto Covo

Porto Covo is a popular summer destination among locals, and for very good reasons! This coastal fishing village not only provides great views over the ocean, it is also home to some of the greatest beaches in the region.

Although most people will visit Porto Covo during the summer months, we find that it can be enjoyed at any time of the year. The village is quite picturesque and there is no shortage of things to do, as it has so many shops, restaurants and cafés around!

For a more active vacation there are plenty of hiking trails that pass through Porto Covo, as it is part of the Rota Vicentina trails and the Vicentine Coast Natural Park. It is an amazing and popular stop for hikers when trekking in the area, as well as a great camping destination.

If you love seafood, and just enjoy being surrounded by incredible beaches and breathtaking coastal views, Porto Covo is the perfect destination for you!

Vila Nova de Milfontes

Just 25 minutes away from the village of Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Milfontes is still a hidden gem of the Southern Alentejo region, unknown to most international travellers.

This charming coastal town offers plenty of outdoor activities, beautiful beaches and a spectacular coastline. It is a very calm and slow-paced destination most of the year, but once summer kicks in the population doubles and the town offers a very dynamic and fun atmosphere! The streets are lively at night and, like any good Portuguese town, there is no shortage of delicious food.

Its location, surrounded by both the Mira river and the Atlantic Ocean, makes it the perfect beach destination for all types of travellers.

  • On the side of the river, most beaches will be quieter and with calmer currents, making them perfect for families with small children.

  • The beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, on the other hand, will be perfect for a younger crowd, with bigger waves offering some of the best conditions for surfing and other water sports.

Zambujeira do Mar

Zambujeira do Mar is a popular surf destination in Portugal, with some of the most beautiful beaches and seaside cliffs in the country.

This charming fishing town is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and unspoiled nature, despite its growing popularity over the recent years.

Opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities are plentiful in Zambujeira do Mar, and it is also a popular base for those trekking along the Vicentine Coast.

For music enthusiasts, you’ll love the music festival that takes place every year in August called the Sudoeste Festival, also known as MEO Sudoeste. The event has even seen some big names of the music industry perform over the years, such as David Guetta, Shawn Mendes and Post Malone.

Zambujeira do Mar truly is one of the most emblematic fishing villages along the Vicentine Coast, perfect for a weekend getaway or a vacation in nature among the wild beaches.

Places mapped by Wanderlog, the best trip planner app on iOS and Android
We created this article to share with you the beauty of the calm and peaceful region of Alentejo, often overlooked by those exploring the rest of Southern Portugal.

Source: https://www.thewildestroad.com/

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By Lala