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4 Day Alentejo Portugal Itinerary Including Évora

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4-day Itinerary: Évora and Alentejo Portugal

Despite sudden popularity as Europe’s new tourism darling, it is still possible to sidestep the tourist mill a little to discover some of Portugal’s most beautiful and historic countryside.

looking down over yellow and white church onto the city of Evora.  Make a stop in Evora on your Alentejo road trip as evora is one of the best places to visit in alentejo portugal

Located in south-central Portugal, covering nearly a third of Portugal’s landmass, the Alentejo accounts for less than 8% of Portugal’s population. It is in this mostly unpopulated countryside where you will find much of Portugal’s charm.

A place where kilometres of ancient aqueducts weave like dragons through the flourishing countryside and whitewashed villages spill from medieval castles that rise from the hilltops.

Ancient stone aqueducts dividing a green field, a alentejo highlight.  These can be seen on a day trip from evora or on a alentejo portugal road trip.

4 Days in the Alentejo Portugal

We have put together this 4 -day Alentejo and Évora itinerary based on self-drive. 

Some of these destinations can be reached by train, bus or day tours from Lisbon. However, self-drive opens up some of the regions more charming locations not easily reached by public transport. 

We will include train, bus and tour options where reasonably available. 

See the Best of Lisbon

Short on time in Lisbon? You can still see the best things in Lisbon in one day.

Car Rental in Portugal

Driving in Portugal is very easy. The entire country is well connected by a good highway system, even the secondary roads are usually in good condition so driving is relatively stress free.

Some of the smaller back country roads may be narrow and not so well maintained, but driving is never challenging. 
Driving through the Alentejo is very picturesque which makes a self drive itinerary so worth while. 

A four day car hire from Lisbon starts for as little as €45 for a small – midsize 4-door car which is perfect for navigating some of the smaller towns. 

Tolls in Portugal can be quite expensive on certain roads, so this should be factored in your budget. 

yellow walls and passage into ancient church.  These old buildings are alentejo highlights along with alentejo food and alentejo wine.  Alentejo portugal is also home to black pork a gastronomic highlight of any alentejo holiday

Best Time to Visit The Alentejo

Without a doubt, spring and autumn/fall are the best times to visit The Alentejo. The weather is beautiful and landscapes in full colour one way or the other.

That said, winter is also nice as Portugal tends to experience relatively mild winters. There have been a number of occasions we have enjoyed alfresco lunches in the sun during the winter months in the Alentejo.

We would suggest avoiding the months of July and August as summer temperatures can reach the high 30s’ ℃ and it is also when many Portuguese are on holidays. Strangely, these are also peak months for foreign tourists as well.

arial view of white alentejo portugal village.  Don't forget you can explore part of the alentejo with a lisbon to evora day trip.

Day 1: Évora (2 Nights)

Lisbon to Évora: 137km | 1.5 hrs

The capital of the Alentejo, Évora, is the perfect base for exploring the Alentejo and a fabulous side trip from Lisbon.

There is so much to see in Évora and the surrounding area; two nights allows time to explore the city and sights close to the city without having to rush. Aim to arrive in Évora mid-morning – Spend the rest of the day exploring the historic centre, visiting some of the cities main attractions.

Cathedral of Évora also know as the Chapel of the Bones with stone parapets on blue sky.  A visit to the chapel of bones is an alentejo highlights and one of the best things to do on an alentejo portugal road trip holiday

Some attractions close daily at lunchtime or early on certain days. Others, such as the roof of the Cathedral of Évora or the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones) are very popular. You may wish to plan your visit for early the following morning – before the day trip tours arrive.

The historic centre of Évora is not very big and is very walkable. You shouldn’t have any problem seeing a lot in a short space of time, especially if you plan your visits to popular attractions. 

man and his very handsome dog walking down a cobble stone street following his alentejo guide and looking for some black pork as alentejo food is outstanding.

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What to See in Évora 

The Roman Temple of Évora

The immaculate UNESCO listed city has five millennia of history magnificently on display within the medieval walls. The remains of the Roman temple of Diana tell us of an ancient civilisation dating back to Caesar in 57BC.

Pillars of the Roman temple of Diana with the church of bones in the background.  looking for something to do then take a lisbon to evora day trip and enjoy some of these alentejo highlights.

The Cathedral of Évora & Capela dos Ossos

Through the Corinthian columns, the spires of the 18th century Gothic Cathedral dominate the skyline. The Capela dos Ossos – a 16th-century chapel lined with thousands of human bones and skulls is a slightly grim reminder of our mortality but a fascinating spectre none the less.

Walls and pillars made of human bones in the church of bones.  Stop here on your alentejo road trip as this rates as one of the best things to do in the alentejo portugal

Évora Historic Centre

Évora is loaded with authentic Portuguese charm and culture as is evident in the regions celebrated gastronomical heritage. Anywhere you travel in the Alentejo; you will encounter the region’s enthusiasm for their exceptional local produce and Évora is no exception.  

Evora square with mosaic cobblestones and white church.  you can stop here for lunch and a bottle of alentejo wine on your lisbon to evora day trip or at the start of your alentejo road trip.

Stroll the historic centre to discover ancient churches and stunning historical gardens where peacocks strut around a royal palace. Or walk the length of The Água da Prata Aqueduct. The famous Évora Aqueduct weaves its way through the countryside into the historic centre forming part of the city’s structure. 

aqueduct running through and cutting off part of a cobble stone street.  there are some really unique and obscure things to see in the alentejo

Getting to Évora

  • Drive Lisbon to Évora: 137 km | 1.5 hrs. Expect around €10 in road tolls.
  • Lisbon to Évora Train: 1.5 – 2 hrs depending on the service. Tickets start at €12pp one way 2nd class. See Comboios de Portugal for tickets and timetables. The Évora train station is an approx 20-minute walk from the historic centre.
  • Lisbon to Évora Bus: 1.45 – 2 hrs depending on the service. Tickets cost around €12 one way | €21.20 return. See Rede Expressos website for tickets and timetables.
  • Lisbon to Évora Day Trips: Full day tours with transport – 7-10 hrs. Prices start at €74. See a full list of day trips from Lisbon here.

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Day 2: Évora and Surrounds

Spend the morning in Évora. Enjoy the beauty of the ancient city before the day tourists arrive. Take advantage of being the first at some of the more popular attractions – both the Cathedral of Évora & Capela dos Ossos open at 9.00 am. We recommend being first to the Chapel of the Bones. 

Early afternoon, head a little out of town to some of the more fascinating attractions close to Évora city. 

Almendres Cromlech

Évora to Almendres Cromlech: 17.5km | 28 min

Less than a half an hour drive from Évora is a mysterious megalithic site dating back to the 6th millennium BC in the clearing of a beautiful cork oak forest – Almendres Cromlech. The ring of granite stones is the most extensive set of organised menhirs in Portugal, and among the largest in Europe.

ring of stones, Almendres Cromlech an alentejo highlight and still just part of a day trip from evora

If you decide not to have lunch in Évora, this is a beautiful area for a picnic. Before you leave Évora; grab some of the famous Alentejo cheese and black Iberian Presunto, fresh crusty bread, and maybe even a cheeky bottle of gorgeous Alentejo wine. There are lots of wonderful little Charcutarias deli-style shops in Évora for this. 

Find a shady cork tree to enjoy the culinary spoils of the region in the beautiful Alentejo countryside. 

man and handsome dog walking in the countryside down between two fences on their way to Almendres Cromlech
Évora Tour Tip - Alentejo Cork Farm Tour With lunch
Take a 2-hour tour of a traditional Alentejo cork farm. Discover the process behind the sustainable management of cork forests and Alentejo farming, including wine, olives, honey, and the famed Iberian pigs. Finish with a traditional cork stripper’s three-course meal in a local family restaurant. Prices start from €45 pp. Get full tour details here

Arraiolos Castle

Almendres Cromlech to Arraiolos Castle: 29km | 37 min

Less than 40 minutes from Almendres Cromlech and 20 minutes from Évora is the town of Arraiolos. The town is known for a tradition of hand-embroidered rugs dating back to the 12th century.

alentejo highlights are the castles such as this Arraiolos Castle with a white church seen behind the castles arch.  if you just want to do a day trip 
from evora it is only a short drive and a must stop on your alentejo road trip

It is also home to one of the few circular castles in the world. From the 14th century castle, you have commanding views of the Alentejo landscape over the white houses of the village of Arraiolos.

arial view of a circular castle with white church in the middle.  Looking for alentejo portugal highlights then this is certainly the place to stop on your alentejo road trip

Wineries Near Évora

If you have time in the afternoon, there are some beautiful monasteries and wineries near Évora worth visiting. Convento da Cartuxa and the neighbouring Adega da Cartuxa (Cartuxa Winery) are only 5 minutes | 2km from Évora.

aqueduct running in front of Convento da Cartuxa home to some of the best alentejo wines and a visit here is one of the best things to do in alentejo portugal

Cartuxa produces the famous Pera Manca red wine, considered one of the best wines in Portugal. It is possible to take a cellar tour or a food and wine tasting. Prices start at €27 pp. See here for details. Cartuxa also has a restaurant and wine bar in the historical centre near the cathedral. 

bicycle with wooden wine box carrier outside an alentejo wine store. drinking wine and enjoying fine alentejo food is what makes for the perfect alentejo portugal holiday

Return to Évora for a final evening. We recommend seeing The Roman Temple of Évora by night if you haven’t already. Make sure you try some of the Alentejo’s best culinary offerings at one of Évora’s many outstanding restaurants. 

pillars of roman temple lit at night.

Two restaurants in Évora we enjoy are:

Both serve exceptional home-style, typical Alentejo cuisine. Make sure you arrive right at opening time as both only seat 8-10 people and typically don’t take reservations.
 
Botequim da Mouraria has been written up in guide books so will attract a crowd in the busy season. Once the restaurants are full, that is often the only service for the night.  You may well see the closed sign being put up on the door not long after you have been seated. 

Where to Stay in Évora

We prefer to stay within the walls of the historic centre in Évora. It gives you easy access to the best things to do in Évora, and because there is ample free parking nearby, just outside the walls. 

We like to stay as Casa do Cobo – A very comfortable two-bedroom completely self-contained apartment in the historic centre. It is close to the Porta de Avis, so it is only a short walk from the free parking to the property. It is also very reasonably priced at around €55 per night. Check Availability here

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Day 3: Évora, Monsaraz, Terena, Elvas

Évora to Monsaraz: 53km | 48 min

Leave Évora early morning and head towards Monsaraz. Make a stop en route at the beautiful Alqueva Lake. From here you have spectacular views of the town of Monsaraz and its castle on the hill.

Afterwards, make the short drive up the hill to explore Monsaraz and stop for coffee or lunch in one of the charming cafe’s or restaurants. You will find excellent local produce and dishes typical to the area. 

Getting to Monsaraz & Elvas

If you wanted to take transport to Elvas instead of self-drive, you have the following options available by bus. We have included several stops en route to Elvas, the bus would preclude some of the stops we have listed. See Rede Expressos website for tickets and timetables

  • Évora to Monsaraz Region Bus: 3 services per day. Travel time 35 minutes. Tickets cost around €6.70 one way. We don’t recommend this as the bus depot is 17 km from Castelo de Monsaraz.
  • Évora to Elvas Bus: 5 services per day. Travel time 1.15hrs – 2.15 hrs depending on the service. Tickets cost around €11.90 one way.

Alqueva Lake

One of the largest artificial lakes in Europe, Alqueva is built on the River Guadiana and covers five Alentejo Municipalities. To the right of the lake, you have views of Juromenha, Alandroal, Terena, Monsaraz, and Portel castles. Mourão and Moura on the left bank provide spectacular viewpoints over the pristine lake.

the blue waters of Alqueva lake with hillside village in the background. Stop here for a lunch of alentejo food and wine on your alentejo portugal road trip

Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve

Alqueva is also a UNESCO listed reservation for stargazing thanks to the absence of light pollution, low altitude and cloudless skies. It was the first site in the world to be certified as a “Starlight Tourism Destination” by the UNESCO supported Starlight Foundation, a conservation body for the night sky.

Public lighting is also minimised to enhance conditions for the ideal stargazing experience. Alqueva is the perfect place to relax, for watersports and hiking but mostly to enjoy the beauty of Alentejo life.

man with handsome dog walking along the shore of Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve. Looking for a Alentejo portugal stargazing experience then this place is world renown.

Monsaraz

Looking down on the Spanish border, Monsaraz is one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal. While partly a museum village now, many say this is where you can still experience a taste of traditional Portugal.

man sitting on step of cobblestone street in Monsaraz.  Monsaraz wine is a very highly rated alentejo wine

A fortified settlement dating back to prehistoric times, Monsaraz was gifted to the Knights Templar as gratitude for their defeat of the Moors – their mark still evident in the 12th-century castle.

No matter which way you approach, Monsaraz is a glorious sight. But, from the village itself, you have the most stunning views of the Alentejo and Alqueva lake.

archway entrance of Monsaraz castle with cobblestone street leading into the town.  A visit to Monsaraz is one of the best things to do in alentejo portugal

Monsaraz is a lovely place to stop for an early lunch or mid-morning snack. The restaurants in town are friendly and welcoming, and the locals eager to share their knowledge of local produce and dishes. 

church tower and bell on top of castle wall in Monsaraz.  you can encorporate a visit to Monsaraz in day trips from evora or even lisbon.

Terena

Monsaraz to Terena: 29km | 30 min

On your way to Elvas, make a side stop at the beautiful tiny village of Terena. The town, also known as São Pedro de Terena is a typical rural Alentejo village in the municipality of Alandroal.

a view across white village to the castle of terena.  add this to your alentejo portugal itinerary.

The village, thought to date back to 1262 played a vital role during medieval times forming part of the Guadiana defence line.
The town comprises of only a few streets characterised by the pretty Alentejo country houses and churches. At the end of the village, explore the ruins of the Castle de Terena listed as a national monument since 1946.

white and yellow walls of houses leading up to the terena castle.  we stopped here on our alentejo road trip and it was one of the best things we did.

Elvas

Terena to Elvas: 48km | 45 min

In the easternmost part of central Portugal on the border of Spain is the frontier fortress of Elvas, the biggest fortified city in Portugal and Europe. A prominent feature of the city is the 7 km long 16th-century Amoreira Aqueduct, built to enable the fortress to withstand lengthy sieges.

the very high aqueduct spanning across the city of elvas one of alentejo highlights and a must do on your alentejo portugal holiday

Arrive in Elvas mid-afternoon. In the warmer months, you will still have lots of time to explore the city before dark. 

the sun setting over the spires of the church in elvas.

There is much to see within the walls of the fortified city of Elvas. The Castle of Elvas and the maze of Moorish streets that surround it, the Old Cathedral of Elvas and many fascinating museums to name a few. Although the forts surrounding Elvas are a big drawcard to the city. 

Elvas Tour Tip
Maximise your time in Elvas with a 3 hr guided tour for as little as €15 pp. Discover the transformation of Elvas over the centuries, highlighting the city’s UNESCO World Heritage monuments. Get full tour details here

Day 4: Elvas and Surrounding Forts

Take an early morning stroll around town and enjoy breakfast in one of the many typical snack bars or bakeries. It is always nice to enjoy any historic centre before the rush of the day begins.

white pole in the square where they used to treat criminals quite badly by tying them up and beating them.  a unique and obscure thing to see in the alentejo portugal

Santa Luzia and Nossa Senhora da Graça Forts.

As part of the central defence, Elvas is surrounded by secondary forts and fortlets. The most fascinating are two star-shaped forts – Santa Luzia and the more complex Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort.

Arial view of star shaped forts, Santa Luzia and Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort. A unique experience on your alentejo road trip.

The Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort, the larger of the two, was of great strategic importance in the wars of the 1700s’ but later served as a military prison up until the late 1980s’.

Wind your way inwards and upwards through the many layers to the top of the central Governors house, for spectacular views from the roof. Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort is one of the most impressive and enjoyable forts you are bound to visit.

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inside the star shaped forts with the central building sitting atop another small fort surrounded by a moat.  Don't miss this on your vacation to the alentejo portugal

Elvas to Lisbon

Elvas to Lisbon: 211km | 2.10 hrs

Possible Stop in Estremoz

Estremoz to Lisbon: 171km | 1.45 hrs

In the afternoon, start your return to Lisbon. If time allows, finish your Alentejo itinerary with a stop in the city of Estremoz. Only 35 minutes from Elvas, it will only add half an hour driving time on your return to Lisbon. 

Estremoz is often called Ciudad Branca – The White City for the houses and monuments made from striking white marble quarried close to the town. The historic city lies within two defensive walls, the upper area was home to royalty during the 14th century and was where Queen Elizabeth of Aragon passed away. 

Getting From Elvas to Lisbon
  • Elvas to Lisbon Bus: 9 services per day. Travel time approx. 3 hrs depending on the service. Tickets cost around €17.60 one way.
  • Elvas to Lisbon train: 1 service per day. Travel time 4.5hrs. Tickets cost around €11.90 one way.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Portugal

Especially if you are planning a self-drive holiday, travel insurance can also cover you for any deductibles incurred through theft or damage.

Get a Free Quote From World Nomads Travel Insurance.

 

 

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