Nestled in the historically-rich region of Alentejo, Portugal, DISCOVER what this beautiful city has to offer for all avid travellers. Writer Kate Armstrong spills the best spots…
Although Évora is a beautiful city in the region of Alentejo, and its narrow, winding streets make for enjoyable exploration, it’s easy to get ‘stuck’ within its medieval walls. The surrounding Alentejan countryside has a lot to offer; don’t miss one or two of the following day trips:
This compact medieval, walled town provides a lofty experience. It’s over 860 metres above sea level so there are spectacular 360-degree views from the village. Once you’ve explored the medieval castle, wander through the whitewashed streets before settling in at Casa de Povo, the town’s best eatery. While it won’t win culinary awards, its meals are solid, and with the views, you won’t much care. (Location: 2 hours northeast of Évora)
Estremoz is a largely agricultural town and for decades, the Saturday market is where local farmers sell their wares. The tradition continues in this pretty and large central plaza. Fresh fruits and olives and Portuguese fare are on offer, along with excellent vintage goods and crafts, including traditional artisans’ goods. (Location: 45 minutes northeast of Évora)
Famous for its hand-woven rugs (a specific weaving technique that is unique to the town), this pretty spot dates back to Celtic times. Wander through the streets – lined with pretty whitewashed houses with blue trim and terracotta roofs – and check out the ruins of the castle that overlooks the town. The plain church has an incredible interior with a golden altar and tile-lined walls. (Location: 30 minutes northwest of Évora).
EATING – ALENTEJAN VILLAGES
Several villages near Évora serve up some of the best Alentejan cuisine around (think pork and clam stews or açorda, a delicious local soup). Meals are hearty and very good value and locals flock here. Azuruja’s local eatery, O Bolas, in front of the bull ring, serves up the best steak for miles. In the village of Torrao, 46km southwest ofÉvora, is O Girassol. This authentic place serves up fabulous lamb stew (ensopado de borrego). True foodies shouldn’t miss Rabinos in Santiago do Escoural. There’s only a few seats (you must walk through the bar to the rear) and you’ll enjoy some of the best traditional nosh around.
Don’t miss a visit to the megaliths, the ancient stone monuments that are dotted all over the country, with many concentrated near Évora. Mario from Ebora Megalithica provides one of the most evocative accounts of the stones and their meaning. Also nearby, Andreia of Evora Local Tours gives a fabulous, down-to-earth tour of a local farm, illustrating the agricultural past and present of Alentejo, from cork cutting to bees and everything in between. (Both guides speak excellent English).
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Évora is located 130km east of Lisbon. The easiest way to get there is to catch a Rodoviária bus from Lisbon (other services go to/from the Algarve as well).
Know any other amazing day trips in Évora? Share them below!
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