Secrets Itinerary: Discover The Extraordinary Alentejo Landscapes ♦ Alentejo is the biggest region of Portugal and has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Think dry, golden plains, rolling hillsides and lime-green vines. A rugged coastline, traditional whitewashed villages, marble towns and majestic medieval cities. Plus a proud if melancholic people, who valiantly cling to their local crafts. And the cuisine? Alentejo is the destination for traditional food. Gastronomic delights are plentiful – pork, game, bread, cheese, wine, and seafood along the coastline. Birdlife and rare plants are prolific, and walking opportunities abound! The trick to enjoying it to its fullest? Read Secrets From Portugal itinerary, and go there before everyone else does.
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The Alentejo, a region in southern Portugal, covers a huge area of around a third of the country, stretching south from the Rio Tejo to the northern mountain ranges of the Algarve. The name, Alentejo, derives from the words além do Tejo, beyond the Tejo River. This is Portugal’s garden, the bulk of the region given over to huge cork plantations, wheat fields, and vineyards – and though much of it is flat, the region repays exploration, offering unexpected surprises, from ancient dolmens and superbly sited castles to Roman ruins and sweeping Atlantic beaches.
Where To Go
Comporta is a dream come true. Sometimes compared to Saint-Tropez and now called “the Hamptons of Portugal”, Comporta is a relaxed and artistic community. It’s the chosen destination of Christian Louboutin, Jacques Grange, Farida Khelfa, the Espírito Santo family, François Dumas and Madonna. You can read about Comporta in one of the most beautiful side table books ever made from Assouline, ‘Comporta Bliss’. Comporta is a passion, is the desire to find a new home, for the sake of dividends or the drive to preserve, Comporta is the Portuguese postcard on which all attention falls. The virtually untouched natural beauty, proximity to the sea and the small scale of urban centres attract hundreds of visitors. We realize that they are enchanted by Comporta, a brand that is no longer just a village to cover a coastline of more than 40 kilometres.
Cais Palafítico da Carrasqueira
Built-in the 1950s and 1960s, this ramshackle, zigzagging, interlocking pier on wooden stilts is one of Europe’s last surviving of its kind. At sunset, it’s deluged with professional photographers and amateur smartphone shutterbugs, who come for one of Portugal’s most cinematic photo ops. You can wander the wharf, flush with colourful fishing huts and moored wooden boats, all in the muddy flats of the Sado Estuary. The whole place is serene and beautiful – worth a trip from Lisbon all by its lonesome. It’s in the small fishing village of Carrasqueira, 6km northeast of Comporta. It’s less crowded during the week. Don’t forget your camera!
Castelo de Vide
Castelo de Vide is known as the Sintra of the Alentejo, and one of the most romantic places in the region. Surrounded by 2.5 km of walls, Castelo de Vide is on the list of the five most beautiful historic villages in the Alentejo. Near Marvão and the Spanish border, belongs to the District of Portalegre. It is known by many as the Portuguese Provence, or Sintra do Alentejo. It is 225 km from Lisbon, 290 from Porto and 120 from Évora. The citadel with its whitewashed houses, fountains, gardens, ancient churches, gothic portals and winding alleys is a pure charm! With strong historical and cultural heritage, the village is home to one of the best-preserved Jewish homes in Portugal.
At just 1h30 from Lisbon, Évora has what it takes to surprise you. Known as the “museum city” for its massive amount of monuments that take us back to the roman empire, Évora is one of the go-to places in Alentejo, for sure. Evora is the capital of the south-central region of Portugal, the Alentejo. In the historical centre of the city is the ancient Roman Temple of Évora (also known as Temple of Diana). Nearby, whitewashed houses surround the Sé Catedral de Évora, a huge Gothic structure dating back to the 12th century. The São Francisco Church has Gothic and Baroque architecture, along with the Bones Chapel, decorated with bones.
Once part of the Roman Forum, the remains of this temple, dating from the 2nd or early 3rd century AD, are a heady slice of drama right in town. It’s among the best-preserved Roman monuments in Portugal, and probably on the Iberian Peninsula. Though it’s commonly referred to as the Temple of Diana, there’s no consensus about the deity to which it was dedicated, and some archaeologists believe it may have been dedicated to Julius Caesar. The temple was apparently walled up in the Middle Ages to form a small fortress and then used as the town slaughterhouse. It was uncovered late in the 19th century. These unwitting preservation techniques worked, as the imposing colonnade is stunningly complete.
One of Évora’s most popular sights is also one of its most chilling. The walls and columns of this mesmerising memento mori (a reminder of death) are linked with the bones and skulls of some 5000 people. This was the solution found by three 17th-century Franciscan monks for the overflowing graveyards of churches and monasteries. There’s black humour to the way the bones and skulls have been arranged in patterns, and the whole effect is strangely beautiful, though probably not one you’d be inspired to re-create at home. An inscription over the entrance translates as ‘We bones that are here await yours’. Above the chapel, a museum contains works of religious art and a terrace with views over the town. The former Chapter House (which currently contains the ticket counter for the chapel) contains a fine collection of azulejos (hand-painted tiles).
The go-to place for Christian Louboutin for inspiration, Melides is calm, quiet and amazing! Amazing food, amazing beaches with nothing but extensive beaches. Once in Melides, we leave you a tip: go to Vale Figueira, ask for Aunt Jesuína’s bakery and discover the authentic Alentejo bread, sold only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Melides Beach, located on the Alentejo coast is considered the longest beach in the country. Well-known to surfers and bodyboarders, the beach is also sought by paragliders who find Vigia (a cliff over five meters) the best spot to launch on pleasant flights of pure contemplation. Near the beach, you will find bars and restaurants where you can surely enjoy good fish dishes while watching the most extraordinary sunsets.
See All About Louboutin’s House:
It is one of Europe’s most stunning coastlines. It is also one of the wildest, least explored and most biodiverse protected territories within Iberia. Look no further if you desire ‘off-the-beaten-track’ holidays: the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park has deserted beaches aplenty, stunning landscapes rich in wildlife and neat backwaters. In fact, from the town of Sines up in the north to Cape Saint Vincent down in the south, there are thousands of acres with no major city insight – there are only quite small towns, quaint villages and tiny hamlets that time forgot.
Bonus Tip: Con ‘t forget to stop by the Badoca Safari Park
Badoca Safari Park is a theme park located in Portugal, more precisely in Alentejo in Vila Nova de Santo André, in the municipality of Santiago do Cacém. Try the VIP packages with exclusive safari dinners or breakfasts, interact with the Lemures or Meet The giraffes.
Where To Sleep
Lago Montargil & Villas
Lago Montargil & Villas offers all perspectives on water, all its definitions and aptitudes are explored. First in passive mode, stimulating the sight, offering a hypnotic panorama, the view over the typical plains of the Alentejo which becomes unique with the power of the water bathing it. One hour away from Lisbon, in the heart of North Alentejo, this hotel is an open passport to “travel” wherever one wishes. As a couple or with the family, for bike, jeep or horse rides, through the marina by the dam or over its water, for fishing or a trip in a rowing boat or sailing, a certain manner of being Alentejano is encouraged here. More or less active, but always placid and in high spirits.
L’And Vineyards Resort
More than a hotel, L’AND Vineyards is an exclusive retreat with only 26 suites integrating modern architecture into nature, providing an atmosphere of sober luxury, natural beauty and tranquillity. Set in the heart of Alentejo, in a unique landscape with interiors by Márcio Kogan and Michael Biberstein’s artwork at L’AND Vineyards you can take a gastronomic journey in our Michelin-starred restaurant, renew yourself in the Caudalie spa and sleep under the stars among the vineyards in one of the sky suites.
Alentejo Marmòris Hotel And Spa
Located at Vila Viçosa’s monumental center, 180km away from Lisbon and 60km away from Évora, the Hotel is the starting point for a memorable experience of comfort and tranquility and If you wish, it can also be the starting point to explore Alentejo’s rich cultural heritage: medieval castles, beautiful churches, lakes, a Royal Palace… also top-quality wines and excellent gastronomy. Immerse yourself in Alentejo’s beauty and let it conquer you.
Nestled on a stunning 17-hectare estate, surrounded by undulating umbrella pines and cork trees, wild sand dunes, stunning rice fields and over 60km of pristine, white-sand beaches is Sublime Comporta – a magical, unspoiled place yet to be discovered. Only one hour from a European capital, here wildlife is abundant, time seems to stand still and one has the possibility to experience all that is genuine and authentic. Rich in cultural heritage, with a welcoming local population, great foods and wines, Sublime Comporta offers a combination of tranquillity and simplicity that is both addictive and inspiring, reminding us of the magic of experiencing more with less.
Hotel Casa Palmela
Situated in the heart of the Arrábida Natural Park, Hotel Casa Palmela is located in Quinta do Esteval, a house with a history dating back to the seventeenth century. By passing the great gate of the entrance, a long road lined with vineyards gives you welcome, approaching the one that will be an unforgettable experience. Disconnect yourself from your world and come to discover ours. At Hotel Casa Palmela will be able to create their own story. In the rooms of the palace or garden house. Will live moments of comfort and glamour.
Where To eat
Located on the ground floor of the Sepulveda Palace, the restaurant Degust`AR has the signature of Chef António Nobre. Menus offer the Alentejo cuisine as a starting point and develop their creative inspiration through Mediterranean flavours. The atmosphere is sophisticated, comfortable and cosy. Dome ceilings, horseshoe arches and frescos add this place an exquisite character. The restaurant also has a reception area with bar and wine cellar with a huge variety of references, representing many of the best wine regions of Portugal.
At Basilii Restaurant you can taste the flavours of the Alentejo with a touch of sophistication. Named after the wealthy family who inhabited the Roman villa of Torre de Palma – whose ruins are just a few meters from the Torre de Palma Wine Hotel – and reminiscent of the basil herb, Basilii restaurant gives you a trip through the Alentejo delicacies. Whether you are staying at the Torre de Palma Wine Hotel or just want to know the flavours of the Alentejo at the hands of Chef Filipe Ramalho, Basilii restaurant awaits you.
À Terra Santiago
A restaurant that is a great Alentejo cuisine with meals that are an invitation to return to the origins. Cooked by Chef Daniel Censi, this kitchen is forged by fire – in the wood oven in Josper and on the milder days of spring and summer in Ofyr. Here we are inspired daily by the traditional Alentejo products and cooking, in this huge Alentejo, which goes from the wild coast and revolt to the deep Alentejo, from the plains beyond the Guadiana, land of smugglers.