Occupying almost a full third of continental Portugal’s total surface, Alentejo is a fascinating region, combining history, rolling plains, whitewashed houses, undeniable tranquility and an incredibly flavourful gastronomy!
The area’s name actually comes from populations to its north, as this precious land was from their point of view: “Beyond the Tagus” (Além + Tejo). The region grew to become more and more important to all who depended on it to grow crops, cork and (later) wines!
It also helps that traditional Alentejo cuisine is as close to food for the soul as it can get! Rich dishes, such as açorda (a thick soup on steroids, with eggs, bread, lots of garlic and olive oil), migas (crushed bread, cooked in fat, with meat, garlic and olive oil) , or even amazing desserts such as the typical sericaia (a conventual sweet, with heaps of eggs, sugar and cinnamon). And we’re not even daring to enter the neverending world of quality wines, cheeses and chorizos that the region yields.
Right now, it’s richly sought-after by locals wishing to get away from all of the city hustle and bustle. Montargil, for example, is a splendid hidden gem to really disconnect and just enjoy the soothing scenery. One of Alentejo’s main attractions really is that its’ one of Portugal’s more unspoiled regions, with stunning nature reserves and surprisingly great beaches. Évora is one of the region’s crown jewels. Standing at almost the exact centre of Alentejo, it is filled with monuments, museums and tremendous restaurants!
It is entirely possible to visit the region without the use of a car, but be warned, you’ll have to be very patient. Alentejo has limited bus and train timetables, along with few routes connecting with the smaller cities. It’s an amazing place to visit though, with tremendous spots like Castelo de Vide, Elvas, Vila Viçosa, Monsaraz and even a Safari Park!!
Keep an eye on the blog for more details on what to do, see and experience in magnificent Alentejo!