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ALTO ALENTEJO
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ALTO ALENTEJO  map
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regional overview

Covering a vast area of quiet countryside inland from Lisbon, the Alto Alentejo is somewhere to get away from it all. It is a place of undulating plains and border hills, cork and olive plantations, black pigs and black bulls, white-washed villages and marble towns, hilltop castles and Roman temples. Life here is simple and unrushed. It really is a place in which to unwind. Weather is good, mild in the winter and hot in the summer. It is also ideal for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, with great areas for walking, horse-riding, birding and touring.

properties in ALTO ALENTEJO

Being an agricultural region, accommodation in the Alto Alentejo is distinctly rural. In the provincial towns and villages, one finds cottages and homes dating back to medieval times. In the countryside, old farmhouses and Quintas (country estates) have been renovated into holiday homes and country hotels, maintaining a rustic charm about them. They offer self-catering and bed and breakfast options, and many have pools and can take families and groups. These places are unique and help to make the Alto Alentejo an ideal place for a rural escape.

the great outdoors

Nature rules in the Alto Alentejo. In the spring time, one can walk through fields of wild flowers and past black pigs grazing under oak trees, before arriving at a gate holding back black bulls. The hills and country tracks along the Spanish border are good for mountain-biking, and smooth empty roads make the Alentejo a perfect place for road-biking. Birders will see eagles, storks and much more. For those wanting to fish or kayak, the Tagus river and Alqueva dam are a good bet.

historic towns & local culture

In this rural province, towns are small and provincial. Cobblestones, yellow-framed windows and hilltop castles are typical. Celt-Iberians, Romans, Jews, Moors and Spaniards were all here, each leaving their mark in historic quarters and monuments. Portalegre and Castelo de Vide are pleasant market towns, while Marvão and Monsaraz are impressive fortified eagle's nest villages. In Estremoz and Borba buildings are all made out of marble and Évora has its Roman temple and Moorish alleyways.

best times to visit

For those who like hot weather, summer in the Alentejo is a good time with temperatures regularly exceeding 35 degrees. However, being dry, it does not feel overly oppressive. The spring is very pleasant, in the 20s, with wildflowers in the fields, and the royal horse festival in Alter do Chao on the 25th April. Sao Joao farmer festivals at the end of June are also typical of rural Portugal. Days in the autumn are filled with grape harvests, chestnut-roasting and bull runs, before the cool, mild winters set in.

getting there & around

Lisbon is the closest international airport and well-placed on a motorway leading into the Alentejo, via a northerly route for Portalegre or a southerly route to Estremoz. Expect a three-hour drive from Lisbon to the furthest parts of the Alentejo near Spain. For this sparsely-populated region, a car is highly recommended, although it is also possible to use occasional regional and local buses. Faro is an alternative for the southern section. Porto is four hours from the northern part. Badajoz is across the border in Spain.
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