If you are looking for a relaxing holiday that combines history, culture, beautiful landscapes and towns, beaches, delicious cuisine and excellent red and white wines, Portugal’s southern region of Alentejo is a superb choice.With a selection of luxury villas to rent in Alentejo, and a new area for The Luxury Travel Book, founder Susie Marquis discovers the must-see places to visit, as well as her recommended villa rentals across the region.
Alentejo, the largest region in Portugal, stretches west to the coast, east to the Spanish border, and south-east from the Tagus River down to the Algarve. As well as its beautiful Atlantic coastline, beaches and countryside, the Alentejo area offers endless vineyards, olive groves, and also a fascinating history, including Palaeolithic carvings, medieval dwellings, Visigothic churches and Roman monuments.Despite being a vast area, Alentejo is still regarded as one of Portugal’s hidden gems. With its beautiful landscapes and towns, outstanding wineries and restaurants offering delicious local dishes, there’s something for everyone. Add plenty of sunshine and some beautiful luxury villa rentals, and the region offers a perfect quiet and relaxing getaway for both families and groups of friends.
If you are planning to vactaion in the Alentejo during the summer, you will probably also want to visit the coast, and a sandy beach like Praia da Comporta is perfect for young children. As well as being popular for its surf schools, this coastal area is also known for its relaxing beach cafés and restaurants. Children will also enjoy a walk at the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve, with a variety of animals and birds, including dolphins and pink flamingos. For those who want more of an adventure, visitors can also explore the Reserve via boat.
Inland there are a number of historic fortified hilltop villages to visit, including Estremoz, Rerdondo, Monsaraz, and Marvão, the latter with a castle with landscaped gardens where visitors can climb to the highest tower. Other historic towns to visit include Portalegre, known for its charming streets, Gothic cathedral and a textile industry, including a Tapestry Museum.Castelo de Vide, 19 kms to the north, has a large medieval castle, as well as an old synagogue, now a museum. In the charming medieval village of Monsaraz, perched on a hilltop, visitors can enjoy walks through narrow cobblestone streets, explore the 13th-century castle, and soak in the rich history and cultural heritage.
It’s also worth exploring the historic city of Évora, around 1.5 hours’ drive from Lisbon. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city has a well-preserved Roman Temple, while the Gothic-style Cathedral of Évora is known for its (perhaps not so inviting!) Chapel of Bones, known as the Capela dos Ossos. Additionally, discover the ancient fortified city of Marvão, situated on the highest peak of the Serra de São Mamede, where you can wander through its narrow alleys, visit the medieval castle, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
On the food and drink side of the Alentejo region, the local cuisine is unique even in Portugal, with its fresh sheep’s cheese, black pork, wild mushrooms, fresh herbs, and artisan bread. Alentejo is also renowned for its olive oil and delicious wine, and for wine lovers, you are never very far away from a vineyard producing some of Portugal’s most delicious wines.Recommended wineries include João Portugal Ramos, where visitors can enjoy tapas alongside some of the finest wines, as well as exploring the vineyards and the cellars. Another favourite is the Herdade das Servas, and there is also the Adega da Cartuxa winery. Located in Évora, explore the historical and beautiful 16th-century monastery called Convento da Cartuxa. Last but certainly not least, Adega de Mayor is another winery located in stunning surroundings, which also offers tours and wine-tasting.
Looking for a place to rent in Alentejo? The luxury villas we are featuring are mainly located near Évora, close to Lisbon, Comporta and the coast. With its 2000 years of history, the area surrounding Évora is ideal for history lovers looking to truly step back in time and enjoy authentic Portuguese culture.
A few villa examples to tempt you:
Casa No Tempo, 4 bedrooms, 8 guestsLocated in the forest and fields of the Alentejo countryside and just one hour east of Lisbon, this villa offers a swimming pool, produce for guests from the vegetable garden, and also bicycles and horses to ride. Starting out as a family residence, the property has been lovingly created to reflect Portuguese culture and architecture, and is the ideal space for gathering with friends and family. Outside the property, enjoy day trips to Monte Selvagem, Fluviário de Mora, Cromeleque dos Almendres, Escoural Cave, or indulge in local wine tasting at Monte da Ravasqueira. The property also benefits from a boat, making it ideal for a day of fishing.
Casa Nossa,11 bedrooms, 10–20 guests
A unique lakeside property with incredible views, the large and luxurious villa of Casa Nossa can be found on a 65 hectare estate close to Monsaraz, one of Portugal’s most beautiful towns. Sleeping 20 guests across 10 suites, spend days exploring the local area, relaxing in the two heated swimming pools or enjoying a game of tennis, while evenings can be spent sampling the finest local foods, discovering the on-site wine cellar and bar, and watching a film in the spacious cinema room. With direct access to the Alqueva lake, the largest man-made lake in Europe, you will also find private moorage for the estate’s boat, offering the opportunity to enjoy many nautical sports with the presence of a professional skipper.
With the nearest village, restaurant and grocery store just 10 minutes away by car, this luxury villa is also close to plenty of good wineries, including Esporão, José de Sousa and Ervideira. The villa is also 8 minutes drive from the village of Campinho, 15 minutes away from Herdade do Esporão and São Lourenço do Barrocal Hotel and less than 2 hours from Lisbon.
Casa Fazenda, 5 bedrooms, 10 guests
Casa Fazenda is a beautiful farmhouse and stables set on a large property of 87 hectares and well located for exploring Alentejo province, as well as offering activities such as horse riding, yoga, cooking lessons and regional wine tasting. Outside there is a swimming pool, a barbecue terrace and a large furnished terrace which can also accommodate an outdoor cinema.
Activities in the local area include golf, cultural visits to historic UNESCO places, visits to the most prestigious wine cellars in the Alto Alentejo region with wine-tasting and lunches at fantastic restaurants. Monforte, the closest town to the farm, has also been the site of horse racing since the Roman times.
For something a little more special, discover Alentejo from a 360 degree view from the sky in a hot air balloon and gain unique dimensions of the majestic historic buildings. At night, stargazers can enjoy a magical bright sky thanks to low light pollution.
Tempted by Alentejo? With activities for all the family and an outstanding Portuguese cuisine and wine scene, this historical and culturally significant area is not to be missed. Click here to view our full range of luxury villas and apartments across the Alentejo region, or explore Portugal’s other must-see destinations, including Lisbon, Comporta, the Algarve and the Douro Valley.
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