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Alentejo

Red wine, black pigs, cork trees, wild coast

The Alentejo region is definitely one of my favourite places to explore (and eat), and one that I feel like I’ll never fully cover. Yep, it’s Portugal’s largest covering everywhere south of Setùbal, west of Lisbon and north of the Algarve region.

From the wild, endless coastlines, wind through golden fields dotted with cork trees until you reach the border with Spain. By the sea expect quieter beaches and good surf. Inland expect small fortified medieval towns and some of the best food around. Don’t skip trying porco preto. It’s meat from the special acorn-fed black Iberican pigs.

Best stops in the Alentejo

1
Evorà, the Alentejo capital

Explore rich roots dating back to roman times and history books filled with kings, queens and conquests.

2
Drive along the coast

From Comport to Aljezur, seek out sun, surf and sand along the golden coastline south of Lisbon.

3
Find a field with cork trees are golden hour

Now this one is still on my bucket list. I’m thinking somewhere near a winery, ideally.

4
Drop into Elvas or Estremoz

These historic towns are more than the perfect halfway point to Seville.

More places to visit in the Alentejo

Head to the beach at Vila Nova De Milfontes
Explore the old town of Alcàcer do Sal
Ride horses on the beach at Melides
Snap photos at Monsaraz
Wander the castle walls in Sines
Follow a wine route
See border city Portalegre
Visit one of the 40+ castles
Eat cheese in Serpa

What to eat

The Alentejo definitely has a soft spot in my heart for not only the landscapes but the food. Black Iberican pigs roam infields under cork trees feeding on acorns before they become prized presunto ham. What happens to the rest of the pig? Well, look in restaurants for fatty cuts of delicious porco preto on the grill.

The Alentejo has some other unique dishes and produce worth seeking out. The first is pão Alentejano, a type of bread that is simply fantastic and a favourite. In the Alentejo, they use leftover bread in a dish called Açorda Alentejana, which usually involves a poached egg, garlic and coriander (and if you’re lucky, salted cod). A foreign friend described it as “coriander water”. Another use for stale bread is migas, where the bread is turned into crumbs and then mixed with other tasty things to make what is similar to mashed potato but with bread.

Cheese wise, keep an eye out for prized DOP queijos from Evorà or Serpa.

Lamb is hard to find here. In the Alentejo look out for a dish called ensopado de borrego, which is a super delicious lamb stew.

And, of course, wine. If you like a rich, tannin-heavy, punch-in-the-face sort of red, this is the region. Most Portuguese wines are blends, resulting in an almost always smooth drop. Don’t be afraid to order the table in any restaurant or tasca.

How to get around

Definitely hire a car if you can. This is a huge area dotted with towns, villages, beaches and castles to pull up at and snap pictures.

If you get around by car, there is a train to Evorà and there are regular buses between towns.

  • Alentejo

    Black pigs, sheep and cows graze beneath the never ending fields of cork and olive trees. White-washed quintas with mustard yellow or cobalt blue trim dot the hillside, surrounded by medieval castle walls and creeping grape vines.

  • Alentejo

    This area of the Alentejo is dotted with cute towns, wineries, olive groves, prehistoric monuments and the biggest artificial lake in Europe. Here’s my guide for things to do around Monsaraz.

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I’m an Australian travel writer and food journalist who has been living in Lisbon since 2018. I started this blog as a place to share and record my love of Portugal.

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