Alentejo is the largest region in Portugal, covering over one third of its mainland territories yet only accounting for approximately seven percent of its population. The Alentejo stretches south of the River Tagus, touching Spain, the Atlantic coast and the tip of the Algarve and has it all, rolling hills, open countryside, fertile soil, and some of the finest beaches anywhere in the world. In fact twenty two of them have won the prestigious Blue Flag award and three marinas too.
Throughout the spring and summer months the Alentejo countryside becomes a magnificent canvass of colour. Every third year or so the fields change their background colour from yellow to purple and vice versa with intermittent flowers of all shapes, sizes and colours appearing randomly in between. Even though the population is in decline due to the migration of its younger population to the major cities like Lisbon and Porto, and the high proportion of senior citizens which accounts for around twenty five percent of the current population, many Europeans are still relocating to Alentejo where they enjoy a tranquil way of life, leisurely activities and much sought after peace of mind.
The Alentejo has a varied production throughout the region including wine, marble, olives, cork, wood, agriculture (Much of which is organic), livestock (Cows, sheep, pigs, goat), cheeses, fruit (Much of which unfortunately is left on the trees), smoked ham and sausage. Alentejo is the largest producer of cork in the world, which comes from harvesting the cork oak tree every nine years. Known as the sobreiro in Portuguese, this industry has been ongoing for some three hundred years and due to the current impossibility of having this industry mechanized the stripping of the bark is still done by hand.
The historic city of Evora with its Roman influence and ruins is considered to be the Alentejo capital, whilst the surrounding areas including Estremoz, Borba, Vila Viçosa, and Gloria have the largest excavation of marble. In many instances this marble is then bought by the Italians for polishing and then marketed and sold as their own. The Alentejo food and wines are some of the finest throughout the whole of Portugal and in fact the world, and for those of us with a hearty appetite and a thirst to quench the Alentejo is a wonderful place to satisfy your requirements.
The Alentejo has seen a massive decline in food production over recent years, mainly due to the incentives provided by the European Union, and unfortunately for the most part was relocated to Spain. The only ‘agricultural’ increase has been that of the vineyard and the production of wine which is slowly finding a new market abroad. That being said the wine is so good that the Portuguese have in the past kept and drank the majority for themselves. This fact is proven in the amount of alcohol that they consume per capita.
Due to the enormous area that the Alentejo covers a number of dams and hydro-electric stations have been constructed. The largest and most recent being the Alqueva Dam, with Santa Clara in Odemira the second largest.
Alentejo is one of the hottest places in Europe with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celcius in the summer yet falling as low as freezing in the winter. The wetter months are those between late autumn (December) and early spring (March). Although many of the senior citizens are illiterate, many of the over forty-fives speak French as well as Portuguese. The younger generations are generally fluent in both English and Portuguese with a high proportion also being able to communicate in Spanish.
Over the last twenty years or so many of the wealthier Portuguese from Lisbon including many foreigners of many different nationalities have been able to buy property in Alentejo and have been especially attracted by the Alentejo Monte. The Alentejo Monte is a typical detached country residence and is generally located within or close to fields cultivated for agricultural production. Property prices in Alentejo have risen steadily over the years but are still relatively inexpensive when compared to other parts of Europe.
To sell property in Alentejo one has to have a little patience and even though the market is pretty vibrant (2019) people are still able to buy homes in Alentejo at reasonable prices. Buying property in the Alentejo still seems to be a clever long term investment and especially so if you decide to live here full-time as you will probably notice a huge reduction in your monthly living costs. Currently there seems to be sufficient quantity to satisfy everybody’s needs. You may fly directly into the new airport in Beja or to Lisbon or the Algarve. Generally speaking, it is far better to have arranged your own transport for getting around rather than relying on public transport.
Alentejo is one of seven regions in Portugal which also include the Algarve, Beiras (Central), Lisbon (Coast), Oporto (North), Azores and Madeira, and is referred to as the South Central region. Alentejo covers an expansive area of some twelve thousand plus square miles and has an approximate population of seven hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants.
Alentejo has five sub-regions
Alentejo Central, Alentejo Litoral, Alto Alentejo, Baixo Alentejo, Lezíria do Tejo
Alentejo Central occupies an area covering some seven thousand two hundred square kilometers and has an approximate population of one hundred and seventy thousand inhabitants. The main commercial centre is Evora, which is also considered to be the capital of Alentejo.
Alentejo Central has fourteen municipalities
Alandroal, Arraiolos, Borba, Estremoz, Évora, Montemor-o-Novo, Mourão, Portel, Redondo, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Sousel, Vendas Novas, Viana do Alentejo, Vila Viçosa.
Where to stay
Arraiolas (Pousada's) Nossa Senhora do Assuncao, Evora Loios, Estremoz Rainha Santa Isobel, Vila Viçosa Don Joao IV. Estremoz has the busiest Pousada in the country and if you like excellent food and wine we recommend the following three restaurants São Rosas, Zona Verda and Cadeia
Institutions of higher education
Beja Polytechnic and the University of Évora
Note: One of the two Blue Flag Marina's in Alentejo is located within the municipality of Évora at Alqueva
Alentejo Litoral (Coast)
Alentejo Litoral occupies an area covering some five thousand two hundred plus square kilometers and has an approximate population of one hundred thousand inhabitants. The main commercial centre is the city of Sines. The Alentejo Litoral sub-region is made up of the following five municipalities Alcácer do Sal Grândola Santiago do Cacém Sines Odemira.
Where to stay
Alcacer do Sal Pousada Don Alfonso II, Comporta, Comporta Cocoon environmentally friendly Rural Tourism, Troia, Troia Design Five Star Hotel and Casino, Muda Sublime Comporta, the best hotel in the area
Where to eat
Comporta Dona Bia restaurant (Superb), Comporta Café Restaurant and beach bar
Places to visit
The stunning Alentejo coast from Troia all the way down to the Algarve including São Vicente Coast and Nature Park. There are twenty Blue Flag beaches and two Blue Flag marinas in the Alentejo Litoral Region (Coast) including;
Aberta Nova, Atlântica, Bico das Lulas, Carvalhal, Comporta, Pego, Tróia Galé, Troia-Mar and the marina in Troia
Almograve, Carvalhal, Furnas, Vila Nova de Milfontes and Zambujeira do Mar
Santiago do Cacem
Costa de Santo André, Fonte do Cortiço
Grande de Porto Covo, Ilha do Pessegueiro, Morgavel, S. Torpes, Vale de Figueiros, Vasco da Gama and the marina in Sines
Alto Alentejo (High)
Alto Alentejo occupies an area covering some six thousand two hundred plus square kilometers and has an approximate population of one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. The main commercial centre is the city of Portalegre.
Alto Alentejo sub-region has fifteen municipalities
Alter do Chão, Arronches, Avis, Campo Maior, Castelo de Vide, Crato, Elvas, Fronteira, Gavião, Marvão, Monforte, Mora, Nisa, Ponte de Sor, Portalegre.
Where to stay
(Pousada's) Crato Flor da Rosa, Elvas Santa Luzia, Marvao Santa Maria
Places to visit
Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede, a Nature Park
Institution of Higher Education
Baixo Alentejo (Lower)
Baixo Alentejo occupies an area covering some eight thousand five hundred plus square kilometers and an approximate population of one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. The main commercial centre is the city of Beja.
Baixo Alentejo sub-region has thirteen municipalities
Aljustrel, Almodôvar, Alvito, Barrancos, Beja, Castro Verde, Cuba, Ferreira do Alentejo, Mértola, Moura, Ourique, Serpa, Vigueira.
Where to stay
Santa Clara Quinta do Barranco da Estrada (Paradise in Portugal), Santa Clara, Odemira, Alentejo. Frank and his wife Daniela are two of the most generous people you will ever meet with their location overlooking the Santa Clara Reservoir and hospitality second to none. If you enjoy a stunningly beautiful and tranquil setting and happen to enjoy sailing, swimming, hiking or bird watching then this is the place to stay.
(Pousadas) Alvito Castelo de Alvito Beja Sao Francisco
Places to visit
Parque Natural do Vale Guadiana, Nature Park
Lezíria do Tejo
Leziria do Tejo has an area covering some four thousand plus square kilometers and an approximate population of two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. The main commercial centre is the city of Santarem.
Lezíra do Tejo sub-region has eleven municipalities
Almeirim, Alpiarça, Azambuja, Benavente, Cartaxo, Chamusca, Coruche, Golegã, Rio Maior, Salvaterra de Magos, Santarém.