Here you will learn why you should visit Évora Portugal (how to get there, where to stay & eat) while discovering the best things to do in Évora as recommended by a local.
Évora, located in the southern-central part of Portugal and the capital of the Alentejo region, is still very much a hidden gem of Portugal that many visitors to the country are yet to discover. Évora
Only an hour and a half drive from Lisbon, this gorgeous medieval walled city, dating back centuries, is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its well-preserved and impressive history and architecture that even includes the ruins of a Roman Temple.
Even though the actual walled-city itself is pretty small and easy to get around on foot, it still offers travellers an abundance of things to see, do & experience meaning you shouldn’t just plan for Évora as a day trip from Lisbon, but can easily spend a few nights here in order to make the very best of your visit. Here are some money saving tips for your trip to Evora or around Portugal. You welcome!
In this guide I’ll outline all the necessary information you may need when planning a visit to stunning Évora.
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- 1 Hidden Gem: City Guide To Évora, Portugal + The Best Things To Do In Évora
Hidden Gem: City Guide To Évora, Portugal + The Best Things To Do In Évora
How to get to Évora
Thankfully, getting from Lisbon to Évora is fairly straightforward. At only an hour and a half drive from Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, you may opt to hire a car and drive yourself, with the quickest routes being via the A2 and A6 motorways.
If you would rather not drive and instead prefer to make use of public transport options, then you’ll be happy to know that you can do so by either train or bus.
Travelling by bus, you would book on the RedeExpressos bus service that operates a comfortable and high-quality coach service from Lisbon’s Sete Rios bus terminal to Evora. They offer frequent and daily departures that take around 1h30 minutes to 1h45 minutes in total journey time.
The other option would involve rail travel on the Portuguese national rail network operated by Comboios de Portugal. Departing from Lisbon’s Oriente train station, you can connect to Evora in around 1h30 mins – 1h40 mins.
Both of these options cost under €15 for a one-way ticket, meaning it’s a fairly quick and cost-effective way to travel too.
Insider Tip #1: If you are planning to travel by train, be sure to consult the Comboios de Portugal’s website ahead of time (which is also available in English). They allow you to book 3 months in advance. When doing so you’re able to bag really cheap promo fares that offer around a 40% discount off the regular ticket price.
Insider Tip #2: If you are travelling by car, then do take note that most of Portugal’s motorways are tolled. You would need to take this additional cost into consideration when planning your budget. Many car rental providers also offer the option to add on an electronic tag service (which comes at an extra cost), enabling you to link your credit card so toll fees automatically deduct as you make use of the tolled highways. I would highly recommend you add this service.
Insider Tip #3: If hiring a car, it’s good to know that there are public parking spots available right outside the city’s medieval walls, usually at each of the main city gates. When we visited, we made use of these and found it to be pretty safe. Of course, don’t leave any personal or valuable items on display in the car. But overall, we thought this was perfect for parking the car and then heading in to explore the city on foot. You really don’t need to drive inside the city’s walls.
5 Top sights to visit in Évora
The actual historic, walled centre of Evora is relatively small. As mentioned above, you can get around within the city walls on foot quite easily. Nevertheless, regardless of size, you may be surprised at the amount of rich culture, history, sights and attractions on offer in this beautiful and ancient city.
Here is a roundup of my top 5 things to see & do in Evora.
Exploring the historic centre on foot
The historic centre of Evora is simply exquisite and very charming. You can easily get lost and wander through the many narrow alleyways and streets. From the cobbled streets, to the white washed houses with splashes of colour here and there, you will no doubt fall in love with Evora. Around every corner you’ll find another church or interesting building to explore. So, I would honestly dedicate some time to just walk through and discover all the city centre has to offer.
Praça do Giraldo
No doubt, at some point you will stumble upon Praça do Giraldo, Évora’s main city square. It’s a large open square flanked by gorgeous buildings, with the main attraction being the imposing Igreja de Santo Antão church. The church is especially pretty at night when it’s lit up. On the square itself there are lots of places to relax, grab a bite to eat and drink and bask in the Alentejo sun. Of course, these are more touristy, but it’s still great, even if only grabbing a drink as respite from your day of sightseeing!
Capela dos Ossos
Next on my list of top things to see in Évora is the intriguing Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones. It is a small chapel built by Franciscan monks and made up entirely of the bones of around 5000 exhumed bodies.
As creepy as this may sound, I found the Capela dos Ossos chapel incredibly interesting and surprisingly serene. Even if just for the fact that the monks managed to meticulously place each and every one of the bones to form different patterns and shapes is very fascinating. I would definitely recommend a visit here.
Given it’s long and colourful history, it’s no surprise to find Roman remnants left over in the city of Évora. One such example is the ruins of the Roman Temple, also known as the Temple of Diana, which is said to have been constructed around the 1st century A.D.
The ruins are situated in what used to be the historic square in Évora and today there are lovely gardens surrounding the temple from where you can enjoy views of the temple and surrounds.
Set up top the highest point of the city and towering over Évora, you’ll find the Sé de Évora, or the Évora Cathedral. This imposing cathedral was built between the years 1184, up until it’s final completion in 1746.
The Gothic and Romanesque exterior and interiors are simply incredible in its intricate and beautiful details. It’s no wonder that this cathedral was declared a UNESCO site and is definitely worth a visit.
What & where to eat in Évora
It is no secret that the Alentejo region is known for its delicious foods and incredible selection of award-winning wines. In fact, just about everyone from Alentejo will boast about this fact.
Well, having sampled some of the food and wine myself, I can honestly agree that you will no doubt have some of the best meals and wines here.
When we visited Évora for the first time, we stumbled upon a local restaurant known as Cozinha da Catarina, located close to the Porta de Aviz city gate. And boy, were we glad we did. We had the Bochechas de Porco Preto (stewed Black Pork Cheeks), which were absolutely delicious and tender and a true delicacy of Alentejo. Coupled with a lovely red Alentejo wine, this was still our best ever meal in Portugal!
We’ve since returned to Cozinha da Catarina and can happily recommend it to anyone visiting Évora.
Where to stay in Évora
If you’re still deciding on where to stay when visiting Évora, then I would definitely recommend staying inside the walled historic centre itself. Thankfully there are a ton of good accommodation options available to suit every preference and budget.
Some of the top-rated hotels and guest houses in Évora include: The Noble House, Evora Olive Hotel, Albergaria Do Calvario and the Valeriana Exclusive GuestHouse to name but a few quality, tried & tested accommodation options.
Exploring beyond Évora
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to spend a night or two in Évora, in order to really get the best of a visit to this stunning medieval city. If you are looking to explore beyond the city walls, then there’s lots to see and do within the surrounding region itself.
One place in particular that we loved was the hilltop medieval town of Reguengos de Monsaraz, only a short half an hour drive from Évora.
The town is a quaint and charming ancient town with white-washed houses contrasted against the old castle bricks and stone. Set high on top of a hill, you can enjoy some of the incredible views out over Alentejo and even into neighbouring Spain which is just across the river.
We arrived in Monsaraz in the late afternoon, which was perfect. We got to enjoy a drink on top of the castle walls whilst watching the sun set. Pure magic and definitely one of our highlights!
Of course, Alentejo, very much being regarded as the countryside of Portugal, also has a host of wine farms and interesting cork tree forests that you can visit and explore too. Many of which offer tours & experiences where you can learn more about the makings of wine or cork products. Very fascinating and well worth a try.
Évora in my mind is a pure delight. A city not too big and overwhelming, yet still jam-packed with loads of history, charm and culture to explore. You will honestly fall in love with this medieval city, just as we have done.
From it’s amazing food and wine to the friendly people as well as the ancient attractions and sights, there really is something to keep every type of traveller engaged and intrigued. So, next time you’re planning your trip to Portugal, be sure to include Évora into your travel itinerary.
This is a guest post by Marco from the Blog Travel Boo
Author’s Bio: Born and raised in South Africa, Marco Santos from Travel-Boo, together with his partner moved to sunny Lisbon over 2 years ago. With an absolute love for Europe he is on a mission to rediscover his own Portuguese heritage along the way. Marco has set out to blog and share his passion for travelling through and exploring both Portugal, Spain and throughout Europe, through his blog Travel-Boo. You can follow Marco’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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