Take a Break from Lisbon and Visit Medieval Évora

Situated in the Alentejo countryside, 70 miles from Lisbon, Évora’s historical walled town is a great spot for those seeking a break from the big city.

Évora is best known for its well-preserved monuments dating back to different historical periods, but in my memory, it will always be remembered for its delicious and one of a kind orange juice!

Where to Start?

The best place to start your visit is on Évora’s picturesque Praça do Giraldo, a former execution area during the inquisition and the town’s main square. Connecting to this plaza is the pedestrian Rua Cinco de Outubro. The narrow street is filled with souvenir shops and leads visitors to Sé de Évora, the town’s main cathedral.

The church was built in 1186 and while it resembles a fortress outside, within its walls lies a beautiful Gothic interior. Make sure to climb to its roof - once we got to the top, we were welcomed to wide views of the region’s vast yellow grass fields which dominated the landscape in mid-September.

Adjacent to the cathedral is the most iconic monument in Évora: The Roman Temple.

It is not only the symbol of the city, but also one of the best well-preserved Roman structures in Portugal. The temple is surrounded by a quaint park with ample seating and a well maintained garden full of wildflowers.

Tip: São João Evangelista is a former convent and now a B&B located next to the temple. You may have a hard time finding it, but there is a church attached to the convent that should not be missed! The walls of the church are completely covered in the iconic Portuguese blue tiles and quickly became one of our favorite churches in Portugal.

Churches, Wines and Aqueduct…

Next to Sé de Évora is a staircase that will lead to Porta de Moura Square known for with its distinguishable spherical renaissance fountain. We purposefully got lost inside the maze of small and narrow streets that line this part of town.

If you are not churched out already, there are some interesting ones in this area: Igreja da Graça built in the 16th century during the reign of John the III and Igreja de São Francisco.

São Francisco church is a must go in Évora and that is appropriately due to its mesmerizing Chapel of Bones. I was particularly impressed with the attention to detail and arrangement of the human bones, placed in a specific manner in order to form the walls and columns of the chapel.  

If you enjoy wine and want to learn more about its substantial influence in the region, head to Alentejo Wine Office (Rota dos Vinhos Alentejo) located in Praça Joaquim António de Aguiar. During our short visit, we got an overview of the region’s wine tourism and sampled some local wine in their tasting room.

Tip: While exploring the streets of Évora we ran into the town’s Silver Water Aqueduct. It crosses the town through Rua do Cano and Rua do Salvador. This large structure runs around 6 miles with many houses built into its arches.

Évora: Portugal's Gastronomic City

If you are looking to have one great meal while in Portugal, Évora is the right place for it - the town is well known for its impressive selection of restaurants.

We ate at a delicious restaurant called Dom Joaquim that serves traditional dishes from the region including the area’s black pork. This type of pig is grown in the Alentejo and many of its local meals are made using this meat.

I recommend that you ask your innkeeper which restaurant they recommend in town. They should provide you with a few options and even book a table for you.

Tip: I usually do not write about what I had as a drink on my trips but Évora’s orange juice is one-of-a-kind. If you were to try one thing in Évora, it should be their orange juice! You will never forget it… you will have other orange juices in Portugal and even at home but none will ever be like Évora’s.

So…please…drink the orange juice!

If you are staying overnight, try to take a walk through town at night. Évora really becomes picturesque as day trippers leave and its historical monuments become lit.


The Wrap-Up: You can get to Évora from Lisbon by train, bus or by car. You can also opt to stay overnight or take a day trip from the capital. If you are just taking a quick trip to Évora, it is best to use public transportation. However, if you are thinking of exploring more of the Alentejo countryside, it is best to rent a car since public transportation can be hard to find in the area.

From Lisbon: With the exception of Lisbon our entire two week trip through Portugal entailed a car. If like us, you are driving from Lisbon to Évora, it should take you around 1 hour and 30 minutes. I would highly recommend that you leave your car at the hotel as soon as you arrive since Évora’s narrow streets can be hard to drive - we got lost upon arrival and our car almost did not fit inside its tiny side streets!

The B&B: Albergaria do Calvario was one of the best hotels we stayed in Portugal. They offer a hearty breakfast, great restaurant suggestions and most importantly, an attentive service to their guests. Its atmosphere resembles staying inside a traditional Portuguese farmhouse: The inn’s walls are painted white and blue and its floors are lined with iconic Portuguese red tiles.

- Want to see the full trip and plan your next? Check out our Portugal Two Week Itinerary!