Alentejo covers a vast landscape, rich in olive trees which produce Portugal’s best olive oil, and cork oak trees which supply over half of the world’s cork and whose acorns feed the black pigs from which the famous smoked ham is made. There are also numerous farming estates with large fields full of wheat, sunflowers and vineyards which produce the excellent Alentejo DOC wine.
Compulsory stops include the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Évora and Elvas, as well as Portalegre, Arraiolos (known for its beautiful carpets), Ferreira do Alentejo, where the largest olive grove in the world project has been growing, and Beja with a rich Roman and Arab legacy. The picturesque hill town of Monsaraz affords stunning views of the surrounding countryside and of Europe’s largest water reservoir – the Alqueva damn.
If you’re lucky you may even get to hear a traditional Cante Alentejano, Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2014, a genre of traditional two-part singing performed by amateur choral groups in the Alentejo region. Cante Alentejano is a polyphonic singing characterized by distinctive melodies, lyrics and vocal styles, and performed without instrumentation.
And we mustn’t forget the fabulous Alentejo coast with is stunning cliffs and Atlantic beaches.