Nestled in the heart of Portugal’s Alentejo region, in the Alentejo’s Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede, Castelo de Vide stands as a poignant reminder of the country’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Often referred to as the “Sintra of the Alentejo”, this quaint town, with its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, transports visitors back in time, offering a serene escape from the bustle of modern life.
At the heart of Castelo de Vide lies its medieval castle, presiding over the town with a regal presence and offering breathtaking panoramas of the verdant surroundings. Beyond the castle’s imposing walls, the town unfolds in a maze of narrow alleyways, charming plazas, and historical landmarks, including a well-preserved Jewish quarter that stands as one of the most significant in Portugal. Complementing its historical allure, Castelo de Vide is surrounded by natural springs, which have earned it a reputation as a spa town since Roman times.
With a harmonious blend of history, nature, and culture, Castelo de Vide is a gem in the crown of Alentejo, beckoning travellers to delve into its enchanting world. While nearby Marvão is a popular stop off on the Alentejo tourist trail, Castelo de Vide is often overlooked. Marvão, with its narrow cobbled streets and sporadic layout is quainter, yes, but Castelo de Vide has plenty to offer including beautiful architecture, stunning views of the surrounding mountainous countryside, and historical attractions including a castle. The two towns located just 12 km apart and they can both be easily visited in one day. In fact, visiting them both together highlights the differences between the two.
The layout of Castelo de Vide, especially around the town square, is much more organised and, although it does attract tourists, the town feels a lot less touristy. It’s pleasant to walk around, and the verdant Parque João José da Luz offers a pleasant place to escape the sun when the weather gets too hot. You should allow somewhere between a few hours and half a day to see Castelo de Vide. Castelo de Vide and Marvão are both quite small and, if you dedicate half a day to each, you can see both of them in a day.
Useful Resources For Your Trip To Castelo de VideHere’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to Castelo de Vide.
- Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Castelo de Vide.
- Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental, particularly from nearby airports, like Lisbon Airport.
- Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at most airports in Portugal, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups. However, for travel to Castelo de Vide and within the Alentejo, renting a car is recommended.
- Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in Castelo de Vide and the surrounding Alentejo region.
- Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal.
- Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For long distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal.
- Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal. While there is a very small, regional airport in Beja, the nearest major airport to Castelo de Vide is Lisbon Airport.
Where to Stay
The following are just three suggestions of places to stay in Castelo de Vide.
- Pensão Destino – Located in a former but now renovated train station, Pensão Destino is a unique place to stay while you’re in Castelo de Vide.
- Hotel Castelo de Vide – Portuguese hotel offering panoramic views of the São Mamede mountains and an outdoor swimming pool that’s essential for cooling off in the Alentejo heat.
- Casa da Paleta – Guest house with swimming pool and rustic gardens.
What to See & Do
Judiaria de Castelo de Vide
The Judiaria of Castelo de Vide is a testament to the rich Sephardic Jewish heritage that once thrived in Portugal. Situated within the historic heart of Castelo de Vide, this Jewish quarter stands as one of the best-preserved in the country. The streets are narrow and cobbled and make up one of the more beautiful parts of the town. Each of the houses here are split over two floors. The first was where business was conducted while the upstairs was used as the living quarters. On many of the doors you can see the “mezuzot;” small idents that show where a piece of parchment professing their faith was attached. While the Inquisition led to the eventual expulsion and conversion of many Jews in the late 15th century, the legacy of the Jewish community remains palpable. Distinctive Gothic doorways, ancient inscriptions, and the town’s synagogue-turned-fountain are poignant reminders of a community that significantly influenced Castelo de Vide’s cultural and economic fabric.
Two attractions that are of particular interest here are the synagogue and the Fonte da Vila fountain.
Castle of Castelo de Vide
The Castle of Castelo de Vide, perched high above the town, offers an evocative glimpse into Portugal’s medieval past. Constructed in the 14th century, this fortress was strategically designed to guard the Spanish frontier, a role it played dutifully throughout various skirmishes and battles. Its imposing stone walls and battlements have weathered the test of time, and visitors can wander through its historic ramparts, soaking in panoramic views of the surrounding Alentejo landscape. Inside the castle’s confines, one will find a unique blend of military and religious architecture. The medieval keep stands sentinel, while the nearby church of Santa Maria da Devesa showcases a harmonious blend of Gothic and Manueline styles.
The Serra de São Mamede
The Serra de São Mamede, a lush mountain range that dominates the northern part of the Alentejo region, offers an escape from the typical sunbaked landscapes of southern Portugal. Rising to a height of over 1,000 metres, it’s an oasis of biodiversity and a magnet for nature enthusiasts and walkers. The Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, enveloping a significant portion of the range, is home to a variety of flora and fauna, some of which are rare or endemic to the area. Cork and holm oak forests provide shelter for wildlife, such as the endangered Iberian lynx and various species of eagles, while the cooler climate supports a rich assortment of plants not commonly found in the surrounding regions. For travellers, the Serra offers not just natural beauty but also charming historic villages like Castelo de Vide and Marvão, which nestle on its slopes and provide panoramic vistas of the Alentejo plains stretching out below.
The park is more than 40 km wide and connects to the Montes de Toledo mountain range in Spain. Here, you’ll find a varied landscape that comprises of vineyards, olive groves, and cork trees, and more than 30 marked trails for you to explore.
Parque João José da Luz
What to Eat
Castelo de Vide is in the Alentejo, a part of Portugal that’s renowned within Portugal for its food, and you can expect dishes like Açorda, Migas, and Sericaia.
Castelo de Vide doesn’t have many dishes that are specific to the town, but be sure to look out for Boleima de Maçã. Boleima is a type of dessert that’s eaten all over the Alentejo, particularly around Easter time. There are many different variations on the recipe, and the apple version is Castelo de Vide’s regional take on the dessert. Like the unleavened bread that’s eaten at Passover, this cake contains no yeast. The filling it typically made from apples, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon.
Wine is another thing to think about. The Alentejo is one of Portugal’s best wine regions, and no trip to this region of Portugal is complete without trying some of the area’s best wines.
While there aren’t many wines specifically from Castelo de Vide, there are a few from nearby Marvão (Encostas de Marvão) and Portalegre (Adega de Portalegre, Adega Cooperativa de Portalegre, Adega de Portalegre, Adega Cooperativa de Portalegre Conventual).
If you’re willing to include the wider Alentejo in your search, you definitely won’t struggle to find some regional wines.
There are several ways to get to Castelo de Vide, but driving is undoubtedly the easiest option in this part of regional Portugal.
- Flying: The nearest major airport to Castelo de Vide is Lisbon Airport, which is around 2 hours by car.
- Train: There is no train station at Castelo de Vide. The nearest train station is Portalegre, which itself isn’t quite in Portalegre: it’s 13 km outside. Taxis are normally available from outside the Portalegre train station, and buses are go between Portalegre Town Centre and Castelo de Vide.
- Bus: Rodoviária do Alentejo, the local Alentejo bus company, offers services from Castelo de Vide to nearby towns like Portalegre and Marvão. Long distance buses connect Castelo de Vide with other cities in Portugal including Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Tickets can be purchased on https://www.rede-expressos.pt or on Flixbus.pt.
- Car: If you’re visiting The Alentejo, renting a car is definitely recommended. While there are bus services in most towns, and train services in some, it’s definitely going to be much easier to get around by car.