The Alentejo has long been overlooked as a region to move to, but rising house prices and overtourism in the Algarve have put it on the map. Like the Algarve, The Alentejo is blessed with warm weather, a laid-back atmosphere, and it also has a beautiful, rugged coastline with some of the nicest beaches and cliff-top walks in Portugal.
This is a part of Portugal that’s known for agriculture. Although more people are moving here, it typically has a much older population and when you visit the many white-washed towns and villages, you’ll see plenty of old Portuguese men and women, sitting on benches, chatting, and watching the day go by. It’s also known for its food and its wine, and you’ll find plenty of wonderful vineyards and places to eat here.
When thinking about the Alentejo, it can help to decide whether you want to live inland or near the coast. There can be quite a few differences between the two, which shouldn’t be surprising when you consider the Alentejo is the largest region in Portugal. For many, the appeal of the Alentejo is an affordable opportunity to live near the coast and to live near beaches that are still very untouched by tourism. The high summer temperatures of inland Alentejo, which often top 40°C close to the Spanish border, put many people off moving there, but if you’re comfortable with that, you get the benefit of living close to both Spain and Portugal.
Photos of the Alentejo
Pros and cons of living here
Everywhere has its pros and cons, including the Alentejo
- Some of the best weather in Portugal
- The Alentejo is considered to be one of Portugal’s best regions for food (and wine)
- A whole host of beautiful beaches on the coast where you can cool down. River beaches (praias fluviais) are common in the interior
- Typically lower house prices than on the neighbouring Algarve
- Summer temperatures inland can top 40°C, and without a coastal breeze can feel extremely hot
- Most young people leave the region to work in the cities so it can sometimes have a bit of a deserted feel
Where to live
The following are just some of the places where you could consider living.
Locations near the coast
- Vila Nova de Milfontes – A popular destination for holidaymakers, particularly from Portugal, this coastal town in ideal for those looking to be clear the Alentejo coast
- Porto Covo – While still a popular tourism destination, the seaside fishing town of Porto Covo is located alongside the
- Évora – The capital, largest city in the Alentejo, and a popular destination for tourists
- Beja – The region’s second city, and one that has been overlooked by tourists and future expats alike
- Castelo de Vide – Situated in the Alto-Alentejo region and close to the Spanish-Portuguese border, the beautifully maintained town of Castelo de Vide offers wonderful views over the surrounding s Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede
- Portalegre –
- Vila Viçosa –
Regional Alentejo food
The Alentejo is famous for its food. As this is a largely agricultural region, dishes are often heavy and make use of the bread produced in the region.
Some typical dishes to look out for include:
- Açorda – A bread-based soup that, in the Alentejo style, is made from coriander and eggs (this can be vegetarian, but he sure to ask)
- Migas – Dumplings that are usually served as a side with meat
- Carne de porco à alentejana – A type of stew made from pork, clams, coriander, and potatoes
- Ensopado de borrego – A lamb and potato stew
- Sericaia – A Portuguese egg-based pudding, topped with cinnamon
- Queijadas de Évora – Évora’s take on the queijada, a sweet made from cheese, eggs, and milk and found throughout Portugal (famously in Sintra)
Getting around & public transport
As this is quite a rural part of Portugal, a car is definitely recommended. There are bus and train services, but relying on them will make getting around difficult.
The trainline only covers some parts of the Alentejo, covering several towns in the centre of the Alentejo on its route from Lisbon to Faro. There’s also a line that stretches east, and from here you can get to places like Évora and Beja. As mentioned, however, there is a line that goes to Lisbon and if you’re near this line, you can easily get to the capital and take connected trains onto Porto or other parts of Portugal.
Buses, both local and long-distance coaches, may be more useful for getting around on public transport. Bus services vary from town to town and if your plan is to rely on public transport, you may want to consider a larger town (Évora, for example) that’s a local transport hub and has a lot of services to nearby towns and villages.