The Alentejo is the largest region in Portugal. It is a predominantly rural territory, suitable for slow tourism and where it is good to hike to soak up the diversity of its landscapes. Its coastline is lined with long beaches that make surfers happy, forests and towns where you can go for a walk and simply enjoy the sunny terraces. The inland area is full of vast plains and vineyards. Walking, cycling, horse riding and star gazing are all essential activities to enjoy the fresh air and recharge your batteries. And let's not forget the great beauty of the fortified villages, impenetrable forts and castles that you are bound to want to admire to plunge into the heart of the region's history. Autumn is still a balmy time in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and the Alentejo is a great place in Europe to escape the crowds and discover an authentic Portugal. Here are 5 activities to do with family and friends in a region that has so much to offer.

Feel a strong sense of freedom while hiking the Rota Vicentina

The Alentejo is a true hiker's paradise, whether you decide to go on foot or by bike. Running along the Atlantic coastline, the Rota Vicentina is a vast network of paths across southern Portugal, 740km long, linking Santiago de Cacém in the Alentejo and Lagos in the Algarve. The Rota Vicentina is divided into two main marked paths: The Historical Path and the Fishermen's Path. Following this itinerary allows you to discover one of the best preserved natural areas in Europe, with on one side, the steep relief bordering a raging Atlantic Ocean and on the other, green plains and pastures where animals live in complete serenity. From fishing villages, one reaches picturesque villages further inland. No matter where you are, the welcome of the inhabitants is always the same: warm with the desire to make discover the local wealth. It is the inhabitants of the Alentejo who first expressed their deep desire to preserve their wild coastline, and to make their region a region where tourism is responsible.

Enjoy a moment of complicity with the dolphins in Comporta

When visiting Comporta, it is essential to visit the Troia Peninsula to the north of the city. It is from there that you can book a sea trip to live an incredible experience: that of meeting the dolphins called "Corazon Roaze". About thirty of these marine mammals live peacefully in the waters of the Sado estuary, most certainly conquered by the mild climate and the feeling of being safe there. Vertigem Azul is one of the first companies to have organized excursions aboard a sailboat or a small motorboat to observe the dolphins, while respecting their rhythm and comfort. During the trip, you can enjoy the landscapes of the estuary and the beautiful coast of Arrábida. Then, once the mammals are spotted, we contemplate with joy their acrobatic ballet. A wonderful moment!

Watching the stars at night in Alqueva

The landscapes of the Alentejo are ideal for a wide range of activities during the day, but you shouldn't miss the chance to go out in the evening to watch the gentle spectacle of the starry sky. In the region, an area of about 3,000m2 around the Alqueva lake was the first tourist destination in Portugal to obtain the Dark Sky Reserve certification from the Starlight Foundation, rewarding sites that preserve the night sky from light pollution. Yes, in the Alentejo, the sky is also one of those treasures that we want to preserve! To contemplate the infinite beauty of the sky at nightfall, and be amazed by the light emitted by the stars, visitors can go to the Dark Sky Alqueva Observatory in Cumeada. The astronomical observatory has state-of-the-art equipment for observing the planets and other craters on the moon with the utmost precision. In addition, enthusiasts can enjoy a whole day of exceptional activities, in tune with the colours of the sky and the light: boat or canoe trips on the lake, gin aperitifs at sunset or blind wine tasting by the light of the Milky Way.

Strolling between land and sea

In the southwestern Alentejo Natural Park, in the middle of the agricultural land, there are horse riding centres where the Lusitano breed is bred. These horses are known for their elegance, their liveliness, but also for their docility. The unspoilt landscapes of the southern region of Portugal offer a pleasant feeling of freedom at all times. And there's nothing better to reinforce this feeling than a horseback ride with family or friends. Inland, horseback riding takes you through plains with abundant vegetation and past villages surrounded by olive trees, cork oaks and eucalyptus. To vary the pleasure of the eyes as well as the sensations, you can also quietly reach the coast. You will be fascinated by the movements of the ocean and the beauty of the steep cliffs. Everything is possible in the Alentejo to spend a pleasant moment with horses. You can introduce the little ones to pony rides, take riding lessons or go on a week-long riding holiday!

Playing the role of a knight in the streets of a fortified village

The lands of the Alentejo have been trodden by many invaders in the course of their history: Celts, Greeks, Moors, then Spaniards and French. As a result, forts, castles and fortifications of various influences have sprung up in numbers to protect the territory. Today, beyond its exceptional nature, the Alentejo also delights lovers of architecture and heritage. Whether you reach a castle perched on the heights or wander through the streets and alleys of medieval villages, you will soon feel like you have stepped back in time and are like a knight. The Belver Castle and its impressive 12th century keep offer a breathtaking view of the Tagus River which it dominates and the surrounding green hills. The small village of the same name next to it is no less attractive. The beauty of the river can also be enjoyed from the main tower of the Amieira do Tejo Castle, which dates from the 14th century and whose square shape gives it a unique look. And what can be said about the incredible atmosphere of the narrow streets of the town of Marvão? Its exceptional location at an altitude of 860 m, its narrow streets, its church of Santa Maria, its incredible castle in perfect condition and the river Sever which winds at its feet make it a must-see. Finally, we must mention Monsaraz, a typical Portuguese medieval village with its narrow streets, white houses, shops and viewpoints over the Alqueva lake. The charm is guaranteed.

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