Évora Street-scene – Alentejo, Portugal

Évora, located due east of Lisbon, within striking distance of the Spanish border, is a classic example of a lesser-known ‘must-see’ Portuguese heritage town.

I love it, and highly recommend it to any traveller heading through this exotic region of southern Portugal.

Brimming with history, culture and a contagiously chilled pace of life, it offers a delightful base from which you can explore the surrounding Alentejo countryside.

It’s a landscape dominated by aged villages, white-washed towns and enormous grandstanding castles with steeply-walled stone fortifications. All to a classic backdrop of rolling olive groves, cork plantations and vineyards.

Evora feels a lifetime away from the busier and better-known larger towns and crowded coastal destinations which have tended to dominate Portuguese tourism marketing initiatives. It is a vibrant university town which is a delight to visit throughout the year, with fresh blue skies in mid-winter, allowing one to maximise on the notable mix of Évoran activities and adventure excursions, and blisteringly hot mid-summer temperatures, when siestas are essential.

Without doubt Evora is perfect for a short break as well for a longer holiday. The ever-friendly ambiance in the Old Town makes visitors feel at home in its twisting white-washed cobbled streets.

Inhabited since the 2nd century BC, Évora is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boasting impressive historical monuments, medieval walled ramparts, a Roman Temple and even the world famous 16th century Capela de Ossos (Chapel of Bones) – where the walls are made up of, and covered by, an assortment of human skulls and bones – the town also has a wealth of fabulous restaurants, a vibrant bar scene and smart retail outlets.

So whatever time of year you plan to visit, get the map out and book yourself into the delights of Évora. Not only will you not be disappointed, you’ll wish you had more time to explore what is one of Portugal’s most endearing rural towns.