What's new in the Alentejo?
September 15, 2020
Life moves at a different pace in the Alentejo. Days are sunny - but never dull. From the north on the Tejo to the very south of the Alentejo the diversity of landscapes and culture makes for a wide offering of adventures. Visitors won’t only unwrap the history of the region, but also enjoy nature and so many open-air activities in this unique place with mild winters.
A great example is the Alentejo Wine Route. The local Comissão Vitivinícola Regional Alentejana (CVRA) has an expanded Alentejo Wine Route. Now with a new starting point in Évora with tastings, and help in creating an itinerary not to mention insight into the grape varieties used for Alentejo wines and into the differences between the soils of the region.
There’s also the brand new Routes of Cultural Touring - Alentejo. They provide the regions of Alentejo with a structured cycling product. This tour offers four complementary routes about Prehistory, Baroque, Fortifications and Avian. The routes take advantage of the vast cultural heritage of the Alentejo to create an innovative intro in the region, all leading to unique cultural and natural heritage sites.
For a special stay in the region, Rota Vicentina has created a digital guide so that everyone can check out what is happening in the Southwestern Alentejo and Costa Vicentina region. There’s a selection of events and activities from Santiago do Cacém to Lagos - local outdoor markets, shows and guided walks, sports or cultural activities.
For more relaxed days, in a year there will be a new river beach on the Alqueva Lake. This will be the fourth beach zone on the lake, and will have services and life guards, as well as an eatery, changing rooms and footbridges.
Also in 2021, in the area of Cuba, The Ecoparque do Alentejo Central, the river beach and a nautical center should be open. In this eco-park near the dam of Albergaria dos Fusos there will also be a mountain biking center, a service area for motorhomes, a birding tower and an eatery.
Close to the fortified city of Estremoz, in Serra d'Ossa a new route of footbridges is being built. The wooden walkways will be about 350 meters and it will be possible along some trails, to see markers from when hermit monks made this mountain their home.
Good news for cycling lovers is that, along the Alentejo and Ribatejo, there will be over 3,000 kilometers of cyclable paths. The 'Cycling Alentejo and Ribatejo' project is also expected to be completed by the end of 2020. In total, the two regions will have 1,369 km of mountain bike, 931km of road and 805 km of gravel (unpaved) roads.
In 2021 Bark - a biopark will open with 260 species with the potential to reach 3,000. This more immersive form of zoo will open in Vila Nova da Barquinha, in the area of Santarém. The goal is to recreate natural habitats for hundreds of species with as little intervention as possible in these 43 hectares of land.
The Interpretation and Observation Centre of the Lince-ibérico is one of the latest offerings in the historic town of Mértola. This new center lets visitors get to know and help preserve this endangered big cat species, which has been saved from extinction in Portugal. Here, visitors will be able to contemplate the panoramic landscape where the first lynx couple, Katmandu and Jacarandá, were released in 2014 in one of the efforts to save the species from extinction in the Guadiana River Valley.
At Bib Gourmand, Michelin's guide to good food at more affordable prices, there are six new names of restaurants from Portugal, and two are from the Ribatejo area. The annual list mentioned Casa Chef Vítor Felisberto, in Alferrerede, near Abrantes, and Taberna Ó Balcão, by Chef Rodrigo Castelo, in Santarém as places with a good price-quality ratio.
When planning to spend your days in the Alentejo in a different type of accommodation, staying in a houseboat is now an option. Houseboats are a way to enjoy this fall with social distancing, in Alqueva. Boats are available for 2 to 12 people and there is no need of a boating license.
The Portuguese hotel group Vila Galé has transformed part of the world's oldest horse farm - Coudelaria de Alter do Chão - and turned it into a four star hotel. Between the cities of Elvas and Portalegre, Vila Galé Collection Alter Real – Resort Equestre, Conference & Spa has 77 rooms, three outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant, a bar and museums of horse and falconry.
What else is new in the Alentejo? This short promo video of the region - “We Call It Alentejo”. Take a look!
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