Alqueva, Portugal - Portugal's Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, the world's first "starlight tourism destination," was recognized at the World Travel Awards as Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction. After winning two World Travel Awards earlier this fall, Dark Sky Alqueva has just been named as the World’s Leading Tourism Project for 2020, a recognition of the innovative essence of this astro-tourism destination and its new sustainable development model.
Dark Sky Alqueva is a nonprofit organization. The stargazing destination set in the Alentejo region offers guests some of the darkest and clearest skies on Earth due to a lack of light pollution. Here, guests see thousands of stars, punctuated by meteors, planets and the Milky Way.
Dark Sky Alqueva was the first official Starlight Tourism Destination in the world, receiving certification from the Starlight Foundation back in 2011. The reserve covers 4,000 square miles around The Great Lake of Alqueva, just west of the border with Spain, and 2 hours from Lisbon. The reserve is made up of the towns of Alandroal, Barrancos, Moura, Mourão, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portel, Évora, Mértola and Serpa. Dark Sky Alqueva offers a diversity of daytime and nighttime activities. Across the border, some 13 Spanish towns have joined, making it the world's first multi-national dark sky reserve. A new Dark Sky Route offers several astronomical observation activities with the naked eye or with telescopes, which can be carried out at the Official Dark Sky Observatory, set in the village of Cumeada, near Reguengos de Monsaraz. In 2016, as part of the project, all street lighting in the town was replaced with LED lights pointing downwards to the ground to reduce light pollution. This effort to see the night sky is a partnership with EDP Portugal. The observatory has modern telescopes for both solar and astronomical gazing. Guests can check out the planets, explore moon craters and see the colors of a thousand stars.
The open plains around Alqueva are fun both during the day and at night. A massive lake is set between two fortified towns. Dark Sky Alqueva also has a network of partners, such as the Alqueva Dark Sky Route, which oversees the accommodations and tourist activities in the area. These include hiking, horseback riding, nighttime canoeing, boat excursions on the lake, hot-air balloon rides, paddle boarding, and sports. In addition to these activities, there is Solar System yoga, photographic tours and workshops, wine tours, birding, wildlife watching, and more.
To find out about our activities and partners, visit our website www.darkskyalqueva.com. https://www.worldtravelawards.com/video/3657