Alentejo: The largest region in Portugal

Located in south-central Portugal, between the Tagus River and the Algarve, Alentejo is the largest region in the country, comprising 34.3% of the territory with 299 freguesias or neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive flavor, that make up 58 municipalities. The Alentejo region has five subdivisions: Alto Alentejo, Baixo Alentejo, Alentejo Central, Alentejo Litoral, and Lezíria do Tejo. Altogether the population of Alentejo is about 700,000 inhabitants.

Évora, the capital of Alentejo, is the largest and the most famous city in the region, with 55,620 inhabitants. Although Alentejo is the largest region by area in the country, with historical cities dating back centuries, its territory covers a vast plain with lots of villages, towns, and farms.

As one of the destinations most sought-after by students and tourists who want to travel to Portugal, Alentejo is a very safe and welcoming region that preserves its historical, cultural, and architectural heritage. The coastline of Alentejo has some of the best beaches in Europe, with many considered excellent for water sports like surfing (at all skill levels) and kayaking or just enjoying the beach with family.

Alentejo is the perfect combination of ecotourism with cultural tourism. It is also famous for the best wineries in the country, its charming villages, distinguished cuisine, historical cities, and stunning landscapes.

Its “Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme” rose to prominence in The New York Times, ranked by this top American newspaper as one of 52 worldwide destinations for visitors who want to be part of the solution to environmental problems such as climate change.

In Portuguese, “Alentejo” means “beyond the Tagus River,” because the region is located beyond this river in relation to Lisbon. The roads that cross Alentejo are quiet, and the cities are very peaceful, making it the perfect region for people who want to relax close to nature without giving up comfort and modernity.

Agriculture and raising cattle are the activities that establish the socioeconomic profile of Alentejo society. Its main crops are wheat, rye, sunflowers, and tomatoes, plus cork, wine, and olive oil. In recent years, the activities related to tourism have stood out in Alentejo, especially in Évora, due to its beauty, its large number of tourist attractions, and the college students who live in the region.

Because of investments in agriculture, tourism, and globalization, Alentejo has become the fourth-largest regional economy in Portugal, with the third-highest income of all seven national regions.

Characterized by the Mediterranean temperate climate, with hot and dry summers and rainy and mild winters, the Alentejo region has become the world’s first destination to earn the “Starlight Tourism Destination” certificate for its excellent conditions for stargazing. The skies and horizons are beautiful and free of light pollution, and the observatory near Évora is equipped with cutting-edge telescopes for close-up views of the moon, planets, and stars. Residents and visitors can take advantage of nighttime stargazing activities, including wine tasting, picnicking, canoeing, and horseback riding under the stars. And there’s plenty to do during the day!

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