Monsaraz is a tiny village in an epic setting. Its hilltop position promises soaring views across the Alentejo countryside, peppered with olive trees and whitewashed hamlets. Take it all in from a taverna as you nibble petiscos and rub shoulders with the locals.
A sleepy pocket of traditional Portugal with Alentejo scenery swirling all around
Things to do
Bring flat shoes and a good camera to the Castelo. Cobbled streets and the old walls that circle Monsaraz lead to this impressive fortress – and to panoramic views. If you want to strike out further afield, seek out the megalithic standing stones of Cromeleque do Xerez or Menhir do Outeiro. The latter is amongst the world’s tallest.
Whether it’s from the castle walls or your boutique hotel, you’ll no doubt notice the Alqueva Dam as you’re admiring the outlook from Monsaraz. This ‘lake’ makes for a pleasant visit by day, or you can come after dark for some stargazing at the Lago Alqueva Observatory.
Monsaraz is home to a couple of atmospheric churches. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lagoa is small and simple at first glance, but brims with character inside. Slightly larger is Igreja Matriz, parts of which date back to the 14th century.
Keep your eyes peeled for colourful, patterned mantas in the little shops of Monsaraz. They’re beautiful examples of Alentejo craftsmanship.
Top tip from SLH