Welcome to the enchanting city of Évora, a captivating gem of the Alentejo region, with a picturesque landscape and a rich history. Located about a hundred kilometers from Lisbon, Évora is a perfect place to get to know and explore while visiting the Portuguese capital. Medieval walls, Roman remains and other relics, charming little streets and breathtaking views are all part of this white and ochre canvas. Not only will a day trip to Évora delight history and culture buffs, the city’s peaceful atmosphere offers travelers a respite from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon.
Our colleague Caroline shares her insider secrets, gourmet addresses and essential visits.
Secrets in the sun
Évora is reputed to be the hottest city in Portugal. The Alentejo region is particularly dry, with up to 15 hours of sunshine in the summer. Unlike Lisbon or the Algarve, Évora does not benefit from sea breezes due to their proximity to the sea. The mercury here often exceeds 30 degrees.
You know the drill: bottle of water, hat, sunscreen, light colors.
Traveling to Évora from Lisbon
You can get there by car, train, or by bus if you’re on a budget. There are hourly departures from Entrecampos, Oriente or Sete Rios stations. Fares range from $10 to $50. Buy your tickets on the Virail website or on the spot: you’ll be in Évora in about an hour and a half.
Getting around Évora
All addresses below are within a 10-minute walk, while the train station is 20 minutes from the center. A stroll will also give you the chance to soak up the atmosphere of the city. The beautiful white and yellow maze-like streets will lead you to its milestones from various eras.
Our favorite things to do Évora for a day
Breakfast at Pastelaria Pão de Rala
First gourmet stop: the tastefully decorated Pastelaria Pão de Rala offers pastries with equally cute names. There, you can savor queijinhos do céu (“cheese from heaven”), beijinhos (“kisses”) and the house specialty, a pão de rala. Almonds, citrus fruits and cream are the key flavors and they go just perfectly with their delicious latte.
More places to eat in Évora:
Fascinating and funereal Capela dos Ossos
The inscription at the entrance to the chapel sets the tone: ” We, the bones that are here, wait for yours. “
Unsettling yet fascinating, this peculiar place attached to the church of São Francisco was built in the 16th century. At that time, a plague epidemic hit Portugal and the cemeteries were overcrowded. The Franciscan monks of Évora exhumed bodies to sort out the clutter. Then they offered them a new eternal haven within the walls of their monastery. Lined with the skulls and bones of more than 5000 skeletons, the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones) is meant to instill a sense of hospitality and comfort towards the anguish of death. Whether it inspires serenity or chills, it is a powerful testament to the human condition and a true work of art with an irresistibly macabre twist.
Admission fee: Free for children under 12, from 4 to 6 € depending on age. Also gives access to a museum of religious art and a collection of nativity scenes on site.
Templo de Diana, a stunning Roman relic
Standing tall in the heart of the city, the Temple of Diana is a legacy of Ancient Rome, presumably dating from the 1st century AD. Dedicated to the goddess of the hunt and the moon, the temple was once a place of worship in the flourishing Roman colony of Évora. Its function then shifted with the rise and fall of several empires.
Used as a fortress during the Moorish reign, then as a market in the Middle Age, it is now part of the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. The Temple of Diana invites travelers to marvel at its impressive Corinthian columns, its refined architectural details and its undeniable timelessness.
A quick break at the Jardim Diana
Located in front of the majestic Temple of Diana and crowned by a mirador, this cute little park is just the place to take a break. It provides welcome shade, a kiosk to cool down with a cerveja, and a charming view over the rooftops of Évora.
Lunch in the quaint and cozy Páteo
For a tasty, no-frills meal in a beautiful setting, Páteo is the perfect place. The menu combines regional flavors with traditional Portuguese cuisine at a very reasonable price.
The large terrace boasts a warm atmosphere with friendly, attentive staff. The cocktails are frankly fantastic, and the delicious food is presented in earthenware plates that invite to share. On the menu: the infamous porco preto (a local specialty), exquisite grilled shrimp, cheese and charcuterie boards, and a variety of grills.
More restaurant options in Évora:
A spectacular visit to the Sé Cathedral of Évora
Steeped in centuries of history, this Gothic architectural masterpiece will lull you into a medieval dream. The cathedral dazzles with its imposing facade, vaulted ceilings adorned with graceful arches, sacred relics and ethereal aura. But the highlight is at the top of its towers, where you can take in a breathtaking view of the serene beauty of Évora and the rolling Alentejo countryside. Don’t forget your camera!
Admission fee: Between 2 and 5 €. Gives access to the Cathedral, the cloister, the tower and the museum of sacred art on site.
All photo credits: Caroline Sobral Cabana