Vineyards & white marbles!
Alentejo, known as the southern region of Portugal, neighbors Lisbon and welcomes daytrippers who want to explore off-the-beaten path. Its name appropriately means: “beyond the Tagus river.”
For a 24-hour escape from Lisbon, we recommend first stopping by a winery in between Evorna and Estremoz, then explore the white marble town of Estremoz. Have lunch in Marvão, followed by an afternoon stroll through the glorious castle. If you feel like it, then you can road trip back to Lisbon afterwards. Get ready for a day of vineyards, and white marbles!
Lisbon -> João Portugal Ramos wines S.A.
Driving time: 1h40m
As one of the most famous winemakers in Portugal, João Portugal Ramos began his career first as a wine consultant. The path allowed him to introduce Portugal to new winemaking processes with modern technology and a focus on sustainability. His own vineyard in the Alentejo region between Evorna and Estremoz is where you can taste various wines, and even buy olive oils. Remember to ask for Sofia as your wine tour guide! She’s friendly, and incredibly knowledgeable.
João Portugal Ramos wines S.A. -> Estremoz
Driving time: 8 minutes
Known as the “white city” in Alentejo, Estremoz is a quiet and charming town with friendly folks. Estremoz is famous for its marbles, hence you’ll witness local houses scattered across a hill featuring deposits of white marble.
Traces of humans living in Estremoz began around Paleolithic period. Later, the town became an important location during two significant battles that were crucial to Portugal’s independence: Batalha do Ameixial and Batalha dos Montes Claros.
You’ll most likely enter the city via 17th century Medieval constructions made from Estremoz marble. While you’re here, don’t miss: Castelo de Estremoz, which features a pentagonal floor and a 27-meter high marble tower: Torre de Menagem Keep. It was built under three kings: Alfonso VI, Pedro and Fernando. From the top of the castle, you can see Alentejan plains in layers. If you watch closely, you can probably spot Marvão, where we suggest you head to next. Today, the castle also includes a Pousada – a beautiful inn with a pool
Estremoz -> Marvão
Driving time: 1h5m
First, you must be hungry by now. So lunch at Pousada Marvão, it’s a hotel restaurant serving traditional Portuguese cuisine with the most epic view overlooking the gorgeous city of Marvão.
Listed by The New York Times as one of “1000 Places To See Before You Die,” Marvão itself is nature’s own design of strategic defense. Surrounded by steep slopes in 360-degrees, and you can only access Marvão by foot from the east where the whitewashed village began to grow.
The most beautiful landmark here is the 13th-century Marvão Castle, perfectly situated for the breathtaking views of the mountainous Serra de São Mamede terrain. The castle also offers a splendid perspective of Spanish border less than 10 miles away. As the Nobel Prize recipient José Saramago once said, “From Marvão one can see the entire land.”
The castle was originally built by Ibn Marwan, an 8th century Islamic knight. Five centuries later, Marvão was reconquered by King Alfonso I. Then the present-day castle was built when King Dom Dinis was in power, when the Moorish began to leave and Portugal’s border with Spain had to be protected.
Marvão Castle represents several innovative architectural components for its time, including: arrow-slits to attack enemies, a triple gate that acts as “a killing zones” to attack invaders, and a massive cistern chamber to gather rainwater during siege. If you’re not rushing to head back to Lisbon for the night, then wait until dusk and enjoy the sunset from this hidden gem of the world.
Marvão -> Lisbon
Driving time: 2h40m
If you don’t need to hurry back to Lisbon on the same day, then I highly recommend staying at Pousada Marvão. If you decide to road trip back to Lisbon, then travel safe as the car ride is more than 2 hours long!