The Spirit of Alentejo - Portugal
Embark on a less-trodden journey with the soul, the character and the colours of the Alentejo region - renowned as Portugal's answer to Italy's Tuscany, France's Provence or Spain's Basque regions as the undisputed food, wine and cultural journey in the heartbeat of Portugal.
Experience Medieval villages and towns of the Alentejo
Savour exquisite wine and gastronomy
Experience the charm and allure of the countryside
Stay in charming and intimate boutique hotels
DAY 1: ARRIVE LISBON / BEJA / ALBERNOA
Arrive into Lisbon Portela Intl Airport and be met and drive across the scenic Alentejo countryside (2hrs drive) to the ancient city of Beja - capital of the Lower Alentejo region under Roman rule in the 1st Century founded by Julius Caesar. Visit the Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Convent, a remarkable 15th Century convent displaying remarkable blend of architectural styles of Gothic and Manueline principles. Stop to admire the Church of Santa Maria with its iconic round pillars and Mudejar arches which was the first Visigothic temple in the 6th Century and then a mosque during the Moorish occupation. Marvel at the Beja Castle, a remarkable defensive fortress that provide an insight into the Visigothic era. Finally, a short drive takes us to the stunning Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, a wine estate hotel in Albernoa renowned for its impeccably-produced wine and cuisine. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Degustation Dinner led by Joachim Koerper, consulting chef with a Michelin Star in collaboration with resident chef, Bruno Antunes.
Overnight: Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, Albernoa
Meals: Welcome Degustation Dinner
DAY 2: ALBERNOA / MERTOLA / SERPA / MONSARAZ
Awake to a refreshing day in the beautiful countryside as we make a short drive to the Herdade dos Grous, located in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and cork oaks for a wine cellar visit and tasting of exquisite full-bodied wines that is a signature of the Alentejo region. Thereafter, we continue to the medieval historic town of Mertola with a distinctive Arabic essence perched on the rocky hills on the banks of the Guadiana River. Next, we continue our journey north to the former Islamic town of Serpa when the Moorish occupied the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th Century. Marvel at the stunning castle walls and majestic aqueduct and take an inspired step back in time in the historic town.
Finally, our journey continues to the white-washed hilltop village of Monsaraz overlooking the beautiful Alqueva Lake near the border with Spain. Take a walk through this amazing and stunning town adorned with artisanal and wine shops - a true less-trodden gem of Portugal. We then retreat to the refined Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, a 200 year-old farm estate brought back to life as a modern day retreat surrounded by ancient oaks, olive groves and vineyards in the vastness of the Lower Alentejo plains.
Overnight: Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, Monsaraz
DAY 3: MONSARAZ / EVORA / MONSARAZ
Enjoy a leisure morning where after breakfast, enjoy an exceptional guided horse riding excursion in the expansive farmscape of Sao Lourenco do Barrocal spanning over 780 hectares. Ride on the Lusitano horse, the oldest saddle horse in the world and unique to the Iberian Peninsula renowned for its noble characteristics and a status symbol since ancient times. Discover the ancient menhir, the vineyards, the cereal fields and vast pastures that is home to free-roaming cattles not mentioning unforgettable views of the Alqueva Lake and the village of Monsaraz in the distance.
Later, we journey to the UNESCO-listed city of Evora on a walking tour around the medieval streets of this well-preserved city starting from the Praca do Giraldo lined with attractive townhouses with intricate wrought-iron balconies. Stop to admire the Roman Temple of Evora with its large Corinthian columns dating back to the reigns of Augustus. We then visit the Romanesque Cathedral of Evora, built in 1186 - one of the most sacred sites in Portugal. Head on next to visit the St Francis Church with the "Bones Chapel", completely decorated with human bones. We then stop by the local market for browse through, shopping for supplies where then we follow your guide to her home for a lesson on Alentejan cuisine, complete with wine and good company. Before returning back to Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, we stop by at a local pottery shop and learn the process of traditional and colourful Alentejan pottery.
Overnight: Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, Monsaraz
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
DAY 4: MONSARAZ / VILA VICOSA / ELVAS / VAIAMONTE
We leave the Sao Lourenco do Barrocal today and drive north to the village of Vila Vicosa - decorated with many small palaces and manor houses with traditional marble and Manueline-styled architecture. Stop to admire the Castle of Vila Vicosa, the Agostinhos Church and Convent, the Santa Cruz, Capuchos, Esperanca and Chagas Convents.
Continue next to the UNESCO-listed fortified town of Elvas, famous for its stunning zig-zagging walls and fortifications where it was recaptured from the Moors in 1230. Due to its bordering location from Badajoz in Spain, it was constantly attacked before it fell to King Philip and the Spanish in 1580. Elvas' star-shaped walls were designed in the 16th Century by Flemish Jesuit engineer, Cosmander with two outlying forts to the north and south. Marvel at Elvas' quintessential sites such as the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolacao, the Aqueduto da Amoreira, the English Cemetery and more. We then arrive at the impressive Torre de Palma where we enjoy an exceptional stay in the Upper Alentejo region.
VISIT TO CAMPOR MAIOR (LATE AUG/EARLY SEP):
In late August/early September, the town of Campor Maior, close to the border with Spain celebrates the "Festas das Flores" otherwise known as the Festival of the People. Tens of thousands of handmade paper flowers are made by locals in all shapes, sizes and colours and decorate every turn and corner of the town. The festival is not a guaranteed affair as it takes place when the locals decides to combine efforts for the event, thus came to be known as the "Festival of the People". Dates for the festival is not cyclical and hence not permanent.
Overnight: Torre de Palma, Vaiamonte
DAY 5: VAIAMONTE (EXCURSION TO CASTELO DE VIDE & MARVAO)
Today we enjoy an excursion to the north of Alentejo region. Visit the fortified village of Marvao, one of Portugal's most spectacular mountaintop village with a 360-degree panorama. Visit its 13th Century castle and climb the walls to admire the ancient town. Thereafter, continue to Castelo de Vide, another well-preserved medieval town. Visit its 14th Century castle with an ancient atmosphere, the beautiful Jewish neighbourhood with the oldest synagogue in Portugal. Return back to Torre de Palma where we will take a walk with Chef Filipe Ramalho through the hotel's organic garden for ingredients picking before heading to the kitchen for a demonstration of contemporary Alentejan cuisine prepared with passionate explanation.
Overnight: Torre de Palma, Vaiamonte
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
DAY 6: VAIAMONTE / LISBON
A delightful week in the Alentejo region comes to an end as we make a scenic drive return to Lisbon. En route, we make a stop to a cork-producing factory to understand the process of cork harvesting, preparation and the final product. Thereafter, arrive in Lisbon and end of journey.
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova is located in Albernoa, in the heart of Baixa Alentejo offering comfort and design in a perfect harmony between nature and the surrounding landscape. Since 1998, the once-abandoned land has been transformed and turned into a sprawling working wine estate with high quality Alentejo produce.
Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, Monsaraz
In the same family for over 200 years, Sao Lourenco do Barrocal is an ancient farming estate carefully brought back to life as a remarkable hotel of understated luxury, surrounded by ancient oaks, olive groves and vineyards.
Torre de Palma is set in the heart of the Alto Alentejo near the village of Vaiamonte. Dating from 1338, the Torre de Palma Wine Hotel is brought back to life offering a genuine and typical Alentejo experience with white-washed walls, inviting rooms and a dedication to its wine-making.