Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Departing on Monsaraz, this overnighter route in Portugal takes you from an open museum village of Monsaraz that faces a huge man-made lake to the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Center, Évora, and the white town, Estremoz. The Baixo Alentejo is a surprisingly varied route that keeps on delivering stunning sceneries and excellent cycling.
Baixo Alentejo is situated in the south of Portugal and meandering its way to open museums, the 120-kilometer weekend route takes riders through a scenic and serene region. It boasts uniquely dark skies for stargazing, a wealth of grape-bearing vines, some distinctive citrusy smell of the cork trees, and loads of historical villages. Together with the Great Guadiana route, it creates a 368 km (228 miles), a full week of the venture.
How to get to Baixo Alentejo
The Baixo Alentejo isn’t a loop tour, yet it can be done perfectly in a reverse way. Therefore, the easiest way from Lisbon or Porto is by bus to Monsaraz or Estremoz. Please keep in mind that the rule to bring a bicycle on a bus is usually different depending on each company.
Note that the area of this Baixo Alentejo tour is arguably remote in Portugal, not many cars pass by or tourists in the places we mentioned below. With all of this, Luís and I felt comfortable getting around to do Bike & Sketch Portugal Tour during the pandemic.
Monsaraz as a historical and one of the oldest village in Portugal is a perfect reason to be the starting point of the Baixo Alentejo tour. Especially, after this village was included in one of the seven wonders of Portugal in 2017. Exploring Monsaraz is like traveling through the ages and enjoying the history of the present. There’s so much to see and feel in this captivating ‘Time Machine´ while tasting the best of traditional Alentejo food and gazing at Lake Alqueva completes the distinct nirvana.
Monsaraz to Evora
As you leave Monsaraz, you will roll down to Telheiro villages and hit EM514 that leads you to Reguengos de Monsaraz. Before you reach the town, spend some time wandering the famous pottery Patalim in San Pedro do Corval and maybe get souvenirs to bring home too. Once you arrive in Reguengos de Monsaraz, head into N381, a calmer road that leads you to the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Center, Évora, via adorable small villages and heaps of vineyards.
As much as this route says 2 days tour, Évora offers bunch of things to see and do that a day only is too short. UNESCO gave this town a predicate of the World Heritage Center was not just because. What fascinated us the most beyond other sites was the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos). It can be a sinister sight, but this place has a deeper meaning than the macabre atmosphere you may feel in the beginning.
Évora to Estremoz
The moment you are ready to continue, proceed with your journey to Estremoz via N18 for 50 km. You will cycle next to the main road with oak trees on the other side that brings a distinctive citrusy smell.
If you have extra energy, pedal your bike 110 meters (656 feet) up to Évora Monte. This small section challenges you with 8-12% of inclination on a smooth tarred road. Cherish your tasty lunch in a village with more than seven centuries of history with 360° of Alentejo’s landscape.
Roll your bicycle down back to N18 and embrace the wind breeze hitting your face for 6 km (4 miles) before you begin to climb up slowly to the Castle of Estremoz on the next 10 km (6 miles).
Once you reach the Castle of Estremoz, you will go down again to the town (depending on where you stay). You can check where we stayed on the map along with other highlights. Additionally, celebrate your achievement by completing the Baixo Alentejo tour in the only Michelin restaurant in town, Mercearia Gadanha.
Along with that, Estremoz is also famous for the traditional market that happens every Saturday morning in Rossio Marquês de Pombal. Every week, the countryside comes to town and brings baskets full of fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive oil, cheeses, olives, sausages, and animals. These products are fresh and can be purchased directly from the producer.
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There are plenty historical villages along the route that 3 days may too short. Especially for those who like history.
- Castles in Monsaraz, Valongo, and Estremoz
- Freshwater beaches in Mourão
- Monsaraz Castle
- Historical stone monuments
- Olaria O Patalim: Traditional pottery
- Roman’s temple
- Chapel of bones
- The traditional market in Estremoz (every Saturday morning)