Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Évora: The Unexpected Beauty of Portugal

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When I added Évora to my Iberian itinerary, I didn’t have many expectations.  I heard it was a lovely town, but my main goal was to see the Capela dos Ossos, the bone chapel.  Anything else would be a fringe benefit.

Sometimes, going into a place without expectations is best — because I was absolutely bowled over by the beauty of Évora!

The first thing you notice in Évora is the Moorish influence — the streets are filled with short whitewashed buildings with mustard-yellow trim.  You see this style throughout the old part of the city.

The street signs add to the decor nicely:

Like many small towns in Europe, the town square is the center of activity.  Évora’s Plaça de Giraldo doesn’t disappoint — it’s the kind of square where you could sit for hours.

It reminded me more of Italy than anywhere else in Portugal — you can have an Italian-style plaza experience, down to the well-groomed people sitting at the cafes, without needing to book Italy flights or Rome short stay apartments.

Don’t let the weather in these photos put you off — everyone in Évora told me it had been the first cloudy day in three months.  Portugal’s fabulous weather is such a big secret — I don’t know why everyone doesn’t know it!

But cloudy weather made it a good time to head indoors.

And yes, I made it to the Capela dos Ossos.  The chapel was small, but filled with so many bones, skulls and femurs stacked tightly on each other.  Expect to see much more on this soon.

And finally, I’ve been eating lots of pasteis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts, in Portugal, but I had THE BEST ONE EVER in Évora!  The filling was so smooth, the crust had the perfect amount of crunch, the sugary top was melted but not charred — it was perfect.

I don’t remember the name of the cafe, but it was a modern place with “Inn” in the name, right on Plaça de Giraldo.

Finally, I decided to see where I could get a great aerial view of Évora.  It turns out that you can climb the towers of the Se, the cathedral, and walk around on top.

I wouldn’t call it the safest activity in Évora.  This is one you should skip if you have young kids — the barriers are more or less nonexistent!

But the views are pretty remarkable.

And just for good measure: Évora has a Roman temple!

It’s easy to get to Évora from Lisbon — it’s a 90-minute bus ride, and several run each day.  The train is a bit slower and less frequent.  You could do it as a day trip from Lisbon, but I’d recommend spending a few days there to soak up the atmosphere.

This is one place in Portugal you shouldn’t miss!

 

Comments

15 Responses to “Évora: The Unexpected Beauty of Portugal”
  1. Amanda says:

    It looks awesome! It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a destination.

    Your Portugal posts are definitely convincing me that I need to go there soon!

  2. April Neylan says:

    Absolutely awesome! Loved reading this, as always 🙂

  3. Waegook Tom says:

    Evora looks beautiful, Kate – the photos are fantastic. The cathedral, however, looks terrifying.

    I agree that sometimes the places you go to with no expectations turn out to be the best – I’ve experienced that with Malatya (Turkey), Gdansk in Poland & Sokcho, South Korea. I went in expecting nothing, and now they’re some of my favourite destinations!

  4. Someday I'll be There - Mina says:

    Sometimes those small towns are alot better than bigger cities, and their atmosphere is almost always alot better and much more enjoyable. I can understand why you fell in love with Evora.

  5. I love going to places without any expectations, that way everything is always a bit of a surprise! I’ve heard great things about Évora and was hoping to get there soon but I’m not sure if we can squeeze it in on our trip. Have you mostly been traveling from place to place by bus?

  6. Amy says:

    Those photos look beautiful! I love the small town atmosphere.

  7. Great Photos! Looks like you are having a great time. I really like the second one of the street. I was there about 10 years ago (wow I’m old) and now you are inspiring me to go back!

  8. That really does look beautiful! I can see how delicious pastries and cute cobblestone streets would make for a nice couple of days.

  9. Hello to everyone,

    My name is Miguel and I am from Évora, I am very pleased you loved our little town full of history and beauty.

    Be free to come back any time you want, hope you spent some time visiting a little bit more of Alentejo, Évora’s home region.

    Give us a call and visit our website http://www.inalentejo.com, we have a wide range of activities to do in Évora and we welcome everyone.

    Best regards,

    Miguel Candeias

  10. HI Kate –
    I’m new to your site and loving it! I’m so happy you highlighted Evora – when my (now) husband and I first got together, we met up in Portugal. A couple days in Lisbon, then off to Evora. I’m not even sure what prompted me to book there … but we had a hotel in the centre with a brick ceiling that always reminded me of sleeping in a pizza oven 🙂 We ate and drank and wandered and loved Evora so much we contemplated it as a name for our daughter!

  11. Stacey says:

    I really loved Evora when I went there! It was such a beautiful place, was really off the beaten track and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the Chapel of Bones.

    I was looking for it actually, it was rainign and I was lost (nothing new there) so I was standing there, snapping photo’s in the rain of the buildings, The architecture was wonderful! Then this older portugese guy get’s out of his car and starts talking to me in English about how he used to be an architect but was now retired. He took me on a little tour of some of their arcitecture. Right there in the rain I was scurrying after him.

    I think going off the beaten track sometimes can be the best thing you can do for authentic experiences! 🙂

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