Evora, the capital of Alentejo region in Portugal, is one of the oldest and most enchanting cities in the country. The historical center of Evora was designated an UNESCO Heritage site due to its Roman and medieval Heritage. But, beyond this, Evora is a wonder to visit, with narrow cobblestones lanes, a gorgeous cathedral, colorful handicraft stores, pretty flowers growing everywhere, family-run cafés and a delicious cuisine. There are enough things to do in Evora to keep you busy for several days, but even if you only have one day, you can still see the major sights, feel the unique ambiance and create memorable moments.
A bit of history
The Neolithic monuments at Almendres and Zambujeiro, close to Evora, show that there has been some form of civilization in these parts since before the Romans. But they are considered to be the first that settled the town. The Romans built the defensive structures around the town and left behind the ruins of a temple. Later, the town was occupied for around 500 years by the Moors.
The golden age of Evora was in the 15th century, when the Portuguese kings chose it for their home. Evora’s streets flourished, venerable churches, monasteries and palaces were built and Evora became home to the second university in the country. Many of these buildings still stand today, as the city survived the 1755 earthquake.
Is Evora worth visiting on a day trip from Lisbon?
Evora is a stunning city rich in history, culture, architecture and more. Appointed an UNESCO Heritage Site, it is one of the treasures of Portugal and the expression of the best things the country has to offer. Alentejo, the region it belongs to, is also pretty special, full of olive groves, cork plantations, wide-open plains and traditional stone villages.
There is more than one reason for Evora to become one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Lisbon. A day might even seem too short and it’ll probably only give you a glimpse of Evora. If you stay more, you can also see various places of Alentejo countryside.
But, at the same time, the entire country is beautiful and time is limited. If a day is all you have, yes, a day trip from Lisbon to Evora is very much worth it. If you travel slow and can stay longer, even better.
How to get to Evora from Lisbon on a day trip?
Between Lisbon and Evora there are 140 kilometers. The cities are well connected by public transport. Both bus and train are popular options. We went from Lisbon to Evora by bus and returned by train to see both bridges and more of the countryside. No matter the method you choose, it’s pretty easy to get from Lisbon to Evora and back on a day trip. If you base yourself in Porto, I don’t recommend a day trip to Evora as they are over 400 km away.
Day trip from Lisbon to Evora – By car
If your choice is to lend a car, you should cross either the 25 de Abril or Vasco da Gama bridge and drive for around one hour and a half on the motorway eastward. Finding a parking spot in the town center can be a challenge if you go on a day trip and don’t have an accommodation that provides it. There are some large parking spaces just before entering the old town.
If you travel from Lisbon to Evora by car on a day trip, you can also check the attractions and wineries outside of the town. But remember that you shouldn’t drink if you’re the one driving. Compare rental car prices here.
Day trip from Lisbon to Evora – By bus
Rede Expressos buses leave toward Evora from Sete Rios bus station several times per day. In Evora, the bust station is about 10 minutes away from the center. You can purchase your ticket online here.
Day trip from Lisbon to Evora – By train
Trains operate out of Lisbon’s Oriente, Sete Rios and Entracampos railway stations. But the train station in Evora is around 15-20 minutes out of the town center. Tickets can be booked in advance here.
Day trip from Lisbon to Evora – By guided tour
If you want to leave the planning details to somebody else, there are several travel agencies organizing day trips from Lisbon to Evora. Some of them include one more attraction, as olive oil tasting, wine tasting or a visit to the stone monoliths of Almendres Cromlech:
- Évora and Megaliths Full-Day Tour from Lisbon
- Évora Full-Day Tour with Olive Oil and Wine Tasting from Lisbon
- From Lisbon: The Cork & Wine Tour around the region of Evora
- Private day tour with a private Guide – Évora, Monsaraz wine & Cork
- From Lisbon: Private Tour to Evora and Arraiolos Learn to Embroider your own Rug
How to get around Evora on a day trip from Lisbon?
Evora is compact and completely walkable. In fact, there’s no better way to explore the old town center than on foot. If you have a car, you can also explore some other places close to the town in the beautiful Alentejo region.
What’s the best time to visit Evora?
Evora can be visited year round, but in summer it might be a little too hot to wander around at midday. As everywhere in Portugal, spring and autumn are the best times to visit for warm weather and less crowds. Winter is not that cold either, more like a central European spring, but there are higher chances of rain. No matter when you decide to go, all the historic and magic of Evora will be there, waiting for you.
Best things to do in Evora on a day trip from Lisbon
Here is a list of the best things to do and see on a day trip from Lisbon to Evora:
1. Check out Evora’s Cathedral
Sé de Evora is a typical building of the Gothic style with two asymmetrical bell towers. The main portal is encircled by the 14th century sculpted statues of the Apostels. Inside the austere fortress-like church, there’s also a museum of sacred art with rare and priceless artifacts. In the cathedral, you will also find the 14th century relief of local hero Gerald the Fearless. He played an important role in driving the Moors out of Evora and reconquering the city. After visiting the nave, you can climb the spiral staircase to the top and have a bird’s eye view over the historic town. Check prices and opening times here.
2. Visit Evora Museum
Evora museum is hosted in a former palace for bishops and noblemen from the 16th century. The building itself is an architectural monument. But the treasures housed inside, make it a must-visit while you’re in Evora. All the region’s history is here, under one roof. The collection displayed includes artifacts found at Zambujeiro dolmen, Roman sculptures, paintings, sacred art, furniture, jewelry, textile and ceramics. An exhibit that deserves your undivided attention is a polyptych of 19 panels that used to be in the cathedral’s altar.
3. See Capela dos Ossos in Igreja de São Francisco
Saint Francisc Church hides the most macabre tourist attraction in Evora, Capela dos Ossos. This chapel is decorated with the bones and skulls of 5000 monks exhumed from local crypts and cemeteries to make room for other less saint mortals. It is a striking view. All walls and 8 columns are decorated with human remains.
More chapels of this kind can be seen in Portugal and Europe. In Faro there are even two. They were made to remind people of their transiency on Earth. But the one in Evora is the largest in the country.
It can be said that this is the most visited tourist attraction in Evora. People are fascinated by the eerie atmosphere and creepy interior design. They don’t even seem to notice the sarcastic reminder written above the entrance to the ossuary: Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos (We bones, that are here, for yours await).
The entrance fee also includes access to the nativity collection, terrace over the old town and any temporary exhibitions there might be.
4. Take a break at Praça do Giraldo
The medieval square adorned with a fountain, medieval arches and an impressive church is the perfect place to take a break. It was named after Gerald the Fearless, whom you’ve already met in the cathedral. In the past, beheadings and burnings with public took place here. Fortunately today’s entertainment is far from these. Have a coffee at one of the many terraces around and people-watch. The central square is the favorite meeting place of locals and tourists alike.
5. Wander around the historic center
Evora is a photographer’s dream. White-painted houses with bright painted edges, doors and window frames, colorful flowers and old-style lanterns fill the cobbled alleys. Once you get out of the main squares, you’ll have them entirely for yourself. From now to then, a wrought iron balcony or blue azulejo make one want to explore even more. Evora is not about landmarks and famous monuments. It is a simple town that invites visitors to stroll around and be charmed.
6. Admire the roman Temple of Diana in the center of Evora
The Temple of Diana located in the historic center of Evora is the best-preserved Roman temple in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s believed to be built in the 1st century AD. Despite the name, there’s no proof of the connection between the impressive temple and the Roman goddess of the hunt. But no matter the god it was once dedicate to, now it is one of the most captivating landmarks in Evora. The 14 surviving pillars topped by Corinthian capitals in a remarkably good shape stand out easily in the city’s mostly medieval landscape.
7. Take a coffee break at Fabrica dos Pasteis
Tucked away on the back streets of Evora (Alcárcova de Cima 10) is a small cafe with freshly baked pastries and savory pies. The entrance doesn’t look very alluring, but once you’re inside you’ll barely have the heart to leave, even after eating far too many pasteis. They have the famous pasteis de nata, but also other traditional versions, with cheese, coconut, almonds and many more. Old equipment used to bake pastries for generations is also on display.
8. Take a look at the ornate façade of the Church of Our Lady of Grace
While walking around the old streets of Evora we got in front of this splendid façade that deserves at least one moment of your day trip from Lisbon to Evora.
9. See the frescoes at Casas Pintadas
Inside the 15th century house of a nobleman, one can admire frescos of mythical creatures and other animals. They represent moral virtues and vices. These painting in Casas Pintadas (Painted Houses) are believed to be more than 500 years old. The most interesting are in the dark Inquisitor’s Room. In there, the details are projected on the floor.
10. Take a look inside Termas Romanas
The Roman Temple is the most famous reminder of the Roman times in historic center of Evora, but not the only one. In 1987, beneath the town hall, were discovered the remains of a Roman Baths from the 1st century AD. The vestiges include a circular steam room, a laconicum, a central heating system and an open-air swimming pool. People can visit the Roman Baths for free from Monday to Friday during office hours.
11. Admire the azulejos inside Lóios Church and Cadaval Palace
On one side of the Roman Temple, there stands the Cadaval Ducal Palace next to the Church of Loios and a former convent. Following the new trend of converting old historic buildings into luxury hotels, most of the 15th century convent was turned into a 5-star hotel. Even if you’re not a guest, you can still admire the beautiful façade and take a peek inside. The church is also open to the public for a fee. Inside, one can admire wonderful floor-to-ceiling azulejo panels depicting the life of saints.
12. Walk along Aqueduto da Água de Prata
Nine kilometers of the 16th century structure used to bring fresh water from the mountains to the city survived times. It’s believed that it follows the course of an even older Roman aqueduct. The tall arches reach a height of 26 meters. But beyond the appearance of the imposing aqueduct, what intrigued us the most were the houses, shops and restaurants built to fit exactly into the arches around Rua do Cano. Just outside the city walls one can follow a trail along it, through cork forests.
13. Explore Evora’s public gardens and the city walls
Close to the Church of St. Francis and the gruesome bone chapel, you’ll find the attractive public gardens. Amid bushes, colorful flowers and ponds, there’s a splendid ruined pavilion, part of the 16th century Royal Palace. The area is perfect some pictures of the embroidered ruins assaulted by peacocks and a delicious ice-cream. The public garden is also a good starting point for a walk along the walls of the city. Some parts of the fortification date back to the 3rd century, but most of it was built in the 14th century.
14. Check out the beautiful handicrafts of Alentejo
Alentejo is known for its various handicrafts. You’ll find many shops selling artisanal products on the streets of Evora. If you want to get something nice for you or dear ones back home, here you can find beautiful and creative pieces for better prices than in Lisbon. Some of the products you’ll find are pottery, leather goods, straw baskets, tapestry and cork featuring items that Alentejo is famous for.
15. Go wine tasting in Evora
Alentejo region is famous for wine, and some say its wines are the best in all of Portugal. If you have a car, go to the countryside and explore some of the wineries. If you don’t have a car, the second best option is to go to Rota dos Vinhos do Alentejo (Alentejo Wine Route). This is a tasting room, shop and information center. For a small fee, you can taste 6 local wines. If you like any of them, you can buy a bottle. However, keep in mind that it is closed on Sunday. In this case, head to the traditional restaurant next door, order migas com carne de porco and a glass of local red wine.
Where to stay in Evora if a day trip from Lisbon is not enough?
A day trip from Lisbon to Evora is an amazing experience. However, a day will just give you a glimpse of what the town has to offer, not to mention Alentejo. If you want to also get to know the countryside, go oil and wine tasting or visit a cork factory ,you should probably stay longer and this is what I recommend, if you can. Other attractions in the region are the Neolithic megaliths in Almendres and Zambujeiro, Arraiolos-Estremoz circuit or the hilltop village of Monsaraz.
Here are some highly-rated accommodations options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels, if you decide to stay overnight:
- Heaven Inn Suites & Terrace – a hostel with doubles and dorms close to the Chapel of Bones.
- Moov Hotel Evora – offers small rooms in a great location, close to Praça do Giraldo
- Vitoria Stone Hotel – it is just outside the walled old town and boasts a rooftop infinity pool, as well as a great restaurant.
- Pousada Convento de Evora – a convent converted into a 5-star historic hotel right just opposite the Roman Temple. It also has a pool and an excellent restaurants.
Evora is a great day trip one can do from Lisbon. It combines history, handicrafts and a tasty cuisine. If you had any doubts, now you know what to expect and have enough information to make the best choices for you.
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