Immerse in the serene landscape of Portugal’s Alentejo.
BY DEBRA BOKUR
Reveling in the beauty of the Earth — and its fruits — is easy in Portugal’s Alentejo region, where vineyards blend seamlessly with wild coastlines, natural landscapes and tranquil protected areas. Immense stretches of land and the species that dwell there are officially safeguarded for present and future generations to explore. These include Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Nature Park along the Atlantic coast, home to craggy cliffs flecked with white stork nests, deserted beaches and miles of coastal trails.
Towering oaks, majestic chestnuts and hardy olive trees dot the mountainous landscape within Serra de São Mamede Nature Park. Visitors can scout for glimpses of the multitude of local plant and bird species or hike and mountain bike along twisting paths to explore the ancient walled village of Marvão.
In Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, the setting shifts to grass-covered dunes and watery vistas. Watch for the community of dolphins that frequent the mouth of the Sado River, or listen to the songs and cries of more than 200 species of birds.
Several eco-focused companies and outfitters can provide tours or design routes for self-guided expeditions to these or other locations such as Lagoas de Santo André e da Sancha Nature Reserve and Vale do Guadiana
Nature Park. Live Electric Tours offers private Tesla tours, self-drive and group excursions in 100 percent electric vehicles to areas including Évora. Portugal Nature Trails can create cycling tours that include the Alentejo Vineyards Road.
Where to settle in for the night is easy, as this region boasts a number of hotels with a green or sustainable focus. Set amid a landscape of cork oaks and holm oaks, Ecork Hotel Évora — Portugal’s first certified eco hotel — offers a blend of minimalism and elegance that comes with the comfort of knowing power is generated by solar and geothermal energy. Along with 53 villa-style suites, there’s a spa, sauna, Turkish bath, indoor pool and full gym.
Bearing Biosphere Certification awarded by the Responsible Tourism Institute, the boutique Pateo dos Solares Charm Hotel, located in the historic town of Estremoz, offers 41 rooms and suites plus charging stations for electric vehicles.
Built with sustainable materials and utilizing solar power to heat water in the main structure, swimming pools, guest suites and spa complex, Sublime Comporta in the village of Grandola was constructed to embrace the local environment. This includes trees: A selection of private villas integrate living trees within their spaces.