What to do in Evora Portugal, you might ask? Having my own roots in the beautiful province of Alentejo, it’s often a place where I can calm down. Though when visiting Evora it is to indulge me in the many highlights and activities. Evora is the most visited city in Alentejo Portugal and with a reason.
When setting up my itinerary to visit the province of Alentejo, Evora is a must-see as one of the cities in Portugal. Considered that it has been part of the World Heritage since 1986 by Unesco, it’s a real museum city. You will find that Evora has Moorish and Roman influences. The city of Evora experienced its golden age in the 15th century when Kings lived here.
In this Itinerary, I give you all the details you need to know what to do in Evora Portugal and more.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click on them, at no additional cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.Bruno
What is Evora Portugal known for?
As mentioned earlier, Evora is part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1986. Evora is one of the cities to visit in Portugal.
The city shows its Portuguese charm with architecture from medieval times and beyond. It has Historical sights and was an important religious center. It also was a trading route to Spain in their time and age.
The Roman monuments in Evora and its medieval streets give an idea of what Lisbon looked like. The resemblance before its destruction in 1755 by the Great Earthquake.
How much time do you need in Evora?
What to do in Evora Portugal, all depends on the amount of time you can spend.
You can visit Evora on a day trip from Lisbon, which is 1,5 hours away. But in all honesty, visiting Evora in one day would not give it the right it deserves.
Evora is part of the World Heritage of UNESCO. It’s a historical center and there are amazing places to visit around Evora. If you do not know Evora yet, then take the time to visit this wonderful city for at least 2 days.
How old is Evora and what does it mean?
The history of Evora in Portugal goes way back. The settlement of Évora started around the 2nd century B.C. . There are many Neolithic sightings to see (also called the New Stone Age). The surrounding landscape of Evora holds several megalithic monuments.
The most important megalithic monuments to visit are:
Evora was a thriving city during the Roman Empire. The most important sight to visit is the Temple of Diana. A clear reminder of this period.
The royals started to settle in Evora during the Medieval Ages for a long period of time. And it was during the 15th century when it became a grand city because of its clerical state. Although along the centuries many significant urban changes occurred. Évora still shows many of its historical traces. Its fortified town wall is visible around Evora which are remnants of this Medieval Age.
In Roman times Ebora was the name of the current city of Évora. The etymological origin of the name Ebora comes from the ancient Celtic ebora/ebura. A plural genitive of the word eburos, which in Portuguese means “of the yews”.
The yew, although much forgotten, is an endemic species in our territory and was to the liking of the Romans. It is a persistent leaf tree, tolerant to strong variations in the hot environment. The yew is also associated with the cult of the dead. Due to its extraordinary longevity and always green leafs, it was a symbol of immortality.
Fact: Eboracum/Eburacum was the name of the present city of York in the North of England during the Roman Empire. A name also derived from the ancient Celtic Ebora Kon (Place of the Yews). Its ancient name is etymologically related to that of the city of Évora.
What is the population of Evora Portugal?
The total population of Evora was in 2021 approximately 55621. Evora is the largest city in the Alentejo Region. The population fluctuates based on the academic year being a vibrant University city.
Is Evora Portugal safe?
In Evora, you can feel very safe when walking during the day or night. Crime levels have fallen in recent years. Though pickpocketing can happen in every city, the crime numbers in this city are one of the lowest in the world.
Like in every city, general rules apply:
- Be aware of pickpocketing when using public transport
- Do not flash cash or other valuable items
It’s always good when traveling to have travel insurance. If you want to know more I reviewed World Nomads and SafetyWings.
Where to stay in Evora Portugal?
Considering that visiting Evora on a day trip can be very exhausting. My recommendation is to stay for at least 2 days. Evora deserves to stay for a longer period of time. Only then you will understand the beauty and visit all the interesting things in and outside of the city.
Note: You need to take into account that many highlights close around lunchtime. This is especially during Summer, because of high temperatures in Evora Portugal.
Evora has the convenience of lower rates compared to Lisbon or coastal cities. No reason for visiting Evora in a hurry.
Check accommodation prices down below.
What highlights to visit and what to do in Evora Portugal
Roman Temple of Diana
When visiting Evora in Portugal the first thing on the list of what to do is the Roman Temple of Diana. The Roman Temple is in the historical center of Evora.
This Temple, built in the 2nd A.D., is one of the best-preserved Roman highlights in the Iberian Peninsula.
The name Diana comes from the ancient Roman goddess of the countryside, hunters, and the Moon. Nowadays the question arises if this was a temple to honor the goddess Diana. Historians have reason to believe that it was actually dedicated to emperor Augustus
The temple was partly destroyed by Germanic invaders in the 5th century. Later the earthquake in 1755.
Although it has lost its roof, the reflecting waters around it and four out of 18 columns. The magnificence of this temple is visible.
The temple itself is free to visit and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Chapel of Bones
The Chapel of Bones, which was part of the Royal Church of St. Francis is a fascinating highlight. A visit that definitely needs to be on your “what to do” list in Evora Portugal.
The impressive display of human bones and skulls in the interior is the city’s most remarkable sight. This place wasn’t always like that.
The Chapel of Bones (Portugues also known as, Capela dos Osso), is part of a royal church from 1480. The chapel in itself stood completed in 1510. When the Franciscan monks had no place to bury their own bones, they moved from cemeteries to the Chapel. Historians estimated that around 5000 skeletons decorate the chapel.
The Chapel of Bones is open every day until 5:45 pm with an admission of €2.
Dom Manuel Palace
After your visit to the Chapel of Bones, Dom Manuel Palace is the place to have a relaxing break. This palace is also known as the Galeria das Damas and is located in the Pubic Garden of Evora. The palace is located south of the Igreja de São Francisco Church.
The pavilion is what was the former royal palace in the 16th-century. The only survivor of the Paco Real de Evora Palace which was destroyed in the 19th-century.
Elements of Moorish and Roman influences can be seen. Also Manueline Naturalistic decoration in the details. A place where several cultural events take place.
What do you want more to have a relaxing break in the beautiful city of Evora Portugal.
The Evora Cathedral is in the center of the city. The construction started in 1166 after Christians regained control of the Moors. It took less than 20 years and devoted to the Virgin Mary.
Sitting at the highest point in Evora, it offers an amazing view. The cathedral has different architectural styles, as the structure altered. They added to, and fortified throughout the years.
The front of the cathedral is of granite and closely resembles the Lisbon Cathedral. The interior contains a statue of the pregnant Virgin Mary, which is from the 15th century.
What to do in this magnificent Evora Cathedral in Portugal? The cathedral has an on-site museum that exhibits sacred art. Admission to the museum is €3.50.
For the Evora Cathedral, the largest medieval cathedral in Portugal, the admission is €2.
Igreja dos Lóios
The Igreja dos Lóios is built in the 15th century. It was built as the private temple of Family Melo in 1485 and was once part of a convent and of a 14th-century palace. That convent is now a hotel, and the palace is still inhabited by an aristocratic family.
The church and its cloister are gothic and the interior of the chapter room is Manueline. The inside of the church is covered by 18th-century glazed tiles (1711), painted by the master painter.
The main Square of Giraldo is situated in the heart of the city. This is the place to start a walk if you do not know what to do in Evora Portugal.
In the center of the square, also known as Praça de Giraldo, stands a Baroque fountain. Right in front of the wonderful Renaissance church, Igreja de Santo Antão. It dates from the 16th century, is made of marble, and has eight sprouts. Each sprout symbolizes one of the main streets of Evora Portugal.
From this square, you can stroll down the city’s main shopping street. Or up the street towards the Roman Temple of Diana and the Cathedral.
The Frei Manuel do Cenáculo National Museum is the former archbishops’ palace. What you can do here is, is to admire a collection of Roman sculptures. But also Visigothic and medieval artifacts, and Portuguese and Flemish paintings. In the most important museum of Evora Portugal.
Because of the importance of the museum to the city, it was remodeled in 2009. The exhibition is for me a must to see.
Igreja da Misericórdia
This church, Igreja da Misericórdia is built in the mid-16th century. Its current façade dates back to the 18th century when it was remodeled. It hides a beautiful interior inside from the early 1700s. Created by the architect Manuel Pires in a classical style. This was built as a Jesuit college.
Its interior houses Baroque style tiles representing the seven spiritual works of mercy. It has a gold-covered altarpiece.
The paintings illustrate the seven corporal works of mercy. Painted by Francisco Xavier de Castro.
What most people do not know is that in the surroundings of Evora Portugal there is more to do. The Évora region is surrounded by several prehistoric monuments.
The Almendres Cromlech is 4.5km South West of the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe. It is situated in the civil parish of Nossa Senhora da Tourega e Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe in Alentejo. It is the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula. One of the largest in Europe with about 100 oval boulders creating a circle.
Stonehenge was created for sacred and astronomical observation. It is estimated that this sacred place dates back as much as 6000bc. There is a visitor center nearby, which explains the history and culture behind it.
There are other options if you do not have the capability to visit the location. You can also go to the Centro Interpretativo do Megalitismo. This exhibition space, in the city of Évora, provides information on megalithic sites.
My experience in Portugal on what to do in Evora
This guide on what to do in Evora Portugal described a two days experience. Though there are so many things to see. The highlights I mentioned are for me the most important ones to visit.
For me, Alentejo and Evora show details of history that most of us forgot about. Urbanization cities changed the landscape, and those remnants of old civilization disappeared.
Take a chance in visiting Evora in Portugal and you will not be disappointed. I hope that your question about what to do in Evora Portugal with this guide has been answered.