Évora, the capital of Portugal’s Alentejo region, is a treasure trove of history and culture. It’s the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or day trip from Lisbon, with plenty of sights to see and places to visit – whether you’re looking for ancient monuments or authentic cuisine.
Read along as we share our recommendations for the top things to do in Évora. Vamos!
Venture Inside the Chapel of Bones
Part of the Igreja de São Francisco, this small and dimly lit chapel is a macabre monument to the transience of life. Its walls are completely covered in human bones and skulls, which were relocated from the city’s cemeteries in the 16th century. The inscription above the chapel’s door only adds to the eeriness: “We bones are here, waiting for yours.”
Climb to the Top of the Cathedral
The Sé de Évora is the largest medieval cathedral in the country, with impressive Gothic architecture and elements from different eras. For the full experience, you can climb up to the terrace: the highest point in the city. From there you’ll get fantastic views of the city and the surrounding countryside, as well as the cathedral itself.
Admire the Roman Temple
Of all the places to visit in Évora, the Roman Temple is an essential stop. It dates all the way back to the first century – making it more than two thousand years old. Although it’s often referred to as the Temple of Diana, it was actually built in honor of Emperor Augustus. With its intricate columns and solid stone base, the structure has become a symbol of the city.
Wander Through the Winding Streets
Despite its huge variety of churches and historic sites, one of our favorite things to do in Évora is to simply walk around. Wander through its quiet alleyways and cobbled streets, flanked by whitewashed buildings with bright yellow trim. If you go just a few blocks from the main attractions, you’ll get a glimpse of local life and the true spirit of this charming city.
Dive into History at the Évora Museum
If you want to know more about Évora’s rich history, pay a visit to its main museum. Boasting thousands of artifacts and works of art, the Museu de Évora paints a detailed picture of local culture through the centuries. Here you can see ancient objects found in the area, as well as paintings and other items that once decorated its religious buildings.
Have a Drink in Praça do Giraldo
To break up a long day of sightseeing, stop for a drink or snack in Praça do Giraldo. This central square is surrounded by grand buildings, with a beautiful baroque fountain in the middle. Grab a chair on the terrace of Café Arcada to take in the view and enjoy a coffee or beer (for food, we suggest heading to one of the best restaurants in Évora instead).
Learn About Local Wine Production
Alentejo is known across the country – and the world – for its exceptional wines, and Évora is the perfect place to try them. If you want to visit a local winery and learn about the production process, Cartuxa is within walking distance of the city center. Here you can take a guided tour and enjoy a tasting afterward, including not only wine but also local olive oil.
Taste Authentic Cuisine from Alentejo
Some of the most iconic Portuguese recipes have their roots in Alentejo, which is known for its hearty dishes and pão alentejano (regional bread). Expect lots of pork, lamb, and seafood, seasoned with local herbs and abundant olive oil. In Évora you can taste specialities like açorda (bread stew) and queijadas de Évora (pastries made with sheep’s cheese).
Dig into these dishes at some of our favorite Évora restaurants.
Visit the Palácio Duques de Cadaval
This magnificent palace has served as a royal residence, a burial place, and even a prison. Today the Palácio Duques de Cadaval houses art exhibitions and cultural events, and several of its rooms are open to the public. The adjacent church, known as the Igreja dos Lóios, is a must-visit, with incredible azulejos (tiles) lining the walls and an ornate golden altar.
Discover Megalithic Monuments
The area around Évora is bursting with prehistoric ruins; there are hundreds of standing stones, tombs, and settlements dating as far back as the Neolithic period. If you only visit one, make it the Almendres Cromlech. Featuring about a hundred monoliths, it’s among the largest and oldest megalithic sites on earth – and a fascinating window into the past.
Explore the Public Garden
Évora’s Jardim Público (Public Garden) is a gorgeous green space in the city center. Here you can relax in the shade or discover the ruins of a medieval wall and a 16th-century royal palace. But perhaps the most interesting monument is the “fake ruins,” which were built in the 19th century using the remains of other local structures from various eras.
See the Historic University of Évora
The University of Évora is the second-oldest university in Portugal, founded in 1559. Today it’s not only an educational institution, but also a popular tourist attraction in Évora. Its most impressive building is the Colégio do Espírito Santo, with its intricate architecture and stately courtyard – but all of its buildings are full of beautiful tiles, paintings, and baroque details.