A day trip to Evora Portugal offers a chance to explore this UNESCO world heritage site. Discover all the things to do in Evora and how to plan your trip
Evora Portugal is picturesque. With a wealth of classic buildings, old-world charm, Roman ruins and more, Evora has become one of the top destinations in Portugal. The fresh atmosphere and breathtaking architecture has led it to become one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon, and it has recently become a destination of its own for those traveling to the country. There are more things to do in Evora Portugal than most people expect when they arrive. So why don’t we recommend a day trip to Evora Portugal? Read on and discover.
Our Day Trip to Evora Portugal
Our first visit to Evora Portugal came near the end of our tour of Southern Portugal. We were completely relaxed having just spent a few days as beach bums in the Algarve. But, with just one day left before we flew home to Canada, we decided to explore the medieval city of Evora Portugal. Evora is in the Alentejo, Portugal region, less than 2 hours drive from Cascais and nearby Lisbon. We had rented a car for our family travel in Portugal, so it was easy to get around. Evora, Portugal has been consistently touted as one of the best places to visit in Portugal. Most of the Evora attractions are conveniently located within the city walls. So, we figured from Cascais a day trip from Lisbon to Evora is doable.
Pro-Tip: If you do not have your own car, there is public transit via either bus or train from Lisbon to Evora
We headed out bright and early and took the toll road to avoid traffic. We didn’t need the help of the GPS, as it was a straight shot on the highway from our family-friendly accommodation in Cascais. Soon, we could see the walled city of Evora in the distance. Hoping to avoid the parking chaos we experienced in Sintra, we picked one of the many parking lots just outside the city walls and walked to the town.
About Evora Portugal
Considered by many to be one of the most timeless cities in Portugal, The UNESCO World Heritage city of Evora is rich with history, culture, architecture, and more. The city dates back more than 5,000 years. It was originally known as Ebora by the Lusitanians and was their regional capital. It was conquered by the Romans in 57 BC and began the growth that led to the popular city walls that help lend Evora it’s unique ambiance.
The city was conquered by the Moors in 715 along with other cities in the region such as Sintra. which led to further development before finally being recaptured in 1115. Between 1385–1580 it came under Manueline rule. During the reign of Manuel I and John III, Evora became the capital of culture. This time of growth led to some of the most iconic architecture in Evora as well as many of the magnificent monasteries that dot southern Portugal.
Most of those looking for things to do in Evora Portugal spend their time in the old town. Still partially enclosed by medieval walls, The Evora old town includes historic monuments, religious sites, and buildings within walking distance from each other. It is this rich history, beautiful weather, and location that has led Evora to be named one of the Most Liveable Cities in Portugal. But this beauty has also led to a wealth of tourist traffic. And a day trip to Evora Portugal could mean fighting heavy crowds.
Things To Do In Evora Portugal
It wasn’t long ago that a day trip to Evora was an easy jaunt. It was far less touristy than areas such as the Algarve or Sintra. But some of that off-the-beaten-track feel has changed in the past few years. Evora has experienced a tourism boom, and with all of the things to do in Evora Portugal, it was really just a matter of time before this happened.
If you plan on making a trip to Evora, plan wisely. Remember that summer temperatures can be hot. And crowds can get busy, especially on weekends and holidays. No matter when you go in Evora, it’s hard not to be humbled by the history and magic of this historic city.
Roman Temple (Temple of Diana)
As we made our way past the medieval walls of Evora Portugal, we instantly knew we were in the right place. We spotted the ancient Roman Temple almost immediately. The towering pillars are also known as the Temple of Diana. Although there has never been proof that the Evora Roman temple was ever dedicated to the ancient goddess of the hunt. The Roman ruins in Evora consist of 14 surviving columns topped by Corinthian capitals on a granite base.
Though it was built in the 2nd or 3rd century, the Roman Temple is in remarkably good shape. Apparently, the Temple was walled up in the middle ages and used as a slaughterhouse which is why when it was excavated it was in had retained much of its original character. The Roman ruins stand out against the more classic Portuguese architecture in Evora, making it one of the best things to see in Evora.
Evora Cathedral (Se)
Another item on the extensive Evora things-to-do list is the Evora Cathedral. This relatively plain-looking building sits across from the Roman Temple. The outside features two asymmetrical stone towers (one tower is turreted and the other is topped by a blue cone). The Evora Cathedral, also called the “Se” took 50 years to complete. From the outside, it looks more like a fortress. This is due to its weathered granite facade. Make sure to take time to admire the portal between the towers. This contains a wonderfully sculpted depiction of the Apostles.
The interior of the Evora Cathedral is much more impressive. It features an 18th-century high altar and polished marble chancel. A visit to the treasury is a must. The treasury also acts as a museum of sacred artifacts. It contains rare and priceless pieces made of gold, silver, and other precious metals. Finish your tour of the Cathedral by wandering around the cloisters to get a view of the size of the cathedral. The visit is made more incredible by pairing your time in Portugal with a visit to the incredible Monasteries of Portugal.
Praca do Giraldo
After exploring the Cathedral, stroll along Rua 5 de Outubro. Here you’ll find many stores selling various authentic handicrafts and furniture. There are a lot of items featuring cork, for which the Alentejo region is known. Pause to take in the scenery around Praca do Giraldo. The beautiful fountain that acts as the cornerstone of Evora’s main square is a great spot to relax. To escape the afternoon sun, head through the square to the Church of St. Francis.
Church of St. Francis (Igreja Real de São Francisco)
Built between 1475 – 1550, the Gothic-style Church of St. Francis is a must-visit for those looking for things to do in Evora Portugal. As you enter, you will immediately notice that the church is immense and has a single vaulted nave. The Church of St. Francis is the largest of its kind in all of Portugal. The main draw of this Evora attraction, however, is the small room behind the altar. There is a spectacularly decorated altar hidden from the main area of the church. This is the location of that draws many visitors to the Church of St. Francis, the Chapel of Bones.
The Bone Chapel Of The Church Of St. Francis (Capela dos Ossos)
Head to the backroom at the of St. Francis and prepare to be amazed. Although the idea of using human bones as artwork in what’s known as an Ossuary may sound macabre, the practice was quite common long ago. From Paris to London, Lima, Peru, and more catacombs and ossuaries were often a way to get through times of mass illness and famine. According to the literature on the church, The Bone Chapel of Evora was built by a monk during the 16th-century church. His goal was to encourage people to reflect on the transitory nature of life. WAs you enter, pause and read the sign by the door. It reads “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos”. Translated it meant “We bones that are here await yours”.
The Evora Bone Chapel was decorated using the bones of approximately 5,000 bodies exhumed from the city’s graveyards. It offers a striking display across all walls and all 8 columns of the chapel decorated with human bones. The bone chapel has only 3 small windows allowing minimal light into the chapel. This contributes to a somewhat eerie atmosphere. This is further enhanced by two corpses hanging by a chain, one adult and one child on one of the walls. It’s a truly beautiful display. But those who scare easily, or those visiting Evora with kids may find it overwhelming. Personally, I was relieved that my one-year-old, C, was not old enough to understand what he was seeing.
Church of Our Lady of Grace (Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Graca)
Spend some time walking the cobblestone streets of Evora admiring the compliments and clashes of the Roman, Gothic, Manueline, and Baroque architecture. Then head down Rua da Republic on your way back to the parking lot. But first, pause to take a look at the intriguing Church of Our Lady of Grace. What caught my attention the most about this Evora attraction was the four stone statues atop the baroque facade. The figures seem to be supporting massive globes.
Aqueduct of Silver Water (Aqueduto da Agua de Prata)
Head just outside of the Evora city walls for another one of the impressive Evora things to do. The Aquaduct of Silver Water was high on my list for our day trip to Evora. The aqueduct, completed in 1530, was designed by Francisco de Arruda, famously known as the designer of the Tower of Belem. Although we saw several aqueducts in Portugal already, the Evora aqueduct stands out as an impressive piece of architecture. At the end of the aqueduct shops, houses, and cafes have been built to fit perfectly into the arches.
Don’t Do a Day Trip to Evora!
So all of these amazing experiences culminate in a day trip to Evora Portugal that is unforgettable. So why don’t we recommend a day trip to Evora? After all, visiting the walled city of Evora was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Portugal. The truth is that one day in Evora Portugal just isn’t enough. This city has so much to offer and a visit isn’t complete without staying in one of the incredible local accommodations, having morning coffee in the square, and exploring the city by night.
Evora is an easy day trip from Lisbon. At only 1.5 hours from Lisbon, Evora is easy. However, for a longer trip, like 10 days in Portugal, we would definitely turn our day trip to Evora into an overnight stay. This way we could have explored the city even more. There are also many interesting sites just outside of Evora that we would have loved to visit if we had more time.
Best Hotels in Evora, Portugal
We would have loved to stay longer than a day trip to Evora Portugal. It’s a beautiful city full of amazing sites, stories, and amazing food. So we researched the best hotels in Evora for our next trip to the city. When looking up where to stay in Evora, Portugal we checked out everything from luxury hotels in Evora to budget hostels. Here are some of our favorites:
Luxury Hotels in Evora
- Pousada Convento de Evora, Evora, Portugal – Pousada Convento de Evora provides chic 5-star accommodation in Evora. It offers complimentary wireless internet and is moments from the Roman Temple of Evora and tourist attractions. Click here to find their prices and availability.
- Convento do Espinheiro – Located amongst a variety of popular attractions, shops, and eateries, Convento do Espinheiro A Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa is ideal for those wishing to discover Evora and its surroundings. Some of the premium facilities at this peaceful 5-star hotel include a Turkish steam bath and free Wi-Fi. Click here to find their prices and availability.
- M’Ar De Ar Aqueduto – M’Ar De Ar Aqueduto provides charming 5-star accommodation in Evora. It has a fitness center, as well as a kids pool, a laundry service, and free Wi-Fi. Click here to find their prices and availability.
Budget Hostels in Evora
- Hostel Namaste Evora – Hostel Namaste Evora provides a comfortable setting when in Evora. It is conveniently positioned for those wanting to discover the area’s attractions. Click here to find their prices and availability.
- Old Evora Hostel – 4 Evora Hostel is a popular hostel for families. It offers free Wi-Fi and features a swimming pool. The hostel has 5 comfortable rooms that are ideal for backpackers on a budget. Click here to find their prices and availability.
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Monday 23rd of January 2023
We're trying to decide on cutting into our time in Porto to add a day in Evora. Would you recommend this if you had to choose? Such a hard decision!
Thursday 2nd of February 2023
It's always such a hard choice deciding what to see and what to miss out on.
I can't make the decision for you, but I can say that I absolutely loved my time in Evora. And since our visit, the popularity of this city has skyrocketed. I would wholeheartedly visit again.
Saturday 7th of May 2022
Great tips; changing my itinerary to include 2 days in Evora
Monday 9th of May 2022
That's wonderful to hear! You will absolutely love your time in Evora.
Friday 6th of May 2022
I am taking my husband for a quick trip to Lisbon (only 4 days, minus travel time) from the States. I had wanted to fit in both Evora & half a day at Sintra but I'm afraid that might be pushing it. If you had to choose one, would it be Evora or Sintra? This will be our first time in Portugal. Thanks!
Monday 9th of May 2022
This is such a tough question! Personally, I think if I HAD to choose one, I'd go with Sintra. But it's a VERY close race.
Thursday 6th of August 2020
I love the photos you posted, its amazing especially the valley. Thanks for sharing your travels and experience with everyone. Keep it up and continue sharing magnificent journey in Portugal.
Wednesday 12th of August 2020
So glad you love the photos Jacob! Portugal is incredible. We'll be sharing all of our experiences from the country.
Monday 2nd of December 2019
Just returned from 8-day trip over Thanksgiving -- to Lisbon, then drove to Evora and Montaraz. I cannot imagine being in either town in spring or autumn--- let alone summer, when it is not uncommon for it to be 103 or hotter. We were lucky because, the week before Thanksgiving, the weather was about 57-61, with showers and no wind. Still, Evora was clearly "tourist central" -- and at other, more popular times of the year, it must be like Disneyland in June. We LOVED Monsaraz (I did my master's degree in medieval history and archaeology) -- but the steep, steep narrow lanes, all paved in small unevern stones (only wear rubbers shoes with fairly thick soles in Lisbon, Evora and Monsaraz!) and the stone buildings would make it an absolute inferno if it was even 80 degrees out. We had about 12 tourists in the town when we were there, but at other times of the year, I suspect it would be like standing in the winding lines in New York's JFK airport, waiting to go through security check. Also, sorry but -- the person who wrote this article needed to take a tour to understand what she was viewing. There is a very interesting story about the church that has "men with globes" above them. Also, perhaps it would help to know that it was a long-standing tradition throughout Europe to bury bodies for a limited amount of time (long enough for the soft tissues to decay and disappear), then to remove the bones of those buried and store them in a "charnel house" or "ossuary" so there would be room for new burials. So this practice that we now think is totally aberrant and "creepy" was the common, normal, accepted Christian burial practice -- we have lost touch with our own cultural traditions and history. But describing it this way certainly will pack in the tourists...
Monday 2nd of December 2019
Thanks so much for your detailed comment. It definitely sounds like it was hot during your visit. While the temperatures in July and August can get quite hot, it's quite rare for it to reach the 103 degrees that you mentioned. In fact, the average high during the summer months is about 86. Although in some of the buildings I can definitely see the lack of airflow making it seem much more hot. Monsaraz is gorgeous, isn't it?! Everything about the layout and architecture is stunning. And yes, as cultures change and old traditions become forgotten, it's easy to feel like something is creepy when it's different or ... uncomfortable. But the ossuaries are beautiful displays that rival any art of their time.