Why We Don’t Recommend A Day Trip to Evora Portugal

Evora in Portugal is a UNESCO world heritage site. This walled city is a couple of hours driving distance from Lisbon making a day trip to Evora possible.
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.

The town of Evora, Portugal seen through a grassy field

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.

Day Trip To Evora Portugal Roman Ruins

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.

Day trip to Evora Church of Our Lady of Grace

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.

Praca do Giraldo with fountain was a great stop on our day trip to Evora, Portugal.

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 what draws many visitors to the Church of St. Francis, the Chapel of Bones.

What to do in Evora Portugal Church of St. Francis
Things to do in Evora Portugal Church of St Francis

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.

Inside the Bone Chapel in Evora, Portugal.

Click Here To Discover The Incredible Palaces of Sintra Portugal

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.

Church of Our Lady of Grace in Evora, Portugal.

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.

Aqueduct of Silver Water in Evora, Portugal.

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

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About the Author

Kevin Wagar is a professional traveler and family travel expert living in the Greater Toronto Area. His beautiful wife Christina impressed on him her love of travel and they have made exploring the world an integral part of their life. With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that traveling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.

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  1. You guys had me worried for a minute i should have guessed it was one these reverse stories. We are headed out to Evora on the 6th of December from Lisbon. We will have 8 hours to explore, hoping to see lots of good stuff

  2. Hi Christina. We’re going to Portugal in spring and will have one night in Evora. Just out of curiosity, what other sights do you have in mind that you wish you could have stayed longer to explore?Just looking for ideas for our trip ;). Thanks!

    1. Jurga, I am jealous! Wish we could be heading back to Evora again. One of the activities I really wanted to do was to walk/bike the length of the aqueduct. I had read that the scenery was nice. Also, would have liked to have visited Arraiolos or Estremoz which are both just outside of Evora. Enjoy your trip!

  3. I was reading the article and thinking the entire time, “how can’t they like this place? this place is amazing!” And then I got to the end and saw that you guys loved it! I’ll have to check it out if I’m ever in Portugal!

  4. Rightly said! Many of our day trips are worth more than that. So many places I’ve visited for a day and so wished it to be a 2-3 days. 🙂 One day is just not enough.

  5. That place looks so picturesque and definitely worth more than a day! What a find though unfortunate you couldn’t stay there longer. Very beautiful.

  6. Haha I guessed correctly … I was trying to figure out as I read why your title says that you don’t recommend a day trip, because as I was reading there seemed to be so many fascinating and amazing things to do. I figured it had to be a case of because a day trip wasn’t enough time 😀

  7. Yeah no. This sounds like a two or three day city. It’s so cool. I do love the ribbed vault of the cathedral; perfect example of Portuguese gothic. Really cool.

  8. The whole time I was reading this I was getting really worried something bad had happened and why we shouldn’t go to Evora at all! All of the photos you’ve captured make this place look incredible, so I was getting really nervous why! Haha! I am glad you guys came through in the end and told the readers to stay overnight! Great advice, and way to keep us hooked until the end!

  9. Wow that is a lot to do in a day, I hate rushing around so I would probably stay a couple of days if I could! I might give that bone chapel a miss though, it would creep me out too much!! Everything else looks lovely though!

  10. Aw, it sucks when you have minimal time in place that really grabs you. I guess you’ll just have to make a return trip!

  11. Evora sounds like a historically rich city and I can understand why you think it merits more than one day. Between the cathedrals, the bone chapel and the ruins, it seems like there is a lot to do! I always love visiting Roman ruins in different countries around the Mediterranean, because they always illustrate just how expansive the empire really was.

  12. Bone Chapel looks to be a favorite for me. I’m all about cobblestone streets, so it looks like I would enjoy a lot of what Evora has to offer. In fact, everything you have suggested looks like I would need more than one day to visit!

  13. Ha! You guys are tricky! The bone chapel actually looks quite beautiful, despite those hanging corpses…It sounds like you guys had a pack a ton into one day, so I can definitely see the suggestion to visit Evora at a more leisurely pace. You must have been exhausted by the end of the day!

  14. Such a beautiful city and you are completely right, It deserves an overstay for sure with so many things to see.

  15. Evora seems to be an amazing destination for a photo tour. With such grand Gothics and monuments, I wouldn’t mind spending a couple of days to explore this location. Btw, I loved the beautiful composition of the pictures.

  16. I can see why you’d want to spend more than a day in this place. It’s so beautiful. I love all the arches in the architecture.

  17. On my recent layover in Lisbon , my guide suggested my to come more leisurely to enjoy Evora. I can see now why he said ” Its more than you can imagine” 🙂 . That bone chapel looks awesome 🙂 . Is this place very touristy?

  18. Sounds like you managed to see quite a bit in one day though! Good effort. I love the perspective of the Roman Temple, looking up at the pillars. The Evora cathedral structure looks quite similar to a Cathedral in Suva, Fiji, with the two ‘towers’ on either side. Very pretty.

  19. Haha good to know! At first, I was prepared for disappointment. Glad to hear it was well-worth the trip. Thanks for outlining all the sites with tips, so I’ll know just where to go if I visit 🙂

  20. Day trips are often too short. Especially if the city has as much to see as Evora does. I’m learning about all these beautiful places in Portugal and I guess I’ll have to add one more to my list.

  21. So rightly said..there seems to be so much to cover here. A day trip wont do justice. I am glad you realized that and honestly put up your opinion here

  22. I’ve had the same issue several times with not having enough time during day trips. I Always wish that I have more time. If I were you I probably also regret only spending one day in Evora, seeing all your pictures!

  23. Always lovely to hear you could have stayed longer although I am one of those wimpy people who can’t handle all the bones so I may have to skip that one. The corpses would have totally creeped me out!

  24. I’ve been reading so many great things about Portugal and I am adding this to the list of places to visit! I’d love to see the bone church. The clever saying as you enter is priceless!

  25. Evora is indeed a revelation. Had a sense of deja vu looking at your pictures. The place reminds me of Rome. I never knew about Evora as it is generally overshadowed by the other places in Portugal.

  26. Oh I was worried that you had a bad experience in Evora! Yes I agree that you need overnight in this beautiful city in order to see everything. We stayed at the Residencial Os Manueis a nice little centrally located hotel with the parking space in the back which was very useful.

  27. I love how you manage your time to see all those places for a day trip… As a slow wanderer, for sure I couldn’t make it unless I’m in a group tour with guides to control my time 🙂 Traveling has also made me familiarize with Roman, Baroque and Gothic designs… this post reminds me of my trip to Romania.

  28. You reminded me of my trip there. 🙂 Did you see the statue of pregnant Mary in the cathedral. This is the only cathedral may be in world to depict her that way. And the church of bones was eerie!

  29. It’s definitely worth the visit cause it’s truly stunning. I like how you captured your photos that really speaks and rhyme with your words. I really enjoy everything about this blog post. Continue to explore the world and share your story with us.

  30. This is noted! I can see that this place has a lot of good things to offer and really nice places with rich history. I understand the feeling of frustration for not having enough time to feel and enjoy the wonders of a terrific place. So overnight must be the choice to visit every corner.

  31. You crammed a lot into one day. I suspect I would need like three days to explore all the ancient roman sites and the bone church. I love the concept of those and really want to see one of them in person.

  32. Thanks for the tip! We will be going to Evora in May or June and I was trying to figure out whether or not to stay overnight… now we will! Sounds like you are having an amazing time, can’t wait for our trip.

  33. I’m so glad you shared this! We are headed to Portugal in March and had not yet decided how to spend our time. This just went to the top of the list!

  34. haha you got me with this title! I was a bit worried… Indeed this is a remarkable city. I was born and raised in Lisbon but was lucky to have spent 6 years at Évora university studying fine arts. Great place to have spent part of my life. Well done! Welcome to Portugal!

  35. Hi Christina! I am born in Portugal ‘& I love Evora! i I live an hour from Lisbon! Next time you are in Portugal go visit Obidos (beautiful village surrender by a castle) & Nazare!! These are my favorite places! i got back to them every year!!

    1. Thanks for the tips Catia. We loved Portugal and can’t wait to go back. We visited Obidos on our first trip and loved it! What a beautiful town. We especially enjoyed walking along the walls. We didn’t get a chance to get to Nazare, though. I have read that the fish is incredible. We will definitely add it to our follow-up trip.

  36. Hello Christina! I was laughing out loud when I got to the end… Reading every line twice to see if I am missing something…
    I was hoping you can give me an advice…
    We are driving from Lisbon to Porto for a couple of days and than all the way down to the Algarve stopping for one night in… Evora!
    We would like to stretch the drive and stop for a few hours in some places between Lisbon to Porto and than the 2nd part that is from Evora to Algarve. Do you have any suggestions?
    There is so much to see.. how do you choose…
    I will read your Algarve article next to find what you recommend!
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Tal!
      It sounds like you have an incredible adventure ahead of you! LOL so funny that you are stopping at Evora for one night! You’ll want to stay! There are many amazing places to stop along the drive. Along that route, I would suggest checking out our Alcobaca, Tomar and Batalha post. Those three stops are a great way to break up that journey. You could also check out the shrine of Fatima. It’s a beautiful and serene place with a fascinating history. Ourem has Pereira do Galinha, or Dinosaur Monument, which is a fascinating walk for both parents and children. And of course, the walled city of Obidos is a great stop. Or you could extend the trip and stay in the castle within the city.

  37. Hi – we are going to Evora in May for the day on our way back to Lisbon. We will have luggage in the trunk. Do you remember the parking lot you parked in and was it safe?

    1. Hi Laura,

      I’ll admit, we got super lucky when we looked for parking in Evora. We managed to find a lot right near the Evora cathedral on Largo de Marques de Marialva. This lot fills up very fast, but is central for exploring. If you don’t mind parking outside the city center (much easier and cheaper), check out Portas da Lagoa, next to the Agua de Prata Aqueduct.

  38. We are visiting Lisbon this October for the very first time and now that I have read your account of Évora, well now, let me see, on what day can I squeeze a visit on my already full itinerary… I just have to go now… thanks to you…. but what do we rip out of our trip planning? We only have 10 days, not 10 weeks… regardless, we are excited just knowing we’re on our way… Pierre Favreau from Québec, Canada

    1. I’m so happy to hear that you’ll be visiting Evora during your time in Lisbon. It’s one of the great day trips from the city. Picking and choosing how to spend your time there is one of the hardest parts about traveling. But no matter what you choose, I know you’ll have an unforgettable experience.

  39. Hey, Kevin! I am a Portuguese travel blogger myself (10 years now) and after my trips (also with my wife and my daughter, who is now 10), I started to get back home to Évora and see the city and the whole Alentejo region with new eyes. We have such diversity in terms of landscape, food, history, architecture, etc, than some of even the biggest countries I have visited that I decided to do a website about my beloved city and region in order to help travelers like yourself to come and discover it. Then, after a while, it exploded in terms of views and I went deeper. In my opinion, I found the best providers of authentic Alentejo experiences and partnered with them.

    It’s now been 5 years since the website went online (link on my name) and I was making some research on Google with the keyword Évora when I found this post. For a moment there you got me worried with your choice of title. I’m glad you and your family enjoyed yourselves in Évora but I’m also sorry you didn’t have more time to explore the whole region. I know how it is when we’re traveling. Time is never enough to go and see what’s around the next corner. It’s a problem I also struggle with. Anyway, if you ever find yourselves around this area, feel free to contact me. I would love to show you around.

    I wish you the best trips. As a family. Like they should all be.
    Luís Seco

    1. Hello Luis!

      Thank you so much for your great words and congratulations on developing such a great site on Evora. Evora and Portugal itself are both places that are close to my heart. The beauty and authenticity of the region are unforgettable. I will definitely reach out to you the next chance I have to visit.

  40. My wife and I visited Portugal with two other couples in October of this year. One of the best things we did was to download the CP Portugal app and subscribe to their Facebook page and emails. They are currently (November) running a special train fare of 2.50 EU from Lisbon to Evora!

    1. Excellent tip Don. Thanks for joining the conversation and adding that. The local transit app is one thing that is very useful when visiting Evora Portugal by transit.

  41. 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…

    1. 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.

  42. 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.

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