What to do, what to visit and the region's best kept secrets
If you are thinking of spending a few days or a holiday in Alto Alentejo, take the opportunity to get to know this amazing region in the Portuguese countryside.
The countryside is an excellent alternative to the more touristic places and represents a very appealing option for travellers that are looking for a way of travelling or holidaying that is more sustainable and focused on nature and the historical and cultural heritage of each region.
Thus, we prepared a kind of tour with useful information and some of the activities and places that our guests value the most, since in the tranquillity of Montargil and its surroundings there are many activities and attractions worth visiting.
Montargil, which belongs to the district of Portalegre, is only about an hour and a half from Lisbon, so there is no excuse for not knowing or often visiting this Lusitanian paradise, a marvellous place that still remains secret for many Portuguese and foreign tourists.
Therefore, and because in Alentejo all places are close to each other - just ask a local and the answer will always be the same, “that is just over there” -, we prepared a tour with the main tourist attractions that are “just over there” for those who choose to stay at the Montargil Monte Novo.
We show you which restaurants not to miss, from gastronomy to wines, there is much to know and enjoy, which activities and sports you can do in nature, whether on land, air or water, the main events and festivals in the region and also some special suggestions so that you do not miss anything, and so that we can always see and revisit each other with the same curiosity and enthusiasm regardless of the time of year.
20 minutes from Montargil, but already in the district of Évora, Mora is one of the places for those travelling along the Estrada Nacional 2. It is worth dedicating a day of your holidays to go there, for the rich historical and ethnographic heritage, as well as for the beautiful river beaches and walkways that this Alentejo village has to offer. In addition to the Mora Fluviarium and others, which we will talk about later on.
This town, the third largest in the district of Portalegre and less than 30 minutes from Montargil, is known for its pleasant riverside area, on the right bank of the Ribeira do Sor, where you can enjoy nature and get to know tourist places of interest, such as the Arts and Culture Centre or the Campo da Restauração Garden.
Also about 30 minutes from Montargil, Coruche, which in turn already belongs to the district of Santarém, is considered the world capital of cork, a natural element so characteristic of our economy and our culture, where you can get to know and visit the Cork Oak and Cork Observatory or even take a hot air balloon flight baptism, for example.
Tourists, both Portuguese and foreign, also choose Alentejo to spend their holidays or weekends for the rich gastronomy that the region has to offer.
The traditional migas, the meat, the sausages, the bread, the cheeses, the codfish and the aromatic herbs are elements that characterise the Alentejo gastronomy, as well as the olive oil and the wine are very characteristic products of the region.
We leave you with a list of nearby restaurants that you can try, all known for their traditional dishes and wines from the region.
The Montargil Monte Novo restaurant
Montes de Argila
Retiro do Mocho
A Tasca do Gigante
The dam is a huge mirror of water that reflects the natural beauty of the region, where the fine sandy banks stand out, resulting in small river beaches that are the starting point for practising various water sports, from sailing to wakeboarding, canoeing or jet-skiing.
Here, you can also take the opportunity to observe several bird species that will bestow you with their beauty and flights over the dam. And if you stay at the Montargil Monte Novo you do not need to leave the estate, to access the dam you just need to go to the anchorage, through the estate's paths, where you can leave your boat moored. Contact us for more information about the nautical activities and the price of the anchorage for guests.
In Coruche, right next to Mora, less than 30 minutes from the Montargil Monte Novo estate, you can try flying in a hot air balloon or participate in the International Ballooning Festival, which takes place every year over the Ribatejo lezírias, and thus enter for a moment in the already known and surreal landscape of Cappadocia, in Turkey, without leaving Portugal.
Just 14 minutes from the Montargil Monte Novo, it is at Açude do Gameio, on the Raia River, that you will find this reference park, the Gameiro Ecological Park, with a diversity of attractions and infrastructures available, including the Mora Fluviarium, the tree climbing park, intended for the practice of extreme activities, and the wooden walkway, along 1.5 km of the Raia Riverside (3 km round trip).
It is always a special moment, but next to the banks of the Montargil dam it becomes even more beautiful to go horse riding. If you are a nature and animal lover or want to surprise someone you love, this is the perfect programme and only it is 30 minutes by car from the Montargil Monte Novo estate.
In Ponte de Sor, also about 30 minutes from the estate, this garden is a mandatory stopping point, as well as the Ponte de Sor Waterfront Park, for its extension, with spaces divided between riverside area and traditional garden, a grass area, benches to rest and also some infrastructures to practice extreme sports.
Half an hour's drive from the Montargil Monte Novo, in Galveias, you will find the Oásis Park, a water park that delights visitors and is very popular in the summer months. It has a main pool, a lake area for children and a lawn with natural shadows and thatched parasols. It also has a pool exclusively for the two slides, one of which is open and longer and a second one completely closed, higher and faster.
For those who enjoy nature and sports, but are not lovers of nautical activities, the Mora Byway Ecotrail, one hour from the estate, is the ideal solution. This 20-kilometre route is located on the old railway line that used to connect Évora and Mora and can be done on foot or by bicycle, while enjoying the beautiful landscape provided by the Alentejo plain. To learn more about this and other ecotrails, be sure to check the National Ecotrails Plan of the IP Património (Portuguese Infrastructures).
Ponte de Sor has a place in the Guinness World Records since 2014, after having launched the challenge to the Albanian artist Saimir Strati - the master of mosaic, holder of several Guinness records – of building, in the Arts and Culture Centre, the largest mosaic in the world made with cork stoppers. The challenge resulted in the construction of a 157.12 m2 mosaic with around 400,000 corks. That is why we recommend a visit. It is “just there”, only 20 minutes from the estate.
A one-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from the Montargil Monte Novo, this is a venue dedicated to shows and events, such as movie sessions every Saturday and musical moments on Fridays. There are also reading spaces and a room dedicated to exhibitions. A great option for a walk outside the estate or an after-dinner movie session.
“Just over there”, a 15-minute drive from the Montargil Monte Novo, you can find the Mora Fluviarium, a public aquarium dedicated to freshwater ecosystems, which is also a place to raise awareness about how to take care of these ecosystems that harbour a huge diversity of species. Here, it will be possible to see dozens of species, in a fun and educational tour. The Fluviarium is located in the Gameiro Ecological Park and is open all year round.
A few kilometres from the Mora Fluviarium, located practically in the centre of the village, you can also find the Megalithism Interactive Museum, which is unique in Portugal and results from the vast and rich megalithic heritage existing in the municipality. Built by the municipality, the museum integrates the old Mora Station and two new buildings of the museum centre, having also leisure spaces and a cafeteria.
The Nature Trail Network - Alentejo Feel Nature is an exclusive network in Alto Alentejo and promises to be an unforgettable experience. It was promoted by CIMAA, through the involvement of 15 municipalities, under the PROVERE InMOTION - Alentejo, Tourism and Sustainability initiative. It seeks to promote and value the existing natural heritage, transforming it into a vector of development and enabling its knowledge by the general public. We advise you to know all the routes and to follow the suggestions before leaving.
The Montargil Sailing and Canoeing Club, with various courses available for adults and children, events, music, tours and many other activities, aims to encourage and support the practice of sport. Whether it is a sailing baptism or a canoe trip, there are many activities you can try just a few metres away from the Montargil Monte Novo.
A reference for the city, the Ponte de Sor Municipal Aerodrome is a public infrastructure and for public use, with a runway length of 180 0m where aircraft up to Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 can operate. This is where the headquarters of the air resources of the National Civil Protection Authority are located and, through the Aero Club of Portugal, you can fly in a glider. Even if you do not want to fly, you can go just to see the aeroplanes. It is 15 minutes from the Montargil Monte Novo estate, it is “just over there”.
With more than 20 years of history, and about 30 minutes from the estate, you have the Ponte de Sor Theatre-Cinema, the city’s main theatre. With an excellent image quality and a perfect surround, worthy of any of the great cinemas in the country. This space, with 388 seats, is also the stage for many cultural events. You can check the agenda and the movies being showed here.
Located in Coruche, the Cork Oak and Cork Observatory, about 30 minutes from the Montargil Monte Novo, “is a provocative building, designed by architect Manuel Couceiro, with the intention of creating an organic that refers to the metaphor of the cork oak as a living element”. Covered in cork, it has an auditorium for events and conferences and has won several national awards. It is open daily to the public and is well worth a visit.
The Andanças festival promotes popular music and dance as the main means of learning and exchange between generations and cultures. With shows of traditional dances from Portugal and the world, the event that takes place in Reguengos de Monsaraz takes into account the recovery of musical and choreographic traditions, combining them with more contemporary elements.
Following the N2, a little further south, in the Alentejo village of Cabrela, an hour from the Montargil Monte Novo, the first edition of the Alentejo World Heritage Festival is born, which favours the Cante Alentejano, fado and flamenco. If there was any doubt, this will be the best way to get to know part of the Alentejo culture through music, since these styles are considered true musical heritages of the Iberian Peninsula, already recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The Ponte de Sor Motorbike Rally is an event that is becoming increasingly more important to the region, being the Zona Ribeirinha (riverside area) the epicentre for the arrival of thousands of people from all areas of the country and abroad, in what is a programme of shows and activities for the two-wheel lovers. The Motorbike Rally is an organisation of the Motor Club Matuzas Ponte de Sor with the support of the Municipality of Ponte de Sor. Food, music, activities and the characteristic hospitality of the region. Whether you are travelling by motorbike or by car, this is an event you do not want to miss.
Considered the largest summer internship in the country, the Junior Music Festival provides to more than 350 students, coming from the best national and international music schools, 9 days of intense musical activity, led by a collective of 35 teachers and 3 maestros. This annual event, which has been assuming an unavoidable role in the training of young students, takes place in the municipality of Ponte de Sor and the invitation is extended to the whole family to spend holidays during the Festival, benefiting from the accommodation and tourist potential of the region.
They bring many tourists to the Zona Ribeirinha de Ponte de Sor (the riverside area of Ponte de Sor) and are a reference place for those who want to enjoy the good Alentejo gastronomy, as well as to know the main regional products. The Ponte de Sor City Festivities take place every year in July, for five days, and feature names such as Cuca Roseta, Marisa Liz or Bárbara Bandeira.
The FestiFolk is an international folklore festival that every year brings together groups of dancers from seven different countries, representing three continents. The event is organised by the Rancho Folclórico da Casa do Povo de Ponte de Sor in partnership with the Municipality of Ponte de Sor and the Parish Councils of the municipality.
The Montargil Popular Festivities are an annual event that takes place on the last weekend of August, characterised by outdoor taverns and various musical moments that promise to cheer customers and visitors from the Laranjal Amphitheatre.
This international trance music festival takes place at the Montargil dam, in an event that combines music with nature. The ZNA Gathering is a biennial festival and the next edition takes place from the 14th to the 21st of July, 2024. One of the most exclusive psychedelic trance festivals in the world, not to be missed, in Montargil.
The Portalegre Jazzfest - Portalegre International Jazz Festival, one of the most renowned jazz festivals in the country, takes place in the city of Portalegre, with the programme happening in various spaces, combines music with wine tastings and regional products. An already known cultural meeting point for people from all over the country for a gastro-touristic-musical weekend.
Official agent of the Rota Nacional 2, the most emblematic national road in the country, the Montargil Monte Novo combines the tranquillity of the Alentejo with the calm nature of the waters of the Montargil dam, to which you have direct and privileged access by simply going down to the anchorage through the paths of the estate. From there, from the anchorage, where small and medium-sized boats can be moored, you can practice various water sports very characteristic of the region, whether by taking a boat or canoe ride or, if you prefer, riding a jet ski.
An excellent local accommodation, where you can choose to stay in a room in the main building or choose a villa with a private pool, the Montargil Monte Novo is ideal for getting to know the local products and trying delicious Alentejo recipes. With a panoramic view over the dam, the estate's restaurant serves meals for guests and also for those just passing through. Whether for lunch or dinner, the restaurant features a varied menu, with chef’s Miguel Varela signature, with reinvented typical dishes that promise to leave no one indifferent.
After this complete guide of places to visit and activities to do in the region, the hardest part will be to choose where to begin. As you can see, whether for a weekend or a longer holiday, Montargil is the right destination for you.
If you prefer to do nothing and just relax, benefit from the Montargil Monte Novo estate to read a book in your villa’s garden, take an invigorating swim in your private pool or simply enjoy nature and the sunset over the dam.
If, on the other hand, you like to walk around and explore what the region has to offer, in addition to the suggestions you have just read, get to know the various experiences that we have prepared with you in mind, from the wine tastings with a visit to Monte da Raposinha, to the romantic dinners to celebrate a special occasion, we have everything to make your days memorable at the Montargil Monte Novo.