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Évora is obscenely rich in historic architecture. This 'museum city's' golden age was the 15th Century, when it was the seat of the kings of Portugal, but this town has much older treasures, dating from Roman times, and before. And as you negotiate the narrow lanes within 14th Century walls (some of which contain the best places to stay in Evora) you'll be frequently surprised, and rewarded, with striking architecture.
Évora's position, on the Alto Alentejo plains, has appealed to numerous settlers. Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Moors all built on this spot before the Portuguese eventually took control. The Romans left the most obvious traces, with their grand temple, baths and walls. Which now sit incongruously impressively amongst glorious Gothic cathedrals and gorgeous Portuguese palaces. The excavated, 2000 year old Roman baths are actually inside today's Town Hall.
Évora's aqueduct is one of its highlights. Completed in the 1530s, it seems far more trouble was taken in its construction than it could be worth - for a municipal building job, this is beautiful. You can walk about 8kms along its route, to the neighbourhood of Rua do Cano, a charming, village-y place, with its houses, shops and cafes built right into the aqueduct's arches.
In Évora even the public spaces are steeped in history. The picturesque main square, the Praca do Giraldo, saw some pretty bloody action, especially during the Inquisition.
Évora's Bone Chapel, made from the skeletons of over five thousand people is an eerily unmissable sight. And you should make sure you find the time to visit the Almendres Megalithic Complex about nine kilometres outside of town.
Évora isn't just a museum city though, it's very much a living city, and the presence of the university mean it's a youthful place. Cafes bustle at all hours, and there's plenty of hearty Alentejan cooking on the menus.
For designer chic
- M'Ar de AR Aqueduto is a five star design hotel and spa right in the centre of Evora. As well as all the mod. cons., here you'll find modern elegance throughout, care of Phillipe Starke, and an excellent restaurant and spa. With prices starting from less than £100 per night., it's easily one of the best places to stay in Evora if you're looking for value for money.
For out of town luxury
- For something more rustic, consider Imani Country House, a comfortably converted farmhouse set within hectares of beautiful gardens. Seven ecologically friendly, and totally sumptuous room offer plenty of privacy and room for relaxation.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Évora, expand your search to include all our recommendations in the Alentejo, or contact one of our friendly gurus for advice.
Best Hotels in Evora
M'Ar de AR Aqueduto 64 rooms from $119Évora, Alentejo
A Five Star design hotel and spa in the centre of Evora. Phillipe Starke elements, dome ceilings, chrome bedrooms and suites, lots of natural light, and huge bathrooms. Extensive meeting rooms and conference facilities. A luxurious spa spot suited to any city or business traveller.5* Luxury - Very high service standards.City StyleSights nearby - Situated in the centre of UNESCO heritage city EvoraSpa
Villa Extramuros 3 rooms from $130Arraiolos, Alentejo
Brimming with style and modernity, Villa Extramuros is a delightful retreat in rural Portugal. Its whitewashed rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated with modern art. In the evening enjoy Mediterranean cuisine in the villa's restaurant. Perfect for a romantic escape.Country Escape - A minimalist B&B set in rugged countryside, and filled with a contrasting selection of designer features and locally woven rugs.Great walks - There are plenty of lovely walking trails in the surrounding olive groves.Sights nearby - Visit the amazing, unspoilt UNESCO World Heritage Site city of Evora.Romantic - Good for couples.
Imani Country House 7 rooms from $141Guadalupe, Alentejo
A renovated Portuguese farmhouse replete with every downy comfort. Set in hectares of beautiful gardens, two swimming pools, and sumptuous suites. Total rural relaxation with access to wine tasting, sailing, and biking.Garden - Set in two hectares of gardens.Eco - Everything is green.Swimming Pool - 2 swimming pools.Country EscapeRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Pousada de Loios 39 rooms from $150Evora
A wonderfully luxurious old mansion in the town centre. Romantic opulent rooms and suites have high ceilings, golden decorations, stone floors, creamy bedding and big bath tubs. Excellent restaurant serving traditional thoroughfare, gardens and swimming pool. A great choice for couples.Romantic BreakLuxuryRomantic - Good for couples.Sights nearby - Gothic Cathedral of Évora and the Temple of Diana.
Convento do Espinheiro 92 rooms from $186Evora
A beautiful Five Star hotel with state of the art facilities. Contemporary classic rooms and suites with private balconies and all the mod cons. Lovely terraces with views, top of the range spa, kids club, and excellent restaurant. A holiday spot for the luxury traveller.Spa breaks5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Romantic BreakFoodies