White buildings lining hilly streets is a common sight in Portugal, but the southern city of Évora has the small town charm to go with it. And while it’s not well known for city breakers, there are plenty of reasons to take the time for a trip out and visit Évora. It’s the perfect choice for a day trip from Lisbon, with a journey time of an hour and half by train, but also ideal for a couple of days of relaxed sightseeing.
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Sights To See When You Visit Évora
Évora is the perfect choice for a day trip, or for a few days if you’re looking for a relaxed city break. It’s got plenty to see but at the same time isn’t overflowing with sights, meaning you get to enjoy the city at a slower pace. As you start planning your visit, make sure to add the Bone Chapel to your list, along with the Roman temple ruins, Évora Cathedral and its roof, and don’t miss out a visit to the central Giraldo Square.
Chapel Of Bones
Capella Dos Ossos isn’t something you see in many cities, yet one of the things that attracts people to visit Évora is the chapel decorated with bones in the São Francisco church. For some, it can seem a little strange, but the history behind the chapel is interesting.
There were too many cemeteries in the region, so they decided to honour those buried there whilst also trying to save space and move them to the chapel. It served an extra purpose as it also acted as a reminder to the wealthy residents of the city that death comes to us all and not to be too materialistic.
Visitors these days can respectfully visit the small chapel, as well as visit the rest of São Francisco church which also houses an exhibition of nativity scenes.
UNESCO World Heritage Status
The historic centre of Évora has held UNESCO World Heritage status since 1986. This title recognises the importance of Évora’s history, architecture and influence on other countries.
Évora was lucky to come out of the famous 1755 earthquake relatively undamaged, while other cities in the area, including Lisbon, were devastated. Thanks to this fortune, the city still has the historic monuments like the Roman Temple still standing, whereas many other towns and cities in the region lost many historical landmarks in the earthquake damage.
Panoramic Views Of Évora
In a city as hilly as Évora, you just know there are some places that’ll give you stunning panoramic views of the surrounding areas. One of the best panoramic views of Évora is afforded to those brave enough to take on the narrow staircase to the roof of Évora cathedral. It’s not a huge climb, but once on the roof you feel a little bit like…you weren’t supposed to come up here.
The walking area slopes to the walls as you cross the roof of the cathedral, and the ‘walls’ aren’t the most reassuring at some points. But, once you stop worrying about how easy it could be to fall and start checking out the view of the Alentejo region, you’ll be glad you came!
For a safer but equally pretty panoramic view of Évora, head to Jardim Diana. Much more serene, family friendly, surrounded by a token amount of nature and looking out over the Portuguese countryside.
Take Time To Relax In The Parks
Yes, there are plenty of charming cobble stone streets and white buildings, but visitors can still find a moment of calm in the parks of the city. Jardim Diana is a park with great panoramic views of Évora, located close to the Roman Temple. It’s a small park but ideal for sitting and taking a break on a busy day of sightseeing.
For somewhere to enjoy a relaxing walk, the public gardens that house the Royal Palace of Évora are your best bet. There are fountains, peacocks roaming free and a cafe to enjoy a drink. Plus it’s got an old palace in it, what more could we ask for? Well, if you walk to the western end of the park, you’ll also be able to indulge in a bit of Évora history as there’s a part of the old city walls at Porta do Raimundo.
Getting In And Around Évora
Évora is easily accessible for visitors. If you’re arriving by car there are plenty of parking options close to the city centre, and public transport offers quick and easy connections with Lisbon. You can get the train from Lisbon to Évora in under an hour and a half. The bus takes a little longer, but still only 2 and a half hours.
Third party train companies don’t always show tickets, be sure to check
the Portuguese train website, it has an English option.
Once in Évora, the city is very hilly, complete with plenty of cobble stone streets. It may not be suitable for those with mobility issues, or for those who struggle with hills – there are lots! If mobility isn’t an issue for you, then the city centre is easily walkable, and while there is a bus network it’d probably take the same amount of time to walk.
If you’re a traveller with a love of lesser-known spot, a visit to Évora should be high on your Portugal hitlist! Be sure to check out my guide to spending a day in Évora to help plan your time in the city.