Coming from Lisbon and the west, ALCÁCER DO SAL is the first town of the Baixo Alentejo, 52km from Setúbal. It is one of Portugal’s oldest ports, founded by the Phoenicians and made a regional capital under the Moors – whence its name (al-Ksar, “the town”) derives. The other part of its name, do Sal, “of salt”, reflects the dominance of the salt industry in these parts; the Sado estuary is still fringed with salt marshes.

Few stop longer than to stretch the legs – both Beja and the coast are less than an hour away – but it’s an attractive enough place to spend some time, particularly along the waterfront promenade where there are various cafés and restaurants. A couple of roads back from the promenade, at its western end, lies a charming quarter of medieval houses where storks nest on any tall tower. Further uphill, above the town, stands the Moorish castle, now a luxury pousada, from where you can look out over the Rio Sado and the distinctive green paddy fields which are still cultivated for rice.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Where to eat in Lisbon: an area-by-area guide

Lisbon has rightly garnered a reputation as being one of Europe’s hippest cities – but Portuguese cuisine remains somewhat unknown. Rest assured, though, Li…

24 Aug 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best beaches in Portugal

The 10 best beaches in Portugal

For many travellers, Portugal is synonymous with images of golden sun-baked beaches. And with a generous 1700 kilometres of coastline, there’s enough sand for…

28 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook