Leave at least an afternoon or two to explore Évora’s environs, which have some significant attractions. Some, like the castle at Évoramonte, warrant a quick stop en route elsewhere, though the famed carpet town of Arraiolos, just to the north, is a popular day- or overnight trip from the city. The administrative district of Évora also contains over a dozen megalithic sites – dolmens (funerary chambers), menhirs (standing stones) and stone circles – which have their origins in a culture that flourished here before spreading north as far as Brittany and Denmark. The stones of Os Almendres, in particular, provide one of the country’s most extraordinary sights. With your own car, you can easily combine a visit to Os Almendres with the dramatic dolmen of Zambujeiro. While it’s tempting to take the fast road to Beja and the south, there’s an attractive detour to be made into deepest rural Alentejo, via the small historic towns of Viana do Alentejo and Alvito. From Évora the first stop, Viana do Alentejo, is a simple twenty-minute drive down the ruler-straight N254. There’s no reliable public transport along this route – you’ll need a car.

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