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Here is a touch of Europe which enjoys 3,000 hours annually of Mediterranean-bright sun, some of the most beautiful and scenic beaches imaginable and a flavour of Africa after centuries of Moorish occupation. The beaches alone are such a draw that the wealth of interest in the inland towns and villages of Algarve is greatly overlooked and Alentejo, the neighbouring region, relatively neglected. It takes a little over 2 hours to drive the length of Algarve which many visitors happily undertake whilst a drive northwards of the same duration is more than enough to penetrate Alentejo, to visit perhaps the walled town of Mértola, on the banks of the Guadiana River, nourished by the Romans, sustained by the Visigoths and the Moors and all leaving rich traces. Algarve is not an island, just a region of Portugal which is convenient to reach and which makes a particularly good staging post to explore the very best of the southern part of the country.
Volumes of space, long straight roads through undulating plains, achingly blue skies, pigs snuffling in the fields, Alentejo could not be more different from Algarve. The elemental beauty of its landscapes alone is enough to satisfy but there is a rich topping in ancient walled towns, castles and layers of history from the Romans through to the Moors. This little known and lesser visited region of the country describes itself, with real justification, as the hidden treasure of Portugal. Alentejo is a very large province occupying a third of the country but only the area south of Lisbon is explored here.
This is no lightweight guide, it is detailed and comprehensive.

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