The Alentejo has a clear vocation for Activity Tourism and for Nature Tourism. The beauty of the landscape invites excursions on foot, on mountain bikes and on horseback, and the country lanes known as estradas municipais, despite the absence of cycle lanes, are excellent for cycling-tourism.
On the rivers, the reservoirs and the coast, many water-based activities are possible. The beaches are of the highest quality. And the sky, with this fantastic climate, is ideal for parachuting, paragliding, ballooning and microlight flights.
Nature expresses itself in an especially exuberant way in the Natural Park of the Serra (sierra/range of hills) of S. Mamede. From a geological point of view it is extremely rich, immediately drawing the visitor’s attention to the imposing quartzites, which mark the landscape with bizarre sculptures. In the northern zone, the chestnuts and Pyrenean oaks share the area with cork oaks and holm oaks, while the vineyards, allied to olive groves, grow on the generally gentle slopes which border the streams. To the south, great ownership is affirmed. This is the Alentejo of the montes (traditional farm complexes), of farming that is in natural symbiosis with the montados (oak woodland combined with pasture) and with the small villages of low whitewashed houses surrounded by vegetable gardens and orchards.
Despite the pressures of human occupation, fauna is abundant: rare birds such as Bonelli’s Eagle and the Griffin Vulture, Sparrowhawks, the Short-toed Eagle, the Black Kite, the Eagle Owl, the Tawny Owl and many others, live alongside Wild Boar, Red Deer, Badgers, Egyptian Mongooses, Wild Cats, Foxes and the Common Rabbit.
The history of humankind has left its thousands-of-years-old mark in the dolmens, menhirs, camps, Roman and 15th century bridges, and also in the network of paved tracks and pathways, some of which form part of the walking excursions in the natural Park.
Eight excursions are signposted in the Park. The leaflets are available in Quinta dos Olhos d’Águia, the park’s headquarters (S. Salvador de Aramenha) and in the Tourist Offices in Marvão and Arronches. The Marvão (8 kms), Galegos (11,5 kms), Alegrete (11 Kms) and Esperança (16 kms) excursions, all accessible to anyone in good physical condition, together provide a sufficiently complete image of the Park’s landscape. The last two can be done on mountain bike. Before setting out, always check about the state of the signposting.
At Penhas de Portalegre, practitioners of climbing will find the only authorised and equipped walls in this protected area. For cycling- tourists, the secondary roads and municipal lanes provide a true paradise waiting to be discovered.