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Wellness is part of the Alentejo Experience

After months of seclusion and challenges, the focus in many of our lives has turned to Wellness.  From a healthy daily lifestyle in search of both physical and mental health, wellness helps us to grow and thrive. 
Travel today is linked to wellness, as we all seek a place to clear our minds and find our physical health.
For many, Portugal’s Alentejo is the perfect wellness destination. Its breathtaking landscapes offer an escape immersed in nature. Here you will find three natural parks, two natural reserves, 30 areas under the European Union’s nature protection network Natura 2000, and three Ramsar Sites. The conservation of natural territories allows hundreds of protected species to live safe and free in the Alentejo. 
With a mild climate and more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, the Alentejo is a mystic place. With almost 100 miles of Atlantic beaches on its protected coast — the Alentejo is laid back, too.
Here are a few reasons why the Alentejo is your next wellness retreat:

Outdoor activities are year-round

So, you can go cycling, hiking or riding anytime. With amazing light, the Alentejo has a mild climate throughout the year. Spa and relaxation treatments are all year too, with local herbs and wines, fitness retreats, stress management programs, health and anti-aging programs — all come with a local flavor and innovation. 

Healthy cuisine

Fresh, hardy and nutritious meals made with locally grown ingredients and served with local wines. From fresh fish and seafood on the coast, to the wonderful local olive oil, to locally raised pork and lamb, the Alentejo food is all about being local. In the Alentejo meat and fish are 100% local and seasoned unlike anywhere else. One famed regional treat is Carne de Porco a Alentejana, literally Alentejo-style pork, which is a stew of pork cubes and clams, and lots of coriander. In fact, coriander is at the heart of Alentejo cuisine. The herb is most frequently used in the south of Portugal, anywhere below the Tejo River.  On the fish side, there are rich fish stews using cod, coastal fish and seafood. 


From Mountains and waterfalls, to cliffs by the ocean, to plains, there are endless miles of trails to explore. In the Northern Alentejo, climb the peaks of the São Mamede range on the Feel Nature route, that leads to the Portas de Rodão natural Monument, where two giant hills rise over the landscape, overlooking the Tejo River. Then there are 11 TransAlentejo trails that follow the Spanish-Portuguese border, or Raia. Spectacular views over the hills of the Guadiana River, quaint villages, ancient Stonehenge like rock circles, and the Alqueva Lake are some of the highlights. Or hike the Montado Routes to explore the golden plains, cork forests and olive groves. 


On a bike you can explore Portugal’s most extensive biking routes. Cycle along the coastline on the Eurovelo trail, also known as the Atlantic Coast Route, and enjoy the protected coastline, small towns and fishing villages, and stretches of dunes and beaches on the Vicentina Route. 


The Alentejo’s sky is a natural wonder. By night, millions of stars brighten it with their magical glow and during the day the blue sky is adorned by thousands of birds. Head to natural reserves such as the Sado Estuary, the Southwestern and Vicentina Coast, the Guadiana Valley or the Serra de São Mamede Valley and find rare species like the Iberian eagle or the lesser kestrel and at the coast you can find a variety of seabirds. 
* Jayme H. Simões is a travel blogger on Portugal. He grew up in Chicago but spent summers exploring Portugal with his family.

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