I get complaints from one of my readers on a regular basis. And, by reader, I mean sister-in-law. And, by regular basis, it’s every time we speak. She always complains that we focus too much on food photos and not enough on travel photos. For her, she wants to see what a place looks like, not just what the food looks like. So, for Margaret, I wanted to share some photos of the Portuguese hill top town of Monsaraz, Portugal.
Exploring Monsaraz at Dusk
Monsaraz is a hill top town on the eastern edge of Portugal, in the Alentejo region. It’s so far east that from one side of the town, you can see Spain in the distance.
We stayed in the valley below, and only made it up to the village twice. The first time, at dusk, on an extremely windy day. The winds reminded me of the Tramantonas we experienced in the Emporda wine region in Catalunya. That night in Monsaraz we ate at Xarez, overlooking the valley below. It was a very quick dinner on the patio, while we attempted to keep our wine glasses from tipping over. That’s how windy it was.
Although this is a photo essay about Monsaraz, I have to share at least a few food photos. After all, this is a food travel blog.
When we returned to Monsaraz on our last night, our goal was to do a Periscope video around dusk. Eric walked around with the iPhone, and I snapped some photos. I usually don’t bother much with these kind of photo essays, but that evening in Monsaraz was beautiful. I knew as we walked around, that these were photos I wanted to share. It was Margaret’s lucky day.
As the sun started to set, there was a glow over Monsaraz, made even more bright by the white walled buildings and stone walkways and arches.
My understanding is that it is not all that common to find hill top towns like this in Portugal, as most villages tend to be in low lying areas. In fact, if I were dropped into Monsaraz without having any idea where we were, I would hesitate to guess Portugal. The blue tile work that decorated some of the buildings, though, might have given me a hint.
Maybe the real reason why I wanted to share these photos from Monsaraz was really just so that I could share this dog photo.
We continued to walk the quiet, pedestrian only roads of Monsaraz, looking down alleyways and staircases.
It seems there are people living in Monsaraz, on top of the hill. But, the town itself is very quiet. A church, a castle, a couple of restaurants, a few tourist shops. Nothing more. Just a pretty little town, up on the hill, in the middle of Alentejo, Portugal.
After our dusk walking tour, we sat down for our final meal in Alentejo at Sabores de Monsaraz, a very traditional restaurant. So traditional, there was no menu. The staff spoke very little English. Instead, the owner told us, in Portuguese, the two or three dishes they had available that night.
As is typical in Portuguese restaurants, they automatically placed bread, cheese, and meat on the table. The fresh cheese with fried garlic and olive oil was amazing. As for our main courses: a pork dish and a bacalau fish dish. We had no more descriptions of our meal. It was rustic, just like Alentejo.
After our dinner, the town was dark, and even more quiet. I didn’t think that was possible. We made our way back down the winding roads and into the valley of Monsaraz.
Looking For Great Food and Wine Tours in Portugal?
Check out our recommendations for the best Portuguese food tours, cooking classes, and wine tours. With tours from Lisbon and Porto, these tours cover Alentejo, Minho, and everything in between.
And, for more Portuguese culinary travel inspiration, check out our Portugal food travel guide.[table id=6 /]
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
We were supported by We Love Small Hotels, a company specializing in small, and off-the-beaten path destinations in Portugal, during our time in Alentejo.
For more on where to stay in Portugal and what to eat, check our Portugal Food Travel Guide.
Find what other travelers have to say about traveling in Portugal at TripAdvisor
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.