Months before we went to Portugal, we decided that we needed a decent travel guide to help us understand this completely foreign country. Based on previous travel experiences, the internet is great for a 'quick hit' if you need information. However, you cannot beat a good book if you want information in great detail and at your fingertips at all times!
We went to the local bookstore and checked out Fodors, Lonely Planet and all the others but, when it came right down to it, I could not resist the significantly more expensive (US$28) DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. It is a 480-page full-colour book with detailed maps, photos and information, yet it is only the size of a paperback novel! Without the colour in a guide, you miss so much. Let me tell you that it was worth every penny. It described the history of Portugal and its rulers, its architecture, customs, foods and the most minute details on each of its areas. The book described the recommended road tours in each area of the country and provided maps showing and describing the attractions in every part of the country.
We took it with us everywhere, even when waiting for a meal so we could either plan our next move or read up on the useful Portugese phrases and translations of menu items!
In short, get one!
After finishing our very enjoyable excursion in the southwest corner of Portugal in the Algarve, we headed north for Evora. It was a long but interesting drive on great highways (see my 'Algarve' page for details) on a beautiful day.
Evora is situated not too far from the Spanish border and is about 1/3rd of the way up from the southern beaches of the Algarve.
Favorite thing: Évora’s historic centre is classified by Unesco as World Heritage site – the urban group formed by streets, squares and fountain. This city is often referred to as museum-city, as there are so many things to observe while strolling on the streets - often referred on most guidebooks, are the white houses with blue or yellow stripes and beautiful balconies made in iron. Évora’s “golden years” were in the 15th century, when Portuguese Kings and Queens chose this city to live.
Favorite thing: Évora Tourism Office is situated on Giraldo’s square, it is very easy to find – while facing the church, the Information Centre is located on your left side, across the taxi stop. The helpful staff will provide you a free map of the city with main Must See, briefly described on the back in 3 languages: Portuguese, English and French. There are also guides and books about the area on sale here.
Favorite thing: Évora is the capital of the District of Évora, one of the Districts that compose the region of Alentejo. The city is situated on the interior of mainland, about 135km from Lisbon. Évora is somewhat near the Spanish border – about 100km distant.
Favorite thing: There are a number of places in Evora from where you can get a great view over the city. My favourite was the view from the rooftop of the Cathedral. From here, you can see the fields in the distance - it gives a good impression of just how compact Evora is. However, you'll have to pay the 3 Euro entry to the Cathedral for this view. Another good viewing point is from the Jardim do Paco near the Roman temple, overlooking the northern end of the town.
The Local Tourist Office is located at:
Praça do Giraldo 73 - 7000-508 Évora
Summer: 9AM - 7 PM
Winter: 9AM - 6PM
Évora has public bathrooms.
At mid-town there's one at Rua Bernando de Matos, close to the Praça do Giraldo.