Evora, Portugal With Kids
The first stop on our Portugal driving tour was Evora. This old walled city came highly recommended for its old world charm. It’s one of the “most beautifully preserved medieval towns” according to Lonely Planet (and just about every other guide book). It certainly did not disappoint and was a great way to kick off our Portugal adventure.
Our flight was delayed into Lisbon from Amsterdam, so we arrived later than we expected. We grabbed a bite to eat at the Padaria Lisboa in the airport before grabbing our rental car. In our experience it is best not to travel hungry. The Padaria Lisboa has fresh baked bread, quiches and a variety of sandwiches and was perfectly acceptable for dinner.
The drive to Evora from the Lisbon airport is an hour and twenty minutes and will cost you €10 in tolls. It’s an easy drive though on a nice open road. (Likely due to the high toll!)
Once you arrive in Evora the driving becomes a bit frustrating. There is a one-way track through the town. Expect a line of cars making their way through town. There is some street parking, but we found it mostly full. Instead we parked at the guarded deck located in city center. Just stay on the one road through Evora and you can’t miss it. There are also several lots outside the wall, but we did not feel comfortable leaving the car there overnight.
Our hotel, the Stay Inn Ale-Hop Évora, was perfect. You get your keys from the Ale-Hop store on the ground floor. Directly above the store are several rooms, a full kitchen, living room and roof patio. We were in a family room that had four beds, a private bathroom and plenty of space. Everything was extremely comfortable.
We made full use of the public space, which even included a children’s play table with Legos. We loved the flexibility of the living room just outside our bedroom for some work time after the kids went to bed and during naps
The kitchen is fully stocked with equipment. You’ll find Nespresso pods in the room and a variety of teas on the counter. Once we hit up a grocery store we were able to make full use of the kitchen for breakfast. The Stay Inn has a small binder with labels of each room name so you can label your food and avoid confusion.
Sunday morning, finding breakfast was a bit of a challenge. We got in too late to visit a grocery and most of Europe wakes up later than us. The kids ate the remaining plane snacks to tide them over until the cafes opened.
There is plenty to see out and about so we hit the streets of Évora around 8am. Our first stop was the, still in use, Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct ends in a quiet corner of the city where shops and houses are built right into the aqueduct.
We walked along the aqueduct until it crossed over the city wall. As we walked through the wall’s gate, the aqueduct now towered over the road and surrounding countryside. The aqueduct runs for 8.5km, all of which you can walk.
We however enjoyed our view from just outside the city walls.
The kids couldn’t resist picking some of the citrus that grows along the path. The oranges are too sour to be edible and are used primarily for making marmalade.
Our next stop was the Roman Temple. These large columns, perfectly preserved, sit high on a hill in the center of Évora. The kids were less than impressed, given our recent visit to Rome. However, I never cease to be amazed by things constructed and preserved for 18 centuries.
A small park behind the temple proved to be a big hit with the kids. There were plenty of pigeons to chase and paths to run on. The real highlight though was a man, precariously perched on a ladder changing lightbulbs. While the kids watched this man, Jeff and I enjoyed the views. You can see nearly the full length of the aqueduct and most of the city.
As the city bells struck 9am we were the first guests at The Bakery Lounge. They are one of the first places in town to open for breakfast. We chose a seat way in the back, where you can view the kitchen, one of the delights for my kids. There is a small outdoor patio out back where our kids played while we waited for our food.
I had an amazing coffee and we ordered a variety of simple toasts. The lunch menu looks delicious as do their snacks and desserts. I recommend popping in if you’re in town.
Évora is home to a bone chapel. The Capela Dos Ossos at the Church of Saint Francis is not to miss. Your admission includes the museum as well as the chapel. The museum has a collection of religious art and artifacts. They also have one of the largest collections of nativities in the world. The kids loved seeing all the nativities from all over the world. One whole corridor is dedicated just to nativities from Africa. The church also has a scenic balcony that has wonderful views of Évora.
The bone chapel is unreal. The walls and pillars are covered in human bones. You enter through a door, over which is inscribed “Our bones that are here wait for yours.” Other messages, “I leave, but I do not die” remind you that death is not the end, but the beginning. The boys were fascinated by the skeletons. I quite enjoyed the peacefulness and message of the chapel.
The Jardim Publico was my favorite little spot in Évora. This public garden has plenty to offer visitors. We enjoyed a turn or two around the city wall, peeking over at the playground below. Peacocks roam free. The ruins in the park are actually fake, but are quite picturesque.
We ducked down through the tunnel in the wall to access the playground. The kids ran around and tried out all the equipment. The playground equipment was average, but we still had a go at it all. It doesn’t take much to entertain kids.
However the geckos and birds living on the walls kept the kids entertained.
We popped into the Municipal Market to check out the produce. Markets are one of my kids’ favorite places and give us a great sense of what is local! The market was a bit underwhelming on a Saturday afternoon. There appear to be many stalls that were not open.
Adega do Alentejano was recommended on almost every blog we could find on the area. We popped in for lunch, luckily early enough to be the first visitors. The restaurant was full of long reserved tables, as they typically service tours for lunch and dinner. If you want to eat dinner here, make a reservation. The portions are enormous and intended for sharing. The staff did not balk when we ordered two entries for the four of us.
The tomato soup is amazing! I should have ordered wine from the casks that line the wall, but instead stuck to water. We also shared a pork dish that was delicious.
Post lunch, we popped into a few shops in order to replace the baby blanket I lost on the flight. There are loads of cute, high end stores in Évora. It was fun to browse, but hard to find something reasonable. Finally we found an adorable muslin swaddle.
We took advantage of our hotel’s central location and popped in for naps for the little two. Jeff and the big little went grocery shopping and did a bit of school work in the hotel’s common room.
When the littles woke up from nap we opted to head out of the city to visit some stone circles. The two sites are a 30 min drive outside of town. The drive is rough once you leave the main road. The dirt road is crowded and full of potholes! You drive through a cork forest and there are cows, sheep and pigs grazing on most of the land, so it’s quite scenic.
The boys loved running around the stone circles. These are one of Jeff’s favorite things to visit, so it was a winner all the way around.
We hit up dinner on our way back into town, dropping into Triangular, a hamburger bar outside the city. It’s a bit confused. The food was delicious, as the reviews suggest. The service was good. The space is crowded though with a popsicle freezer, cigarette machine and TVs playing the music video station. We had a great meal though and they were happy to accommodate splitting our kids plate, insisting on taking it to the kitchen to plate it.
We had another restful night at the Stay Inn, a great breakfast in the kitchen and then took off before the city awoke.
Goodbye Évora. You were so good to us!