Elvas: The Complete Guide

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Yon Mora

Elvas, known as the “city of plums,” is a historic town in Portugal that is characterized by its narrow, cobblestone streets and crenellated fortifications. The town was held by the Moors until 1226, and it was frequently attacked and besieged by Spanish troops in later years. In the 1801 War of the Oranges, Elvas finally fell but remained part of Portugal, while its neighboring town, Olivença, became Spanish.

The fortifications of Elvas are an exceptional example of 17th-century military architecture. They include gates, curtain walls, moats, bastions, and sloping banks. The town is also known for its tightly packed, gold- and oyster-colored cottages with tile roofs that line the steep, hilly streets. Many of the houses have doors that are just 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall, and the tiny windows are filled with canary cages and flowering geraniums.

One of the most impressive landmarks in Elvas is the four-tier Aqueduto da Amoreira. Built between 1498 and 1622, the aqueduct transports water from a source located about 8 kilometers (5 miles) southwest of the town. Visitors can admire the aqueduct’s arches and impressive engineering as it stretches across the landscape. In some places, it towers up to 30 meters (98 feet) high. Overall, Elvas is a charming and historic town that offers visitors a glimpse into Portugal’s rich cultural heritage.

Visiting Elvas for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Elvas on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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5 Best places to See in Elvas

This complete guide to Elvas not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Elvas and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Museu Militar de Elvas

Fonte De São José
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Mme.museologia
The Museu Militar de Elvas (Military Museum of Elvas) is a museum located in the town of Elvas in Portugal. It is housed in the former quarters of the artillery regiment, which is located within the historic walls of the town. The museum was founded in 1929 and its collection includes a wide variety of […]
Location: Museu Militar de Elvas, Avenida de São Domingos, Elvas, Portugal | Hours: 09:00 - 17:00 Mon - Sun | Price: €3 | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Museu Militar de Elvas

Castelo de Elvas

Castelo De Elvas
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Stephen Colebourne
Castelo de Elvas is a medieval fortress located in the city of Elvas, Portugal. It was built in the 13th century during the reign of King Sancho II and served as a key defensive structure on the border between Portugal and Spain. The castle is surrounded by a moat and has several towers and ramparts, […]
Location: Castelo de Elvas, Rua da Parada do Castelo, Elvas, Portugal | Hours: 9:30 until 13:00 and from 14:30 until 17:30 | Price: €1.50 | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Castelo de Elvas

Walls of Elvas

Muralhas De Elvas Em Portugal
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Jacinto Júlio Nozes César
The Walls of Elvas are a set of fortifications that surround the town of Elvas, which is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The walls were built during the 17th century to protect the town from Spanish invasion during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668). The Walls of Elvas are considered to be one of […]
Visiting Walls of Elvas

Amoreira Aqueduct

Aqueduto Amoreira
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Ricardo Manuel Aguiar Santos
The Amoreira Aqueduct is a historical aqueduct located in the city of Elvas, in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The aqueduct was built in the 16th century, during the reign of King Dom Manuel I, to supply water to the city and its fortifications. The aqueduct is made up of a series of arches, which […]
Location: Amoreira Aqueduct, Elvas, Portugal | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Amoreira Aqueduct

Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça

Forte De Nossa Senhora Da Graça, Elvas, Portugal
CC BY-SA 2.0 / [email protected]
The Fort of Nossa Senhora da Graça, also known as Fort Conde de Lippe, is a historic fort located in the parish of Caia, São Pedro and Alcáçova, approximately one kilometer north of Elvas, Portugal. The fort was built on the Monte da Graça and played a vital role in defending the Stronghold of Elvas […]
Location: Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça, Elvas, Portugal | Distance: 1.60km
Visiting Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça

Best Time to Visit Elvas

Elvas, a captivating historical town in the Alentejo region of Portugal, is best visited during specific times of the year depending on the weather and local events. Here’s a seasonal breakdown to help you plan your visit:

Spring (March to May): Spring is one of the best times to visit Elvas. The weather is mild, and the countryside is lush and green, ideal for walking tours of the town’s fortifications and exploring nearby natural attractions. This season also avoids the peak tourist periods, allowing for a more relaxed experience.

Summer (June to August): Summers in Elvas can be quite hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). However, if you don’t mind the heat, this is a vibrant time for local culture and festivals. Notable events include the São Mateus Fair, one of the oldest fairs in Portugal, held in September, which can offer a colorful insight into local traditions if your visit extends into early autumn.

Fall (September to November): Early fall, especially September, can be an excellent time to visit. The temperatures begin to cool down, making it comfortable to explore the extensive fortifications and historical sites of Elvas, which include its famous aqueduct and star-shaped fort. The São Mateus Fair in September is a highlight, featuring local crafts, food, and entertainment.

Winter (December to February): Winters are mild in Elvas compared to much of Europe, though it can be quite chilly, especially at night. This season is quiet, with fewer tourists, making it a good time for those who prefer a more peaceful visit. It’s also an excellent opportunity to enjoy the local cuisine in traditional restaurants without the wait.

Considering the climate and activities, the best times to visit Elvas are spring and early fall when the weather is pleasant, and you can fully enjoy the town’s rich heritage and outdoor activities without the extreme heat or the high tourist volume of the summer.

Average Temperatures in Elvas

  • January 16°C 5
  • February 19°C 6
  • March 21°C 7
  • April 28°C 5
  • May 31°C 3
  • June 35°C 1
  • July 40°C 0
  • August 38°C 0
  • September 33°C 3
  • October 29°C 7
  • November 20°C 7
  • December 17°C 7