The Alqueva reservoir was only created 10 years ago and as yet is little known as a tourist destination. Yet this 250 sq km pool of crystal clear water, Europe’s largest artificial lake, is quietly developing a reputation as a top destination for a houseboat holiday.

Alqueva houseboat rental

Boats can be rented for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, with plenty to explore along the water’s edge. Villages that were once sleepy rural settlements have suddenly had to become boat-friendly, with marinas and waterside restaurants springing up to cater for passing trade. Bicycles can be rented and carried on the boat, allowing the opportunity to explore the very quiet lanes along the edge of the Alqueva.

The water in the summer reaches a very pleasant 30 degrees. That’s as warm as the Mediterranean, but the lake is a lot cleaner and quieter than Portugal’s crowded southern coastline, so taking a plunge in the lake is a joy to anyone who enjoys a splash and a paddle in the sun. The boats are very easy to master, with a 90 minute instruction session deemed all that is necessary for the owners to hand over their precious boats into the hands of a novice (along with a hefty deposit of course).


Stargazing Capital of Europe

This year there is yet another very good reason to visit the Alqueva region. It has recently been awarded ‘Starlight Tourism Destination’ certification by UNESCO and UNWTO. Alqueva is in fact the first site in the world to receive this award, recognising the almost total absence of light pollution in the area. The Alqueva Dark Sky Route has been set up by local entrepreneurs to promote astro-tourism, with telescopes available at various locations and accommodation providers offering late breakfasts and check-outs to meet the requirements of all-night stargazers.

For many stargazers the process of staring into the depths of the night sky is usually associated with putting on many warm layers, shivering on cold frosty evenings and taking comfort from a hot cup of tea if not something stronger. Here at Alqueva it is possible to enjoy the clearest of skies while lying on your back by the lakeside on a warm evening in summer clothing with a glass of local Alentejo wine for company. Now doesn’t that sound nice?


Visit our Alentejo pages for more information about holidays in the region including Alqueva houseboat rental