The region of the Great Lake Alqueva in Alentejo, Portugal is a wonderful place to see the stars, constellations, the Milky Way and distant galaxies. The unique characteristics of the night sky due to a very low rate of light pollution, in the municipalities of Alandroal, Reguengos, Monsaraz, Mourão, Barrancos, Portel and Moura, ensure the ideal conditions for an excellent observation of the dark sky. In Alqueva the sky has good atmospheric conditions for stargazing most of the year. Such skies are disappearing in Europe, where most of the population has no longer the privilege to observe an unpolluted sky.
Alqueva is a unique region, very rich in cultural and natural heritage, with various visible megalithic remains which suggests that our ancestors symbolically valued the landscape, relating it to the diversity of celestial motions. The region is also filled with small picturesque villages and opportunities to develop different tourist activities that could start during the day and extend into the night.
For the beginner, the clearness of the night sky (average of 286 clear nights a year) makes it easier to recognise all the constellations, identify the stars and even spot some deep sky objects with the naked eye. Telescopes and binoculars are also available at our Official Observatory to enhance the visual experience and expert guides are on hand to provide information and advice.
For the more experienced observer and experts, deep sky objects (galaxies, nebulas and star clusters) are visible down to 52 deg south declination. The low light pollution and transparency of the sky provide a unique opportunity to observe the dimmest deep sky objects, and to see the moon and planets in sharp focus.
Astrophotography too can be pursued successfully and dramatically here.
The lodging units integrated in the Alqueva Dark Sky Route are prepared to receive the astro-tourists with services adapted to their specific needs, such as late night meals and “meals to go” for stargazers.
The Route integrates members certified by the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve to offer accommodation and restoration services and tourism activities. The accommodation and restoration units can also offer activities, please check here.
Some of the units listed have agreements between them to provide different services according to the specialization of each individual, and they can offer more night and day activities upon request.