The small town of Vendas Novas grew around a palace built by King João V to be a sort of royal inn when he travelled to Alentejo.
It is also said that the name of Vendas Novas (new hostelries) is due to the existence of two inns built here because they were at a day's trip from Aldeia Galega (the former name of Montijo) and due to the existence of natural springs which provided water to travellers and their horses.
The region was a vast moor mostly used as a royal hunting reserve and it still preserves diversified vegetation and a fertile soil at a zone where the traditional grazing-land of the Alentejo alternates with wooded areas.
There are several interesting sites for tourists at the county of Vendas Novas, from the former Royal Palace and adjoining chapel and the Vidigal Palace (the royal hunting-lodge of King Carlos, including a chapel and royal bullring) to the Open-Air Artillery Museum (inaugurated in 1979 at the gardens of the town's barracks, it displays heavy guns from World War I, among other arms).
At a short distance, the picturesque village of Lavre also deserves to be visited, with its cobbled streets and typical houses with pots of flowers and plants decorating the doorways, besides an interesting Clock Tower.
Local handicrafts offer typical basketry of Alentejo.
At table, visitors may taste regional specialities such as gaspacho
(tomato and cucumber soup, always served cold), bread and coriander dishes and different recipes with pork, namely the well-known pork fillets of Vendas Novas.