If you want to experience one of the best holidays that Portugal has to offer, then take a tour staying in some of the country's 34 pousadas - beautifully restored and renovated castles, palaces and monesteries - that are at the historic heart of this proud nation. Beginning in the capital city Lisbon, and ending in the sunny Algarve, on this seven night tour you will stay at some of the finest pousadas where you can live a life of luxury in these amazing buildings.
The Portuguese capital Lisbon is the starting point for this wonderful tour and after flying in you can pick up your hire car and begin your adventure. There is so much to see and experience in this lovely city which straddles the Tagus River and you will have plenty of time to explore and see the sights before heading south to Alcacer do Sal where you spend two memorable nights in a medieval Moorish castle in this ancient port town.
Graciously laid out over the right bank of the Sado river, and rising up a gentle slope, the town has been settled since the earliest of times and archaeological remains have been found that date back to the Neolithic period. Alcacer do Sal is famed for its role in the salt trade, and it's a place where you can marvel at the interesting architecture or explore the nearby Estuário do Sado Nature Reserve and the lovely Atlantic beaches.
Today you say farewell to Alcacer do Sal and head on to the quiet town of Arraiolos, which is famous for its rug-making industry, and the ideal spot for a relaxing break in a tranquil setting. The town's hand-woven works have been in production here since the 12th century and show a marked influence from Persian rugs. It seems that half the town is involved in this artistry, and on a casual stroll through you will see locals stitching in front of their homes creating rug patterns based on abstract motifs.
Onwards to Vila Viçosa today which is in the heart of the Alentejo region and which is perfect for outdoor activities including hiking and birdwatching, for visiting the impressive Ducal Palace, or for exploring the nearby historic towns of Evora (for the Temple of Diana) and Borba. Vila Vicosa was often at the centre of some of the most important moments in the country's history and was home to the Dukes of Braganca, the most powerful nobles after the Royal Family.
Your fifth night of the tour will be spent in the charming town of Beja whose picturesque historic centre is sure to delight anyone with an interest in architecture or history. The town's impressive 13th century castle is its crowning glory, along with the museums containing fascinating art collections, all of which can be enjoyed from your base in the town's former convent. While staying at these pousadas it's well worth dining in their superb restaurants and enjoying the local cuisine.
For the final two nights of your pousada tour of southern Portugal you are based on the Algarve coast in the sleepy fisherman's town of Sagres. Once considered the 'world's end' due to its south-westerly location, Sagres played an important role in the Age of Discoveries. Today the town offers a peaceful refuge with quiet, sandy beaches and mild winter climate. Plenty of time to explore, play golf, or relax on one of the many fine beaches.
Your final full day and night of the tour so make the most of it and explore the Algarve seeing the sights and lots of those picturesque towns and beaches that have made this holiday region so popular with visitors from all over the world. As well as having a great sunshine record, the Algarve has world class sporting facilities with lots of championship golf courses and tennis centres where you can hone your skills. Tonight dine out in one of the many traditional restaurants or enjoy dinner at your pousada.
End of Tour
After spending your final night of the tour at Sagres it's just a 90 minute drive to Faro airport the next morning to catch your flight back home. Pousadas are wonderful places to stay and are always family-friendly so you can take the kids along too. It's a truly magical experience staying in these old palaces, monasteries and castles that have all been beautifully restored and renovated to provide guests with a a memorable holiday.