If you think you have experienced the best that Portugal has to offer, then think again. Because until you have experienced a holiday staying in some of the country's 34 pousadas - beautifully restored and renovated castles, palaces and monesteries - then you won't have seen the historic heart of this proud nation. Beginning and ending in the capital city Lisbon, on this seven night tour you will stay at some of Portugal's finest pousadas where you can live a life of luxury in these amazing buildings.
After flying into Lisbon and picking up your hire car it's just a 10 mile drive from the airport to the lovely Pousada de Queluz in front of the blue Queluz Palace. Originally derived from the Portugeuse word for rest (pousar) the term pousada has become synonymous with luxury hotel accommodation in beautifully restored historical buildings in Portugal. Relax after the journey then enjoy the first or two nights at this stunning location.
The Pousada de Queluz makes a great base for exploring Lisbon with a direct train service into the city centre located a 10 minute walk away. The Pousada's Cozinha Velha restaurant, with its large marble table and antique stone fireplace, provides a truly unique experience, and you can enjoy views of an orange grove from its terrace.Spend today seeing all the major sights in Portugal's capital city before returning to the comfort of your pousada in the evening.
Today you leave the Pousada de Queluz and drive north east to the medieval castle-monastery of Crato that was once home to the Knights of the Order of Malta. The Pousada is situated in the rural village of Flor de Rosa, which is famed for its pottery and is a five minute drive away from the town of Crato. Set in a restored 14th century stone monastery, this upscale hotel with a modern annex, boasts a sophisticated garden-view restaurant, outdoor pool and a lounge in the former monastery dining hall.
Today you leave Crato and head south to Estremoz where you will be spending the night in a 14th century castle situated on a hill overlooking the town. A site of many royal visits over the past 700 years, this Pousada offers a truly regal experience. It's a 10 minute walk from the Convento das Maltesas convent and its old world rooms have four poster beds and medieval decor. Complimentary breakfast is served in a stately restaurant with stone pillars and arched ceilings and there's an outdoor pool.
Leave Estremoz today and head to the Vila Viçosa in the heart of the Alentejo region 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.
Alcacer do Sal
Your final two nights are spent at Alcacer do Sal in a medieval Moorish castle in this ancient port town, famed for its role in the salt trade, where you can marvel at the interesting architecture or explore the nearby Estuário do Sado Nature Reserves and the lovely Atlantic. 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
Another day to explore Alcacer do Sal and another night in your Moorish castle. A wander around the town reveals charming alleys and stairways leading to the castle and you can visit the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo and the municipal museum. Withing 20 miles of the town you find the villages of Santa Susana, Porto de Rei and Torrao and there are great beaches where you can relax at Comporta, Torre, Carvalhal, Raposa and Gale.
End of tour
Today your wonderful journey around the heart of Portugal staying at beautiful historic pousadas comes to an end when you leave Alcacer do Sal for the short drive to Lisbon airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This journey around the country staying at these stunning old castles and monasteries is a great way to discover the real Portugal and most of the pousadas are ideal for memorable family holidays