Portugal, one of Europe's most beautiful and friendly countries, is blessed with stunning beaches, superb golf courses . . . and some of the most magnificent hotels in the world that are steeped in history. Spending a night in these pousadas is a real treat and on this imaginative tour you stay in six different ones - including a palace, a former monastery, stately mansions and a superbly converted hospital. No hotel will feel the same after experiencing the delights of Portugal's pousadas.
After arriving at Porto pick up your hire car and head north up the coast to Viana do Castelo for an overnight stay at the hilltop Pousada Monte de Santa Luzia. Think Where Eagles Dare and you won't even be close to this citidel in the sky which perches above a Sacre Coeur lookalike basilica. From your room you can look down on planes taking off from the local airport and watch the waves crashing on the rugged Atlantic coast. As with all pousadas, the restaurant is top notch and the decor stunning.
Today you drive south to Guimares for a night at the majestic Santa Marinha pousada, which looms large over the lovely city of Guimaraes. This former monastery, which is attached to an ornate church, really takes your breath away with its great views, stone staircases, hushed cloisters, grand panelled rooms and the widest corridors you will ever encounter. Dinner and breakfast here is in a vast monks' refectory and the gardens and lake are well worth exploring - as is the historic city itself.
Today you leave Guimares and drive further south to the lovely old walled city of Braganza, which is set in rugged countryside, for a stay at the stylish, modern pousada Sao Bartolomeu, which is handily placed for walks around the old town and picturesque ravine. There's an outdoor pool here and all the elegant rooms have balconies which overlook the city's beautiful medieval castle. The award-winning restaurant serves all manner of local cuisine.
Leave Braganza after breakfast and head into the heart of the beautiful Douro region. The River of Gold, as it is lovingly called by the locals, snakes its way through the lush Douro valley where the vineyards come down to the waters edge and there are famous port wine estates at every bend in the road. You can drive along both sides of the river stopping at delightful towns like Pinhao and Lamego before arriving at your next pousada, the Barao de Forrester at Alijo, where you spend two nights.
A full day to discover the many delights of the Douro Valley while staying at the Barao de Forrester. This stately mansion, which has undergone extensive modernisation to make it a first rate hotel, stands in the heart of town and makes a great base for driving up and down the 'River of Gold', visiting the famous port and wine estates and stopping at the riverside towns and villages. Today a stop at Lamego is a must for a heart-pumping walk up an amazing stone staircase to the cathedral.
You wouldn't believe that a hospital could be the perfect place for great hospitality, but you will experience it at your next pousada - at Viseu. The imposing 18th century building, with its three statues of Faith, Hope and Charity adorning the roof, is a lesson in how to convert an important landmark. It started life as a huge convent then became a hospital but now the old infirmary and mortuary have given way to a slick spa, a roomy restaurant and a splendid covered courtyard.
Your final night of the tour is spent back in Porto at the stunning Palacio do Freixo, a beautiful pousada situated right on the banks of the Douro River and a short walk from the historical old town. Built around 1742, the Freixo Palace is one of the most remarkable examples of Portuguese baroque architecture and when you are not walking around marvelling at the place, you can relax in the superb spa or swim in the indoor or outdoor infinity pool.
End of Tour
Today your wonderful pousada-based tour around Portugal comes to an end. Possibly time to sample more of the delights of the Freixo Palace or walk along the river into Porto's old town before heading to the airport to catch your flight back home. There are family-friendly pousadas scattered all over Portugal and you can choose your own route and select the ones you want to stay at. We can make all the flight, car hire and accommodation arrangements.