Stay in converted castles and convents as you pair Portugal's charming interior with its gorgeous coast
- Uncover the medieval towns and artist villages of Portugal's central plains
- Enjoy the Algarve's beaches and fishing-village charm
- Stay in historic pousadas hotels
- Explore with scenic drives throughout
- 2 Nights Alcácer do Sal
- 1 Night Arraiolos
- 1 Night Vila Viçosa
- 1 Night Beja
- 2 Nights Sagres
Beach | Food & wine | History & culture | Natural world | Self-drive
On ultra-scenic drives, contrast the golden plains and rolling hills of Portugal's central Alentejo with the coastal beauty of the Algarve. Throughout, you'll stay in historic pousada hotels. Destinations in their own right, we've included everything from Moorish castles to converted convents, many of which are actually national monuments. There's also plenty of time to take in the regions' charming fishing villages, medieval towns and rural beauty, with gorgeous beaches paired against clifftop walks.
Day by day itinerary
UK/Alcacer do Sal
After enjoying your complimentary airport lounge access, fly out to Lisbon and pick up your hire car for the short drive to Alácer do Sal. It's an ancient trading port named after the very castle you'll be staying in – a grand vision of medieval Moorish towers and Baroque coats of arms. There are lovely beaches nearby, and the wetlands of the Nature Reserve to explore before returning to fine dining at the pousada, which is a national monument as well as a luxury hotel.
Stay: Pousada Castelo Alcácer do Sal (Superior)
Today's drive will see you through the dramatic plains of the Alentejo, each dotted with dreamy villages with a sense of timeless tranquility. Arraiolos is one of the most attractive, and renown for tapestry rugs, exquisite examples of a traditional needlework preserved by generations. There are several examples of these gorgeous rugs in your pousada accommodation, which is also rich in another local art form, azulejos, or hand-painted ceramic tiles. Formerly a convent, this 16th-century building has been converted into a luxurious hotel and living museum. The en suite rooms are elegant, and there are numerous terraces and gardens to relax in. A notably good restaurant, a spa, tennis courts and indoor and outdoor pools make this former convent a place of indulgent pleasures. Just don't forget to visit Arraiolos's uniquely round medieval castle.
Stay: Pousada Convento de Arraiolos (Superior)
Vila Viçosa lies in the heart of the Alentejo and is one of the region's best-known marble-producing towns. The main plaza is strikingly attractive, set beside the grand Ducal Palace. The Pousada Vila Viçosa is situated right next door, converted from the medieval Convent of Chagos de Cristo. The old cells have been transformed into luxurious en-suite rooms. Despite its central location, the pousada enjoys peaceful gardens and a lovely outdoor pool. There's also the enchanting town of Evora to explore nearby, rich in Gothic severity and whitewashed charm.
Stay: Pousada Vila Viçosa (Superior)
The historic town of Beja was founded by Julius Caesar. It’s the largest in the Alentejo, and full of picturesque narrow streets and ancient buildings, including a medieval castle built on a Roman fort. Your pousada here is splendid, a former Franciscan convent. It’s situated right in the heart of the historical centre, so within an easy stroll of the museums, art collections and the castle. Despite its location, the pousada is an oasis of calm, with lofty ceilings and spacious public rooms. The en-suite guest rooms, converted from former cells, are smaller but no less lovely. There’s also a delightful swimming pool in the gardens, and the restaurant serves superb regional cuisine.
Stay: Pousada Convento Beja (Superior)
Set on the southwesterly tip of the Algarve, Sagres was long believed to be the end of the known world. It was from here that the rest of the world was discovered by European explorers, with Henry the Navigator’s sailors setting off from Cabo Sao Vicente. It’s still a remote spot, more rugged and more romantic than the rest of the Algarve. The pousada is set on a cliff top, with stupendous views of the Atlantic, but a short stroll away from the relaxed fishing town of Sagres. The restaurant is considered to be one of the best in the area, serving excellent regional cuisine and dishes from other parts of Portugal, with an emphasis on the locally caught seafood. A fabulous pool set above a sandy beach adds to the indulgence. And, as the pousada is surrounded by a nature reserve, the beaches here are much quieter than others in the Algarve. With your hire car, you'll also be able to explore the region's interior hikes, charming seaside towns and clifftop walks.
Stay: Pousada de Sagres (Superior)
A coastal drive along the Algarve's beaches will see you to Faro where you'll drop off your hire care and board your flight home.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
8-day tailor-made self-drive from £870 pp incl. flights
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