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Vila Viçosa Ducal Palace, Alentejo

Pousadas of Portugal: The Heart of Portugal

8-day tailor-made self-drive from £990 pp incl. flights


Short description

Combine stays in historic pousadas with a road-trip through Portugal's Alentejo region


  • Explore central Portugal with stays in historic pousada hotels
  • Take to the open road on winding drives between pretty towns
  • Taste your way through the region's exceptional food and wine
  • Relax with optional spa treatments and sun-kissed swimming-pool soaks

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Lisbon
  • 1 Night Crato
  • 1 Night Estremoz
  • 1 Night Vila Viçosa
  • 2 Nights Alcácer do Sal


Recommended for:
City | Food & wine | History & culture | Self-drive

This tour of Lisbon and the attractive Alentejo region takes in historical sites and stays in equally historic hotels. Portugal’s pousadas are as stunning as they are special. These luxurious small hotels are set in culturally significant old buildings, from palaces, castles and convents to forts. Thrillingly grand and imposing, they’re also intimate, with a limited number of guestrooms. All are steeped in a sense of history, and immerse guests in an exceptional cultural experience, while offering every modern convenience and high culinary standards. Many have lovely gardens and outdoor pools and enchanting views. This combination of pousadas and beguiling places is an exceptional way to experience Portugal and its past.   

Day by day itinerary

Days 1-2
UK/Lisbon/Queluz Palace

Relax with included airport lounge access before your flight to Lisbon. On arrival, collect your hire car for the short drive the Pousada de Queluz, a fabulous place to stay. It faces the blue Quetzil Palace, once the residence of the Portuguese royal family, and their guards lived in what is now one of Lisbon’s finest small hotels. A red-tiled roof with an eccentric bell-tower hint at the 18th century charm that remains throughout this painstakingly restored building. Within the pink walls the romantic atmosphere of an ancient grand house lingers, alongside every modern convenience. Rooms are resplendent, with vibrant furnishings and marble bathrooms. Breakfast is served at the pousada, but dinner takes place at the stunning Conzinha Velha, situated in the palace opposite. The restaurant occupies the old kitchen of the royal palace, and retains the enormous open fireplace where meats were roasted. Its terrace overlooks an orange grove, and the cuisine is as exceptional as the surroundings, with refined regional dishes served with fine wines.

Stay: Pousada de Queluz (Superior)

Day 3

Head to the Alentejo for a stay at the Pousada Mosteiro do Crato, a fantastical building in the lovely village of Flor da Rosa. Once home to the Knights of the Order of Malta, it’s now a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. A medley of early Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles, this church-fort, palace and former monastery captivates at every turn. There are just 24 en suite rooms, all gorgeously appointed. For a storybook experience, choose the luxury suite in the castle’s medieval tower. Lush gardens, a lovely swimming pool, exquisite food and a spa set in the charming village make this an exceptional stopover.

Stay: Pousado Mosteiro do Crato (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 4

Check into a 14th century castle in Estremoz for an extraordinary experience. Built for Queen Isabel, the castle remained a royal residence for centuries and its rich history can still be felt within its walls. It was from here that Vasco de Gama began his journey to find a sea route to India, and the castle remained at the centre of significant moments in Portuguese history. Its conversion into a luxury hotel has held on its historic legacy, while seamlessly adding contemporary conveniences. Antiques and four-posters feature in many of the bedrooms. All are en suite and decked out in sumptuous silk and velvet. The pool, surrounded by the castle battlements, is stunning, and the gardens allow huge views of Alentejo’s dramatic plains. 

Stay: Pousada Estremoz (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 5
Vila Viçosa

Vila Vicosa is perhaps the most attractive of the Alentejo’s renowned marble towns. This pousada lies right at the heart of it, beside the main plaza, an expanse dotted with orange trees and the Ducal Palace at one end. The Pousada Vila Viçosa is next door, set in the former Convent of Chagos de Cristo. The cells and oratories have been beautifully restored and house 39 luxurious en suite rooms. It might be in the centre of the town, but the hotel is surrounded by gardens that make it a tranquil hideaway. Eating meals in the secluded cloistered garden is a real pleasure in the summer, as is the inviting outdoor pool. It’s a perfect base from which to explore the town, once home to the Bragança dynasty who ruled Portugal for centuries. Catarina de Bragança, who married Charles II to become Queen of England, was born here. Evora, another magical Alejento town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is within easy exploring distance.

Stay: Pousada Vila Viçosa (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 6-7
Alcácer do Sal

Alcácer do Sal is a breathtakingly pretty port town, perched on a hillside overlooking the Sado River and the Altlantic. This ancient town was famed for its salt production and for the al qasr, or the castle. That medieval, Moorish castle still dominates the town, and this pousada is located within its striking castellated walls. It’s not just a historic hotel, but a national monument in its own right. The original towers, centuries old stonework and a baroque coat of arms signify its historical importance, exquisite en suite bedrooms are full of modern comforts. A large terrace and outdoor pool set against the backdrop of the castle provide a lovely place to spend time in the sunshine. There’s plenty to explore in the area too, not least the Estuário do Sado Nature Reserve. Set along the river and the Atlantic, its stunningly beautiful, with wetlands rich in wildlife. 

Stay: Pousada Castelo Alcácer do Sal (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 8

It’s just a short drive to Lisbon airport for your return flight to the UK. 

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior Deluxe

8-day tailor-made self-drive
from £990 pp incl. flights


Jan - Mar / Nov 2024

from £990 pp. incl. flights

Apr / May / June & Oct 2024

from £1,200 pp. incl. flights

Enjoy 7 nights in Pousadas on B&B basis and explore Portugal with these fantastic pre-set route packages.

Excludes Jul, Aug and Sep departures

The Heart of Portugal


Quelez (2 nts) - Crato - Estremoz - Vila Vicosa - Alcacer do Sol (2 nts)

  • Complimentary UK airport departure lounge access
  • 7 nights accommodation on a BB basis
  • Return flights from UK to Lisbon
  • 8 days car hire
  • Saturday night supplement applies

Please note that swimming pools at the Pousada's are seasonal - open in peak summer months generally

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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