Pick a Pousada

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Pick a Pousada

Think it would be fun to sleep-over in a converted convent, a medieval castle? Whilst some holidays might offer a quick visit to one of these cultural attractions, Portugal’s unique ‘pousada’ system allows visitors to literally bed-down in ancient history.

Pousadas are protected buildings with unique histories which make them worth preserving. And whilst guests can choose to visit by day, Portugal’s famous hospitality culture means the government has seen fit to make them available for nightly stays. The result is an entirely unique accommodation which is something like a cross between a boutique hotel and a heritage site. And visitors can enjoy the best of these architectural legacies on an extended pousada tour.

The best place to make a number of nightly hops throughout Portugal’s best pousadas is in the lesser known region of Alentejo. Whilst tourists flock to the country’s coast and capital this central region remains a remarkably unspoilt tribute to stunning scenery, and is one of the best places in the country to enjoy local history. Host to countless medieval castles, Alentejo is also dubbed the ‘castle route’, and augments the plethora of ancient strongholds with traditional local villages and enough cork trees to supply most of Europe’s wine trade.

With thirteen pousada’s clustered into the small region touring by hire car is a simple and scenic business, and when it comes to choosing where to bed down, there’s a handy system to ensure visitors are not overwhelmed by choice. Pousadas are categorised into four separate groups allowing visitors to either mix and match for a taste of everything the country has to offer, or pick one kind of accommodation for preference.

Historic pousadas are most likely to offer a genuine glimpse into history, and are generally converted from buildings such as villas, convents and monasteries, whilst historic design pousadas are of a slightly grander old world stamp, and are found within the walls buildings such as ancient castles. As the names suggests, nature pousadas enjoy unrivalled natural landscapes and vistas, and are designed to allow guests free access to untapped wilderness at its very best. Finally charm pousadas have afforded the hosts a chance to exercise true Portuguese hospitality in environs similar to a boutique hotel, with creative decor, artistic furnishings and a personal touch.

In addition to some interesting accommodation, Alentejo’s land-locked nature also lends it more of an activities slant than the rest of the country, as visitors have no beach to swelter on. Instead they can take cycle tours through the rustic countryside of olive tree groves and golden wheat fields (Alentejo is known locally as ‘The Golden Plain’). Or hike through wonderfully preserved walled villages and the architecturally blessed towns of Beja and Evora, the latter of which has a UNESCO heritage Roman temple to Diana.

Must-see: The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), the lovely walled village of Marvao, the university town of Evora and Monsaraz Castle.

Must-do: Take a cycle tour of the rural countryside, stay the night in a local pousada, try the regional wine with a dish of porco alentejano – pork with fresh-water clams.

For information on the latest travel packages to the Algarve

please visit  www.bookingalgarve.co.uk

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