Sunday, 29 September 2013

Where to Stay in Portugal

Portugal is renowned for beaches, the Algarve, lovely hotels, great golf, but if you only go to touristy places you miss the real Portugal and some of the finest historical hotels in the world -The Pousadas. This is where to stay in Portugal

This article will feature five such Pousadas, in interesting places, and you need to check them out. Why not hire a car and visit all five for you vacation this year.

where to stay in portugalThe first of our where to stay in Portugal places is The Pousada Rainha Santa Isabel. It is one of the most highly rated Pousadas, very luxurious and is inserted in what was a 13th century castle in the hill town of Estremoz. It was a royal castle hundreds of years ago, was visited by Vasco da Gama. The views from here are spectacular. The whole pousada is furnished with museum quality antiques, the public rooms are enormous, and the 30 bedrooms have four poster beds. If you like big staircases, wide marble corridors, and massive furniture, allied to excellent food served in a huge banqueting hall by attentive staff, then you will love it here. Estremoz is about 90 miles east of Lisbon.

where to stay in portugalThe second of our where to stay in Portugal places is The Pousada Dos Loios at Evora. To stay here you will need to go to Evora, some 86 miles south east of Lisbon. Evora is a protected town famed as an open air museum of Portugese archtecture. You will find an astonishing array of architecture here, and when floodlit at night it is a wonderful sight. people compare Evora to Florence and seville, but in truth the Moorish overtones of the architecture with the whitewashed buildings sets Evora apart. The core of the old city is fascinating, especially the Gothic cathedral. The Pousada is in a 15th century baronial mansion which later became a convent. The level of hospitality at the Pousada Dos Loios makes it one of the most luxurious, where the former refectory serves as the dining room, although meals outside in the cloisters are a joy.

where to stay in portugalThe third of our where to stay in Portugal places is The Pousada De Santa Maria in Marvao. Marvao sits three thousand feet above the Alentejo heartland of Portugal about 140 miles north east of Lisbon. Within fortified 13th century ramparts sits a really charming  medeival castle town, very small and intimate with a population of around 300. The Pousada de Santa Maria is best described as cozy, and whilst it might lack the imposing grandeur of other pousadas the intimacy is a large part of what makes it so attractive. It is a conversion from a group of 18th century houses, with the classic red tile floors, and whitewashed walls. The views from the restaurant of the mountains four miles away which are in Spain explains the importance of Marvao as a fortified town. The Pousada de Santa Maria is a great place to relax, enjoy good food, and get away from the 21st century. The fourth of our where to stay in Portugal places is The Pousada Do Castelo in Obidos.  50 miles north of Lisbon is the beautiful but tiny whitewashed village of Obidos which is surrounded by a Moorish wall. nearly 1000 years ago it was deemed so lovely as to be a marriage dowry for a queen. The next 600 years this was repeated, and so the Obidos is a real living museum of a town and paradise for photographers. The Moorish wall is in fact ramparts stretching for over half a mile, and to walk round is to see some magnificent views. The castle was built as a fortress and later converted to a royal palace. Today one wing is the delightful pousada, allowing guests to live the life of nobility in what must be one of the most atmospheric of hotels anywhere. With the baronial hall filled with suits of armour it's not difficult to let your imagination run riot. Whilst the food may not be gourmet, the views are, and guests at the pousada are able to enjoy Obidos before and after the tour buses.

where to stay in portugalThe fifth of our where to stay in Portugal places is the Hotel Palacio De Seteais in Sintra. Sintra is 18 miles north west of Lisbon, and was described by none other than Lord Byron as the most delightful village in Europe. The cool gentle climate made Sintra the favourite summer residence for Portugese Kings for more than 500 years. Today the same holds true and it is the great place to escape from the heat and the bustle for the people of Lisbon. It is equally popular with tourists. There are dramatic ruins of an ancient Moorish Citadel Castelo dos Mouros with amazing views to the sea from its commanding position on the highest peak at Sintra. The Hotel Palacio De Seteais is a dreamy 18th century palace built by a Dutchman which looks across vineyards and orange groves to the sea. The rooms are full of antiques, and there is even gold leaf and crystal chandeliers throughout.

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