Interested in visiting a country that’s safe, easy to navigate and rich in history, natural beauty and fine cuisine? Consider Portugal and, specifically, consider driving through the Portugal’s Alentejo and Central regions, which lie just outside Lisbon, the capital city.
Portugal has long been one of our favorite destinations. Why? Because in the space of a day you can drive from rugged mountain near the Spanish border to plains covered with cork trees, olive groves and vineyards in the center of the country. From there, it’s on to Portugal’s golden beaches. But why do it in a day when there’s so much to see along the way? This is a land where every hilltop village is crowned by a medieval castle and even the smallest city has a connection to royalty—and the magnificent architecture to prove it. Add in the country’s soulful fado music, excellent wines and fresh-from-the-field cuisine and you’ve got a road trip made in heaven!
Our recent 12-day trip we first drove slightly north from Lisbon to the Centro region, where our favorite places included the towns of Tomar, Coimbra, Obidos and the fishing village of Nazaré (popular with surfers). For more information: centerofportugal.com
In the Alentejo region, we focused on Evora, Estremoz, Elvas, Vila Vicosa, Arraiolas and the hilltop villages of Castelo de Vide, Marvão and Monsaraz. For more information: visitalentejo.pt
In both regions, our accommodations ranged from pousadas (historic properties such as castles and manor houses) to charming farmhouses. Here are some example: the Alentejo Marmaris Hotel in Vila Viçosa (alentejomarmoris.com/en/); Isabella pousada in Estremoz (pousadas.pt/en/hotel/pousada-estremoz); and intimate Quinta das Lavandas farmhouse in Castelo de Vide (quintadaslavandas.pt).
To learn more about the Portugal and all the wonderful and authentic experiences it offers go to visitportugal.com. For our published feature story, click here: charlestonstyleanddesign.com/blog/off-the-beaten-path.To view a short film on our recent trip, click on this link: vimeo.com/172736401.