Cliff diving, ancient villages, small pensions and hotels scattered about the diverse terrain, Portugal is a country where it is extremely easy and affordable to set out by yourself. Whether you want to tour the Algarve or go inland into the countryside, there's much to do and see in Portugal. With lazy days and long nights, it's one of those countries built for complete unwinding.
Go Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a fly and drive to Portugal that allows the exploration of Portugal on your own. Starting at $1,209 for a seven night air-inclusive trip with travel good from June 30 to September 6, 2006, this trip flies into Lisbon where you'll pick up your rental car. While the above price is for departures out of New York City, other departure points are available for additional fees from gateways all across the Untied States. Included in the package -- round-trip airfare, seven day Hertz rental car, local tax, unlimited mileage and airline fuel taxes.
You'll have to fend for your own accommodations, but in Portugal that's very simple. Pousadas (www.pousadasportugal.com), unique inexpensive hotels and rooming houses, are located all over the country in historic castles, charming villages, and small towns. Pousadas offer tourists a chance to travel like the Portuguese and learn about the country as hosts and owners are friendly, interesting and full of conversation and local stories. For approximately $100 to $200 per night, these Pousadas are like small boutique hotels located in the most charming of Portuguese corners.
In the Northern region, characterized by Roman ruins, stone towns and fishing villages with small beaches, the Douro wine region and a slow pace, a room at several Pousadas costs $160 in the high season from April to September with prices going up slightly in August when Europeans travel. From November to February, prices fall to $116. The Barao de Forrester Pousada in Alijo is a large mansion with large terraces and a swimming pool. Day trips all throughout the region can be easily accomplished.
Generally Pousadas are broken up into four categories. "Historic" Pousadas are often located within historic places and are meant to preserve the location as well as allow tourists to stay inside these historic relics such as castles, fortresses or other ancient structures. "Historic Design" Pousadas are meant to depict a certain time period and refurbish and maintain an historic building, such as the Dom Alfonso II Pousada. Located just outside of Lisbon overlooking the Sado River, the Dom Alfonso is set within a castle structure with roots going back to the Roman occupation of Portugal. Rooms can get slightly costly with summer rates at this magnificent, turreted Pousada climbing to $236 in the summer months.
"Charming" Pousadas are folksy, often stemming from local architecture such as century old houses and farms and located in port towns, fishing villages and the fertile countryside. The Sao Teotonia Pousada costs $160 per night in the summer. It's located near the Spanish border set on a hill with views of Portugal's neighbor.
Lastly, "Nature" Pousadas take advantage of Portugal's rustic destinations, sitting on the edge of forests, near lakes, rivers and mountains. These are great places from which to launch treks and bicycle rides. The Pousadas Web site also has villas to rent by the week in the Algarve. A small one-bedroom cottage in the Algarve will run you $781 for one week's time. Individual numbers for all Portugal's Pousadas can be found at www.pousadasportugal.com.
For a structured bike tour of Portugal, Easy Rider Tours (tel. 800/488-8332; www.easyridertours.com/portugal.html) has tours covering Portugal's different regions. A trip to the Costa Azul, or Blue Coast, from August 31 to September 8, 2006 starts at $2,995. Included in the tour are six dinners, two lunches, all breakfasts, all accommodations at Pousadas and hotels and a guide. The detailed itinerary takes you over "moderate" terrain with one steep hill. Expect to bike from 20 to 50 miles per day. Of course, a top quality bike is included in the price of the tour and your luggage will be shipped ahead on a daily basis. A highlight of this tour is a day of roaming and beachcombing in Lagos. Easy Rider Tours can also help you get discounted airfare if you book your bike tour well in advance.
For a trip to Lisbon, Gate One Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com/spain-travel/lisbon-value-vacation.asp) continues to lead the way in inexpensive travel with a six day air/land city package starting at $649. With departures starting in November, Gate One's Lisbon special includes round-trip airfare out of New York, daily breakfast, four night's hotel and airline fuel taxes. Airfare security fees and departure taxes are not included in the package price. A half-day tour of Lisbon costing $48 can be arranged through Gate One.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Portugal Message Boards today.