Portugal – Palaces, pousadas and port wine

Portugal has a lot to offer senior travellers. It is a compact country with relatively quiet roads, perfect for a touring holiday, visiting the palaces and castles, staying at the pousadas and sampling the port wine!

Cabo da Roca, Portugal
Cabo da Roca, Portugal

Visits by seniors to Portugal are best planned for Spring or Autumn, when there are off-peak rates available and crowds associated with school holidays can be avoided!

My touring holiday in Portugal was in September, travelling by Ryanair from London to Porto mid-week  for less than £60 return. Also check out EasyJet flights.

The hire car provided care of Auto Europe was sorted with very little fuss and I was quickly off to sample the delights of Portugal.

Take care driving around the cities (Porto and Lisbon) as some of the roads are steep and narrow, but in general I found it quite relaxing driving around the country roads and Lisbon is only about 300 km from Porto.

There’s lots of excellent accommodation options throughout Portugal, but I particularly enjoyed staying in the pousadas – luxury hotels in historic buildings, including castles perched on hilltops. Claim your 15% discount for over 55s – see Pousada Golden Age.

Douro river at Porto
Douro river at Porto

My hotel in Lisbon was the centrally-situated Holiday Inn, which has a rooftop swimming pool with great views of the city, and of course a senior discount rate was obtained when booked through the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) website (see Hotel Deals).

So which are the 5 places I most enjoyed visiting?

  1. There are several very impressive palaces and castles in the Lisbon area but the ones I found most interesting are in Sintra, the Palacio Nacional de Sintra and the fairytale-like Palacio da Pena, both with discount admission charges for seniors.
  2. The bleak cape Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe.
  3. Lisbon Oceanarium with its incredible diving birds. Over 65s get a 30% discount.
  4. The Douro River, as it gently flows from the hills down through Porto – the traditional route for barrels of port wine.
  5. Sandeman’s wine cellar in Porto. Well I couldn’t leave Portugal without a sip of its famous fortified wine.

On the negative side, take care where and what you eat in Portugal. My wife picked up a bad stomach infection following a meal in a small restaurant in Lisbon and the meals served at one very luxurious pousada were so salty as to be almost inedible!

See also: Relaxing in Central Portugal