The west coast of Spain and Portugal has cooling winds which keep the air cool and make a journey a pleasure at any time of the year.
This itinerary is for those wanting to experience a round trip of seven to ten days starting from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain staying in some of the best hotels. Most of the travel is on new motorways with the hotels only requiring a few miles diversion from the direct route
The route assumes travel via Lisbon airport which has many international flights although it can adjusted for those using (O)Porto and Santiago de Compostela international airports.
It is suggested that the first night is spent in Lisbon Where there are many hotels. We however suggest the small traditional Janelas Verdes hotel in the Embassy area near the river. The traffic congestion and signposting are bad in Lisbon. A taxi from the airport, in Lisbon itself and back to the airport to pick up a hire car is suggested.
The first stop is two hours to the north staying at Quinta das Lagrimas on the edge of the old university town of Coimbra.
Then continue north for two hours to the second city of Portugal, Porto and stay at the Pestana Porto hotel. This hotel is on the riverside in the UNESCO world heritage area with the famous Port Wine ‘Caves’ across the river. If an extra day can be managed here a trip upriver by boat to Regua is interesting with a return by train.
The next stop should be in the Pousada at Viana do Castelo. This Pousada has a famous view looking past the church to the estuary of the River Lima. Time should be taken to explore the old sailing port of Viana do Castelo where the trade in ‘Portugal Wine’ first started.
For those with time might like to include a night at the Parador of Bayona which can be reached by the old coast road with a ferry across the border river.
Our route however goes direct to Santiago de Compestela to stay two nights in the magnificent 5 star Parador which may be the oldest hotel in the world. In the middle ages, Santiago was the third most visited pilgrimage city after Rome and Jerusalem. The Cathedral takes one side of the main square with the Parador on another side. It is one of the few hotels where it is recommended at least one evening meal is taken in the main restaurant.
On the way back south on the motorway for two hours and spend a night at Guimaraes which was the capital when Lisbon was still occupied by the Moors. In winter, stay at Pousada Santa Mainha set in a magnificent old Convent on a nearby hill.
Rather than a second night in Lisbon, there is an interesting three hour drive for the last night. Near the airport follow the signs to the new Vasco de Gama bridge and go to the Pousada PalmelaÂ in the castle which looks over the plain below. Back along the same motorway and bridge takes you back to the airport missing the Lisbon traffic.
Many people travelling this route are ‘senior citizens’. Because of this, many hotels are in the famous Paradores of Spain of Pousadas of Portugal groups which use historic government owned buildings and it is possible to obtain discounts on the standard price. These luxury hotels are very affordable if one person per room an take advantage of the older persons discount which is 40% if over 55 in the Pousadas or 30% for the over 60s in the Paradors. Restrictions apply and they are subject to availability.
There are also other promotions available for younger persons, such as 20% off the half board rate at a Parador if staying for two nights. Ask for the best price which has to be arranged at the time of reservation.
All these hotels require credit card details which will only be used in the case of a ‘no show’. Payment is made to the hotel at the end of the stay on check out.