The Pousadas of Portugal: Where Heritage Meets Hospitality

The Pousadas of Portugal: Where Heritage Meets Hospitality

Portugal, a country famed for its enchanting landscapes, delightful pastries, and that ever-puzzling question: "What is a Pousada?"

Fear not, curious travelers, for I'm here to unravel this mystery with a proper look at the Portuguese Pousadas and why they might just be the perfect place for you to stay during your travels in Portugal!

What is a Pousada?

In a nutshell, a Pousada is a charming inn, often located in historic buildings, offering an authentic Portuguese experience, showcasing the best of national architecture, gastronomy and hospitality. They are sprinkled all across the country, waiting to welcome guests with open arms and a glass of fine Port wine.

Gourmet meal served on an al fresco table with pretty view at Pousada de Obidos in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

The historic origins of the Pousadas in Portugal date back to the 1940s, when the Portuguese government initiated the Pousadas program to preserve and promote the country's cultural heritage by transforming historic and culturally significant buildings into unique accommodations.

Gothic vault ceiling at the Pousada do Crato
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

The plan was to ensure that both locals and tourists could experience and engage with the nation's rich history and traditions. Today, there are more than 40 historic Pousadas in operation from northern to southern Portugal.

Types of Pousada

Pousadas are like the people at your family reunion; diverse, full of character, and always there when you need a bed. There are 3 types of Pousada:

Historic Pousadas

These are the wise grandfathers of the group. They're housed in castles, convents, and palaces, and they offer an insight into Portugal's rich history. It's like sleeping in a museum, but with better beds and fewer disapproving glares from security.

Scenic Pousadas

Perched on cliffs, nestled in forests, or just hanging out by the seaside, these Pousadas offer breathtaking views. If you're a romantic or a nature lover, these Pousadas will surely sweep you off your feet. Metaphorically, of course!

Charm Pousadas

The perfect blend of traditional and modern, these accommodations offer a unique and intimate atmosphere. They're like the cool cousin who knows the best places in town and serves you breakfast with a smile.

What are the best Pousadas in Portugal?

With over 40 superb Pousadas to choose from, picking your stay can be tricky! So I've listed some of our guest favourites below:

If you've ever wondered what it would feel like to sleep in a medieval castle without giving up Wi-Fi, then look no further than Pousada de Óbidos.

Pousada de Obidos in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

For those seeking scenic beauty, Pousada de Sagres offers ocean views that are Instagram gold (don't forget to tag us!).

And if the bustling city is calling your name, the Pousada de Lisboa has all the charm of traditional Portugal with an urban twist.

Superb view of Lisbon riverfront from a room of the Pousada de Lisboa in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

Since I'm not a huge fan of crowds and I do value a sense of serenity, my personal favourite Pousadas are:

Nestled in the northern hills of Portugal, in the Minho region, the Pousada de Amares offers a blend of historic charm and modern luxury.

Courtyard of the Amares Pousada in the Minho region in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

Housed in a restored Cistercian monastery that artfully combines the ancient with the contemporary, giving visitors a unique opportunity to dwell in history while enjoying all the conveniences of the present.

The Pousada do Crato, situated in a beautifully restored medieval castle in the Alentejo region, beckons guests with its majestic blend of historic grandeur and modern comfort, offering a stay that is as luxurious as it is reminiscent of Portugal's rich and noble past.

View of pool and monastery at Pousada do Crato in the Alentejo region in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

It also has a wonderful restaurant - which is handy as it's centrally located in the middle of nowhere!

The Pousada de Estoi, a lavish 19th-century palace in the Algarve region, delights visitors with its ornate Rococo details, stunning gardens, and contemporary amenities.

View from the balcony overlooking gardens of the Pousada de Estoi in the Algarve in southern Portugal
Image © Martin Thompson

Originally the home of minor nobility, the superbly restored palace now offers a stay that is both a journey into Portugal's opulent history and an embrace of modern-day luxury. The pool is a real must after a hot day's ride along the Barrocal.

Who would enjoy staying in a Pousada?

The question should be: "Who wouldn't?" Whether you're a history buff, a scenery seeker, a love-struck couple, or just someone who's really into decorative tiles, the Pousadas of Portugal offer a unique oportunity to stay overnight in a listed historic building, with all the modern conveniences, and in many cases, with excellent restaurants to boot. 

Beautiful medieval and modern interior of Pousado do Crato in the Alentejo in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

More than a Good Nights Sleep

The Pousadas of Portugal are more than just a place to lay your head. They are a connection to the culture, the history, the flavors and the heart of this beautiful country. And they usually come with an excellent breakfast.

View of breakfast room at the Pousada de Obidos in Portugal
Image © Pousadas de Portugal

So the next time you find yourself pondering "What is a Pousada?" or looking for the best Pousadas in Portugal, you'll know where to go. Just watch out for the Fado singers, they can sneak up on you!

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