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Though often combined with a visit to Spain (perhaps out of the incorrect notion that it doesn't offer visitors enough to merit a full holiday), Portugal absolutely has the charm and substance to stand alone as a destination. Nearly 400 years before the British Empire could claim eternal sunshine, Portugal held the world in its imperial embrace, and the wealth accumulated from its far-flung outposts is still apparent in the architecture and culture of Lisbon as well as throughout the country.

Though small, the nation has a colorful history under Roman, Moorish and Christian rule; wonderful perched villages to explore; gorgeous sun-drenched beaches in the Algarve; and ecologically diverse Madeira (home of the fabulous Belmond Reid's Palace). Gastronomical aficionados will relish the country's unique cuisine and vines, including port wine from Northern Portugal and the increasingly popular wines of the Douro Valley.

Easily traversable via rental car, Elegant Journeys' travel experts can design your self-drive Portuguese holiday, leisurely cutting a path from one pousada to the next (which is a former castle, monastery or manor house that has been converted into accommodations), while sampling the local delights and the occasional privately guided experience. You'll be glad you took the time to explore the farthest slice of the Iberian Peninsula.