Sunvil Discovery expands its programme to little-known Centro

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Varied, historic, compact and accessible, the Centro region is Portugal’s best-kept secret

Independent operator Sunvil Discovery has launched a much-extended programme to Portugal’s diverse Centro region for 2014.

New properties range from grand historic townhouses to rural village casas, and a new Casa da Ínsua itinerary explores the region’s fascinating heritage and delicious cuisine, based in a splendid Baroque manor house.

Stretching across the heart of Portugal from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the heady heights of the Serra da Estrela, the Centro region offers an intriguing mix of glacial valleys, lush green mountains, painted wooden boats, extravagant Baroque churches, urban canals and never-ending sand dunes.

Coimbra, Portugal’s former capital, is brimming with history. It is home to one of the world’s oldest universities, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, and the city pulses with the energy of its students. Here, a spectacular Baroque library – the Biblioteca Joanina – houses a colony of bats, welcome lodgers that protect the precious tomes from insects.

The fado of Coimbra is unique, and is considered to be more refined than that of Lisbon. And nearby lies Conimbriga, without doubt the most important Roman site in Portugal, with intricate mosaic floors and an aqueduct still standing.

Other highlights include the elegant art nouveau architecture and peaceful canals of Aveiro, dotted with colourful Moliceiro boats, the rural schist (a type of slate) village of Piodão, one of Portugal’s prettiest and little-known border communities located in the mountains, São Jacinto, a 700-hectare coastal reserve of rolling sand dunes and lagoons, and the fascinating Burel factory, which produces the traditionally-made and fashionably-revitalised wool fabric. Burel wall coverings feature in Google’s cutting-edge offices in Madrid.

Chris Wright, Managing Director of Sunvil, comments: “Visitors to Portugal who fly into Lisbon Airport tend either to head south to the Algarve or north to Estoril, the city of Porto and the Douro Region. They overlook the beguiling heart of Portugal, where long sandy beaches stretch for miles, fortified villages along the border with Spain await exploration and the historic university city of Coimbra thrives. We encourage anyone visiting Portugal to delve a little deeper and explore this little-known, captivating region.”

NEW Sunvil Discovery properties for 2014:

  • Hotel Moliciero, Aveiro, Centro: a charming property ideally positioned in the heart of Aveiro, benefiting from views over the town’s main canal, Rossio public gardens, and market square. The bedrooms are individually themed and artistically decorated. Prices from £591 pp for seven nights’ B&B, flights (Gatwick) and car hire.
  • Casa da Sé, Viseu, Centro: an impressive 18th century property, restored and converted in 2011, and decorated lavishly with beautiful antiques (the current owner is a well-known antiques dealer), ideal for soaking up the history and grandeur of the town. Prices from £502 pp for seven nights’ B&B, flights (Gatwick) and car hire.
  • Casas do Côro, Marialva, Centro: a collection of rural and secluded village houses, hidden away amongst the wooded hills south of the River Douro, this is a spot for a countryside escape at its best. The houses form the heart of the delightful village of Marialva. Prices from £740 pp for seven nights’ B&B, flights (Gatwick) and car hire.
  • Casa das Penhas Douradas, Manteigas, Centro: a design-led boutique hotel and spa encircled by the rugged landscapes of Serra da Estrela National Park. The hotel is owner-managed by the couple who run the nearby Burel factory and the distinctive wool fabric can be found throughout the property. Prices from £611 pp for seven nights’ B&B, flights (Gatwick) and car hire.
  • Palace Hotel Monte Real, Monte Real, Centro: positioned in its own 24 hectare estate, a contemporary and fashionable interior hides behind the hotel’s majestic facade. There are outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a top quality spa, and plenty of gardens to explore. Prices from £584 pp for seven nights’ B&B, flights* (Gatwick) and car hire.

NEW Sunvil Discovery suggested itineraries:

  • Casa da Ínsua: lies at the heart of Portugal’s Centro region, which reaches from the Spanish border to the Atlantic coast. A stay here offers convenient access to charming villages, serene beaches and rugged mountain ranges. Prices from £472 pp for four nights’ B&B, five days’ car hire, welcome drink, three-course evening meal, ‘Serra cheese’ or ‘fruit jam’ workshop – learn how to make the cheese if this takes your fancy! – and entrance to Casa da Ínsua’s Centro Museologico, an on-site collection of historic artefacts from the property.
  • Centro and Alentejo, perfect partners: marries these two fascinating regions, unblemished by mass tourism. The trip begins in the historic city of Evora, with its atmospheric cobbled streets and wonderful architecture, then ventures away from the city, passing through world-renowned wine estates, and visiting wild landscapes and glorious sandy beaches. A visit to these areas also promises an abundance of gastronomic delights. Prices from £950 pp for seven nights’ B&B, flights* (Gatwick) and eight days’ car hire.

Prices are based on two sharing. The lead-in price is from £460 pp (two sharing), including seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Palácio da Lousã, flights (Gatwick) and car hire.

*Flights to Lisbon departing Mondays and Thursdays (excluding July to mid-September) represent particularly good value when booked as part of a Sunvil package because they are based on TAP Portugal flights (departing Heathrow), on which Sunvil Discovery has taken a commitment in return for excellent rates. They facilitate very flexible trip durations – short breaks (3/4 nights), plus 7, 10, 11 and 14 night holidays.

Call Sunvil Discovery on 020 8758 4722 or visit or for further information.

Ends / 27 March 2014

Press:  For more information, high-res photography or commissioned press trip requests, please contact Sarah Belcher at Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or

Note to editors: Sunvil has pioneered many specialist destinations in its 45-year history and has been at the forefront of environmental initiatives and Sustainable Tourism for well over 25 years. Sunvil consistently promotes owner-managed hotels and local tourism enterprises across all destinations in which it operates. Sunvil also uses local suppliers and representatives wherever possible and encourages its suppliers, through many initiatives, to protect and treasure their local environment.


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