Wine has been produced on the banks of the Tejo for around two thousand years and, while it’s long had a reputation for quantity rather than quality, the offerings of some new producers have recently begun to acquire an international profile. Many vineyards offer tours and tastings.
The N118 marks the most attractive route north of Santarém, taking in several small towns and quintas en route to Chamusca, 28km away. There’s nothing much to stop for in Almeirim (once the site of a royal summer palace), Alpiarça or Chamusca, but local wine producers line the road at intervals, open for sales to the public; look for signs saying “vinho do produtor”.
South of Santarém, the N3 towards Vila Franca and Lisbon is a great road if you’re not in a hurry. The drive can occupy half a day, with stops at the interesting Museu Rural e do Vinho in Cartaxo and the historical sites around Azambuja, plus a detour for lunch in one of the pretty towns of Alenquer or Arruda dos Vinhos.