Portugal - Alcainca

  • Open All Year
  • Flexible arrivals
  • Variable length stays | 1 to 2 hours riding per day | Nearest airport:Lisbon
  • Weight limit: 14st 2lbs (90 kg) (198 pounds)
  • Usual maximum: 8

Alcainça has been providing first class dressage instruction for over 30 years. The school horses are trained in movements such as shoulder in, half pass, flying changes, piaffe and passage. Some are very highly trained for experienced riders, and there are also schoolmasters for those starting out in dressage. Depending on your experience level, you will most likely ride different horses during your stay.

There is an indoor arena and also an outdoor arena which is partly covered so two groups can have lessons at the same time. Most people pre-book to have two lessons a day which will mean that most of your day will be taken up with horses and riding; however, if you are staying a week then you may wish to have one afternoon free for sightseeing. A driver is available to take you to places of interest in the area including the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art at Queluz; Mafra or Lisbon (extra charge).

Whether you are already competing or are newer to dressage, the combination of these wonderful horses and the quality of instruction available is sure to develop your skills and timing.


The centre has beautiful pure-bred and part-bred Lusitano horses. Dressage saddles with double bridles are used, but some horses are ridden in snaffle bridles.

You should be competent at walk, trot and canter, with a willingness to learn. Some prior knowledge of dressage is useful to get the most out of your holiday, for instance, an understanding of movements such as shoulder-in and half pass. Prior to or during your first lesson you will have an opportunity to discuss with your instructor what you are currently doing and what you would like to achieve.

Lessons (45-60 minutes in duration) are scheduled for the morning and again in the afternoon. Riders are split according to their ability and the lesson size is normally two or three to a group. Private lessons are occasionally possible (at a supplement) but cannot be guaranteed.

The main instructor is Mario Cardoso. Mario is an accomplished rider, who has worked and trained with many Lusitano breeders, as well as Olympic dressage riders and professionals. Mario enjoys teaching a wide spectrum of riders. He specialises in the training of young horses and is a Regional Working Equitation Champion. It is possible that additional instructors may be hired if there is a full group, or to cover holidays of the main instructor.

Hard hats are compulsory.

The equestrian centre is self contained; a short walk takes you from your room to the stables to the indoor arena and the dining room which overlooks it.

There are a total of five bedrooms at the riding centre each with an en-suite bathroom. Three guest rooms have twin beds and two have a double bed.

The rooms are simply decorated, clean and comfortable. There is also a lounge, yoga area and a large outdoor unheated swimming pool.

Accommodation Gallery

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Open all year (except closed over Christmas Day and New Year). You can arrive and depart on any day, but there is no riding on Sundays. Minimum stay is 3 nights.

NB: The regular riding programme is not offered during the National Horse Fair (Golegã) between 1 - 14 November.
Sample Itinerary for Alcainca

Select your preferred arrival date:


The price depends on whether you plan for one or two lessons a day and your stay can have a mixture of both. All lessons are shared. There are no lessons or riding activities on Sunday. The following is an indication of the price.

PRICE FOR 7 NIGHT STAY (Arriving Sunday) 6 dressage lessons 12 dressage lessons non-rider single supplement
1 - 30 Jun 2024 £1,308.59 £1,673.78 £943.40 £213.03
1 Jul - 31 Aug 2024 £1,178.17 £1,506.84 £849.50 £191.72
1 Sep - 14 Nov 2024 £1,308.59 £1,673.78 £943.40 £213.03
15 Nov - 31 Dec 2024 £1,178.17 £1,506.84 £849.50 £191.72


PRICE FOR 4 NIGHT STAY (Arriving Sunday or Wednesday) 3 dressage lessons 6 dressage lessons non-rider single supplement
1 - 30 Jun 2024 £721.68 £904.28 £539.09 £121.73
1 Jul - 31 Aug 2024 £649.51 £813.85 £485.18 £109.56
1 Sep - 14 Nov 2024 £721.68 £904.28 £539.09 £121.73
15 Nov - 31 Dec 2024 £649.51 £813.85 £485.18 £109.56


PRICE FOR 3 NIGHT STAY (Arriving Sunday or Thursday) 2 dressage lessons 4 dressage lessons non-rider single supplement
1 - 30 Jun 2024 £526.05 £647.77 £404.32 £91.30
1 Jul - 31 Aug 2024 £473.88 £583.43 £364.32 £82.17
1 Sep - 14 Nov 2024 £526.05 £647.77 £404.32 £91.30
15 Nov - 31 Dec 2024 £473.88 £583.43 £364.32 £82.17


INCLUDES Accommodation; full board from dinner on day of arrival to lunch on day of departure; wine with meals; instruction as per programme.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT No single supplement if willing to share. If you wish to guarantee a single room the supplement is charged.

PAYABLE LOCALLY Tips; non-riding excursions; laundry; supplement for private lessons if available (£26.08 per lesson).


TRANSFERS from Lisbon airport cost £47.82 per vehicle each way and £56.52 from Lisbon city.

Getting There

We can arrange transfers from the nearest airport (Lisbon). Or you may prefer to hire a car and self-drive, which is recommended if you wish to explore widely. The journey time is approximately 30 minutes from Lisbon airport.

Check-in to your room is flexible but is usually after lunch, although you may arrive earlier and make use of the main facilities until your room is ready. The recommended latest arrival time is 18:00 so that you can settle into your room before dinner. There is no discount for later arrival.

On departure day, the norm is to have a lesson in the morning and leave after lunch. You may need to vacate your room before lunch so that it can be made ready for arriving guests.

Please note there is no riding available on Sundays.

In The Saddle Gallery

Client Photos


Alcainça is 20km northwest of Lisbon and 5km from the palace of Mafra.

Weather & Climate

Warm and dry for most of the year. During July & August temperatures can rise above 30°C but being close to the coast means that it does not often become too uncomfortable for riding. The wettest months are October to March when it can also feel cold, particularly in the evening.

from £473.88 for 1 nights Book Now

Guest Review

Had a very enjoyable experience learning the more advanced moves of dressage on school master horses. All of the horses I rode at Alcainca were well trained, safe but forward! Instruction was clear and easy to follow. Very enjoyable holiday for dressage enthusiasts!
Would recommended this holiday for riders who have a knowledge of dressage and are wanting to improve in a classical way. However it is probably not suitable for beginner riders.

Katherine, Cambridgeshire

5 star rating Overall rating: 5/5

Ride Report

If your dream is to immerse yourself in classical dressage then Alcainca is the prefect destination for you. Here you can enjoy instruction from well-educated instructors, wonderfully fit Lusitanos and delicious traditional Portuguese cuisine.

from £473.88 for 1 nights Book Now