Two-Week Portugal Road Trip

Alfama District

From vibrant and historic cities to waves crashing along the rugged coastlines, Portugal is a beautiful European country to explore. Whether it’s  a city break, relaxing on a beach in the Algarve or a surfing and watersports holiday, Portugal can offer it all. Here’s what we did on our two-week Portugal road trip.

 

For our trip we hired a car. We had a small Fiat 500 which is normally a city car but managed well with the long distances between some of the places we stayed. We only had to fill up the tank properly once and then a top-up on return to the airport. Be aware there are tolls on a lot of the roads that can add up in price. You can find routes without tolls but they take much longer!

Porto: Day 1-3

Porto city view

We started our two-week trip in Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. Located in the northern region of Portugal along the Douro River, Porto is well known for its Port wine, medieval history and charm. Whilst in Porto spend some time roaming the medieval streets and admiring the beautifully tiled buildings.

 

Make sure you visit the magical Livraria Lello bookstore (the inspiration for J.K.Rowlings Harry Potter). And make sure to take a walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the vibrant and colourful Riberia District. 

Portugal Road Trip: clérigos tower
Livraria Lello staircase

If we had more time we would have definitely added Douro Valley to our trip! The beautiful landscapes and vineyards look amazing and its somewhere we’ll definitely look to visit in the future!

Arouca: Day 4

From Porto we drove an hour to Arouca to go to the Paiva Walkways. An 8km paved walk that takes you through beautiful surrounding valley’s and along the flowing Paiva River and waterfalls.

 

There are two starting points, Espiunca and Areinho, with car parks at both end. We ended up walking there and back which we wouldn’t recommend! (our feet and legs were pretty sore and tired by the end!). Instead you can get jeep taxis back to your start point which is much quicker! There are also plenty of places to stop along the way including little beaches where you can go in the water.

Portugal Road Trip: Arouca paved walkways
Arouca paved walkways

For those who want a bit more adventure, Arouca is also home to the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The bridge spans 516m looking over the Paiva River and surrounding landscape. The bridge is only open at certain times but when you buy your ticket for the walkways it is included in the price.

Arouca Suspension Bridge

Aveiro: Day4-5

From Arouca we drove straight to the gorgeous city, Aveiro (about an hours drive). Known as ‘The Venice of Portugal’ the city is well known for its canals running through the centre and the colourful moliceiros boats that float along the water. We only spent one night here and although there isn’t a huge amount to do we wish we had a longer time to take in the beauty of the city.

Portugal Road trip: Aveiro moleceiros
Aveiro Street

Have a wonder around the pretty cobbled streets and take a ride on  one of the moliceiros to get a full tour of the city. Also make sure to visit one of the many patisseries and try an ovos moles. A delicacy to Aveiro, they are made of egg yolks and sugar and are the perfect treat for anyone with a sweet tooth!

 

If you want the best seafood in town, make sure to try out a restaurant called Maré Cheia: we shared the seafood rice and with the amount of fresh seafood it was definitely worth the money!

Lisbon: Day 5-8

From Aveiro we went to the capital city of Lisbon. The drive from Aveiro is about 2 and half hours so we decided to stop off for a beach day. We stopped at Praia de Norte, a large beach that isn’t packed with lots of people and is famous for its huge waves making it perfect for surfing.

Portugal Road Trip: Praia de Norte

After the beach we made the rest of the journey to Lisbon. Possibly  our favourite place in Portugal, Lisbon is a vibrant and colourful city with a great mixture of old history and modern areas. The city is full of beautiful architecture, ancient ruins and beautiful views out over it’s seven hills.

Praca do comercio Lisbon
Alfama District Tram

Whilst in Lisbon make sure to take the tram through the winding narrow streets of the Alfama district up to St.Georges Castle. Get a ride up the Santa Justa lift and be sure to check out Bélem Tower on the water front.

Day trip to Sintra

The absolute highlight of our trip was our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sintra is a magical town with a variety of beautiful, hidden palaces and castles perched on the hilltops. Sintra is about a 30 minute drive from Lisbon city centre and is a must do for any Portugal road trip!

A day in Sintra: Pena Palace
A day in Sintra: Monserrate Palace

Each palace and castle has its own beautiful and unique features. Unfortunately you can’t manage to see each one properly in a day but read our guide below as to which ones we would recommend visiting!

Lagos: Day 8-14

The final destination on our two-week Portugal road trip was Lagos. Located in the Algarve, Lagos is a mixture or rugged coastlines, beautiful beaches nestled between the cliffs and a historic walled old town. After all of the moving around and sight-seeing in the previous places we decided this was the place we would chill and relax on the beach. We also found that the nightlife in Lagos is great with the town centre filling up into the evening and there are loads of great bars and restaurants to visit.

Beach in Lagos
Portugal Road Trip: Sunset at the beach Lagos

As Lagos is on the western coast of the Algarve it is also a popular place for surfers. As neither of us have surfed before, we decided to join a surf school for 2 days. We went with Algarve Watersport and would highly recommend! They were amazing instructors and we had great fun. They offer lots of different water sport activities as well as yoga. There is also accommodation at the Kite House (picture below) where you can stay for your trip and meet lots of other people doing the same activities as you which we’ll be sure to try out in the future!

Portugal Road Trip: Algarve Watersport Kite House

This was our first time properly exploring Portugal and we found each place has so many different things to offer. Of course the amazing warm weather makes everything better and the food is incredible! No matter what your kind of holiday is, whether it’s relaxing on the beach, hiking, water sports or exploring old towns there is definitely a place in Portugal to suit everyone!

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