Portugal is so close, which is why it’s begging to be discovered. Today, I’ll take you with me to the south of Portugal and from there we will travel along the coast all the way to Porto. There’s lots of sun in store – and all of this in just 10 days! A 900 kilometre road trip through one of the most interesting countries in Europe.
Our roadtrip across Portugal begins in Faro. You can get flights for just £25 one way. It’s best to keep your eyes open for deals to make your trip to Portugal a real bargain. I’d also recommend fetching a rental car right at the airport, as this way you’ll be more flexible and able to awaken your adventurous spirit. Depending on whether your flight lands earlier or later in the day, you can spend the night in Faro or drive to Lagos, about an hour away. Faro is a nice, quiet town that’s remained quite unspoiled. If you prefer a bit of bustle, you should head straight for Lagos and discover the Algarve from there. You’ll find many narrow streets in Lagos, filled with restaurants, bars and small shops. Many tourists lose their way here during the summer months but if you arrive a bit earlier there shouldn’t be as much going on. I actually find that a bit of chaos is simply a part of the southern flair, wouldn’t you agree? There are hotels to suit every budget here.
Lagos is the perfect place to explore the Algarve. Some people say that it’s too touristy or crowded. Sure, there’s always a lot of people in pretty places. That’s why I don’t recommend coming here during the high season, but you shouldn’t miss out on seeing this unique coastal region. Once you’re on your way with your car, you can easily tour the best beaches and anchor down where you like it best.
A boat tour that includes the Benagil Cave is an absolute must. Many people are familiar with the image of the cave but not many know that it really exists. This cave truly is a natural wonder. Besides, you’ll find countless, stunning beaches in the southern Portugese region of Algarve: Praia da Marinha and Praia da Dona Ana are especially beautiful. The Ponta da Piedadelooks great both from above on the cliffs as well as from below on a stand up paddle surf. Best idea is to head out on a little exploration tour and find your personal favourite.
Lisbon & Sintra
From Algarve you can continue on towards the west and before you make your way to Lisbon, you should definitely stop at Sagres and feel the wind in your hair at theCabo de São Vicente. Some say that this place at the edge of the world is where the gods live and the sun sinks into the sea. Steep cliffs, an amazing view and many legends make this place truly magical.
Then it’s time to move on further to Lisbon and this fantastic city will welcome you while you’re still on your way with the stunning bridge Ponte 25 de Abril. Plenty of small, steel alleyways, one-way streets, tram lines and countless shops make this city into something really special. It’s best to explore the city on foot because you’ll discover many small hidden streets on the way. My absolute favourite spot is somehow removed: not far from Torre de Belém lies Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument dedicated to the navy. But it’s not the monument towering towards the sky that I have in mind, but something on the ground behind the gigantic monument: a large map of the world made from thousants of tiny mosaic pieces that you can walk on. Travel enthusiasts won’t find a better photo background than this one. My hotel tip: a great, two-storey apartment at the heart of Lisbon.
Once you have the advantage of renting your own four wheels, you just have to go to Sintra. If you’re a fan of castles, fortresses and enchanting places, you should definitely plan a whole day here as there’s just so much to discover. My two abolute favourites are Castelo das Mouros with its many steep stone walls and Quinta da Regaleira. After touring the underground corridors of the castle you will also find the often photographed water well here though only few know where to look for it.
Ericeira & Peniche
On your way north, you should stop at Ericeira on the Atlantic Coast. If you’re here outside of the high season, you’ll only meet a couple of surfers and will be able to enjoy complete solitude. Since you’re there, you can’t miss the chance of learning how to surf and conquering the ocean’s waves. Beer tastes even better after a surfing session. I have a great accommodation for you in Peniche: book a suite with an ocean view at West Side Hostel(just £45 per night).
The city of Porto truly is a dream come true and my secret favourite in Portugal. Here you can just stroll around, climb the steep alleyways, meet some locals and finish off the evening with a cocktail by Douro River. People really know the meaning of quality of life here and you can see that on every corner and turn. The city owes its charm to the unique architecture. Porto is also the perfect end to our road trip accross Portugal and you should definitely dedicate at least two days to explore the city. If you’re looking for a nice little apartment, check out Lvsiadas Apartments. It’s a private apartment with its own parking space.
You can get back home from Porto and find affordable flights back to the UK for as little as £16.
Convinced yet? Then have fun on your trip to Portugal!