Best road trip in Portugal : 7, 10 days or 2 weeks itinerary

Portugal by car or van : our routes for the ultimate road trip from Lisbon.

You have chosen Portugal to go on an adventure as a couple, with your family or with friends ? The thrill of hitting the road, going where the wind takes you… A spontaneous trip that offers you plenty of unforgettable memories. Between improvisation and planning, we will help you find the perfect compromise.

From seaside resorts to fortified villages in the mountains, Portugal has many surprises in store for you ! With its beautiful landscapes, this small country wedged between the Atlantic and Spain offers a diversity of terroirs unique in Europe.

Thanks to its good road network, you will be able to explore the most secret places of the country at your leisure. The short distances between the cities allow you to optimise your portuguese road trip. You will be amazed by the beauty and richness of Portugal without being overwhelmed by the mass of tourists.

In any season, Portugal, with its temperate climate and warm atmosphere, is a very pleasant destination to visit. Just be sure to bring a fleece and a windbreaker for winter 😉.

For surfing, Portugal is the ideal destination to visit ! In fact, it has become the most famous for wave lovers. It’s not for nothing that today the Algarve is one of the most sought-after destinations for nomads in Europe !

In order to plan your road trip in Portugal, offers you different routes to satisfy everyone’s desires. Whether you want to stroll along the seaside, learn about the history of this beautiful country or surf the impressive waves of the Atlantic coast, we have the right itineraries for you.

Road trip Portugal from north to south

Go on a week surf trip : surfing in the North vs surfing in the Algarve !

It is difficult to talk about Portugal without talking about surfing. In this country bordering the Atlantic Ocean, surfing has its full place in the coastal culture. Known for its many good surfing spots, Portugal is a real paradise for taking to the waves. Secluded beaches, waves for beginners or advanced surfers, there is something for everyone.

Be tempted by one of these 2 itineraries which will allow you to discover the best beaches of the country, while letting your mind escape in front of a splendid sunset. As an avid surfer, I wanted to offer you these two routes exclusively dedicated to the discipline of surfing and for all levels. Get ready for the thrill of the wave !

Start a surfing road-trip from Lisbon with the beaches of Caparica and Carcavelos (2 days).

Lisbon is the most intense city in Portugal. It is to be discovered or re-discovered ! If you have some time to stay in the capital, come and do a private tour with us ! They are fun and completely tailor-made.

The closest beach to the Portuguese capital is Carcavelos beach. Therefore, it is very popular with the Lisbon population. It is ideal for beginners, but there is plenty of room for experienced surfers. If you want to know more about the surfing beaches in Lisbon and why not take your first lessons (or improve your skills), we have a special post on surfing spots in Lisbon !

The Lisbon region is nice and has secrets that are difficult to reveal on the internet. Especially when it comes to the many wild beaches in the Sésimbra area.

caparica beach, lisbon's best summer beaches

From day 3, surfing road trip north of Lisbon :

Useful links to finalize your road-trip organization :

1- Solutions to rent a car in Lisbon.

2- Or why not rent a VW camper van.

3- Take surfing lessons in the Lisbon area.

4- VisitPortugal website which offers many other ideas for your road trip in Portugal.

The alternative with a surfing road trip to the south of Portugal, in the Algarve :

Reminder of useful links to finalize your road-trip organization :

1- Solutions to rent a car in Lisbon.

2- Or why not rent a VW camper van.

3- VisitPortugal website which offers many other ideas for your road trip in Portugal.

Why rent a car to visit Portugal :

If, for budgetary reasons, you think that a road trip by bus or train is the best way to discover the country, we think the opposite. For a 2.5 hour drive from Lisbon to Castelo de Vide, it took me 5 hours by bus ! Especially as you will be limited in how far you can travel to discover the country. To visit remote sites, it will probably cost you more by taxi or Uber. Finally, if you like to improvise, planning transport will not be easy. Some cities are only served once a week !

For these and other reasons, we think that a rental car is a good alternative. In the off-season, you can find deals for as little as 5 euros a day !

In our page on car rental in Lisbon, you will find the many advantages of opting for this solution when exploring the region around the capital. It’s easy to see how much comfort you can get from driving a car on a road trip around the country…

Rent a camper van for a road trip in Portugal

Must-see monuments and cities : visit the most beautiful places in Portugal from north to south during a 7, 10 or 15-day road trip. 

Days 1 & 2 : Lisbon

Starting in Lisbon means being immediately caught up in the wealth of Portugal that is concentrated in the Portuguese capital. You need at least two full days to discover the city: 1 day for the historic centre, 1 half-day for Belem and another half-day in the surrounding area.

If you wish to maximise your time in Lisbon, we offer tailor-made and fully private tours. On foot and in English, our tours will save you precious time. Our travel tips will help you avoid the tourist traps. We can also guide you to Sintra on the third day !

Rua da bica with the famous funicular, one of the most unusual streets in Lisbon to discover during a guided walking tour

Day 3 : Sintra

A road trip to Portugal is not possible without visiting Sintra. In my opinion, it is a must-see in Portugal. Allow a full day to fully enjoy the many sites of this mystical mountain. My favourite ? The National Palace in Pena. With its bright colours, it is breathtakingly beautiful both inside and out, it’s incredible ! Hiking enthusiasts will also love its magnificent park with its panoramic summit.

Also not to be missed is the Quinta da Regaleira. This palace has a magnificent eclectic architecture unique in the world. The highlight of this palace is the 27-metre deep Masonic initiation well, which offers a unique underground experience.

If you would like to discover these palaces with an expert private guide, contact us !

Sintra is a must during a road trip in Portugal

Day 4 : Evora

To the east of Lisbon is the charming city of Evora. An ancient Roman city, the capital of the Alentejo was an important religious centre and commercial stronghold.

Among the oldest universities in the country is the one in Evora. Although remote in the country, the city is therefore young and lively.

The main monuments not to be missed in Evora are :

The Temple of Diana : it is one of the best preserved Roman temples in Portugal, or even in the Iberian Peninsula.
The Sé of Evora : the cathedral is known for the particularity of having two mismatched towers, which is quite atypical for Gothic.
– The best for last : the Capela dos Ossos. This atypical chapel is famous for the thousands of bones and skulls that support the pillars of this unusual building. You are struck by the gloomy atmosphere, but you come away with a certain admiration.

Evora and the capella dos ossos are a must during a road trip in Portugal

Day 5 : Serra de São Mamede (10-day tour)

It’s a diversion through the north-east of the Alentejo, but it’s worth it. The Serra de São Mamede is a magnificent mountain range where the highest vineyards in the country are grown. There are two beautiful fortified villages to visit : Castelo de Vide and Marvão.

The scenery and the atmosphere here are delectable. For lunch, we recommend the village of Portagem, at the foot of Marvão, and in particular the Sever restaurant (for its wild mushrooms !). For the evening, Castelo de Vide is a much livelier town for dining and going out.

The Serra de Sao mamede with marvao and Castelo de vide a must during a road trip in Portugal

Day 6 : Alcobaça & Obidos

Head north of Lisbon to Obidos. This town, dressed in lime and pastel, is entirely fortified. It offers traditional houses, small typical streets or a library within a church, this city has a superb cachet !

After this morning walk, we head to Alcobaça to visit the monastery. This sacred place is known as one of the 7 wonders of Portugal. Halfway between Porto and Lisbon, this monastery is a World Heritage Site.

The gothic church with its huge dimensions is impressive to see. During a visit, you will immerse yourself in the monastic life, where calm and respect inspire.

Obidos is the perfect tour with a certified guide around Lisbon

Day 7 : Coimbra & the village of Piódão

Head to the centre of the country to Coimbra with its incredible library and streets full of history. If you’re looking for the wild side of Portugal, we recommend a short drive to the village of Piódão.

This charming village on a mountainside is a postcard of Portugal. If you are looking for the typical, look no further, you are in the right place ! Nature lovers, these stone houses are in harmony with the mountains that surround them. Stroll through its narrow streets and don’t miss the magnificent lime-walled parish church that contrasts with the town.

Piodao and the Coimbra region are a must during a road trip in Portugal

Day 8 : Douro Valley (10-day tour)

The Douro Valley is one of my favorite places in Portugal ! Less than 2 hours from Porto, the Douro valley will make you travel to another country or even another continent. I used to tell my friends that it is the Vietnam of Portugal. You will be dazzled by the beauty of the horizon.

There is an amazing harmony between the hills, the river and the vineyards. You won’t know where to turn ! Let yourself be guided along the twists and turns of the panoramic road, a real road trip in Portugal is above all sublime landscapes that pass before you !

To make the most of it, take the N222 national road, considered to be the most beautiful in the world !

The Douro Valley, a must-see during a road trip in Portugal

Day 9 : Peneda-Gerês National Park and Tahiti Waterfall (10-day tour)

The Peneda-Gerês National Park is the only one in mainland Portugal. It is a place where nature and villages with centuries-old traditions are in harmony. If you are lucky, you may see garranos (small wild horses) or, for the lucky ones, the Iberian wolf during your hikes.

The cascada Tahiti is the most famous in the region. Located in Gerês, it is a sublime place, mainly frequented by the young people of Porto in summer. With its transparent water, it is an idyllic place outside the summer period. Click here for the exact GPS coordinates to reach the place.

the peneda geres national park is a must-see during a road trip in Portugal

Day 10 : Porto

Porto is the unofficial capital of Portugal, but above all it is a city not to be missed for good food. Take advantage of your visit to taste the famous Port wines. Across the street, in Vila Nova de Gaia, you’ll find some of the greatest houses. Our recommendation : Graham’s House. You will be impressed by its immensity and its 40 giant barrels ! If you are interested in vineyards and the history of wine in Portugal, we have written a full page on the subject.

Apart from the wine, don’t miss the famous Lello bookshop. This bookshop is breathtaking. Its neo-gothic architecture, red stairs and atmosphere will make you travel to Hogwarts !

Porto is a must during a road trip in Portugal

You want to plan your road trip in Portugal for 15 days ? Then we advise you to travel through the south of Portugal following the steps of the surf trip. Click here to go up the page 🙂

A road-trip to Portugal with a van : another way to discover the country.

An atypical road trip in Portugal ? Our solution : drive a VW camper van ! Vintage vehicles are very trendy among nomadic travellers. Much more than a trend, the van is above all another approach to travel.

No need to look for accommodation, you can go and sleep wherever you want (discretion is recommended). Away from the tourist crowds, you will discover Portugal from a new angle. Surfing, exploring, dining in front of a sunset without any crowds. To live unforgettable moments with family or friends, with a wide range of VW campers, you will find THE van of your dreams. From only 50 € per night !

Road trip in Portugal via the famous N2 national road

You want to cross Portugal from north to south and you don’t know which destinations to choose ? Portugal’s Route 66, the N2, is without a doubt a route idea without comparison. At 739 km, it is the longest road in the country. From Chaves, it leads to Faro in the Algarve through breathtaking scenery.

From the mountains of Tras-Os-Montes to the idyllic beaches of Faro, this journey can be made at your own pace and to your own taste. A sensory experience beyond measure, where you can discover the centuries-old traditions that keep the hinterland alive and which are very different if you are in the north or the south. If only by language…

In this complete and dense itinerary, don’t miss a few must-sees for your road trip :

1- Starting with Chaves (number 1 on the map opposite), which is the beginning of the itinerary. This very old city, at the gateway to Spain, is marked by Roman remains and by its location has an impressive historical and cultural heritage.

2- The thermal towns of Vidago and Pedras Salgadas located between Chaves and Vila Pouca de Aguiar (number 2 on the map).

3- The impressive town of Vila Real (number 3 on the map) nestled between the mountains of Alvão and Marão is one of the most beautiful towns in the highlands.

4- The town of Santa Marta de Penaguião (number 4 on the map) which marks the entrance to the famous Douro Valley, a World Heritage Site.

5- Before Viseu, stop at Lamego (number 6), which has a national heritage. But also Castro Daire (number 7) whose river beaches are particularly popular in summer.

6- Góis and the Algarnil region (number 16), which is undoubtedly one of the wildest provinces in the country.

7- In the heart of the Alentejo, in the region of Viana do Alentejo (number 27), stop in the small picturesque village of Alcáçovas where the Moorish heritage is omnipresent.

8- The village of Almodôvar (number 32) is located in the heart of the gastronomic Alentejo. You can enjoy their cheeses and the famous black pork sausage (porco preto).

9- End of the journey with your feet in the water. Faro is the best destination in the Algarve, with beautiful nature reserves such as Ria Formosa and Tavira all around.

Detailed map of the National 2, the best road trip in Portugal
© Rui Henrique (Foge comigo) for Revista Rua.
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