It’s no secret we love to travel. Travel provides absolutely everything we crave out of our lives – endless adventure, love, excitement, happiness, connection and purpose. Travel helps us to focus our attention on beautiful and mighty things that surround us and travel taught us to cherish moments that we share with others and to look for magic everywhere.
It’s also no secret that we love travelling around Portugal, especially traversing along the beautiful coast scattered with little towns and villages.
The moments we’ve spent in this country so far will always have a special place in our hearts; a time full of lovely memories, both personal and shared.
Going on that very first road trip along Portugal’s beautiful coast was so much more than just having a great time. Our initial goal was to gain new perspectives and break out of our two-dimension vision.
We wanted to re-examine our daily habits, work on our values and figure out what we want our next chapters in life to be by leaving the familiar behind.
We didn’t fall off the map for days at a time, but the trip was more than a vacation – it was a trip towards a better mindset.
During our time in Portugal, we had a chance to visit many cities in villages, all of which were remarkable in their own way. So impressive in fact I’ll be willing to go back again and again and again.
Portugal Road Trip; The Best Places you Should Visit Right Now
This road trip took us through some of the most incredible villages and towns in Portugal as we spent 8 full days travelling between Lisbon and Porto looking for meaningful experiences.
We had good and bad weather, we didn’t get to see places we wanted, but we stumbled upon sites that weren’t even on our itinerary.
The best thing we loved- driving along the Portugal’s coast was impossible to predict the next view.
If you are planning on visiting Portugal and can’t decide on what to see and where to go, then this blog post can give you a few ideas you can write down in your travel journal.
This is a pretty much straightforward example of one of the road trips we did in Portugal. If you plan on travelling along the coast, you can pick and mix any of the places mentioned below, based on your desires.
#1. Visit beautiful Lisbon
We started our road trip in Portugal’s straight out of fairy tail capital Lisbon, and although we were greeted with dark clouds and torrential downpour, we loved it right away.
Lisbon was the first city we visited in Portugal and on the first day, I remember being taken away by beautiful buildings and pretty flowers. Valters and I made a deal there and then, to return one day. And we did.
By now, I have lost count how many times we’ve been to Lisbon, but on every occasion, we consumed far too many pastries, sussed out local restaurants and hit the stunning beaches.
∗What not to miss in Lisbon: Skip some of the famous tourist attractions and explore its neighbours like Bairro Alto, Baixa, Alfama and Mouraria instead.
#2. Wander around Cascais
After a day in Lisbon, instead of the highway we took the scenic route and found ourselves in a very charming seaside town where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond Books. Due to its coastal scenery, sandy beaches and photogenic appearance, Cascais is very popular with day trippers from Lisbon.
∗What not to miss in Cascais: Boca do Inferno, The Old town of Cascais and Marechal Carmona Park.
#3. Visit Guincho Beach
Located about 7 kilometres from Cascais, Guincho is one of the biggest and popular beaches. This is where James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was filmed in 1969, and today it’s one of the top spots for surfing and windsurfing in Europe.
What you’ll find is a windswept golden beach with sea cliffs in the background and when not hiding behind a thick cloud – you can see Cabo da Roca lighthouse in a far distance.
Via series of walkways, you can also explore the unique ecosystem of The Cresmina Dunes and thanks to informational panels, observe and learn about flora and fauna, including rabbits, birds, and snakes.
*What not to miss in Guincho: Rent a bike in Cascais and cycle to Guincho beach where you can hire a surfboard to go surfing.
#4. See the lighthouse at Cabo da Roca
A stop in Cabo da Roca was never on our route along Portugal’s west coast, but I am so glad we made an effort to detour down the winding road, its such an iconic spot!
Situated at a latitude of 38º 47´ North and a longitude of 9º 30´ West, Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of mainland Europe – only amenities on site is a beautiful lighthouse, coffee shop and a gift shop.
At the gift shop, you can get a handwritten certificate approving your visit(euro 5.60 for a basic or euro 11.50 for more elaborate one).
*What not to miss: Nearby Praia da Ursa situated just north of Cabo da Roca(that’s where the blog posts main picture was taken).
#5. Fall in love with Ericeira Town
Ever since our first visit, Ericeira is one of our favourite and happy places in Portugal. Spending the first night in this beautiful town felt like we were let in on a secret. You know, discovering the place that feels undiscovered.
We unpacked our bags and tried to slow down a little bit, drank some green tea, read a book and just enjoyed coastal views.
After walking around the charming town, we went to the beach to relax and watch the light change across the sky. The fantastic colours lasted for few hours constantly shifting from yellow to orange across the blankets of calm waters.
∗What not to miss in Ericeira: Beautiful sunsets, surf and traditional pastries.
#6. Be amazed by Azenhas Do Mar
While most of the people end up in bigger cities to explore Lisbon or Porto over a long weekend, there are few places worth leaving them behind. Sintra and Cascais get its fair share of exposure, but a little town like Azenhas do Mar is less famous for a day trip. We have been fortunate to visit this place a couple of times and strongly feel its one of the best in Portugal.
Azenhas do Mar is situated on the Atlantic coast in Sintra municipality. After a day in Ericeira, we jumped in the car and travelled for 30 minutes via N247 to reach the little village. If you are travelling from Lisbon, it’s only 40 km away when driving via A37.
∗What not to miss in Azenhas Do Mar: Relaxing beach walks, colourful sunsets and fresh seafood.
#7. Go surfing in Peniche
We love visiting places that aren’t capitals as they portray more authenticity, and there is less tourist traffic. That’s why I could hardly contain my excitement as we approached Peniche, one of the largest traditional fishing ports in Portugal, for the first time because venturing somewhere new is so exciting!
We loved walking around its historical centre and once we were finished exploring Peniche Fort, Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Sanctuary, went surfing, tasted the charcoal-grilled sardines and took in the coastal views around Baleal.
Praia dos Supetubos is one of Peniches main attractions as every year in autumn it hosts World Surf Championship, one that we were fortunate enough to attend last year.
∗What not to miss in Peniche: Cabo Carvoeiro lighthouse, boat trip to Berlengas Archipelago and walking across the sand spit to Baleal.
#8. Marvel at Óbidos Town
When in 1282 Portuguese king Dinis married Isabel of Aragon, he was generous enough to represent Óbidos as one of the weddings presents for her. If you wanna be treated like royalty, you can stay a night or two in Pousada Castelo de Óbidos.
Castle has been repaired and made into a hotel by a Portuguese government. Rooms have four-poster beds, chandeliers and magnificent views of the surrounding landscape, allowing travellers to spice up their journey.
Little streets in Óbidos village are lined with shops selling local arts, crafts and delicatessen. One thing worth bringing home with you is tipple Ginginha, which is sweet brandy liquor made with local cherries.
You can also walk on the castle walls – something everyone must do when visiting Óbidos. Because there are no handrails and a path is very narrow, you have to watch your every step.
*What not to miss in Óbidos: Take part in annual Medieval Fair, where you can step back in time, dress up as a knight and enjoy the shows and markets.
#9. Explore Nazaré
We all have a favourite place we like to return. And there is nothing wrong with that. One of our main reasons for the trip was visiting all the little towns scattered along the coast, including Nazaré village.
To discover the real beauty of Nazaré, we stayed the night and hung around after sunset. As the hoarded of group tours dispersed and the light started to change, we were treated with yet another colourful burst of colours.
∗What not to miss in Nazaré: Lighthouse museum and The Big Wave season(between October and March when the waves up to 100ft start rolling in).
#10. Go on a boat trip in Aveiro
You may not have been to Aveiro yet, but we are sure that by now, you have seen it numerous times on social media. Rainbow striped fishermen cottages, located in Costa Nova, is a sought out place for tourists providing a unique background for photos.
Located south of Porto and nicknamed the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is characterised by a maze of canals and Art Nouveau architecture.
One thing we didn’t expect to find was one of the most colourful train stations and incredible traditional boats.
∗What not to miss in Aveiro: Boat trip along the canal, picturesque Railway station with its blue tiles and local sweets made with sugar and eggs known as ovos moles.
#11. Visit Porto
Not every morning is as magical as when you are waking up to colourful sunsets by the ocean. Of course, we would have enjoyed more sunshine while on this trip but seeing Porto wrapped up in a dense fog and jumping over fresh rain puddles was something I’ll carry with me forever.
When it comes to Porto, attractiveness and beauty was on a new level. Portugal’s second-largest city was one of the most unexpected places we’ve visited. Two full days was enough time to visit all the top attractions, yet wasn’t enough to tour the Douro River.
∗What not to miss in Porto: The wonderful Lello Bookstore, Dom Luis Bridge and Palácio da Bolsa.
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Now, over to you!
Have you ever been on a road trip around Portugal? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Portugal and have travel-related questions!