Look inside Portugal for your next road-trip
Portugal is a country that really has everything you would possibly want from a road-trip holiday, with picturesque scenery, stunning national parks, richly historic cities, and many interesting towns with wide-ranging culture to immerse yourself in along the way.
Many drivers choose to take the coastal route north from Lisbon to Porto, enjoying the beautiful ocean views across the Atlantic Coast.
For something a little bit different, however, try an interior route to discover the country’s more secretive beauty.
Start your journey in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. Before you collect your hire car, spend time exploring this beautiful and intriguing city by foot. As one of the oldest cities in the world, there is much to see here that it is simply breath-taking. Take a trip through Lisbon’s history by visiting the Gulbenkian Museum, which houses hundreds of years’ worth of artefacts and art. This is the perfect start to your journey through time in Lisbon, especially when followed up with trips to see St George’s Castle, Praca de Comercio, Palicio Fronteira and the historic Belem.
Visit the gardens of Muradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara for some spectacular views across the hilly cityscape, or lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleys of atmospheric Alfama.
As hard as it is, tear yourself away from the capital and begin your drive north, heading for the Natural Park of Serras de Aire and Candereeiros. Before you enter the park, make a stop in Santarem. Once an extremely important city, today there are only remnants of Santarem’s glory days in a handful of Gothic buildings and churches.
Make sure you visit the gardens of Portas do Sol for some breathtaking views across the district.
Natural Park of Serras de Aire
Once you’ve finished exploring, it’s time to experience some of Portugal’s natural beauty. Enter the Natural Park and you’ll probably fall immediately in love with the rugged limestone landscape. Take a tour of the Grutas de Mira de Aire underground caves, which feels as though you’ve stepped into another world. To step back in time, walk in the footsteps of the dinosaurs at Natural das Pegadas de Dinossaurios de Ourem.
Alcobaca, Batalha, and (if you fancy a detour) Tomar
From the park, it’s time to explore the medieval Christian monuments at Alcobaca, Batalha, and Tomar.
Each of these cities is uniquely beautiful and home to UNESCO listed buildings including the Chapel of the Knights Templar, Covento de Cristo in Tomar.
Continue north to Coimbra, home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Dating back to the 13th century, the university receives over 200,000 visitors each year. Back in your car, head for the hills and take the road to Viseu, which, with its Roman pedigree, mediaeval heritage and thriving wine-making industry, is an intriguing place to sample Portugal’s past and present.
Taking the northern road once more, making a stop off in Lamego. Here you must climb the stairway that works its way up to the Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios. Both the views and the stairway itself are utterly beautiful.
Finally you’re on the final road to Oporto. Arrive in the city and head straight for the Ribeira, a medieval district that takes you back in time.
Take a river cruise to absorb much of the architecture that made Oporto a UNESCO listed city, such as the Igreja de Sao Francisco and Oporto Cathedral.
For a taste of the beach life in Portugal, visit Foz do Douro, a bustling coastal area and - when your driving is done - treat yourself to a glass of Port here in the region that gave it its name and visit the Port Wine Caves.
Road Trip Map
Road Trip Photos
Image Credits: Under Licence from Shutterstock:
Plaza of Commerce, Lisbon, Portugal, Europe, Image ID: 124222762, Copyright: Andre Goncalves
Medieval Templar castle in Tomar, Portugal. Landmark in Europe., Image ID: 135931508, Copyright: JPF
Old town of coimbra glows at night under a pretty summer sky, Portugal, Image ID: 78502549, Copyright: Martin Lehmann
The Church of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios (Sanctuary Nossa Senhora dos Remedies), Lamego, Portugal. Horizontal view., Image ID: 29128417, Copyright: Peter Zaharov
view of Douro river at Porto, Portugal, Image ID: 106846718, Copyright: Sergey Peterman