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7 Scenic Road Trips in Portugal To Go On This Year

7 Scenic Road Trips in Portugal To Go On This Year

Thinking of traveling through Portugal by car? Great idea! Check out this list of 7 epic road trips in Portugal (with itineraries+tips) and pack your bags.

Portugal is an up-and-coming destination that’s becoming increasingly popular, and it’s not hard to see why. With vibrant cities such as Lisbon and Porto, plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful beaches and islands, and incredible food and wine, it really has nothing to envy to France, Spain, or Italy. It’s a pretty small country, and the best way to travel Portugal is by car. In fact, some of the best road trips in Europe are in Portugal!

I’ve asked a few other travel bloggers to help me create a list of the best Portugal road trips. This result is an incredible series of road trip itineraries for all tastes. No matter your interests, there’s going to be a road trip for you.

Of course, these road trips through Portugal are best completed by car, but if for any reasons you can’t or don’t want to drive, most pf them can be easily done by bus or train. Public transportation works really well in Portugal! In fact, the first time I visited Portugal from Porto to Lisbon all by using public transport and it was more than fine.

When I do travel by car, though, to avoid problems and scams I usually rent a car in advance by using Rentalcars. This site compares rentals from all the major companies to find the best deal. You can search for you rental car in the search bar down here and see how much it’d cost.

Let’s see what are the best road trips in Portugal in detail.

Classic Road Trip from Lisbon to Porto

I fell head over heels in love with Portugal the first time I visited 6 years ago, and it still remains one of my favorite countries on Earth. This country has an authentic vibe, lovely people, great food, and plenty of incredible places to visit and things to do. 

If it’s your first time in the country and you have just one week available, I strongly recommend going on this classic one week Portugal road trip from Lisbon to Porto. You’ll get to see all of the highlights of Portugal minus the beach, and it’s a pretty scenic drive from Lisbon to Porto. If you prefer not to drive, this itinerary can also be easily completed by bus or train.

Highlights of the trip:
• Wander around the Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon.
• Check out the quirky castles and palaces in Sintra.
• Visit the University of Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Check out the spots in Porto that inspired the Harry Potter books.
• Go on a boat tour and taste Porto wine in the Douro Valley.

Start your road trip in Lisbon, where you’ll spend 2 full days. Two days is not too long, but enough to check out all the major highlights of Lisbon including the Belem neighborhood, tasting the famous pasteis de nata, a visit to the Alfama neighborhood and to St. George’s Castle, and riding the vintage tram 28. If you wake up bright and early, you’ll manage to do quite a bit!

On your 3rd day of this Lisbon to Porto road trip, take the train to Sintra for a day trip. Just a 30 minute train ride away, Sintra is an incredibly charming (and super instagrammable town) known for its ancient and quirky castles. You can even add a stop in Cascais, a beach town, or to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe. Check here how to get from Lisbon to Sintra

Next day, head to Coimbra, which is famous for its ancient university which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Harry Potter fans will love to see that the students here wear cloaks that were the inspiration for Hogwarts’ uniforms!

Spend days 5 and 6 in Porto – which is personally my favorite place in Portugal. The atmosphere is very relaxed here and I mean: Porto wine! Definitely go for a tasting at the wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia, and explore the lively riverside area. You can also go on a boat tour to check out the famous bridges of Porto, and find all the best places decorated with azulejos (super photogenic!).

Make the most out of your last day by taking a day trip to the Douro Valley. It certainly helps if you’re a wine lover as this is the birthplace of the porto wine, but non drinkers will love its beautiful landscapes with the river and the vines as well. Find all the details for how to plan the day in this post about the perfect Douro Valley day trip from Porto.

➤ Of course, you could also fly to Porto if it’s more convenient and go on a Porto to Lisbon road trip instead. Nothing really changes.

Recommended length: one week.

READ ALSO: One Week in Portugal: The Perfect Itinerary

➤ This itinerary is great if you want to go on a Portugal coast road trip as well. Driving the coast of Portugal is so nice! You’ll find super charming beach towns, dramatic landscapes, and a peaceful vibe. Follow the same itinerary but drive along the coast and add a couple of stops in beach towns such as Nazaré (one of my favorites!).

Algarve Road Trip

by Nicole, Nicole LaBarge Travel Blog

The southern coast of Portugal is referred to as the Algarve and there are some stunning beaches along this part of Portugal. For this 7 day Portugal road trip we will start in Cape St Vincent in the west and head all along the coast to Faro in the west. The Algarve should be on everyone’s bucket list and even though this area is small, you will want to stop at each every one of these stunning beaches here.

Highlights of the trip:
• Take a boat tour along the coast and see the stunning coastline and caves.
• Visit the instagrammable Benagil Cave.
• Explore Cape St Vincent – the most southwestern part of Europe.
• Visit Church of São Lourenço with its gold altar.

We’ll start this road trip in South Portugal in Cape St Vincent where you can explore the lighthouse and have magnificent views of the ocean and the cliffs in Sagres. From there we will head west to Lagos, one of the best beach towns in the Algarve. You can visit Ponta da Piedade for a beautiful day out.

Next we’ll head to Carvoeiro and explore the craggy coastline. Here you can visit Algar Seco and see the Algarve’s red rock formations. You can also go dolphin watching on an excursion.

The real highlight in this area is Benagil Cave. It is located 200 metres offshore and it is a limestone cave where there is a little beach and the top is open so the sun can shine through. You can’t actually spend a lot of time here as most tours just stop for a little bit as it is so popular and you can’t get many boats in there to drop everyone off.

Lastly on this road trip in the Algarve, we head to Faro to explore for the day. You can visit the cathedral and the Arco da Vila with its Neoclassical redesign. You can also take a cruise here and see the birdlife like flamingoes and storks.

Recommended length: at least 7 days.

North of Portugal & Douro Valley Road Trip

If you’re into nature, good food, and plenty of wine, a road trip around the Douro Valley and north of Portugal is the perfect one for you. This trip is perfect as a road trip, however you could also do it by basing yourself in Porto and taking day trips from there.

Highlights of the trip:
• Enjoy the super charming city of Porto.
• Visit the historical cities of Braga and Guimaraes.
• Go for a porto wine tasting at a few quintas.
• Take a boat trip and be mesmerized by the landscapes of the Douro Valley.

No road trip to the Douro Valley and the north of Portugal can start from any other place but Porto. Porto is a charming, colorful, vibrant city. Nothing better than enjoy a glass or two of wine in the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia, go on a boat tour along the river, and then relax in the riverside Cais da Ribeira area. Other things you can do are taking super instagramable pictures of the azulejos and visiting the famous Harry Potter bookstore.

On day 3, head to Viana do Castelo. This is a lovely historical city by the river, and you can relax on the beach or go surfing. Take the funicular (the longest in Portugal) up to Monte de Santa Luzia for some incredible views.

Your next destinations are Braga and Guimaraes, that can be visited in one day. The MInho region where they’re located is a traditional, lush region.The historical center of Guimaraes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while Braga is one of the oldest Christian cities in the world and a very important religious center in Portugal. 

The next day, head to the Douro Valley. No words can make justice to the breathtaking landscapes you’ll find here – truly, a one-of-a-kind place. I’ve written a full post about the perfect day in the Douro Valley that you should check out for more inspo. A few things you can’t miss though are taking a sightseeing cruise along the Douro River from Pinhao, and visiting a few quintas (wineries) such as Quinta do Seixo and Quinta do Popa. If you can, splurge and spend the night at the incredible Six Senses Douro Valley Hotel & Spa. This place is absolutely breathtaking.

On your final day, relax on the hotel grounds and maybe go for a spa treatment at their award-winning spa. Head to Peso da Régua and go straight to for lunch at Tasca da Quinta restaurant. Trust me, I’ve had my best meal in all of Portugal here! End the trip with a visit to the Douro Museum, and go back to Porto.

Recommended length: 6 days

Sao Miguel in the Azores Road Trip

by Megan, Megan Starr

One of the best road trips in Portugal (and Europe) is definitely in the Azores.  You can hop into a car and travel around all of the islands but the most popular and diverse route is on the main island of Sao Miguel. 

Highlights of the trip:
• Check out the blue, volcanic lakes of Sete Cidades.
• Take a bath in the thermal waters of Furnas.
• Be mesmerized by the dramatic landscapes in the north of the island.
• Check out the incredible views from King’s View.

You can spend weeks exploring the island but a good starting point is a 4 day road trip in Sao Miguel.  This will give you time to explore the capital city, Ponta Delgada, as well as the most famous sites in the north, east, and west of Sao Miguel.  

In Sao Miguel’s west, you will find dramatic cliffs and volcanic lakes like the geological wonders of Sete Cidades.  This is also where the King’s View is located and it remains one of the most popular photo spots in the islands. 

In the east, you will discover a geothermal wonderland at Furnas where you can bath in the thermal waters and afterward, enjoy a delicious meal of Cozido das Furnas at any of the local restaurants. The dish is cooked underground by volcanic heat and consists of local meats and root vegetables.

In Sao Miguel’s north, you will discover large cliffs and charming villages such as Capelas. And, if you’re looking for a place to crash, look no further than the Santa Barbara Eco-Resort or their sister property, Sao Vicente Lodge. You can end your road trip back in Ponta Delgada where you can experience city life and interact with the locals in the capital city. 

Sao Miguel is an up-and-coming island to put on your bucket list and visiting the Azores is something that everyone should do in their lifetime- the scenery, culture, food, and people are fantastic!

Recommended length: 4 days.

Spain and Portugal Road Trip

If you’ve got 2 weeks at your disposal and you’re looking for the ultimate road trip, this is it. This exciting road trip around Portugal and Spain is packed, but you’ll get to explore castle and palaces, visit enchanting cities, and eat and drink your way through the two countries.

Highlights of the trip:
• Visit the ancient city of Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Be mesmerized by the one-of-a-kind Alhambra in Granada.
• Eat as many pasteis de nata as you can in Lisbon.
• Take super instagrammable shots at Palacio da Pena in Sintra.
• Explore the Douro Valley and go for a porto wine tasting or two.

This Spain to Portugal road trip is a loop that starts and finishes in Madrid. Madrid is no doubt the cultural capital of Spain, and some of my favorite things to do include walking around the Retiro Park, visit the Prado museum and eat in various stands at Mercado San Miguel.

On your way to Granada, stop in Toledo, a city filled with history at every corner. The former Spanish capital is a true melting post, and you’ll find beautiful churches and mosques and synagogues all next to each other.

Granada is the most famous destination in Andalusia because of the out-of-this-world Alhambra. But once you’ve visited the palace, there’s more to see to make the most of your one day in Granada. Wander around the Albaicin neighborhood, and go on a DIY tapas tour in the Realejo area.

The next day, drive to Cordoba. Cordoba is a smaller city, and often overlooked by tourists who visit Seville and Granada, but it’s really charming and definitely worth a stop on your road trip. Unmissable a visit to the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.

Your next stop is Seville, personally my favorite city in Southern Spain. Here you’ll love dining with tapas (for gourmet ones, head to La Brunilda, my favorite tapas bar in Seville), and watching a Flamenco show. Visiting Plaza de Espana is a must, both during the day and at night.

It’s time to discover Portugal, in my opinion one of the most underrated countries in the world, no kidding. Lisbon, the capital, offers a ton of things to do, so make the most out of your 2 days in Lisbon. Visit the traditional Alfama neighborhood with St. George’s Castle, have some pasteis de nata in Belem, and enjoy the views from one of the miradouros with a drink. 

A stop in Sintra is unmissable, either as a day trip from Lisbon or as an overnight stop (find out how to get to Sintra here). You might have seen photos of Sintra castles and palaces on Instagram, as it’s become very popular over the last couple of years. Spending one night here allows you to explore the place without the day trippers crowds.

On your way to Porto, stop in Coimbra. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you won’t believe it. Here students wear long cloaks that were probably the inspiration for Hogwarts’ uniforms, and the University of Coimbra is a UNESCO World Heritage site itself.

The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto, in my opinion is even more charming than Lisbon. A few of the things you can do in Porto (you’ll have to choose just a few) are going on a boat trip, visiting the beautiful Livraria Lello (one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world), and chasing azulejos (the blue tiles) in Porto. Head also to Vila Nova de Gaia to visit a few port cellars, and maybe enjoy a fado show.

The Douro region is enchanting. It’s easily reachable from Porto, so you can easily visit it as a day trip from Porto if you prefer. Go on a boat tour along the Douro River and enjoy the incredible landscapes and a glass (or two) of porto wine at a couple of famous quintas (wineries). Take the last day to drive back to Madrid.

➤ The best time for this road trip through Portugal and Spain is in spring and autumn, it’s really hot during the summer in South Spain.

Recommended length: 2 weeks.

➤ You have more time? With 3 weeks in Portugal and Spain, I suggest you add a few stops in the Algarve region and you can depart from Barcelona and from there travel to Madrid.

Road Trip in Madeira Island

by Kat, Wandering Bird

If you’re planning a Portuguese road trip, be sure to add the small island of Madeira into your itinerary. Although the island is closer to Africa than Portugal, it’s still under Portuguese rule and is a wonderful place to visit- it enjoys year-round sun! 

Highlights of the trip:
• Enjoy the fairytale town of Santana; a picture-perfect place with cute houses.
• Bathe in the Lava pools at Porto Moniz (yes, you can swim in them).
• Stand on the second highest cliff in the WORLD at Cabo Girao.

You can either fly to the island and rent a car, or you can take your own vehicle on the ferry which sails from Portugal at least once a week and takes 2 hours. You might prefer the ferry when you learn that the airport is one of the shortest (and most dangerous!) in the world.

Funchal makes a good base as it’s fairly central, so you can either make day trips from there, or create a loop itinerary with the destinations recommended down here. The roads are generally good and well-signposted, although the signal can be patchy so maybe download maps onto your phone or sat-nav before you set off. 

Some of the destinations that should definitely be on your itinerary are:
Funchal, the capital of Madeira, and its colorful market;
Pico do Arieiro, a perfect hiking area with breathtaking views;
– the fairytale town of Santana, a picture-perfect place with cute houses;
– be wowed at the volcanic caves of Sao Vicente;
– the lava pools at Porto Moniz (yes, you can bathe and swim in them);
– the second highest cliff in the WORLD at Cabo Girao (stand here and feel on top of the world!).

Madeira is not a big island- heck, you can drive around it in a couple of hours- but there’s a lot to see, so take at least a weekend to really explore.

Recommended length: 3 days is perfect and allows time for sightseeing, shopping and relaxing. 

North to South of Portugal: Porto to Faro Road Trip

Portugal is a relatively small countries, and if you have 10 days to 2 weeks you’ll be able to see most of the things that make this country special.

On this 10 day road trip from Porto to Algarve, you’ll go all the way from Porto in the north to Faro in the south, by passing through Lisbon and a few more destinations. It’s the best road trip in Portugal in my opinion, as it allows you to see a bit of everything.

Highlights of the trip:
• Sip wine and chase azulejos in Porto.
• Go on a boat tour along the river in the Douro Valley.
• Explore the traditional Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon.
• Visit the quirky Pena Palace in Sintra.
• Charter a boat at sunrise and visit the beautiful Benagil Cave.

The first 7 days of this Portugal road trip itinerary will be the same than the classic road trip from Lisbon to Porto, the first one on this list, but reversed.

Spend the first 2 days of your Portugal road trip by wine tasting in Porto and appreciating its relaxed vibe, and on day 3 go on a day trip to the Douro Valley where you’ll drink more wine and be fascinated by the beautiful landscapes.

Head to Coimbra, famous for its university which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend days 5 and 6 in Lisbon. There are plenty of things to do in Lisbon, but you definitely can’t miss the traditional Alfama neighborhood and riding tram 28. The next day, go on a day trip to Sintra where you can explore its quirky castles and palaces.

Then, after having gone on this road trip from Porto to Lisbon, keep going down to the southern region of the Algarve, which features both beautiful beaches and dramatic clifftops. Spend 3 days relaxing at the beaches around Lagos, and make sure not to miss the famous cave of Benagil. Wander around the ancient city of Faro, take a boat trip to Farol Island, and eat as much fresh seafood as possible.

If you have 2 weeks available, spend the extra 4 days along the way, visiting more of Porto and Lisbon, or relaxing in the Algarve. A few extra destinations you can add to this itinerary are Braga, an easy day trip from Porto, and Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal. I also personally the beach town of Nazaré, famous for its gigantic waves.

Recommended length: 10 days to 2 weeks.


Hopefully you’ll be inspired by this list of great road trips in Portugal! Touring Portugal by car is really a great way to really savor all that the country has to offer. Ready to get on the road?

OH WAIT, HERE’S MORE ROAD TRIP INSPO!

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  1. João

    29 July

    Hello, I find it pretty offensive your offhand comment about the “Christian invasion” that destroyed the moors’ castle.
    It was a counterattack after the Islamic invasion of the 8th century.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umayyad_conquest_of_Hispania

    • Steph

      30 July

      Hello Joao, I don’t really understand what you’re talking about. I re-read the whole post just to make sure, but there’s no mention whatsoever of any Christian or Islamic invasion. I’m pretty sure you are commenting under the wrong post/blog.

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