With its small size, incredible scenery, deserted beaches, incredible nature and thrilling cities, Portugal is a perfect country for a road trip. From Porto in the north, to Faro in the south, there are 549 kilometers and from Lisbon to Faro, only 278 kilometers. That’s why I chose to go on a Portugal road trip in April to enjoy even more landscapes without a lot of tourists. In this article, I will detail my itinerary and give you some other examples to stick to your desires. I will also list the essential steps and the best places to sleep.
The best 2-week Portugal road trip itinerary
Arrival in Lisbon
My itinerary from Lisbon will be more detailed because it is the one I chose. However, it is totally possible to start your road trip from the airport of Porto, in the north of Portugal.
I advise you to stay a week in the capital. This will allow you to discover all the amazing places of Lisbon, but also to explore the region all around. While organizing my itinerary, I wondered if seven days in Lisbon would not be too much. The answer is no! With your rental car, you can alternate between Lisbon and all the places around like Sintra, Obidos, Peniche, Nazaré …This itinerary allows you to enjoy a full week in central Portugal, then a week to discover the Algarve.
Arrival in Porto
It is also possible to start your road trip in the north of Portugal arriving in Porto. This will allow you to discover the beautiful and colorful city as well as the green landscapes of the north of Portugal.
If you arrive at Porto airport, you can discover the old town and its winding streets. You will have to spread the first week of your Portugal road trip between Porto and Lisbon. You can also book one night in Nazare or Peniche, located halfway to discover the surroundings.
I also recommend that you book your return flight from Faro Airport in the Algarve. This will save you the stress and fatigue of a last day spent on the road crossing Portugal.
Lisbon and surroundings
The West Atlantic coast of Portugal
Once you leave Lisbon to reach the south of Portugal, you will follow the Atlantic coast of the country. Get ready for a change of scenery, as it is surely the quietest and emptier place on your journey. From the busy and full of life streets of Lisbon, you get to long and empty roads through green hills. From time to time, you will come across small villages with white houses, a few farms and mills. If you decide to stop on the way, you will have to know your basics of Portuguese, because nobody speaks English there.
On our Portugal road trip, we stopped one night in Arrifana for two reasons. After a week in Lisbon, my boyfriend was really looking forward to surf the waves of Portugal and the many deserted beaches in the area offer great waves. As for me, I wanted to take my time on the road, even to take small roads without signage. This is how we discovered beautiful beaches, like Praia da Bordeira or Praia do Amado. You can find some pictures below, so that you can realize the immensity and the beauty of those landscapes.
Sagres at the edge of Portugal
Sagres is the city located at the end of Portugal and I strongly advise you to stop one or two nights there. If you want to surf, you will surely stop longer because there are so many spots around the city. Moreover, I even have the impression that the city is made up of about 30% of shops and surf clubs, 30% of hostels for surfers and 30% of restaurants. As I went in April, the city was relatively quiet, although there are many vans on all car parks. In short, a relaxed atmosphere, beautiful beaches and a few tourist attractions : the fortress of Sagres and the Lighthouse of Cape St. Vincent.
Cape St. Vincent is the most southwestern point of Europe. These are huge cliffs that reminded me of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, where the raging waves of the Atlantic Ocean come to an end. Apparently, with a little luck, it is also possible to see dolphins, orcas and whales.
The southern coast of Portugal
Welcome to the Algarve, the sunniest region of Portugal. It is here that we discovered the famous typical cliffs of southern Portugal, the incredible beaches and the vibrant cities. Among my favorite beaches, there are the beaches around Ponta da Piedade where you can relax on golden sand facing magnificent rock formations. I also loved the beaches around Benagil and my gold medal goes back to Ponte Grande Cala, a secret beach hidden in the middle of the cliffs.
In the Algarve, you can also find beautiful and thrilling cities. As a family seaside resort, I would recommend Lagos or Armaçao de Pêra. It is in Lagos that you will find the famous Ponta da Piedade rock formation. Otherwise, we also lied Albufeira even though it was not what I expected. While I was expecting to spend a few days in a typical hilltop town, I found myself on in small Mykonos of Portugal. This is a super charming city with many restaurants, bars and clubs and very low prices.
To learn more about the Algarve, you can read my article on the topic here.
My last tips for a road trip in Portugal
What should you bring for a Portugal road trip ?
Well, let’s be honest, you do not go to the other side of the world, so there is no specific need. And if you miss something, you will not be disoriented with the typical European brands. Here are some essential :
- Warm clothes : yes, the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean affects the climate and it’s pretty humid in Portugal with a lot of wind. Personally, I’m pretty sensitive to cold, so I always have a jacket with me.
- Mosquito repellant : the south of Portugal is very swampy and you can easily get stung in the summer.
- Your driver’s license : it would be stupid to don’t be able to rent your car, because you forgot your driver’s license at home.
Where to rent a car in Portugal ?
The easiest way is to rent your car in advance on the internet to enjoy the best rates and be sure to have a car when you arrive. With Rentalcars, you can compare all the prices of the renters.
Concerning the highways in Portugal, there are two types of tolls : manual tolls and electronic tolls. If you rent a car, the easiest way is to pay the surplus for the electronic box, so you do not have to worry about anything.
Also note that if you rent a car at an airport and return the vehicle to another airport, you will have to pay a drop-off fee that varies depending on the company. We paid 100€.