The best travel idea you can have for 2017 is… *drumroll* a Portugal road trip along the coastline! It’s time to start the engines and explore the most idilic landscapes of this beautiful country!

I’ve decided to create this road trip guide because all the conversations I have about my country abroad follow a trend.

It always starts with the chit-chat about Cristiano Ronaldo.

Yeah, he’s an awesome player, makes a lot of money and I don’t get his love life either. But eventually the conversation gets much more interesting:

– Where do you recommend to go to in Portugal?

My answer: do a road trip!

portugal road trip itinerary travel blog trip portugal - Comporta
Comporta beach.

This article is a full road trip guide and itinerary to explore southwest Portugal – one of the best-kept secret regions in the whole Europe.

Why go on a road trip in Portugal in the first place?

First of all, going on a road trip is something magic by itself.

I bet you are already thinking of sticking your head out of the window and feel the wind ride your hair. Yeah, you can do that and much more!

A road trip is one of the best way to practice slow travel. This new travel movement advocates you shouldn’t rush things and invest in getting to know deeply a country. It is particularly suited if you’re travelling on a budget.

Secondly, I’m proud to say Portugal has a LOT to uncover. For some reason Travel & Leisure elected Portugal as the best destination of 2016.

Personally, a few years ago I had little or no money to travel, I got to explore a lot of my own country. And was still amazing and I’ve shared before DOZENS of reasons why Portugal is worth visiting.

Driving along the southwest coast of Portugal is the best road trip to take on your holidays.

Overview of this road trip guide

Driving along southwest Portugal’s coast – Costa Alentejana

I can’t help to think how underwhelming it is to fly to Algarve and spend your days wandering between the hotel pool and a overcrowded beach.

I agree we all need some lazy holidays once in a while. But trust me, Portugal has a lot more to offer and its 500km of coast are home to a tremendous set of landscapes and experiences.

portugal road trip road trip portugal - cows in Alentejo
A cow reunion. A common scenery found in Alentejo.

This is where Costa Alentejana and Vicentina come into play. The whole southwestern coast of the country, comprising mostly the Alentejo region still lies in the shadow of Algarve and is generally overlooked by tourists.

Yet, it’s characterized by dramatic beaches separated by dramatic cliffs, untouched landscapes and a raw Atlantic essence hard to find elsewhere. Apart from the kilometers of beaches, there are also a lot of quaint villages, blissful coastal cities and vast natural parks. 

If a summer road trip spend getting to know all these places seems idilic, well… that’s because it is!

portugal road trip Alentejo coastline
You can almost feel the wild Atlantic breeze in your face, can’t you?

What this guide contains

After almost 10 years living in Lisbon and several summer explorations in the south and southwest coast, I’m now delighted to share with you my guide for a road trip in Portugal. It includes:
 

 
Pumped up? Let’s start the engines!

Portugal road trip itinerary

I’ve started and ended my road trips from where I was based at the time:Lisbon. From there, I drove along the coastline towards the south of the country for about 10 days.

This is the recommended duration for this road trip. If you have more time, great, spend more time in each place of just take some of my extra suggestions.
 

  • Starting Point: Lisboa
  • Ending Point: Faro
  • Recommended Duration: 10 Days
  •  
    The idea of this itinerary is to explore the whole south west coast of Portugal. This includes beach paradises like Comporta and Odeceixe or the untouched natural landscapes of Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e da Costa Vicentina  – 70.000 ha of pure virgin landscapes in the west coast of Algarve.

    Portugal road trip map

    Nothing like a map to see where you’re going, right? I’m about to mention several places in this guide, so I’ve put them all together so you can easily follow the journey visually.

    Orange pins: Main road trip stops – preferred places to base yourself
    Yellow pins: Scenic landscape spots – don’t miss these if you’re a nature lover
    Blue pins: Beaches within route – places for a dive along the way
    Green pins: Extra & Add-Ons to this route – try to squeeze these in!

    You can also open the map in a new window following this link. Now find detailed descriptions of some of these places below:

    LISBON: Starting off big!

    Take at least two extra days to get to know the city and indulge in some experiences not to miss in Lisbon.

    Walking around the downtown is a must, but more than ticking off tourist attractions off the checklist, you might want to explore the most typical neighbourhoods of Alfama and Graça.

    Their awe-inspiring viewpoints (miradouros) and the narrow steep streets crowded with the moorish castle on top – Castelo de São Jorge -are the true essence of Lisboa!

    Lisboa portugal road trip itinerary
    Lisbon’s light is something.

    Before you’re gone, don’t forget to grab a stock of pastéis de nata and start your trip south, crossing either the Vasco da Gama or the 25 de Abril bridges.

    My top hotel recommendations in Lisbon

     

    Hotel HF Fenix Music
     
    Charmingly music-themed hotel, super close to the center. Oh it comes with this stunning rooftop swimming pool.
    Book now


     
     

    We Love F Tourists
     
    Located in busy Rossio – the heart of Lisbon – it’s just one of those amazing value places that will make you feel at home. Perfect to make friends. Book now

    Or… find your own!

    Use this list of quality hotels and guesthouses I’ve put together to get you started. ALL of these are located in downtown Lisbon, with WiFi and with a rating of 8 or higher. Just pick your favourite!

    ARRÁBIDA: Green and blue landscapes

    Stretching along the south coast of the peninsula of Setúbal, Arrábida natural park is rich in golden beaches edged by impressive greenery cliffs. It’s home to some of my favorite beaches around Lisbon.

    The ex-libris of this area is the stunning Portinho da Arrábida with azure waters and a 17th-century fort. Personally, I’d rather have the 20-min hike and reach Praia dos Coelhos to a more off the beaten track experience in direct contact with nature. Be sure both options ensure an awesome beach day though. 

    Getting around Arrábida

    Arrábida is a special place to get around. First of all, the road along the coast is one-way which means you always need to start your journey to get there in the city of Setúbal.

    Secondly, parking is done on the road itself. Specially in summer weekends, this can be a nightmare. I recommend you get there as early in the morning as possible.

    COMPORTA: The perfect beach getaway

    When you arrive here, you’ll officially be in the Alentejo region. I’ve praised Comporta before and how this perfect beach getaway is still kept a semi-secret beach destination is beyond me.

    Wandering around. #comporta #portugal

    A photo posted by BRUNØ (@bruno_mb) on

    Imagine a small village, stuck between the Atlantic, endless rice fields and the plain landscape (sort of an european savana) of Alentejo. Oh and 15km of the most wild beaches you’ll find in Europe.

    It’s the perfect pitstop to disconnect and step into a new state of mind for the rest of your trip. The Royal family of Monaco, who comes here every summer, appears to agree.

    Where to stay in Comporta: my suggestions

     

    Sublime Comporta Country Retreat & SPA
     
    A stunning outdoor pool and lush green surroundings. You not only want to stay here, you’ll want to LIVE here.
    Book now


    Comporta Villas & Suites
     
    Charming bright houses with an outdoor pool and just 3km from the ocean. Great value.Book now

    Or… find your own!



    Booking.com

    PORTO COVO: Summertime charm

    Title of a well-known and melancholic portuguese song, Porto Covo is also a little hidden gem close to the port city of Sines. Somewhere in the maze of bright blue, red and white houses you’ll find many family-run restaurants with delicious and inexpensive food.

    Portugal road trip - Porto Covo colors architecture
    Detail of a door of a typical house in Porto Covo.

    A 5-min drive out of the town center takes you to beaches with golden sands and turquoise waters. Try Praia de São Torpes – popular amongst surfers – or Praia da Ilha – with a great view for the small Pessegueiro islet.

    ZAMBUJEIRA DO MAR: Music for your ears

    Zambujeira do Mar is not particularly exciting as a town. Period. Apart from the MEO Sudoeste summer festival happening each August (had a great time there partying my ass off at the sound of Calvin Harris!) there’s nothing much going on.

    portugal road trip alentejo coast travel blog
    Sunset @ Carvalhal beach.

    However, it’s a very interesting strategic point to spend a few days. There are lots of great affordable accommodation available as it generally attracts younger crowds.

    Also, it’s close enough to explore some of the best spots like the western most point of the whole Alentejo’s coast, Cabo Sardão, and some more striking beaches such as Praia do Tonel and Praia do Carvalhal. There are great hiking trails available as well!

    Don’t let the prices rise more. Book your accommodation in Alentejo now!




    Booking.com

    ODECEIXE: Atlantic bliss

    Where the river Ceixe meets the Atlantic, lies Odeceixe, technically already in the Algarve region. But this is not the typical Algarve you are used to. Odeceixe is well known for one of the largest and glorious beaches in Portugal, surrounded by giant tree-covered cliffs of a giant natural park. Little confession to make: this is favourite place of them all.

    road trip in Portugal coast - Odeceixe beach
    Odeceixe. Now THIS is a hell of a view!

    Save two or three days to explore the surroundings of Odeceixe. I’ve been here several times, but never stayed more than one full day. I REALLY want to come back not only for the top-notch local beach, but also to hike some of the cliffs in the surroundings. 

    Where to stay in Odeceixe: my suggestions!

     

    Monte do Cardal
     
    A peaceful guesthouse surrounded by nature and the sound of the ocean in the morning. Breakfast with healthy homemade food. What’s there not to like?
    Book now


    Casa Vicentina
     
    Quiet, peaceful and charming, it’s the ultimate getaway spot. Just a short drive away from beaches. Book now

    Or… find your own!

    Search amongst the places to stay in Odeceixe with WiFi and a minimum overall rating of “Very Good”. You simply can’t go wrong!

    ARRIFANA: Cliff fantasy

    Hidden at the bottom of a steep cliff, Praia da Arrifana is both a postcard landscape and a paradise for surfers. Down there, Restaurante da Praia has great grilled fish, yummy salads and is also great for a relax drink at the evening at the sound of the waves.

    portugal road trip alentejo coastline arrifana
    Arrifana coastline. This is how nature expresses drama.

    Kayaking, windsurfing, SUP, surfing and water sports in general are HUGE in Portugal. If you haven’t tried these before, this is absolutely the time to do it. Arrifana in particular is a well-known destination for watersports lovers.

    FARO/ALGARVE: The perfect farewell to Portugal

    Although I prefer hands down the wild and vibe of Alentejo’s coastline, I got to say I’ve always enjoyed my time in Algarve.

    Even though massive tourism threatens to take away some of its personality, it’s still home to some top-notch beaches in the world. There’s nothing wrong in saving two of three days to lay on one or more of them. It’s the perfect farewell to Portugal!

    While Faro is the only international airport in the region and it has some beautiful almost-deserted islands around – like the stunning Ilha do Farol, by all means don’t stick to this city.

    Avoid the booze hotspots of Algarve: Albufeira and Vilamoura . Around Portimão there are excellent beach options like Praia do Vau or Praia dos Três Irmãos.

    portugal roadtrip coastline alentejo beaches
    What if I told you Algarve’s coastline is full of these unreal places?

    For a more tranquil place go to Lagos. Even though my top beach there has suffered a massive reengineering project which made it unrecognizable, there are some other great options around like Praia do Camilo, Praia dos Pinheiros or Praia da Luz – where some are still looking for Maddie McCann.

    Check the road trip map for other suggestions for beaches in Algarve.

    Beware of the cliffs!

    I remember hearing on the news some fatal accident involving cliffs in Algarve every single year. Don’t be the one on the news!

    When you’re standing on top of the cliffs, watch your steps when you’re trying to get a better view for your photos and don’t get too close of the edge. Also, there are not usually fences on the cliff line so don’t be tempted to lay your towel right next to it. As good as a shade may feel in a hot summer day, cliff rock falls can happen anytime.

    Extra stops to add to this road trip itinerary

    This itinerary has got a minimum recommended duration of 10 days, but if you have more time, you are in an enviable position to add more places to your route and enrich your holidays. Here are some suggestions:

    Porto

    Why not start your road trip route upper north in Portugal’s second largest city? Porto is very different from Lisbon – and of the rest of the country for that matter – in many ways.

    But both are clearly national winners in two things: the sympathy of people and food. Warning: it’s very easy to fall in love with Porto and its São João festival.

    portugal road trip porto oporto se
    The iconic Sé cathedral of Porto dominating the cityscape.

    Nazaré, Portugal

    Nazaré is the most traditional fishing village in Portugal. Look around and notice the drying the fish and women with their typical set of seven-layered skirts.

    While the main beach in the town is OK to get into the water, this is a place well-known for its GIGANTIC waves which has become a tourist attraction by itself. Praia do Norte is the location for the world record of the largest wave ever surfed – by Garret McNamara in 2013. The monster wave was 100ft or 30m high and can be seen in this video.

    Sintra, Portugal

    Located the northern-most extent of the protected Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, 30km from Lisbon, Sintra displays an alluring fairy-tale nature setting. This little town has been a summer retreat for the portuguese royal family for centuries and is lush with green forests, exotic flowers and exquisite architecture.

    portugal road trip along the coast - sintra Pena Palace
    Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) in Sintra.

    Make sure you don’t miss Castelo dos Mouros -the moorish castle overlooking the village – and Palácio da Pena, a Romanticist palace on top a hill with great views over the entire Lisbon metropolitan area. Also, since you’re already in the area get a look at continental Europe’s most western point: Cabo da Roca. Beware of the wind!

    Sevilla, Spain

    I know this road trip is about Portugal, but why not take a detour and include one more country in your itinerary? Iberian power! Seville is less than 200km away from the portuguese border and is the cultural centre of the region of Andalucía.

    There’s a lot to do and specially to eat here. Grab some hot churros con chocolate, jamón or a freshly-made sangria in between your visit to the city’s main sights. Don’t miss El Alcazar, a royal palace built for Moorish kings, and the magnificent Plaza de España.

    Best time of the year to visit Portugal

    You are absolutely fine to go anywhere between May and October, as warm weather in Portugal lasts for about half a year. Now comes the but. Along this route you’ll be driving along an wild Atlantic coastline, so weather can be rough and particularly windy very quickly.

    On the other hand, avoiding the month of August will surely save you 20-30% of the overall budget, as everything since accommodation to a single bottle of water is inflated. Plus, all the towns I’ve mentioned tend to turn into mini-Algarves.

    So if you want to avoid peak months but at the same time maximize the probability of warm sunny weather try to aim your trip for May, June, July or September months.

    Driving in Portugal

    While driving in Portugal is not anywhere near a Gran Turismo game, you’ll need to be careful, as Portugal has one of the highest accident rates in Europe. Speed limits are often surpassed, sometimes in very dangerous places.

    Although there is a direct highway from Lisbon to Algarve (A2 motorway), the best and more scenic route for this road trip is through regional and national roads as close to the coast as possible.

    portugal road trip coast travel blog alentejo
    Don’t get distracted by the views in Alentejo when you’re driving!

    There is an toll system in operation on the major motorways – very expensive if you ask me – so taking the secondary roads will be considerably cheaper. Anyway, if you pass by any of the main tolls, take care not to use the green lanes. These are reserved for motors who subscribe to the automatic pay system.

    Some other useful numbers to remember:

    • Alcohol Limit: 50mg per 100ml. Or two to three beers.
    • Speed Limits: 60km/h in the built-up area, 90km/h outside of the built-up area and 120km/h on the motorways.

    What to eat in Portugal

    OK, almost dinner time at the time I’m writing this, so let’s talk about food. I know this is suspicious coming from me *a bold statement is coming* but food standards in Portugal is simply great.

    I honestly can’t find a better combination of taste, healthiness and price, no matter where I go in Europe. If you are really to take this road trip, I bet you will not have one mediocre meal. Hashtag #highexpectations.

    Take advantage of your time in Portugal to eat food generally unavailable or expensive elsewhere: fish. Grilled fresh fish with a simple pinch of salt and herbs to season it’s one of my favorite summer pleasures. Luckily, that’s not hard to find at all in the entire coast of Portugal, usually at delicious prices.

    What to eat in Alentejo

    And speaking of Alentejo in particular… oh dear. We’re talking about one of Portugal’s gastronomic edens! Don’t miss the big peppery olives (azeitonas) for starters and a glass of regional wine to drink – half of the country’s wine is produced here.

    portugal road trip travel blog roadtrip - Carne Porco Alentejana
    Carne de Porco à Alentejana. YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS. Photo by Anita’s Feast.

    Bacalhau (codfish) dishes are frequent as well as porco (pork), but you can’t miss to try a local plate and my personal favorite: Carne de Porco à Alentejana – a mouth-watering combination of pork, wine, potatoes and clams.

    Finding accommodation in Alentejo

    Having a lot of media attention lately, the accommodation in Alentejo has risen a lot in recent years, both in quantity and quality as resorts, rural houses and guest houses pop like mushrooms.

    My personal suggestion is Herdade do Amarelo, a stunning homestead next to Vila Nova de Milfontes, but there is a choice to all tastes and wallet sizes.

    To make your life even easier, use this pre-selection of the best-reviewed rural accommodation in the coast of Alentejo to get your search started. Or just use the box below:



    Booking.com

    In Algarve region, the offer accommodation is much higher but the best places can get fully booked with months in advance.

    Enjoy the ride and help me improve this guide!

    You know I always love to put together a complex travel plan – just like I did with my Croatia road trip guide or my island hopping guide in Thailand – but this one was different. Being my country, I did it with little or no research: it was written all by heart.

    This guide will be updated regularly from now on, so after you use it and visit Portugal yourself, let me know of any additional suggestions or tips, I’d love to hear what I’ve missed! Just let me know in the comment section below.

    Creating this guide made me want to do this road trip it all over again. It’s cheap, it’s still unspoiled by tourism and comes with a getaway feeling to it which is harder and harder to find nowadays.

    I really hope you can have the same experience. Because contrarily to the immense coastline of awe-inspiring beaches of Alentejo, Cristiano Ronaldo does not need any more hype!

    portugal road trip Cabo Sao Vicente
    Cabo de São Vicente, in the southwestern-most end of Portugal.

    Useful Portugal Resources

    Have I missed any tip to do a proper Portugal road trip? Leave a comment in the section below!

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    137 comments

    1. Hello,
      Me and my friends would like to do a surf trip through Portugal around June/july, we would like to visit places obviously with waves we could surf but also places where there are not a lot of tourists, we are going by car, if you could tell us where we could go it would be awesome!
      Thank you!!
      Lola

    2. Hello,
      We are now in Portugal and thoroughly enjoying ourselves and the lack of too many tourists to compete with!!!!
      We are now in Lagos and need to be in Setubal tomorrow sometime. I know this is spur of the moment, but please can you give us some advice. Would you take the A2 or the N120? Also, would you recommend us going to Sagres before leaving the area?
      Thanks very much!!!
      Chris

      1. Great to hear you’re having a good time Chris 🙂

        N120 is more scenic, but A2 is faster. If you’re not in a rush, I’d skip the highway. Sagres is a great spot to see how tiny you are compared to the huge ocean in front of you, definitely worth it!

    3. Nice post Bruno! But don’t forget the middle of Portugal. Pure nature with natural parks and the highest mountain of Portugal. Just a tip 🙂

    4. Is parking an issue in Portugal? Do you need to pay for parking at tourist attractions?
      Also, is English widely spken in Portugal.

      1. I’m afraid that’s a very generic question to answer, like all countries there are areas more problematic for parking than others. If you can be more specific, maybe I can give you a more detailed answer.

        Yes, English is widely spoken in the country!

      2. Hi Bruno, thank you for your reply. Apologise for being to generic.
        If I were to follow your itinerary, would there be any issues with parking?

        Also, when is it a good time to travel to Portugal?
        I come from Asia, so I don’t want to feel the heat when travelling.

        Windy, breezy weather would be ideal. Wouldn’t want to dress like a Michelin man.

    5. Hi Bruno,
      We are planning on going to Portugal for about one month maybe the end of Jan., just to get away from our Canadian winters and snow! Just wondering at this time of year, where it would be the best to go? The Algarve area or Porto area? I want to make sure that certain towns or villages don’t close down during these times and that we are still able to do a lot of touring around. We would probably fly into Lisbon and then head north or south and would like to try and stay mainly in one city and take day trips from there, either via car/bus or train, whichever is more economical. If we head to the Algarve, which city would you suggest that we stay in, and same with the north keeping in mind the time of year. And if we really like it, we will come back year after year and do more exploring. Any insight would be very helpful and appreciated. Thanks so much.

      1. There’s not much going on in Algarve at that time of the year. I’d probably try Porto and do day trips in Braga and Guimarães, but count on chilly rainy weather, it’s the peak of winter! Also head to Nazaré to see the big waves!

    6. Hello Bruno,
      My partner and I are returning to Portugal next week for 6 nights and our plan this time is renting a car in Lisbon and driving to The Algarve. We want to pick a location as a base. Not to many available in Lagos.
      We currently chose one in Albufeira, (we can change it) in town, Vila Gale Cerro Alagoa even though we hear it is the busiest with tourist. However, it is in town, where we do not feel the need to drive if we just want to venture out to dinner or bars at night. We most definitely will be exploring other towns and beaches during the day. What are your suggestions for two men, in 50’s. We do not want to be limited to Resorts where they are to remotely located and unable to walk around and enjoy some nightlife.
      Thank You. Eagerly awaiting your response.
      Any suggestions where to visit during our six day visit. We will have a car.
      Wil and Charles

    7. Hi, very nice article, very useful while planning our trip in Portugal. I am wondering if October is still nice, warm and sunny in Portugal?

    8. Hi Bruno,

      We are using your blog as a guide for our trip to Portugal next month. Thank you so much for the information. It makes planning a lot easier.

      I have a few questions –

      1. Cellphone. We don’t really need a cellphone plan there but we are wondering how easy it is to get on wife in public places

      2. car rental. Looks like most of the rental cars are standard/manual. Do people there just don’t drive automatic?

      3. Do people leave tips at restaurants?

      Thanks!

      1. 1. In bigger cities not really an issue, in more remote places not so much. Don’t know where are you going, but I wouldn’t count on it in Alentejo.

        2. Usually no, it’s all manual.

        3. Only if you really enjoy the service or the meal. While it is common to round up to make the change easier, there are no mandatory tips.

    9. Hi Bruno, thanks for your blog!
      We are going for 7 days in September but I wouldn’t want to miss any of the places you mentioned. If you would have to reduce the time spent in any of them how do you think the itinerary should be? We will start either in Porto or Faro.
      Thanks in advance!

      1. With only 7 days this is too short, my advice is to drop some places off the list.

        It’s better that you spend your time in fewer places and make the best out of them, otherwise you will be always on the go!

    10. Hi Bruno,

      It was a really good article to read. I am very intrigued by it.

      My family and I (Hubby, daughter who is 6 years old and myself) will be driving down from Barcelona to Portugal. I am wondering if you have any suggestions for us as we have about 17 days in total (bearing in mind that we do need to drive back to barcelona to fly back to our home country in Singapore). We will be travelling from 25th September onwards….
      We were thinking of skipping Barcelona first (leaving it for the end of the trip since we need to drive back there to fly off) and head straight for Valencia, then to Granda, Seville, Lisbon, Sintra, Salamanca, Madrid and back to Barcelona.
      What is your opinion of this and how many days do you think we should allocate for each place? Should we stay a day or 2 at each place or is there any possibility of having a base at on place and do day trip with one or more of the places that i mentioned.
      It will be awesome if you can give us more suggestions and I am excited to hear from you.

      1. 17 days is not a long time and keeping in mind you have 8 places to go, that gives an average of 2 days per place (not taking into account travel times). That might be enough for places like Salamanca, Sintra and Granada, but it will only “scratch the surface” of cities like Lisbon and Barcelona.

        My suggestion is try to cut one or two places from the list and enjoy more time on the remaining!

    11. Hi Bruno,

      I read your articles on Portugal early this year and since then it is been always in my mind to make it to Portugal. I live in Paris on work and planning to make a 6 day (includes travel days) trip to Portugal end of Oct 2016.

      I would like to know your suggestions on how I can plan it out.

      I was thinking of two options – basing myself in Lisbon for the 6 days and see places in and around Lisbon. or spend 4 days in Lisbon and 2 days in Porto.

      I would want to base myself in Porto and go around the Duro valley, but I read having a car helps there and Oct not being the right time to visit the valley, I was thinking to plan the Porto side in another trip and cover the Lisbon and surroundings this time.

      Would really like to get your opinion on this. Would I be able to cover around Lisbon using Public transport? I am more interested in country side and smaller villages.

      Thank you!

      1. If you are more interested in the country side, you will need a car. 6 days are more than enough for Lisbon, so maybe stay in Lisbon for 3 days and then spend the rest in smaller villages like Nazaré and Óbidos?

        You can leave Porto & Douro Valley for another trip!

    12. Hi Bruno! Thank you so much for this road trip guide, it’s amazing! I’m planning to go with my boyfriend in September, starting from Faro; but we have to take the flight to come back from Oporto. Do you think it could be possible if we follow your suggestions in an inverse order, stopping in Lisboa and finishing in Porto, in 10 days in total? In that case, how many days suggest in every area? We are more into enjoying the summer and Portugal’s beaches, but, of course, we would love to spend some time in the beautiful cities and villages. Many thanks! I really appreciate your help!
      Faro – Algarve / Comporta and Odeceixe – Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e da Costa Vicentina / Lisbon / Nazare and Oporto

      1. I don’t see any reason why you can’t take this on the reverse order 🙂

        Well I can’t give you advice knowing so little about your travel lifestyle, but I’d say spend a couple of days (2-3) in Lisbon and 1-2 in Porto and then distribute the rest of days for each stop! Good luck!

    13. Thanks for sharing this info Bruno! I’ve been gathering similar notes from my Portuguese friends for an upcoming 11 day trip with my girlfriend mid-august – peak season, I know! But it’s for her 30th bday, so…

      We’re staying with friends in Lisbon for a couple of days, and then thinking of basing ourselves near Porto Corvo to then drive up and down the west coast. Your suggestions for this are perfect.

      However as an english expat myself (to the US) I had eliminated the whole south coast to avoid my american girlfriend from witnessing the brits-abroad situation, but have been wondering (since you mentioned Lagos, which I had eliminated) if there are any other places that you’d recommend on the south coast that would still be safe to go? Even if it meant driving towards the border of Spain. My Portuguese friends have no idea cause they never go there.
      We’re very much into the wilder beaches and stark surroundings, hiking to avoid crowds, open to nude beaches also. Would you have any tips??

      Thanks again!

      1. During August in Algarve is going to be very hard to find uncrowded places. Even Lagos.

        You may find some peace in some of the islands near Faro and Olhão – Ilha Deserta, Ilha do Farol – and maybe towards east, near the border with Spain. Monte Gordo, Vila Real de Santo António are usually a bit more calm.

        If you’re into hiking, I’d recommend Alentejo though.

        Good luck!

      2. Definitely spending most of the trip in Alentejo, but maybe we’ll venture out to the south coast for a day and check out the islands.

        Thanks for the tips!

      3. hi Bruno! I have one more question, hope you don’t mind 🙂
        What’s your opinion on the Berlenga islands? We have a few days in and around Lisbon and wondering if this could be worth a day trip out to. I see there’s a lot of boat traffic, tours etc. The kayaking in and around the caves sounds pretty cool, but not if amongst dozens of others bumping into each other trying to avoid getting hit by selfie sticks etc. I can’t seem to find much insider info on it. Know anything about these islands?

        Thanks a lot

      4. Unfortunately I’ve never been to Berlengas, but I don’t think they are thaaaat touristy. I think there is a daily limit of people allowed since it’s a natural reserve. Plus, it’s quite a boat ride to get there so I want to believe that is enough to scare away the crowds. 🙂

    14. Hi!

      Can you tell me about where you hired a car from/ how it worked in terms of renting a car in one area and dropping it off in another. Also, which side of the road do the Portugese drive on, and is it easy to get from one area to the other with a GPS?

      thanks!

      1. I think that is possible, you just might have to pay an extra fee.

        In Portugal, we drive on the right. As far as how it easy it is, well it depends on where you’re going. Worst case scenario, you can also stop and ask, I’m sure people will gladly help you!

    15. Hi Bruno,

      My Wife and I are planning to take a lazy drive from Lisbon to the Algarve’s and then up to Porto starting on the 1st September after having spent a few days in Lisbon. Much along the line you have recommended. We have done so in many countries around the world and tend to not pre book accommodation but find suitable places as and when we come across a town / village we like or have had enough driving for the day. Is this advisable in Portugal or not – Should we rather pre book? Regards, Colin (South Africa)

      1. If it was August, I wouldn’t advise to go without pre-booking. September is way better, but I would still give it a look to hotels for at least at some nights just to try to get some good deals.

        Enjoy your stay!

    16. Hello, I will be traveling to Portugal the first week of September. I will be starting in Porto, then driving to Fatima and Nazare. Then going to Lisbon for 2 days. After Lisbon I wanted to take the road trip from Lisbon to Portimao where I will be staying for the remainder of my vacation. Even though we need to get to Portimao in the same day, I still want to take this scenic route and stop at a few of these places. Can it be done? Also can you send me the directions or the routes of this roadtrip please? Thank you so much. SO very excioted. I was born in America. BOth of my oparents were born in the Azores. I go to the Azores every year but this is my first time in Continente! I am so excited.

      1. So you’re semi-Azorean, how nice! 😀

        One day is very tight to make all these places. You can maybe quickly stop in two or three places, but that’s not the ideal way to experience them I guess!

      2. Sim,
        Somos da Terceira!

        Se tiver que escolher dois sitios, quais sao os dois?

        Eu agradeco a sua ajuda Bruno!!

    17. Hi Bruno,

      Following your 10day trip; where should we spend a (some) night (s)?

      How much is it to rent a car with a driver for a day?

      Can we commute using public transport instead of the car?

      Many thanks in advance for your assistance.

      1. Trying to answer your queries separately:

        – The above all are great places to spend a night!
        – Well that really depends on so many things it’s hard to say: vehicle, the company, etc… I would say anywhere between 25-50USD per day.
        – I don’t recommend public transport in this part of the country, you can’t get to the best beaches without it.

    18. Hi Bruno,
      I found your guide really interesting and.it made me want to travel Portugal straight away!
      We landed (me and my girlfriend) in Lisbon just 4 days ago, the plain was to stay just for a couple of week, but you know, while you travel plans always change, so we decide we want to stay till the end of the month!
      We are thinking about doing a 10-12 days road trip south then spend the rest of the time in Porto, or picking 4 different areas south regions and from there moving with public transport. We ‘re budget travellers, we being travelling for quite a while and we came here to enjoy the awesome Portuguese summer, my question then is… what you would recommend to do when you ‘re on a budget? And if you have to pick 3-4 areas,which would be in good position to be able to explore the surrounding??
      Hope I was clear 😉
      Thank you so much!

      1. Well it depends on what you are seeking. Stay in Algarve for a few days but not too much. The beaches are great but very crowded these days.

        I’d say to try Comporta, Porto Covo and Arrifana too, all idilic villages next to the sea, perfect to unwind.

    19. reat post and beautiful photos. I arrived at Faro airport and travel to Quarteira with a transfers company. Friendly and good price. I Love Algarve.

    20. Bruno, what an excellent guide. Can I ask your advice : in august we will will spend 18 days in Portugal: in Algarve for 8 days (and will follow all your tips) and then Sintra region for 5 days: we have another 5 days left (departure again from Faro): what would you suggest? We will be travelling with 10-12 y old boys. Not sure if to go to the north or inland. We have a car

      1. I would spend those days along the coast, so many blissful places on the way! Try some of the suggestions on the article, including Comporta, Porto Covo and Arrifana.

    21. Next time you are in Odeceixe, try kiosk Agapito. Thank you for the extensive road trip, we did it all in 2 weeks and love your country. The best part so far was Alentejo. We would have missed it without your information. Off to Tavira tomorrow.

    22. My husband and I are traveling to Faro in mid july – staying in Vilamoura for only 5 days. do we need to rent a car. We want to see the best of the algarve – eat well – he may want golf but our resort offers that and we want to relax also at the beach at least once. Suggestions? Best tours? Would love a dinner cruise if worthwhile. thanks so much!

      1. Seems like you have everything sorted. Around Vilamoura there are many villages and beaches you can eat well and relax. Avoid Albufeira and Vilamoura center though.

    23. Hi Bruno,
      Great! great! great Article by the way. I had this idea then I thought let me Google and see if it’s possible and clearly it is with this brilliantly written article.

      So I have a question. I am flying from London and Me and 8 of my friends are planning a Lisbon to Faro road trip, a 10 day trip, 13th August till 23rd August for my 25th. We will be staying days & nights in cities along the coast then move to the next and so on till we get to Faro (much like your trip)

      I wanted to know what the best form of transport would be? I may be with people that dont drive so hiring a car may be difficult. But if there is someone to drive do you think that is better Than getting taxis, city to city?

      Also wanted to know what dangers to look out for. I hear it can be racist there lol I am black and my friends are white and black, with 1 Portuguese.

      Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you!!

      1. Thanks for the kind words Kayzee.

        I highly recommend getting a car. There are some buses from city to city, but they will slow down your trip immensily and you still need to get taxis to go to some of the best beaches.

        I don’t think there will be any problem with your skin color, Portugal is a safe and tolerant country.

    24. Bruno, love, love, love, your guide. I hope you will entertain a question for two from me. We are in our 60’s and are planing a trip Porto – Lisbon – Algarve, with car with stops along the way, mainly your suggestions. We are overwhelmed with where/town to stay in Algarve. We are traveling in October, our ideal place/base in Algarve would be a smaller town where we can park the car and roam to the beach and through town. Eat, drink and sit on the beach (if the weather allows). A base to stay. We can drive to other places for day trips. Thank you again.

      1. Well you should stay away from Albufeira and Vilamoura, these are not calm or relaxing places. I’d recommend Carvoeiro, check it out!

        Hope you have a great time! 🙂

    25. Some good suggestions, but beware! The main motorway from Lisbon to the Algarve is the A2 not the A1 – the latter goes north from Lisbon to Porto!

      Also, a trip via the Serra de Monchique (turning east at Aljezur), then down to Silves is well worth it.

    26. Hi Bruno. Thanks for the post. I’m reading it one year after you’ve posted it. Anyway, I was wondering whether you have some tips about car rentals from Lisbon ? I found some websites for booking rentals, but it would feel good to hear some tips from a local. Thanks D

    27. Hi Bruno, thanks really alot for your post! It all sounds great and I am really looking forward to my trip to Portugal. Just a short question, I was thinking about renting a scooter doing this trip kind of the other way around. Starting in Faro, maybe even going up to Porto. Now I have seen that it seems to be alot easier (and maybe even cheaper) to rent a small car instead 1-2 scooters (we are 2). Nevertheless, I kind of picture it a bit nicer and adventurous on a scooter than in a car. What is your thought about it? Would there be a difference in roads / places that could be travelled? Are there good places to get scooters from? Would I have to pay attention to something here? Thanks alot in advance! Have a great day! Cheers, Ben

      1. I don’t think there is any difference, but going from Faro all the way up to Porto is a LONG way to go on a scooter. It can get hot and uncomfortable real fast. Just my opinion!

    28. Hi Bruno! Thank you so much your blog is fantastic! I’m planning this trip with my girlfriend for this summer. We are going to stay 3 days in Lisbon and then we want to rent a Campervan to explore the south of the Portugal, . Do you know how long would it take in terms of days (including visiting landscapes ecc.)? We would return in Italy from the airport of Faro. Thank you

      Fabrizio

      1. How long a destination “takes” it’s entirely up to you. It depends on your own pace, things you want to do, travel goals, etc.

        Also, the south of Portugal is not very specific. Are you visiting the Alentejo or the Algarve only?

        Anyway if you want a number I’d say at least a week to see it all!

    29. Nice Post!! I felt like I was on one of those beaches having a beer or some codfish while reading it. Where are planning a roadtrip in Portugal in July of this year, and I´ll definetely follow all your recommendations.
      Thank you very much

    30. I feel so lucky that I came across this blog post! We are planning a 11 day road trip in October. We are flying to Lisbon, renting a car and going to Porto for a few days then heading south and then return to Lisbon to fly home. Love the idea of small off-beat towns. Thank you for all of your info. Can you tell me the best location to stay in Lisbon? Bruno, thank you.

      1. Thanks for your kind words!

        You mean area? I would go for somewhere central – Baixa, Cais do Sodré, Avenida da Liberdade – or somewhere super local like Alfama or Sé. Hope you have a great time!

    31. I am reading with great interest your itineraries for both Portual and the Azores. My husband and I are planning our 3 week “road trip” in Sept/Oct 2016. Can’t wait!

    32. Hi Geeky Explorer, my husband and I are looking to travel to Portugal in September 2016. Could you help me with recommendations for a 6 day trip. We were planning to fly into Faro and do the southern coast (Albufiera, lagos, Algarve, etc.) and then go to Lisbon and do Sintra and Belem and a few places around. We will not be doing Porto (#sulking) due to lack of time. Your blogs are great but I am a little overwhelmed because theres so much to do and see. How can I get the best of Portugal in 6 days? Just for an idea, my husband and I love beaches, beach parties, dancing, water sports, driving, exploring and of course shopping! Please help me make the most of my time there! Thank You

      1. Why is it overwhelming? What I write about are only suggestions and some guidances. You don’t need to do absolutely everything on the list, in fact it’s much more rewarding to do completely the opposite: slow it down a notch and enjoy the ride.

        So my suggestions are:

        #1 Accept the fact 6 days are not enough to see everything.
        #2 If you’re more beach-oriented, just spend 1 or 2 days in Lisbon and the rest in the coast just to relax.

        Having that said, your itinerary seems a good fit. I just personally don’t see the appeal in Albufeira, but it is a good nightlife spot.

    33. HI, I am in Cascaise for a conference next week and only have Thursday-Sun to adventure (I can here you cringe – but some good time spent in Cascaisse) Due to my am departure on Sunday from Lisbon, I was thinking of gettig a car and driving to Odeceixe for the THursday night and then Friday towards Farrow then back to Losbon Friday afternoon where I can spend Friday night and all day/night in Lisbon. (I have Starwood points so I will stary at the Sheraton there. If you only had this 1.5 days from Cascaise to Faro would this sound like a plan ? I am a huge foody and lover of coastal experiences. Thanks

    34. Arrifana and odeceixe were my all time favorites! Such perfect suggestions and so easy to sleep in your car or outside! Thanks for the itinerary! I’m heading north from liabon to Porto for the next ten days. I will be doing public transport! I’d like to maintain the beach theme! Really love cliffs! Any suggestions for towns to stay in? Close to the beach since I won’t have transport!

      1. Hard to go wrong with Arrifana and Odeceixe, they’re such stunning places, aren’t they?

        Looks like you’ll have to pass by Nazaré and Peniche. 🙂
        Have a great time!

    35. Hey Bruno! Thank you very much for this guide – exactly what I was looking for. Gonna use it this June!

    36. Dear Bruno

      We are going to travel from Faro to Lisbon for 10 days at the end of June. Your travel plan is really what we needed! Thanks for that. We are going to travel with a tent. Do you have any camping recommendations?

    37. Hi Bruno, You’re guide is so helpful!

      We’re going to spend a day driving from Portimao to Lisbon, we want to stop along the way a hike- nothing too intense, but something scenic, do you have any recs?

    38. Hi Bruno. Nice to come across a blogger from Portugal because we are planning to make it our base in late summer/early fall for 1-2 months (we’re slow travellers and work as we travel). I’ll be checking out more of your site as we get closer but possible bases for now are Lisbon and Porto. But for sure we’d rent a car at some point to drive around the Algarve (I was last there over 20 years ago)
      Any suggestions for bases appreciated!
      Frank (bbqboy)

      1. Well it really depends on what you’re looking for in your base. Lisbon and Porto obviously have the convenience of being big cities.

        If you want something more “getaway” style, I recommend Comporta. If local village is more of your thing, look into Nazaré. Options are endless!

    39. We will be traveling by car from Porto to Lisbon area or further? We have 4 nights and days… looking for the best “base camp” to do day trips to Lisbon, Sintra, Evora…. We are hoping to hit Aviero, Coimbra, Obidos maybe on the drive from Porto, but I think that is probably too much. Our hope was to have at least beach atmosphere (even if it is too cold to actually be in the water) wherever we stay and do the day trips from there. I love thought of Alentejo, but is that too far to get to Lisboa, Sintra, etc…easily? Would public transportation be work in a reasonable amount of time back and forth? Thanks so much, your article was amazing! We are visiting our daughter who is studying in Barcelona since January, and after traveling with her she is going to Croatia with her friend, so I am going to be sure she reads your Croatia article! Thanks! Mischelle Charleston, SC USA

      1. I’m sorry but I’m not clear as what you need?

        If you only have 4 days to go from Porto to Lisbon, I wouldn’t base myself anywhere and just stop along the way in places like Nazaré, Sintra and Óbidos. Personally don’t think Coimbra is that worth it.

        Wishing both you and your daughter great trips! 🙂

    40. Hey! I’m going to Portugal for 10 days in May and doing a road trip from Lisbon to Faro. This is the perfect guide – thanks so much!

      1. Hi Bruno,
        Thank you for this! its GREAT
        Do you have any ideas for North of Lisbon up to Porto?
        If you dont, do you know of any other blogs?
        We are travelling for a week up from Faro to Porto.
        THANK YOU

    41. Hi! I am planning to visit in July and was thinking if it is possible to take a train to Faro? Is it near Algarve? Thank you!

      1. Esta viagem consegue-se fazer por menos de 40 euros por dia. Atenção fiquei em sítios muito low-cost e viajei com mais 3 pessoas, que ajuda a dividir os custos. Contaria com à volta de 50 Euros por dia.

    42. Hi there, this is amazing! But is this roadtrip suitable for a family with 2 year old kid ? Is it safe for kids? do you have any tips for that because I’m a bit worry that it might not be a kid friendly trip!

      1. I don’t see any reason why this itinerary wouldn’t be for kids too.

        In fact, you can find many relaxing and uncrowded places in Alentejo which are more suitable for kids than in Algarve for example. There’s also some accommodation places called “Herdades” where you can have direct contact with animals – something interesting for children too.

    43. This is perfect!! Have a 10 day trip from Lisbon to Faro coming up in June and this is exactly what I was after! Was trying to find spots along that west coast and this helps so much. Thank you!

      1. Hey Bruno!

        I’m also planning a road trip from Lisbon to Faro late June to July this year and 10 days is perfect! Basically described the exact vibe we’re looking for! Thank you for the helpful tips. I’m travelling with 3 other young Australians and we will definitely let you know how we go!

      2. Also, do you think we’ll have trouble booking accommodation as we go? We want to leave it open to spend less or more time in certain places depending on how we like it…

    44. Hi there, great guide, Im thinking of leaving london in a month and head towards a trip around portugal too! Could you advise me what were the best road maps you used (paper version). Also, did you find that the police where a bother? I’ve heard they are quite treacherous if they want to be.

      1. I’m afraid I can’t help you with that, we actually didn’t use any paper maps and always sticked to Google Maps. You can find them in any petrol station though.

        As for the police, it’s a matter of luck really. Though they do surprise controls to verify documentation and alcohol levels quite often. Radars are frequent too, but 90% of them are signalized in advance. And don’t get pass the green lanes in the tolls (Via Verde)! If you comply with these basic rules, you should be fine.

        Let me know if you have any further questions!

    45. Hi, this is amazing! Thank you- planning a portugal trip for summer! Do you have a rough estimate on how much we should budget for gas daily? I was actually thinking about getting a campervan so we could just park and stay where ever we want! I’d love to know of any tips you have!

      1. You welcome Holly, glad it was useful.
        Gas is actually more expensive in Portugal than in most of European countries. I actually can’t remember the exact value we spend, but I guess that also depends on the car you’re using?

        Campervans are a great option for Alentejo, you can easily find scenic places to stay along the coast!

    46. Simply desire to say your article is as amazing. The clarity on your put up is just nice and that i could assume you are an expert in this subject. Well together with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with imminent post. Thank you one million and please carry on the gratifying work.

    47. Grande embaixador do nosso querido Portugal! Estou a planear fazer a rota vicentina em 2016. Obrigada pelo reforço positivo. O nosso país é um espectáculo. Visit it !!! 😉

    48. Thanks Bruno, great itineraries. I am traveling the first week of January for 6 days. Will start in Lisbon but would love to do a roadtrip Given weather is not the best, which roadtrip would you recommend? Thanks!!

      1. Well, you can still go to Nazare and Obidos in the center of the country. Then, maybe explore the interior – Serra da Estrela, Marvao, Zezere – these places have stunning landscapes. I would finish the roadtrip in Porto!

    49. Hello Bruno, excellent post, thank you so much for all these tips! I’m an Italian girl living in Madeira, but I’ve never explored the mainland: here we go! I’m planning a road trip for February, and I’ll have my dog with me. Any suggestion about accommodation? Do you think I’ll be able to find apartments or B&B where I can keep her with me? Thanks again!

      1. Glad you found it useful.

        Where exactly are you going?
        I believe you won’t have a problem to stay with your dog, but try to keep to guesthouses / villas. Basically anything with a garden or something, just in case. People in those places are more open to animals, but I’d ask them as soon as possible.

    50. Great tips, just in time for planning my Portugal coastline trip next summer. So inspiring, feel more confident in persuing my dream, thank you!

    51. fantastic site with great info. Am looking for a March vacation (to escape winter in Canada). We love road trips and exploring small villages and the cities – wouldnyou recommmend this time of year (knowing we won’t get a beach vacation)?

      1. Thanks Jodi, glad you like it!

        As long as you don’t expect beachy weather, March is fine. I suggest you try some small towns in the interior of Alentejo, like Evora, Monsaraz and Marvao. While they’re too hot to visit in summer time, in spring they are great to experience!

        Hope you have a great time! 🙂

      1. September is a great choice. Weather should still be warm. It might get a bit chilly at night though, since in most places there is no natural protection from the Atlantic breeze.

        For how long are you going Sophie? Hopw you have a great time!

    52. We are going to Algarve in December so we are hoping to avoid all the tourists and we are taking advantage of free accommodation. We definitely want to explore more of the region though so this itinerary is perfect! We can’t wait to explore Portugal as it will be our first time 🙂

      1. Algarve in December should be very calm and relaxing!
        Alentejo’s coast might be too cold though, but maybe you’re lucky with the weather.

        Hope you enjoy it!

    53. I have to admit that we thought about visiting Portugal this summer.
      You mentioned nice accommodations. Do we need to book in advance or do you think it’s available last minute?

      1. You can find decent guesthouses in every little town, but if you want more high-end stuff (e.g. with pools, breakfast, etc), I’d book it. Also if you’re going in August, specially around MEO Sudoeste festival, I’d definitely book it. For yesterday!!

    54. What a coincidence! I was just talking to my husband yesterday about a road trip. He’s been wanting a beach vacation, so l showed him pictures of Faro and Lagos. It’s great for us as we can just drive down from Sevilla along the coast. I think we might go all the way to Lisbon since l think we can take the dogs (yikes..at least l hope so with their pet passports). We’re thinking next month sometime. Thanks for this.

      1. Looks like I had the timing right for you!
        Well I think this is a great place to take dogs as well. Places are much less crowded than in Algarve, specially beaches.

        In a few weeks I want to know how it went! 😛

    55. Haven’t been to the southwest coast of Portugal besides Setubal and now you’ve made me want to return to Portugal! To be honest, I couldn’t get tired of Portugal and if it were up to me, I would go there every year. By the way, I LOVE carne de porco a alentejana, it’s my favorite thing to eat in Portugal. 😀

    56. Thanks for this handy guide to road-tripping in beautiful Portugal! So much to see here, especially when you’re able to live it like a local…and of course, the food. The food and wine. The scenery. Portugal hits all the right notes!

      1. You welcome Anita. Portugal is definitely a great place to spend a relaxing summer holidays! I love living in Barcelona but I crave portuguese food every day!