After five different visits to Portugal (one being a road trip), I have finally decided to pen down this post. Here’s all the information you need for the best 2 weeks in Portugal.

My first Portugal trip was in 2016 and it was love at first sight when I arrived in Lisbon. That time Portugal felt like a warm sip of a comforting caffeinated drink on a cold winter day. I did visit 4 more times after that and each time was special.

Starting Point for 2 Weeks in Portugal

Somewhere in Portugal - Van Life Europe tips
Somewhere in Portugal – Van Life Europe tips

Our road trip to Portugal actually started in Germany because we drove with our campervan from home. We crossed France, and Spain and then entered Portugal. We arrived in the North of Portugal near Coimbra.

I understand that not many will actually drive from their own country for a road trip in Portugal, but instead fly and rent a car.

For the sake of this itinerary, I suggest you fly to Faro, the south of Portugal. Faro is the gateway to the Algarve so you can start your trip with stunning beaches before you gradually make your way to the North. Another option would be to fly to Porto, the north of Portugal, and then make your way to the south.

At both Faro and Porto airports, you will find car rental booths but I always recommend you book a rental car in advance so that there are no last-minute surprises. For your 2-week Portugal itinerary, you could also fly to Lisbon, but then you have to do your road trip in a circle.

Keep in mind that Portugal is a small country, so a drive from Lisbon to Porto will just take 3 hours, or also Lisbon to Faro

Portugal Road Trip Itinerary + Map

Portugal Road Trip Itinerary Map
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary Map

If you see the map of Portugal, you will notice that the country’s shape is a bit like a long rectangle. So it makes it a perfect country for a road trip starting from the top end of the rectangle to the bottom (or vice versa).

That’s exactly how I have made this itinerary. You can start from the bottom or top, it depends on how you want to do it.

Faro, Algarve – 1 Day (Optional)

Faro Marina - view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal
Faro Marina – view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal

Our first stop on this road trip is Faro. If you have read my Algarve road trip post, then you know by now that Faro is the perfect place to start a road trip.

I’m in love with the Algarve. The beaches are sandy, the weather is pleasant, the rock formation is super stunning, and as a result, there are multiple viewpoints. Moreover, you can hike from one beach to another in many parts of the Algarve and that’s what makes the experience even more special.

You will land in Faro, pick up your rental car, and drive on the scenic route to explore the Algarve. It is up to you whether you want to stay in Faro for your first day, or just drive further to Carvoeiro (our next stop).

Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha, the Algarve
Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha, the Algarve

I have stayed the night in Faro on two occasions and I enjoyed this tiny city with a historical center. Everything in Faro is so close to each other. You can easily walk from anywhere in Faro to the marina and the old town.

I booked a place to stay near the train station the first time I was here but decided to stay right next to the marina on the second visit.

If you do decide to stay in Faro for a night, then the right place for you to spend your evening is the marina, and Cidade Velha (the old town). See the city walls in Vila Adentro.

Walk around in Cidade Velha and pick a restaurant with outdoor seating for dinner. I ate in Taberna Modesto in the old town and had a lovely meal. Sleep and rejuvenate after dinner to drive to the beautiful beaches of the Algarve the next day.


Carvoeiro, Algarve – 2-3 days

Praia de Carvoeiro, the Algarve
Praia de Carvoeiro, the Algarve

Wondering what’s the best place to visit in the Algarve? It is Carvoeiro.

The most famous spots of the Algarve are easy to access from Carvoeiro. I’m talking about the legendary Marinha Beach and Benagil Cave.

Carvoeiro is the reason why I went back to the Algarve within just 11 months instead of picking a new destination. There are beaches, caves, and stunning hikes.

Here’s what you can do in Carvoeiro for your 3 days here.

Vale de Centeanes Beach

Carvoeiro - Vale de Centeanes beach
Carvoeiro – Vale de Centeanes beach

Carvoeiro has a few beaches but the best one is Vale de Centeanes. Since you are in Carvoeiro for just three days, make the most of your time by relaxing on Vale de Centeanes.

Unlike Praia do Carvoeiro (the main beach close to Carvoeiro town center), Vale de Centeanes doesn’t get as crowded. We stayed very close to this beach at Rocha Brava Village Resort so we just walked and reached this beach.

There is a small bar/restaurant at Vale de Centeanes at the entry point. I suggest you walk a little further from there till the time you find the arch of a cave. Sit here because the water is cleaner next to it for a swim.

Algar Seco (Sunset)

"A Boneca", Algar Seco Caves, Carvoeiro
“A Boneca”, Algar Seco Caves, Carvoeiro

This is unmissable. If you arrive late in Carvoeiro, then skip the beach and just go for a walk to Algar Seco Caves.

There is an entire Carvoeiro Boardwalk that one can do, but for that, you need more time. The best part is the Algar Seco caves. Halfway on the Carvoeiro Boardwalk, you will find a sign for “A Boneca”. That’s a beautiful cave and there’s also a restaurant with the same name.

The entry for “A Boneca” cave is through the restaurant. Go inside “A Boneca” and see a magical sunset. There are two holes, that look like the eyes.

Algar Seco Cliff Walk - Carvoeiro Algarve
Algar Seco Cliff Walk – Carvoeiro Algarve

This cave is tiny so I suggest you be mindful of other visitors and leave when you are done admiring this pretty spot so that the queues don’t build up behind you.

There are more caves all around and the rock formations reminded me a little of Cappadocia. Walk around here and admire the beauty. Find a nice spot to sit on one of the rocks and see the beauty of the golden hour.

Benagil Cave

The empty Benagil Cave beach in the morning
The empty Benagil Cave beach in the morning

Your second day in Portugal (if you didn’t stay overnight in Faro) will start with a visit to Benagil Cave. It is a hidden beach inside a cave with a hole on top that filters the natural light.

I have visited the Benagil Cave twice. It is a stunning cave that has become very popular on Instagram. The only way to enjoy it is by getting to it by 9 am. So wake up early and arrive at Benagil village by taxi from your hotel at 8:45 am.

Inside Benagil Cave - June 2023
Inside Benagil Cave – June 2023

The only way to reach Benagil Cave is by kayaking or paddleboarding. If you haven’t done kayaking or paddleboarding, the easiest way to start is by joining a group tour. They will instruct you and guide you. Otherwise, you can always opt for a boat trip.

There are boat tours that go to the Benagil Cave too but the boats aren’t allowed to stop inside to offload people.

If you want to walk on Benagil Cave beach, then the only way in is by kayaking or paddleboarding. Forget swimming because it isn’t safe because of the rocks. Believe it or not, I did both. I kayaked to the Benagil cave in 2022 and Stand Up Paddleboarded to it in 2023.

You can do a tour like I did, or just rent a kayak or a paddleboard on Benagil beach as soon as you arrive. I did a tour because I wanted to be safe and didn’t want to collide with the rocks. Please read my details post about Benagil Caves here.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

A stunning spot at Seven Hanging Valleys Trail - Algarve itinerary
A stunning spot at Seven Hanging Valleys Trail – Algarve itinerary

The Seven Hanging Valleys trail actually starts from Vale de Centeanes in Carvoeiro to Praia da Marinha. This entire hiking trail is scenic but the best way to do it is to divide it into sections. The most scenic part of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail is from Benagil to Marinha.

After you are done with visiting the Benagil Cave beach, go up on the cliffs to start this hike and go in the direction towards the Marinha beach.

You will also be able to see the Benagil Cave from the hole on the top. It is fenced off but some people jumped the fence. It is dangerous because if you slip, you could seriously injure yourself.

Even though Portugal gets hot in the summer months, this hike is totally doable during the day because there are trees around.

Double Sea Arch at Sete vales suspensos OR the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Algarve
Double Sea Arch at Sete Vales Suspensos OR the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, Algarve

Carry a hat and water. This hiking trail doesn’t have a boardwalk but a path over the rocks that has many viewpoints and each one is special.

We did a section of this hike each day and saw something new. There is a heart in the rocks that’s at the end of this hike right above Praia da Marinha beach near the elephant rock.

We came here to watch the sunset too and it was an amazing experience. Although we couldn’t really see the sun setting because of the direction. This is more of a sunrise spot than a sunset since it is east-facing.

Marinha Beach

The famous Marinha beach in Portugal - Algarve itinerary
The famous Marinha beach in Portugal – Algarve itinerary

Praia da Marinha is the prettiest beach in the Algarve and has won many awards. I won’t go into the details but to deep dive into more info, see my Marinha Beach blog post.

Now that you have arrived at Praia da Marinha, enjoy a swim in the clear and cold waters of this beach. Swim around the arch on the Marinha beach and enjoy the beauty.

Yes, the water here is cold because you’re swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, but it is super refreshing and fun, especially on a hot summer day after the hike.

Praia da Marinha beach in Algarve
Praia da Marinha beach in Algarve

Marinha Beach has a nice restaurant and bar that’s family-run and has affordable prices. I loved this little restaurant so much that I ate there twice. They also have amazing Sangrias.

We enjoyed Marinha Beach so much that we stayed here for a full day and visited it again the next day. It didn’t feel crowded even though we visited during the summer months.

Where to Stay in Carvoeiro

Rocha Brava Village Resort – This is where we stayed. It is a stunning resort with amazing villas, and apartments and is close to the beach. The Seven Hanging Valleys trail starts from right here.

Campsites Ferragudo – If you rented a van instead of a car, then it makes more sense to stay in a campsite instead of a resort. It is also called “CCL – Parque de Campismo de Ferragudo”.


Lagos, Algarve – 3 days

The arch at Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
The arch at Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Your next stop in the Algarve is Lagos. It is so much better than other destinations like Portimão or Albufeira. Somehow most travelers visit Albufeira and that’s it.

I have suggested 3 days in Lagos for you but I stayed here for a week myself because I fell in love with its easy vibes. If you decide to stay here for a longer duration then see my post with things to do in Lagos which has more activities than what I mention here.

Lagos is just 42 kilometers from Carvoeiro and hence a short drive away. Honestly, if you hate packing and unpacking to move rooms, then it might make more sense for you to stay put in just one of these places.

For me, it made more sense to stay in these places separately so that some things that are done super early (like Benagil Cave) or late (like special sunset hikes) are easier to do when you’re sleeping close by.

Ponta da Piedade (Sunset Hike)

Sunset at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal
Sunset at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

Ponta da Piedade is the best hiking trail in the Algarve, if not the entire Portugal. Unlike the Seven Haning Valleys hike that I mentioned before, this one is a fenced boardwalk so feels safer.

There are multiple viewpoints on this hiking route and there’s usually a gazebo for every nice viewpoint. You don’t have to do this entire hike.

Just go near the Ponta da Piedade lighthouse near the sunset and find a spot to sit on top of the rocks. The sudden drop below you will take your breath away.

Ponta da Piedade caves - Lagos, Portugal
Ponta da Piedade caves – Lagos, Portugal

We found a nice spot here that overlooked a hidden beach and faced the west, so perfect for seeing the sunset. I was in Lagos for a week and went back to this spot every single evening.

If you want to do the entire Ponta da Piedade hike, you can read my post about it. I did the whole route and split it over a few days. You can hike from one beach to another and it is totally worth it if you have time.

Camilo Beach

The stunning and empty Praia do Camilo in Lagos, Portugal
The stunning and empty Praia do Camilo in Lagos, Portugal

There are many beaches in Lagos, but the best one is Praia do Camilo. It is stunning but is tiny. The water is very clear and the sand is perfect. There are arches, rock formations, and also a cave.

Praia do Camilo tends to get crowded because it is so pretty, so the best time to visit it is at 9:30 am right after breakfast. I did that too and it was empty. The beach is divided into two sections and you have to go through a cave to reach the second part.

The beaches of Lagos, Algarve - Praia do Camilo, Portugal
The beaches of Lagos, Algarve – Praia do Camilo, Portugal

In order to reach Praia do Camilo, you have to go on the same path that goes to Ponta da Piedade, but just before it is a turn that points to Camilo restaurant. That’s the entryway for Praia do Camilo too.

You have to climb lots of steps to reach this beach, but trust me it is worth it. Unfortunately, it has no wheelchair or pram access. There are many spots to stop and admire the view as you climb down this wide staircase.

I also saw a tiny snack bar at Praia do Camilo, so you can buy your basics. There isn’t any WC here on this beach.

Dona Ana beach

Praia de Dona Ana is a massive beach that’s amazing for a swim. There are nice rock formations here and as a result, there are some shaded areas to sit on a hot summer day.

The first time I visited Dona Ana beach was from a hike from the nearby Pinhão beach, which is super tiny. The first view of Dona Ana beach from up on the rocks took my breath away.

There is a restaurant on Dona Ana beach with a bar. I didn’t go there but my friend did to use the WC. There is also a bus stop right at the entry point of Dona Ana so it is easy to reach with public transportation.

Dona Ana beach was empty at 6 pm
Dona Ana beach was empty at 6 pm

This beach was completely empty at 6 pm because the sun went behind the rocks and the entire beach was covered in shade. I loved the view of it from the top when the sun started going down.

Dona Ana is not far from the old town. Actually, the beaches that are closer to the main town are Praia da Batata and Praia dos Estudantes. You can read more about those beaches in my post about Lagos’ beaches.

Praia do Canavial

Praia do Canavial, Lagos, Portugal
Praia do Canavial, Lagos, Portugal

If you want to go off the beaten path in Lagos, I suggest you hike to Praia do Canavial. You have to go on the Ponta da Piedade hike and keep going on this trail for a long time to see this beach.

It wasn’t easy to find it but I got lucky and found someone on the hiking trail who just got out of this beach. It was kind of like an adventure to reach here.

This beach is very nice because it is empty. That’s why it is a nudist beach or FKK beach. The sand was a tad pebbly and the rock formations were pretty ok when compared to the other beaches. But the thrill of adventure made this visit memorable.

Lagos Old Town

Lagos Old Town center, Algarve, Portugal
Lagos Old Town center, Algarve, Portugal

Yes, Lagos is a beach destination but has an interesting city center. There are old buildings that are covered with Azulejos. The time I visited, there were Jacaranda trees, citrus trees, and bougainvillea all around the old town and everything was blooming and fruiting.

I like that Lagos is a stunning beach destination but also has a historical small-town vibe. This is why I feel that Lagos is an important spot in this Portugal road trip itinerary because it pretty much has everything.

Where to Stay in Lagos

B22 – Rising Sun 2 Bed Flat – Ideally suited for families and couples who are looking for an apartment with a view. I’d book this in a heartbeat if I was visiting with my husband and my little girl.

Lemon Tree Relaxing Guest House – Peaceful Place with a garden and a shared kitchen.

Safari Beach Guest House – Affordable private rooms and dorm beds in a quiet residential area. This is where I stayed and loved it.

Kampaoh Praia da Luz – This is a nice campground and it makes sense to stay here if you have a campervan.

Trindade Guest House and Camping – If you arrive in Lagos on a camper van, then you can consider this place since it has van parking and camping facilities too.


Lisbon and Sintra – 3 days

Lisbon view from the top
Lisbon view from the top

Ola Lisboa, you are just so beautiful!

I don’t like big cities but I make an exception for Lisbon because it is so pretty. It has loads of history thus one can find historical buildings, churches streets, and structures. Yes, a lot of big European cities have a rich history, but Lisbon has so much more.

Lisbon is built on seven hills and as a result, there are many viewpoints. These are called “Miradouro” and there are many. Some of the streets are slanted and you can see the Tagus River from a few of them.

Walking on Lisbon’s narrow streets with pastel houses all around and yellow trams, I felt I was a part of a Wes Anderson movie. Also, make sure to wear the most comfortable pair of shoes that you have because these walks aren’t always so easy. (Here’s what to wear in Lisbon)

If you are driving to Lisbon, then consider parking your rented car or van at Lisboa Bungalows & Camping, which is a little away from the busy city center. Driving in Portugal’s busy cities is no fun, so avoid it if you can.

There are many things to do here, I recommend you spend at least three days here. You can get yourself a Lisbon card which covers the transport and historical buildings. In case you are planning on spending just a day here, then read my itinerary for spending one day in Lisbon.

It is worth it only if you want to go inside historical buildings. I didn’t get the Lisbon card, but I still managed all right because I didn’t have plans to go inside more than 1-2 historical buildings.

Eat Pastel de Nata

Pastel de Nata - a must have in Lisbon
Pastel de Nata – a must-have in Lisbon

Pastel de Nata is a famous Portuguese egg tart pastry, which was invented in Lisbon by monks to use up leftover eggs. It became popular and the recipe was then sold to Pastéis de Belém. You don’t have to go all the way there but find any random bakery where you eat this amazingly filling snack that makes a good breakfast.

Alfama & Graça

Rua dos Remédios in Alfama
Rua dos Remédios in Alfama

Lisbon is pretty but Alfama is the icing on top. It is Lisbon’s oldest district and is mostly residential. The famous historical Castelo de São Jorge is on one side of Alfama and on the other is the Tagus River.

Walk on Alfama’s narrow streets and get lost in the labyrinth. Watch how the Yellow Tram 28 moves on these slanted streets. A notable old street in Alfama is Rua dos Remédios, which is just for pedestrians. I discover something new each time I walk in Alfama.

Lisbon View from Miradouro da Graça
Lisbon View from Miradouro da Graça

There are a bunch of free walking tours in Alfama but you can easily explore this adorable old town on your own at your pace.

Right above Alfama is Graça, which is Lisbon’s highest district. Be prepared to climb to the top of the hill to enter Graça and sit for a drink next to Miradouro da Graça, there’s an open-air cafe/bar here).

Follow Tram 28 Route

Follow Tram 28 Route in Alfama, Lisbon
Follow Tram 28 Route in Alfama, Lisbon

Lisbon’s historical trams are cute but tram 28 is special because it goes through Alfama & Graça. It isn’t easy to get on the tram 28 because of crazy long lines but you can just follow its path and photograph it.

Personally, I think standing in a long line would be such a time waste because Lisbon has so many amazing things to do and you can’t just get stuck on to one.

I have been to Portugal five times and still not got on to the tram 28. By the way, Lisbon has red trams too and they move around in Alfama as well.

Castelo de São Jorge

Walking to Castelo de São Jorge in Lisboa
Walking to Castelo de São Jorge in Lisboa

Let’s talk about the most famous historical building of Lisbon, the São Jorge Castle (or St. George’s Castle) which is perched on top of a hill overlooking Alfama. This castle is so old that the first fortification here dates back to the 2nd century BC.

In order to visit the São Jorge Castle, you have to arrive here super early because the queues are longer than you can imagine. If you arrive a bit late, you can forget about entering it and move on to the next place.

If you do manage to get inside Castelo de São Jorge, you will enjoy a panoramic view of Lisbon.

Torre da Igreja do Castelo de São Jorge, Lisboa instagram spots
Torre da Igreja do Castelo de São Jorge, Lisboa Instagram spots

If you don’t want to wait in line and can’t go inside Castelo de São Jorge, just walk a little further and you will arrive at the castle’s church tower – “Torre da Igreja do Castelo de São Jorge”. The line here was non-existent and I paid 5 euros to enter and went up to see the view. I also got a free glass of wine!

Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Portas do Sol

Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint in Lisbon
Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint in Lisbon

There are two viewpoints in Lisbon right next to each other and are totally worth the visit. Miradouro de Santa Luzia is on a lower level with a beautiful tiled sitting area and magenta bougainvillea growing on the arches on top.

Portas dos sol sunset cocktails - 2 days in Lisbon
Portas dos sol sunset cocktails – 2 days in Lisbon

Right above it is Miradouro das Portas do Sol, which is more open and also has an open-air bar, so you can grab a drink here and sit next to the railing to admire the view of Lisbon’s red-roofed buildings and Tagus river.

I suggest you see the sunset at Miradouro de Santa Luzia and then head to Miradouro das Portas do Sol for a few cocktails. Miradouro de Santa Luzia tends to feel more crowded because it is smaller and super pretty. If you can wake up early then come here for a sunrise experience.

Jerónimos Monastery & Belém Tower

Belem Tower in Lisbon
Belem Tower in Lisbon

Jerónimos Monastery & Belém Tower are historical buildings close to each other. They are a bit far from Alfama and Rossio, so you have to get on an Uber to visit them.

Visit Jerónimos Monastery early because the queues tend to get long. Lisboa Card will get you skip-the-line privileges but it isn’t always possible when things go out of control. This along with the nearby Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Belém Tower is a symbol of the Age of Discoveries and is a lovely landmark. Honestly, you don’t have to enter it to appreciate it but you can admire how it looks from the outside as well.

Rossio Square to Santa Just Lift

Geometrical flooring at Rossio Square Lisbon
Geometrical flooring at Rossio Square Lisbon

No matter where you stay in Lisbon, you will at some point cross the main Rossio Square. It is a big square with geometrical floor tiles, a fountain, and old buildings all around. There is also usually a long queue here for tram 28.

Rua de Santa Justa in Baixa, Lisbon
Rua de Santa Justa in Baixa, Lisbon

From Rossio, you can walk to Baixa and on to Rua de Santa Justa. This street is pretty and you will see a Neo-Gothic style tower which is a historic elevator building. During the high season in the summer months, the lines are very long and it doesn’t make sense to go up.

Arco da Rua Augusta

Rua Augusta in Lisbon
Rua Augusta in Lisbon

From Rossio, walk to Arco da Rua Augusta – the main shopping street of Lisbon which is very busy. It is lined with restaurants and shops. At the end of the street is the Augusta Arc.

Arco da Rua Augusta Lisbon Portugal
Arco da Rua Augusta Lisbon Portugal

You can stop on this street at Fábrica da Nata for Pastel de Nata. There are many touristy restaurants on this street that are overpriced. One place worth visiting is Imprensa Cocktail & Oyster Bar for amazing drinks.

Walk to the Augusta arc and admire it. Beyond it, you will see Praça do Comércio and the Tagus River.

Walk Along the Tagus river

Walk next to Tagus River
Walk next to the Tagus River

From the Augusta arc, walk along the Tagus River. There are marble sitting structures along the river where you can sit and spend some time. As you walk along the Tagus River, you will see some carts with cocktails for sale.

Time Out Lisboa / Mercado da Ribeira

Inside Time Out Market Lisboa
Inside Time Out Market Lisboa

Walk a little further along the Tagus River and you will see a building with “Mercado da Ribeira” written on it. It is an amazing place for food that was also featured on the “Somebody Feed Phill” show on Netflix.

Mercado da Ribeira also called Time Out Lisboa, is more than just a normal food court. It is a collection of carefully curated eateries with some of the best chefs from all over Lisbon. You will find not only a lot of traditional Portuguese food but also international food.

The middle part of Time Out Lisboa has cocktail bars and we had Aperol Spritzes from here. The all-around these bars were dining tables with shared seating. The atmosphere overall was super casual.

Bairro Alto or Pink Street for Nightlife

Pink Street with Umbrellas looks good at sunset time, Lisbon
Pink Street with Umbrellas looks good at sunset time, Lisbon

Just a few steps from the Time Out Factory is Pink Street. Just like the name, the street is actually pink in color with umbrellas on top. It is where you can start your evening and enjoy a few cocktails.

The main area for nightlife in Lisbon is just a bit ahead of Pink Street – it is Bairro Alto. That’s where a lot of locals and travelers go for a night of party and it sort of reminded me of Bangkok’s Khao San Road.

Where to Stay in Lisbon

If you are driving to Lisbon, then I mentioned Lisboa Bungalows & Camping already. It is a bit away from the busy center.

If you don’t mind driving in Lisbon’s narrow lanes, here are a few places I think you can consider in the old town of Alfama and Graca.


There is much more to do in Lisbon than what I have mentioned above. Even though most of these spots are just 100 – 200 meters away from each other, don’t underestimate the amount of energy you will need to walk in Lisbon. The city is built on hills, thus the streets are sloped and one needs to climb a lot.

There are more things to do here like LX Factory, Live Fado Shows, the Christo Rei statue, and many more viewpoints. See my Lisbon itinerary for more things to do here.

Pena Palace, Sintra

Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

If you parked your car at Lisboa Camping, then Sintra is less than a 30-minute drive away. In that case, you can stay put in the same campground and see Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon.

Sintra has mountains, beaches, small fishing villages, and a technicolor fortress perched on top of a hill – Pena Palace. This UNESCO World Heritage Sita is also one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

The first thing you should do when you arrive in Sintra is to see Pena Palace. The palace itself is stunning and multicolored. It is unlike any building you would ever see. The view from Pena Palace is spectacular because there are mountains all around.

Cascais

Boca do Inferno, Cascais, Portugal
Boca do Inferno, Cascais, Portugal via Unsplash

After visiting Pena Place, drive for 25 minutes towards the coast to reach Cascais, which is a beautiful seaside resort town with was earlier a simple fishing village. Take a break and relax on the massive sandy beach of Cascais. Go to Guincho Beach or Praia do Tamariz.

After Lisbon and Pena Palace, you might be bored of historical buildings so a breach break would be good for you. If not, Cascais also has historical buildings – Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort, the Citadel Palace, and Nossa Senhora da Assunção church.

If you are interested in nature, then see Boca do Inferno which means “Hell’s mouth” and is a rock formation. You have to walk along the water on the rocks and go a bit uphill to arrive here. Also, this is the spot from where you will get a nice waterfront view of Cascais.

Cabo da Roca

Estrada do Cabo da Roca, Colares, Portogallo
Estrada do Cabo da Roca, Colares, Portogallo

After seeing Cascais, drive for another 30 minutes to reach Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of Europe. It is a viewpoint on a 140-meter-high cliff that looks out to sea where you can stand and wave at America.

There are many hiking trails that start here. There is also a small cafe with touristy prices. There is a lighthouse here too, Farol do Cabo da Roca.

It can get very windy up here so bring a jacket. If you are lucky, you will also see a musician or two here busking. Cabo da Roca is a part of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

By the way, the parking at Cabo da Roca is free and sometimes there are people who try to scam visitors by asking for a parking fee.


This brings us to the end of Lisbon and Sintra as part of the itinerary. If you want to skip North Portugal, then you can catch a flight to the Azores Islands from Lisbon. Else, get ready for a short drive to the next destination.

Óbidos  – Stop for Sightseeing

Óbidos town and castle, Portugal road trip
Óbidos town and castle, Portugal road trip via Pixabay

The beauty of a road trip in Portugal is that none of the destinations are a long drive away. Everything is so close, so the drive from Sintra to your next top – Nazaré is just 1.5 hours.

Just towards the end of this drive, you will cross a historical small village called Óbidos. This is where you can make a small stop for lunch, coffee, or possibly quick sightseeing. Portugal has many interesting places but there’s something special about visiting the smaller towns.

Óbidos is located on top of a hill with fortified city walls around it. The medieval architecture of this little town is well preserved and that’s why it has been receiving attention recently.

With a medieval castle, old city square, and historic streets, Óbidos has enough that will keep you occupied for a few hours.

Compared to most of the destinations mentioned in this itinerary, Óbidos is tiny. It is one of the beautifully preserved medieval villages of Portugal.

Nazaré – 2 days

Praia da Nazaré, Nazare beach view from the cliff, Portugal
Praia da Nazaré, Nazare beach view from the cliff, Portugal

On my third visit to Portugal, I asked some of the locals and other travelers about other interesting places to visit in the country and most suggested Nazaré, a surf town on the west coast. So I went back after three months to see Nazaré, and it was my fourth time in Portugal.

Nazaré is world famous, but not because of the beaches but the waves. They are massive here. The highest wave that was ever surfed was recorded in Nazaré and was 26.2 meters high. The record was made by Sebastian Steudtner, a German surfer.

You know one of those small towns with a fun vibe that you visit and get too comfortable to leave? Nazaré is one of them. Here’s what you can do in Nazaré during your visit here.

Praia da Nazaré

Praia da Nazaré - Nazare beach
Praia da Nazaré – Nazare beach

Praia da Nazaré is the main beach of Nazare and is massive. It is a nice sandy beach where I enjoyed a swim on a day when the waves were calm. Just like most of the beaches of Portugal, the water here was very cold too because it is the Atlantic Ocean, but was fun nonetheless.

The time I visited Praia da Nazaré, it was pretty full and had a lot of families because it was the school vacation time in Europe. There were tented sitting spots that we could rent for a day, but we just put up our mat instead.

Ride the Funicular Railway to Sítio

Nazare Funicular from Nazaré to Sítio, Portugal
Nazare Funicular from Nazaré to Sítio, Portugal

Nazare is divided into two parts – Lower Nazare (Praia da Nazaré) and Sítio (Upper Nazare). You can ride the funicular to reach the top, it is just EUR 1.50 per way. When you reach the top, it isn’t just a viewpoint but an entire separate town center with everything.

Walk around in Sítio and you will see an amazing view from many different spots. For me, the best views are at the start of Sítio overlooking Praia da Nazaré.

The entry point of Sítio, or upper Nazare, Portugal
The entry point of Sítio, or upper Nazare, Portugal

Sítio is actually the place from where you can see the waves and the surfers during the high wave season, which is October to February.

If you are in Sitio, one of the must-see sights here is the 21-foot Veado statue, which is the body of a human, the head of a deer, and holding a surfboard. Right behind it is Praia do Norte (the North Beach) where all the surfing action happens.

Explore Nazaré Town

Nazare town with white houses, Portugal
Nazaré town with white houses, Portugal

I loved exploring the maze of narrow streets in Nazaré town. The streets looked whitewashed and with white laundry that was hanging from the windows to dry.

As you walk in the direction of the beach, the streets get busier with loud bars and restaurants. But if you walk in the other direction, you will only see simple residential buildings.

Where to Stay in Nazare

  • Vila Fidalgo – Cute apartments and ours had a view from the balcony. This is where I stayed.
  • Feel Nazaré – Boutique Apartments that are beachfront
  • Hotel Mar Bravo – Beachfront with a view

Coimbra or Aveiro – Stop for a lunch

Is Coimbra Worth Visiting, Portugal
Is Coimbra Worth Visiting, Portugal

After spending two relaxing days in Nazare, it is time to hit the road again for your last stop – Porto. The drive from Nazaré to Porto is just 2 hours, which gives you enough time to stop somewhere so I will give you two options.

Both small towns Aveiro and Coimbra are small towns where you can stop for lunch and a few hours of sightseeing because they are just midway on your drive from Nazare to Porto.

I have been to Coimbra, it is an interesting old city and has the oldest universities or Portugal. In fact, it is the oldest university in the Portuguese-speaking world and has a stunning library.

Aveiro is smaller than Coimbra and is situated along a lagoon called Ria de Aveiro. It has canals and colorful boats that are called barcos moliceiros. I personally haven’t visited Aveiro because I went to Coimbra instead.

Porto – 2 – 3 Days

Porto Cathedral views
Porto Cathedral views

Your last stop in your itinerary for 2 weeks in Portugal is the historical city of Porto. Please check the traffic situation before because I remember standing in a jam for 2-3 hours near Porto. I have learned to be patient with traffic jams but they aren’t fun when you are traveling with children.

Porto is smaller than Lisbon, but it still has a lot of historical buildings and viewpoints. I also have a post on my blog with a detailed comparison of Porto vs Lisbon. Porto is called Oporto in Portuguese.

I will give you a tip for exploring Porto. This city has a lot of historical buildings and landmarks. In order to enjoy your trip and relax a little during your holiday, don’t put pressure on yourself to see as many historical landmarks as possible. You will have more fun when you give yourself time to relax, explore a little spontaneously, sit at random open-air bars for a drink, and just chill.

Spend three days in Porto if you want to experience this city in a relaxing way. If you are short on time then two days are also enough. See my list of recommended things to do here:

Ribeira (Riverfront)

Ribeira Riverfront in Porto
Ribeira Riverfront in Porto

Ribeira is Porto’s old town and is also the historic center. But at this point I’m not talking about the entire old town, but just the waterfront area.

Porto’s Ribeira is one of the most beautiful riverfront areas that I have seen, with old buildings, boats, and interesting sights. This area looks its best at night when it’s dark and all the yellow lamps glow. Their reflection in water looks amazing.

Porto’s Historic Center

Porto is a beautiful city with historic buildings, churches, and streets. Along with Ribeira, the historic center of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has more than 2000 years of history.

azulejos in Porto
Me admiring and photographing azulejos in Porto

Admire the old buildings covered with blue azulejos, dilapidated buildings that look very old, cute residential buildings with grandmas standing on the balconies – the beauty is in the details and you can actually lose yourself admiring all these little things because there are so many.

There are many buildings and landmarks that you can see here, I won’t mention them all but a few here and everything is a short walk away:

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo's famous tiled side facade
Igreja do Carmo’s famous tiled side facade

Igreja do Carmo is perhaps the most photographed church in Porto because it has a side facade that’s covered with azulejos. You will see azulejos all over in Portugal but this particular wall is one of the most famous ones.

Torre dos Clerigos & Church

When you explore Porto’s Historical center, you will see the 75-meter-high Clerigos tower in the background. Torre dos Clerigos and Clerigos Church are very old Baroque structures that are interesting to look at.

Rua Santa Catarina

Rua Santa Catarina - Porto's shopping street
Rua Santa Catarina – Porto’s shopping street

This is a historical shopping street in Porto, walk here and enjoy the sights. You will find a lot of cork leather-based items and I bought a little backpack that receives a lot of compliments.

São Bento Train Station

São Bento Train Station
São Bento Train Station

More than any church or cathedral, my favorite building in Porto is the São Bento Train Station. The interiors are super splendid and there are high arched windows. There is intricate tilework on the walls – an amazing example of well-kept azulejos.

Livraria Lello

The crowded Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto
The crowded Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto

Yes, it is a bookstore but Livraria Lello is historical. It is one of the oldest bookstores in the world. It isn’t that big and sometimes gets crowded beyond imagination. Read my post if Livraria Lello is worth it or not.

I actually visited Porto during peak season so my experience wasn’t all that great. If you visit Livraria Lello first thing in the morning or during less busy months then you might just end up enjoying it.

Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral)

If you decide to visit just one historical building, then it is Sé do Porto – also called Porto Cathedral. It is so beautiful that it looks more like a palace and less like a cathedral.

I happened to be here right before the sunset so the pictures came out really well. This is also close to Dom Luís I Bridge on which you can walk to reach the other side of Porto for an amazing sunset. We will talk about them right below.

Dom Luís I Bridge

Me on the windy Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto
Me on the windy Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto

Dom Luís I Bridge is iconic and is fun to walk on it to reach the other side of the Douro River because of the amazing views after every few steps. Even during peak summer months, it gets very windy and cold on this bridge so carry a jacket.

Be careful and watch out for the metro when you are walking on this bridge because it runs on this bridge without a protective barrier.

Jardim do Morro (Sunset)

Jardim do Morro Sunset view
Jardim do Morro Sunset view

When you cross the Dom Luis I Bridge, you will reach Vila Nova de Gaia – which is the other side of the Douro River. There are many spots here that offer great views, especially during the sunset time.

The closest spot to the bridge for sunset watching is a garden called Jardim do Morro. If you are here during peak season times, then forget about getting a good spot for sitting but just stand and enjoy the most beautiful show that the sky puts on every 12 hours – sunset and sunrise.

Eat Francesinha Sandwich

Francesinha at Café Santiago, Porto
Francesinha at Café Santiago, Porto

Just the way I told you to eat Pastel de Nata which was invented in Lisbon, I recommend you try Porto’s iconic sandwich – the Francesinha.

Francesinha sandwich has layers of meat, cheese, bread, egg, and more cheese. It is topped with Francesinha sauce and sometimes also french fries. It felt like more of a hangover meal and we couldn’t eat more than a handful of bites.

Douro Valley Wine Tasting

Douro Valley - Porto day trips
Douro Valley – Porto day trips

Going to one landmark to another and trying to see them all can be stressful. Take a break and get on a boat to see the beauty of Douro Valley, which is the Port wine region.

Sit back and relax as you experience the natural beauty of Northern Portugal on a guided tour that includes a traditional Portuguese lunch, the Pinhão viewpoint, a river cruise, and a wine-tasting session.

Where to Stay in Porto

Here are the places I suggest you consider booking in Porto. I stayed in an Airbnb and we didn’t like the location. After seeing Porto, I now know I’d want to stay closer to Ribeira so below are the places I have shortlisted for you.


If you don’t have time to do an entire Portugal road trip and you’re able to fly to Oporto airport for cheap, then consider doing just a Porto road trip with the nearby Douro Valley, Coimbra, and Aveiro. Personally, for me, any visit to Portugal is incomplete without the amazing Algarve coast.

Tips for driving in Portugal

If you aren’t able to get cheap flights to Faro, then consider flying to Seville in Spain which is close to the border. You can spend a day here to see this pretty city and then reach the Algarve by road. It is very easy to cross the Spanish border by car to enter Portugal. It never feels like a different country.

Portugal has toll roads and if you are renting a car, then you will pay the toll fee with the toll transponder which will be fixed in your rented vehicle. The toll transponder will be connected with your debit or credit card for the toll payments.

When you are trying to find the route using Google Maps, there is an option of avoiding toll roads. Use it if you must. But the toll fee isn’t expensive in Portugal the way it is in France.

Don’t try to cover it all and stress yourself by trying to see everything. Some of the best road trips are those where a part of the itinerary leaves room for spontaneity.


PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares