Planning a Road Trip: Portugal Sep 17, 2015 by Ashleigh (Awesome Escape Blogger)
Bordering Spain to the east, Portugal is a vibrant country that has the best of both worlds: stunning architecture dating back as far as the 16th Century and the most picturesque beaches in the south of Europe. While the nation is quite small with a highway that can be driven in nine hours to travel Portugal from south to north. There are definitely ways that one can stretch it out to make an enjoyable road trip out of it. Follow our roadmap and you'll find yourself in the most amazing little villages, coastal nature reserves and the vivacious capital of Lisbon halfway through.
Leaving from Seville, Spain
If you're going to plan a trip to travel Portugal by car, start out in Seville, Spain. The roads here have tolls, so you may want to carry a little cash on your person to get to the border. The E-1 roadway is your most direct route from Seville to the Portuguese border –an hour and a half drive. You should find yourself passing Isla Cristina and crossing the border at the southernmost portion of Portugal's borders. Be sure to have all of your travel documents and paperwork from your vehicle ready in order to make the crossing a bit smoother.
Algarve's Spectacular Beaches
After driving for another half hour in Portugal past Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a gorgeous coastal nature reserve, you will find yourself automatically on the A-22 and in the community of Faro. This town is located in the Algarves, a collection of beaches with powder-white sands and turquoise water as far as the eye can see. Here you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing or taking photos. If you want, you can also stop for a meal by the ocean in Faro itself. You can get back on the road by following IC-4 north until you can continue on the A-22 West.
Almada and Lisbon
Continue north on the A-22, which will turn into the E-1 again for another two and a half hours from Faro to the stunning city of Almada –opposite Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus River. You will find the best views of the city and water can be seen from Santuario Nacional de Cristo Rei, or Shrine of Christ King, a short hike from the main building. Take in the most awe-inspiring views of up to 20 kilometers away in all directions. This is the best way to see Portugal's capital across the Bay of Seixal as well as mountain ranges off in the distance in the other direction.
Climb down and get back in your car to take a ferry to Lisbon or, alternatively, use the bridge. Here you will find some of the most incredible restaurants with authentic Portuguese fare and colorful entertainment. You cannot drive through Portugal without sampling some of the different wines and cheeses offered in the city. Luckily, there are several wine bars around town that provide the ultimate tasting experience and a chance to take some vino home with you. The BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto offers the most revered of these experiences with cheeses and over 150 varieties of wine in a broad range of prices for all sizes of budget.
Caldas da Rainha
After over-nighting in Lisbon, jump back in your vehicle and head one hour north on A-8 to the historical city of Caldas da Rainha. The city was founded in the 1400s and has a great many monuments, statues, museums, galleries and so much more. You can park and stroll around the city center on foot for the best and most inexpensive experience. Alternatively you can go down to the water at Praia Foz do Arelho for secluded beaches that look west out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Figuera da Foz
Another hour up the A-8, you'll find the coastal community of Figuera da Foz for more beaches, fantastic seaside hotels and spas and the most thrilling Portuguese market in the city. If there were ever an epicenter for souvenir shopping, this would be it. The Mercado Engenheiro Silva is a beautiful place to snap up all kinds of treasures before heading to the final stop on your road trip.
One final hour and a half on the road up A-8 and then A-29 will find you at the final destination on your trip. This seaside city has impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean from most places, and the sunny weather makes for pleasant sightseeing, shopping and stopping at eateries to sample pastries, an authentic lunch or delicious dinner. There are plenty of accommodations in the area that will appeal to all tastes, but if you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, try out a property like Hotel Moov in Central Porto. The hotel has a more modern style, but the central location guarantees that you'll have plenty of places to go and see. This is the perfect end to your Portuguese road trip.