Road trip through Portugal’s cities and coastal life
Portugal is a country which offers up an interesting conundrum. Do you choose a city break or head for the beaches to enjoy the coastline? With coastal roads that offer such a spectacular drive, the best way to explore Portugal is to hire a car and treat yourself in some of the most fun driving you’ll ever have the pleasure of doing. Not only that, but you can make the cities of Porto and Lisbon your start and end points to enjoy the very best of Portugal.
For your trip road trip through Portugal, fly direct into Porto, home to Portugal’s famous Port wine. This UNESCO listed city is the second largest in Portugal and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Head for the Crystal Palace Park for spectacular views of the city before taking a boat ride along the Douro River.
Visit the Riberia to take a tour of the Port wine caves and of course sample some of this Portuguese treasure. Whatever you do choose to do, make sure a trip to the bustling Bolhao market is factored in.
With car collected, it’s time to hit the road and begin travelling south. First stop is Aveiro which is just 45 minutes drive from Porto. It is seen to be Portugal’s Venice, with a series of waterways connecting the city which should definitely be enjoyed. Personally I would also stop off here to enjoy the beaches that sit on the edge of the peninsula, as the lagoons here are simply beautiful. Stay a night here before moving inland once again to visit the famous university city of Coimbra where you can explore one of the oldest universities in the world.
From Coimbra, head south onto the IP1 towards Fatima. This town is a famed pilgrimage destination for Roman Catholics especially Cathedral and its impressive square. With your spiritual side indulged, it’s back on the road to take a tour down the Atlantic coast and it is here that I would argue that the drive truly comes into its own. Along the way south, stop off in Obidos which is a great place to delve into Portugal’s Moorish history by visiting the Castle and walled city. Finally make your stop in the famous surfing town of Peniche which has great beaches. Along the coast here, Ericeira and Cascaco are also recommended.
Finally make your way to the capital, Lisbon. It is a city which indulges the Atlantic coastline and truly embraces it which helps to give the city such a laid back atmosphere. The city is filled with must see locations, many which mirror other world famous sites. Journey across to Cristo Tei which rivals Rio de Janeiro’s Christ statue and visit the Tejo River to see the sister bridge to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Take a drive across the Vasco da Gama Bridge which is one of the longest in the world or head to the Belem district to make your way up the tower. Finally, explore the Old city and its heritage by exploring the maze-like Alfama district.
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