We always wanted to drive around Portugal but reaching Lisbon from Greece is quite expensive (it is a four hours flight after all). It is so far but so similar to Greece in all different aspects. Firstly, the people are just amazing and super friendly. The wine is luscious, the nature is still pure and untouched in some parts of the country, the sun is shining 300 days a year and the sea/ocean is everywhere present.
Let’s start with the preparation/planning. The truth is whenever we plan a road trip we start by being overly optimistic and always overestimate our daily milage driving capability, plus we are trying to plan every single detail of the whole journey in advance. This time we decided to keep both our daily driving and our planning in a moderate level. So in the five full days we had in our disposal we agreed to drive 1200km (not using highways at all) and basically cover the biggest part of Portugal, northern of Lisbon (with Lisbon included). This led to an average of four hours driving daily, that was really manageable.
When we say moderate planning for this road trip we mean that we had a solid plan for the first two days plus the last one. That gave us flexibility for the two middle days of our journey. Our itinerary was the following (in bold you can see the cities where we spent the night) :
Lisbon – Sintra – Ericeira – Peniche – Obidos – Nazare – Praia da Vieira – Figueira da Foz – Aveiro – Porto – Amarante – Peso da Regua – Pinhao – Viseu – Coimbra – Lisbon
We started our journey with an amazingly convenient arrival in Lisbon at midday. We grabbed our car (a Renault Captur that we rented through Ryanair’s site for only 20 euros a day with full insurance coverage) and hit the road towards Sintra. Sintra is a great trekking destination, with beautiful and picturesque castles, gardens and an amazing view over the city and the ocean. Keep in mind that it gets really crowdy during summer. After that, we continued to Ericeira, a surfers paradise that was of course totally empty since it was middle of January. It is really impressive though to see these destinations during winter, they have a strange charm. We had lunch there and we continued north towards Peniche (another surfers paradise) where we had booked our hotel (Katekero) with a quick stop at Praia da Areia Branca to admire the wild Atlantic ocean in all its winter beauty. Since it was off season we faced no difficulties to find value for money accommodation (food and drinks in Portugal are really cheap also. With the average price of an espresso at 0,70euro and for a lager at 1,20euro).
Early in the morning of day two, after a jogging by the ocean (for Aurelie) and a big breakfast at the hotel, we headed north to Obidos, maybe the most picturesque and well-preserved medieval city of Portugal. We had our walk, ate some castanhas and continued to Nazare where we enjoyed the ocean view a bit more and had a quick lunch before we hit the road again towards Praia da Vieira. It is an impressive sight this endless beachfront (especially during the winter when it is totally empty and wild). After a quick pass from Figueira da Foz we ended up in Aveiro (really tired) where we had planned to spend the night.
Day three was dedicated to Porto and Amarante with some pit stops in wineries to try out some vino verde (do not miss Aveleda winery in Penafiel). Porto is a beautiful city with a big variety of choices in terms of food/drinks and why not shopping (Portugal is famous for quality leather shoes). Early in the evening we arrived in Peso da Regua where we spent our night. Our original plan was to reach Pinhao but since it was already dark we left that part of N222 for the next day.
After a quick breakfast we jumped in the car for the best part of our road trip : N222 from Regua to Pinhao, a route by the Douro river full of vines and quintas (Sandman, Bomfim, Carvalhas and many more). It was so nice that we did it twice (back and forth), before we start heading south towards Coimbra. On our way there we had a break in Viseu to grab a coffee and enjoy the old part of the city.
Coimbra was a pleasant surprise. We do not know if it was because of our A M A Z I N G hostel (The luggage hostel and suites) or the charming old part of the city. Coimbra was the capital of Portugal (from 1131 to 1255) and its university is the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world. Besides that in Coimbra we tried the best Franchesinha ever (ok Michalis did). Later this day we had our Fado dose in a perfect place in the city centre accompanied with a glass of Porto (yes it sounds 100% touristic but it totally worth it).
Day number five was Lisbon day and included a lot of walking (like really a lot) both uphill and downhill. Of course one day in Lisbon is only enough for an epidermic experience of the vibes and the beauty of the city so we promised ourselves that we are definitely coming back.
Click on the photo below to check out our small video to discover our journey visually.
We wish you to visit Portugal soon.
Aurelie and Michail.