Anyone who has had the opportunity to travel around Portugal by car agrees on one thing: this is a country for road trips!
Stopping by beautiful hidden beaches, and lesser-known and popular villages, enjoying all the unique landscapes and experiences, there are so many itinerary options that it is hard to choose.
In this post, we’ll talk about a few incredible road trip options from Lisbon to Porto and all the best places along the way that are worth visiting.
There are many advantages to traveling by car through Portugal.
Among them are the quality of the roads, the value of the rental car, the geography of Portugal itself, and so much more.
Traveling by car allows you to stop wherever you want, at your own pace. Whether it is for taking pictures, visiting one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, having lunch in a restaurant that caught your attention, or even discovering an unexpected spot.
Portugal’s countryside is incredibly beautiful, and exploring the small towns, villages, and hamlets can be an excellent way to get away from the traditional touristic attractions.
Even if you want to include the main Portugal sites and attractions, though, getting away from the highways and discovering the smaller towns is a must.
Besides castles, walled cities, archaeological remains, and impressive churches, Portugal also has many beaches, mountain ranges, snow-capped mountains, ecological trails, and charming hideaways.
So, let’s find out the best tips for your Portugal road trip from Lisbon to Porto!
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Driving from Lisbon to Porto: 12 unmissable stops
Sitting on the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is more than its major cities, Lisbon and Porto. The country is home to several beautiful towns that deserve a visit, like Coimbra and Fátima. Some towns can even be explored very quickly, like Óbidos and Tomar.
So, where to stop between Lisbon and Porto?
Of course, the Portuguese capital, as well as the country’s largest city, had to be included on this list!
Lisbon is the gateway for most tourists who visit the country. The city is a great example of the opulence of wealthy centuries of colonialism.
In the old city center, you can travel back in time. It really feels as if we are in the middle of a large city from the 17th century. It is impressive to see!
Also, if you are a night owl know that Lisbon has one of the liveliest nightlives in Europe. The nightlife in Bairro Alto starts late and goes on until dawn.
Lisbon is home to many tourist attractions which are rich in history and culture. Not to mention some of the most famous landmarks in Portugal.
Once in Lisbon, check out the Tower of Belém, the Castle of São Jorge, and the Jerónimos Monastery.
Also, take a boat ride down the Tagus River and visit the Santa Luzia viewpoint which is located on a hill overlooking the city. And just take your time to wander the cobblestone streets and ride the famous yellow streetcar.
Overall, the Portuguese capital is a passionate location that should be on everyone’s list of “top places to visit”.
And as we all know, there is no better way to experience a different culture than by tasting it.
So, do not leave Lisbon without eating the tasty pastel de nata pastries. And take note: the greatest ones are by far from the Pastel de Belém bakery, which you can also take home as a precious souvenir from Portugal (they will love you)!
With both mountain landscapes and the seaside atmosphere, Cascais is one of the closest cities to Lisbon, less than 50 miles away.
Cascais is so close to Lisbon that many people who work in Lisbon, live in Cascais so they can be in a smaller city by the beach.
Indeed, the gorgeous beaches are what define Cascais along with its culture, history, and leisure, making it a popular tourist destination.
The city center of Cascais, the rock formation of Boca do Inferno, the stronghold of Cascais Citadel, and, of course, the Cascais beaches are among the city’s highlights.
Praia do Albano, Praia do Guincho, and Praia da Rainha are must-see places on your Portuguese road trip.
And precisely because of its seaside atmosphere, this fishing town has a lot of charm! Its whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets are lovely, and its buildings are brightly colored.
You may go shopping at the local souvenir shops and have a walk around the parks, squares, and museums.
Cascais is also home to several excellent restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world and catering to all preferences. Furnas do Guincho, on the route to Guincho beach, is one of the greatest places to eat clams.
Monte Mar is another excellent option. Finally, if you are looking for dessert, the A Bijou de Cascais pastry store sells traditional sweets and the Gelados Santini serves delicious fruit sorbets.
If you decide to spend a few days in this pretty town you can check out my detailed guide on where to stay in Cascais to find the best hotel options.
Cabo da Roca
Considered the westernmost point not just in Portugal but in of all Europe, Cabo da Roca is for sure one of the most beautiful places you will see while visiting Portugal.
This is also one of the easiest and simplest trips in central Portugal. Located in Colares, Cabo da Roca is only 10 miles from Sintra’s city center, 9 miles from Cascais, and about 25 miles from Lisbon.
Overall, this is a very quick trip. Yet, I guarantee it will be one of the highlights of your Portugal road trip itinerary.
From the top of those beautiful cliffs, more than 460 ft high, the view of the Atlantic Ocean is like no other.
The great attraction of this place is its natural landscape, no doubt about it.
Especially if you have the opportunity to go there later in the afternoon when there is an unforgettable sunset.
Next to its emblematic cross marking the top of the cliff, there is a stone plaque with a tribute to Luís de Camões.
On the other side is the famous Cabo da Roca lighthouse – the third oldest on the Portuguese coast, built-in 1772. Interestingly, the lighthouse is extremely important for navigation along the coast until today.
There is also a tourist office maintained by the Sintra council (where the toilets are also located), a small shop with local souvenirs, and a restaurant.
It is good to keep in mind that the wind in Cabo da Roca is quite strong. Even in spring or summer, carry a light jacket.
And it goes without saying, but do not go beyond the protective barriers and be aware of the signs about rockslides. Many people disrespect the signs because of a photo. Do not be that person.
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Located high in the mountains surrounded by pine trees between Lisbon and the west coast, the entire town of Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town is largely recognized for its rich history, natural beauty, and, of course, the Sintra Castles.
This is considered the most romantic and charming region of Portugal. And as a result, it is also one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon.
For many years, Sintra was the preferred summer retreat of the Lisbon aristocracy. Between the 18th century to the 20th century, many nobles selected the charming town to build their palaces and castles.
These include the Pena Palace, Castelo dos Mouros, Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra National Palace, and Monserrate Garden and Castle.
And just like most attractions in Portugal, these monuments are made up of not only history and impressive architectural styles, but also stunning views.
Sintra, however, is made up of more than only castles and palaces. Sintra’s historical core is one of the things that should not be missed on your Sintra itinerary.
In addition, the Sintra mountain range is a unique site worth seeing.
Pay attention to the natural splendor of many plant and animal species as you go from one castle to the next.
And since no trip is complete without some tasty treats, make a pit stop in the old town to discover the local delicacies, the Queijadas and the famous Travesseiros de Sintra.
Imagine a medieval town inside a castle… Well, that is Óbidos!
There is a chance that Óbidos will go unnoticed along the way. This is because the little town from the 13th century resists and exists under the protection of medieval walls as if it were a castle embracing the entire town.
There, the time has stopped, and the preserved little houses are enchanted by the contrast of the white walls brightened by the cheerful yellow and blue doors and windows.
The old town, encircled by ancient walls, is undoubtedly one of the reasons why so many visitors flock to the region. Whether it’s spring, summer, autumn, or winter.
Walking through the town’s historic streets is a unique experience at any time of year since it is like traveling back in time and learning more about how life was in the old days.
A fun fact is that Óbidos is so beautiful that King Dinis gave it to his bride, Isabel of Aragon, as a present.
The village is still preserved today, with its gorgeous homes, charming cobbled streets, and an amazing medieval feel.
Restaurants, small stores, cafés, and art galleries may be found in the old district.
Among its principal attractions is the Óbidos Castle itself, a 12th-century structure that is regarded as one of Portugal’s greatest historical patrimonies. As an added benefit, the town’s defense walls may be freely explored.
Óbidos is also the land of Ginjinha, a sour cherry liqueur that is much loved by the Portuguese.
Just a short drive from Lisbon, the quiet beach town of Nazaré provides stunning panoramic views from the top of a big cliff that may be reached by funicular or by car.
The city of the giant waves, Nazaré is divided impressively. The cliff, which is almost 330-ft high, separates the city below and the city above, also known as Sítio de Nazaré.
There are various attractions in Nazaré, but one of the most noteworthy is the Miradouro do Subiaco.
The region boasts a wonderful perspective of the town and both the Praia de Nazaré and Praia do Norte, where some of the largest waves in the world occur.
Yes, the undersea Nazaré canyon is responsible for some of the world’s largest waves, which are surfed by the most skilled (and crazy!) big wave surfers.
The big waves season happens in the cold months, between October and January. And if you happen to be around during this time of the year, I can personally recommend checking it out.
The spectacle can be seen safely from a belvedere where the Nazaré Lighthouse is located.
Also, an interesting contrast occurs between the extreme sports enthusiasts who visit the city, occasional tourists, and the traditional Nazarene ladies who still maintain the tradition of dressing in their 7 skirts.
Nazaré is also a great option for where to stay between Lisbon and Porto.
The pleasant Hotel Mar Bravo is a fantastic alternative for visitors who want to stay directly in front of Nazaré Beach.
If you are on a tight budget, two more possibilities with ocean views are the Adega Oceano Hotel and the Ribamar – Hotel.
The truth is that Nazaré boasts an abundance of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to extremely hip hostels. After all, it is a city that attracts both visitors and surfers.
The excitement of Batalha revolves around the impressive Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, a Unesco World Heritage Site, also known as the Monastery of Batalha.
You do not need to be an architectural expert to notice the Gothic influence that is in every detail of this 14th-century construction.
And besides the construction itself, the building and the village of Batalha have a very interesting story.
The monastery is directly related to a battle, the Battle of Aljubarrota from 1385, when the Portuguese and the Spanish fought for the throne.
At the time, Dom João I of Portugal made a promise: if he won the battle, he would have a monument erected in honor of the Virgin Mary.
However, it took more than a century and a half for this work to be finished. Thus, many workers passed by. As the monument was a gigantic work, the men who were hired to work there took their families with them.
As a result, the village developed around the monastery so that it could house and support everyone.
Interestingly, the Battle of Aljubarrota went down in history as one of the most decisive events in the country’s politics, definitively burying the Spanish interests in the region.
While visiting the monastery, be sure to check the Claustro Real, Capela do Fundador, Capelas Imperfeitas, Claustros e Sala do Capítulo, and the village of Batalha itself, Where you can get beautiful souvenirs to take home and try some delicious local delicacies.
Oh, and almost all around the monastery there are parking lots, some of them free, some paid.
Although Portugal does not have an official religion anymore, for many years the catholic church was working hand-in-hand with the monarchy.
And Fátima is the most symbolic place of what Catholicism means for many of the Portuguese people.
It is not only the one of most popular religious sites among Portuguese cities but also in Europe. Fátima is well recognized for being one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage locations in the world.
The place gained notoriety following the appearance of the Virgin Mary, as recounted by three shepherd children. As a result of this occurrence, the Saint became the patroness of Portugal, recognized globally as Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.
The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, the world’s biggest Catholic temple with over 8,000 seats, should undoubtedly be your first stop in the city.
The Byzantine-style basilica was created in 2007 because the former Basilica, which was established in 1953, could no longer handle the volume of tourists.
Despite being a particularly religious place, the Sanctuary is worth seeing whether you are Catholic or not. It is a beautiful architectural work of art. Every year, over 6 million people visit the holy complex.
Outside the Sanctuary, visitors may see the House of the Shepherds, the Three Little Shepherds Monument, the Way of the Cross in Valinhos, the Chapel of St. Stephen, and the Hungarian Calvary.
Did you know that Tomar is home to a magnificent and imposing landmark that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
It is no surprise that the enormous and towering Convento de Cristo is one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal.
Its construction began in 1160, and it is without a doubt one of Portugal’s most recognized structures.
What makes it unique is that it was constructed within the walls of Tomar Castle, at the city’s highest point. As a result, if you go to the Convent, you should also visit the castle and its lovely garden.
The castle’s construction was meant to assure the completion of the defensive line of access to Coimbra.
The entire area has been well maintained, making a stroll around the gardens a pleasurable experience.
The charola, a private oratory of the Templars, and the cloister of D. João III are the highlights of the tour.
Capital of Portugal until 1255, Coimbra is widely known for its renowned University of Coimbra. The oldest university in Portugal is also one of the oldest in Europe.
But do not underestimate Coimbra thinking it is just a university city.
If the monumentality of the buildings of the 13th century does not surprise you (as it should), the young atmosphere of the city will convince you. Just imagine how many young people and bars you can find there!
Coimbra is located in the heart of the nation, in central Portugal, and less than two hours from Lisbon.
The city counts with many different attractions. The Old Cathedral of Coimbra, the Church and Monastery of Santa Cruz, the Church of St. James, the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, the Convent of Santa Clara, and, of course, the university are among the city’s prominent attractions.
Yes, the university is unquestionably worth a visit! You will be delighted by students dressed in traditional black capes, exactly like in Harry Potter. Pay a visit to Paço das Escolas and the university library.
But it is not just students that want to visit the area. Its ideal position, near to the sea and mountains, along with its high quality of life, makes it one of the most desirable cities in Portugal.
Walking around Coimbra’s town center and its small lanes full of ancient buildings is one of the nicest things to see there, especially because the theme is the city’s historical landmarks.
Aside from being a terrific spot to buy nice wines and handicrafts, it is also a good place to sample regional food and learn more about Portuguese culture.
The “Venice of Portugal” is the perfect last stop on your Porto road trip… Whether you want to take a ride on the moliceiros by Ria de Aveiro or to delight yourself with the sublime Ovos Moles, Aveiro will blow your mind.
The city, which is a discontinuous area in northern Portugal, is located near the mouth of the Vouga River.
Formed by a group of river islands known as the Ria de Aveiro, the city is distinguished by a network of canals lined with colorful gondola-style boats.
These boats, known as moliceiros, are high up on the list of must-dos in Aveiro since they provide the most distinctive perspective of the city.
Aveiro is also home to the Costa Nova do Prado, which features striped, multi-colored fishing shacks.
Costa Nova, located just 44 miles south of Porto, is one of Portugal’s most recognized attractions and a wonderful place to spend a day away from the “northern capital.”
Tasting the characteristic desert of the region, Ovos Moles, is yet another highlight on the list of the greatest things to do in Aveiro.
The recipe for this delicacy, which uses egg yolk and sugar, was developed before the 19th century by the sisters of the Convent of Jesus of Aveiro.
In the Rossio area, practically on the banks of the Ria, you will find dozens of bakeries offering sweets. If you have time, go observe the manufacturing process at the Oficina do Doce.
Finally, we have made it to the final destination on your Lisbon road trip, the one and only…Porto.
With English influence, a result of the British intervention during the Napoleonic wars, Porto is very different from Lisbon.
One of the main highlights of your Porto trip will be to go up the D. Luís I Bridge.
From there you will have a spectacular view of most of the city which is a great starting point to check where you want to go next.
Although, at this point, you will not be in the city of Porto itself, in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is on the opposite side of Porto. From the top, you can see the Cais da Ribeira, on the other side of the Douro River.
Well, here are the top 12 places to visit along your road trip from Lisbon to Porto.
Bordering the river, Ribeira is very busy and full of historic buildings, stores, and many restaurants. Even though it is not the cheapest place to eat, you can find some of the best Portuguese dishes there.
And, of course, do not forget the wine. As you probably know Porto is world-known for its wine, especially the Port Wine. So, let go and taste at least one glass! (But, remember… Do not drink and drive!)
Some other places you might want to check in the city are the Batalha neighborhood and the Porto Cathedral, one of the most historic monuments of the city, located at a high point with an incredible view that allows you to see the entire historic center.
And, be sure to check out the famous Torre dos Clérigos, a 246-ft high tower.
I also recommend going up the Avenida dos Aliados and down the Rua Santa Catarina. There, it is worth stopping at the Café Majestic, where J.K. Rowling found the inspiration to write Harry Potter.
From São Bento Station, half an hour away by train, you can visit Braga and Guimarães, cities dating back to the Roman Empire, which have a lot of history to tell.
From Lisbon to Porto road trip itinerary option – 10 days
Even though the ideal Portugal itinerary includes at least 2 days in Lisbon and 2 days in Porto, a trip focused on the Lisbon to Porto drive is also a memorable one. The small Portugal towns you will be visiting along the way will make your Portugal road trip itinerary very unique and magic to your Portugal road trip itinerary.
Day 1: Explore Lisbon
The public transportation in Lisbon is very efficient so even if you are picking up the rental car at Lisbon Airport, it is worth checking out the city first and getting around by public transport so you don’t have to waste time finding a car park or wasting money.
Not to mention, spend at least one night there so you have the chance to go out for dinner and taste some of the best delicacies of Portugal cuisine. In my 2 days in Lisbon guide, you will find all the information you need.
Day 2: Lisbon to Cascais (40 min) + Explore Cascais + Cascais to Cabo da Roca (30 min) + Cabo da Roca to Sintra (30 min)
This might seem a bit rushed, but the truth is you only need half an hour in Cabo da Roca where I suggest you spend the late afternoon and enjoy the spectacular Sunset and the seaside vibes.
You can then move to Sintra where you will spend the night.
Day 3: Explore Sintra
Yes, if you have the time, Sintra deserves an entire day! This way you have plenty of time to explore the Pena Palace, the Castelo dos Mouros, some of the most beautiful Sintra Castles, and enjoy the beautiful vibe of the medieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 4: Sintra to Óbidos (1h 15 min) + Explore Óbidos
Visiting Óbidos is super easy, and I would arrive in the early afternoon so you have time to have the Sintra’s pastries for breakfast.
Once in Óbidos, the best thing to do is to walk around its narrow streets, especially in the Rua Direita, where most of the stores and restaurants are.
You can also visit the interior of the Óbidos Castle, where there is a luxury hotel as well as the Medieval Market between July and August.
Day 5: Óbidos to Nazaré (34 min) + Explore Nazaré
Since the drive is only half an hour-long, I suggest taking your time having breakfast in Óbidos before heading to Nazaré.
And in Nazaré do not miss the opportunity to check the view from the top of the cliffs, at Sítio de Nazaré.
Day 6: Nazaré to Batalha (28 min) + Explore Batalha + Batalha to Fátima (26 min) + Explore Fátima
At first glance, this might seem like another hectic day. But, in reality, it is the opposite.
In Batalha, chances are you will spend 2 hours exploring the monastery. So, if you start your day early you will be in Fátima for lunch and will have more than enough time to visit the Sanctuary.
Day 7: Fátima to Tomar (30 min) + Explore Tomar + Tomar to Coimbra (53 min)
Although there is not so much to do in the town of Tomar itself, the convent is quite impressive. I recommend that you spend at least 2 hours exploring the complex of Tomar before heading to Coimbra.
Day 8: Explore Coimbra + Coimbra to Aveiro (48 min)
If you are looking for a place to stay in Aveiro, the historical center is a great place to start. Apart from being the location of the majority of the attractions, with its attractive Art Nouveau buildings, it also has several restaurants and stores.
The Meliá Ria Hotel & Spa, located directly on the waterfront, is one of the most contemporary hotel alternatives. Meanwhile, the Hotel das Salinas – Grupo Alboi is a little less expensive but still conveniently positioned.
Day 9: Explore Aveiro + Aveiro to Porto (53 min)
I suggest waking up in Aveiro already so you can take an easy stroll among the colorful buildings and narrow cobbled streets while looking for your breakfast spot. Aveiro is a beautiful city and since you have a car you can even visit Costa Nova in the afternoon.
Day 10: Explore Porto
When you finally make it to Porto, you can already plan on returning the car since almost everything is done on foot or by public transport. Also, finding a parking space at the tourist sites can be more of a delay than a help. However there are a couple of things you need to consider.
Quick note on returning the Rental Car
Just like in other corners of the world, in Portugal you can rent a car in one city and return it to another destination, paying an extra fee for this, called “drop off tax”.
This fee is charged by the rental company to cover the costs of returning the car to its original store. The amount itself depends on the rental company and is often already included in the rental price. You may notice that the rental price increases considerably when we simulate returning the car to a different city than its origin.
But is it worth it?
Well, it depends a lot on how many days you have and how you arrange them. An alternative would be to drive back to Lisbon. In this case, you can drive straight from Porto to Lisbon on the evening of your last day of the trip. Or you can split your itinerary between outward and return. This way you can enjoy both the trip to Porto and the return to Lisbon!
From Lisbon to Porto road trip – 8 days itinerary
In case you have 8 days, I suggest skipping places like Cascais, Batalha, and Tomar. So, I would focus on the following.
Day 1: Explore Lisbon
Maybe one day is not enough in Lisbon, but if you want to make the most of your 8-day itinerary for a Lisbon to Porto road trip, you can make it work. I suggest you spend the entire day in Lisbon itself and even go out at night. Lisbon has amazing restaurants and bustling nightlife.
Day 2: Lisbon to Sintra (31 min) + Explore Sintra + Visit Cabo da Roca for sunset (56 min)
The secret to fully enjoying the second day of this itinerary is to leave Lisbon very early so you will have plenty of time to visit the Sintra castles of your choice.
Also, I highly recommend going to Cabo da Roca for sunset. It will take you about an hour to get there and go back to Sintra, and you will witness one of the most impressive sunsets in Portugal.
Day 3: Sintra to Óbidos (1h 15 min) + Explore Óbidos
Óbidos is quite a small town and even if you decide to visit another Sintra castle in the morning, you would still have plenty of time to explore Óbidos in the afternoon.
This is, however, the longest drive stretch on this Portugal road trip.
Day 4: Óbidos to Nazaré (34 min) + Explore Nazaré
This will probably be the most chilled day in this plan which is perfect since it is right in the middle of the itinerary.
Day 5: Nazaré to Fátima (44 min) + Explore the Sanctuary (Fátima) + Fátima to Coimbra (54 min)
Fátima itself can be seen in about 2h since most of the attractions are inside the catholic complex. And with a couple of more hours, you will have plenty of time to participate in the masses, rosaries and soak up the energy of the city if you so choose.
Day 6: Explore Coimbra + Coimbra to Aveiro (48 min)
My personal experience is that even though Coimbra is a lovely historical city and a must in your 8-day road trip, it does not need more than a day to be explored.
Day 7: Explore Aveiro + Aveiro to Porto (53 min)
I highly suggest an entire day in Aveiro. This way you have time to enjoy both the city itself and its moliceiros as well as Costa Nova and its colorful houses.
Day 8: Explore Porto
Yes, keep in mind that Porto, the wine capital, deserves a full-day visit.
Driving from Lisbon to Porto 5 days itinerary
With only 5 days to travel from Lisbon to Porto, you need to pick wisely the places you want to visit along the way.
And be aware that with fewer stops, the driving itself might be a bit longer sometimes. So, there is no space for laziness!
Day 1: Explore Lisbon
As you will probably arrive at the Lisbon Airport, it would be a shame not to explore the city for at least the first day of your trip, right?!
Day 2: Lisbon to Sintra (24 min) + Explore Sintra
As I mentioned, one day is a minimum to visit Sintra.
And depending on the time of the year, if sunset is late enough you might even have time to watch it in Cabo da Roca after the castles and palaces close for visitation.
Day 3: Sintra to Fátima (1h 25 min) + Explore Fátima + Fátima to Aveiro (1h 22 min)
This might seem like a lot but like I said before… you only need a few hours to discover the main attractions in Fátima. So, this even leaves you some time to go around the town center or arrive in Aveiro for sunset.
Day 4: Explore Aveiro + Aveiro to Porto (53 min)
Since you are waking up in Aveiro already, you will have enough time to explore not only the city but also Costa Nova do Prado on the coast, considered one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Portugal.
Day 5: Explore Porto
I suggest you spend your last night in Porto so you can go out for dinner and really enjoy a full day of sightseeing around the city.
There are many amazing hotels where to stay in Porto for any budget and location. We recommend staying in the historical center so that you can take advantage of the vicinity of many attractions.
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Day trip from Lisbon to Porto (fast option)
Although it is far from the capital, much further north, it is possible to do a Porto day trip from Lisbon. The fastest route which is around 186 miles long takes about 3h to be completed by car.
Of course, in a 1-day Porto itinerary, you cannot get to know the city thoroughly, but you can get a taste of what it has to offer and keep the desire to come back.
The advantage is that most of the city’s attractions are gathered in the same region, so depending on your pace and what you want to visit, you can see a lot.
Assuming you leave Lisbon very early in the morning, I suggest you start your route through Porto at the top of the D. Luiz I Bridge.
After that, you can head to Cais da Ribeira for lunch and start your sightseeing tour of the city itself. The highlights include the Porto Cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos, and Praça da Liberdade.
And if you still have time at the end of the day, be sure to visit the Livraria Lello, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
During the day, I recommend you park the car and leave it there until you have to head south back to Lisbon.
After all, the fun things to do in Porto include walking through the streets of Ribeira, crossing the D. Luis I Bridge, and visiting the Port Wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. And all of this is done by foot.
Driving in Portugal practical tips
Going on a road trip sounds very nice, right?! And yes, it really is.
But there are some basic tips you might want to pay attention to have as smooth of a trip as possible.
How far from Lisbon to Porto?
First of all, you should know that the Lisbon to Porto road is only 300 km (186 mi). And as the roads in Portugal are good and well signposted, with flowing traffic, the trip can be done in less than 3h.
The road that connects the two cities is called A1, and is practically a straight line, with signs perfectly marking the way.
But, of course, having a GPS to guide you might give you more confidence, and the chances of getting lost or making a wrong turn with it are practically zero.
So, whether you are planning on a day trip or a longer itinerary stopping by other towns, a GPS might become your best friend.
When planning on your Portugal road trip, the first step is to rent a car in Portugal. You can do this before your trip, in advance through the internet.
Sites like Discover Car are a great way to find the best deals, as it compares different
An important tip is to always go for premium insurance with zero deductible. This way you are probably covered for the car excess, theft, and damage to windows, mirrors, wheels, tires, etc.
Also, with car insurance, you do not need to block a deposit amount on your credit card (which can be up to 1,500 euros blocking until the car is delivered back and must be in the driver’s name).
Tolls – Via Verde and SCUTS
Like many countries around the world, Portugal also has some roads with tolls (called “portagens“, in Portuguese).
A valuable tip for those who will rent a car to travel from Lisbon to Porto is to activate a Via Verde to pass the tolls, which is provided by the
That way you avoid any headaches with the tolls, you can pass straight through and then be charged on your credit card.
The advantage of having the Via Verde is that you do not need to go after a PayShop network (or CTT Post Office) to pay the SCUTS afterward.
SCUTS is a toll collection system that you cannot pay on the spot. The reader takes a picture of your license plate, and you need to remember to pay within 5 days afterward.
With Via Verde, everything is charged to your credit card, and you do not have to worry about tolls at all. Just so have an idea, the total toll from Lisbon to Porto is a bit more than €20, one way only.
For those who do not mind making a slightly longer trip, but saving more, there is the option of using the roads without tolls.
The toll roads are better and usually shorter, but you can easily take the national roads, which are more used by trucks and those who do not want to spend money on tolls.
INSIDER TIP – I would say the regular roads have some panoramic sections but there are also way too many roundabouts and many villages which are not that pretty so taking the toll roads will save you time that you can better use in the actual interesting sites.
Filling up the Tank
This might sound silly and obvious to some people but be very careful about the rules when renting a car. Prefer the full/full option to avoid the refill fee and pay close attention to the type of fuel the car needs.
Keep in mind that gasoline in Portuguese is “gasolina” and diesel is “gasóleo“. Both words are very similar, and you do not want to fill up the car with the wrong type of fuel.
The speed limit on Portugal’s highways (duplicated roads or expressways) is 120 km/h, which means 75 mph. On national roads (those without tolls and passing through the cities) the limit is 70 km/h, meaning around 43 mph.
Something very good to know about your car trip across Portugal is that most cities have parking meters. So do not forget to put some coins in the machine that you find on the sidewalk in front of where you park.
Also, put on paper the time in the car to avoid a fine.
And be aware that depending on where you are staying it might be tricky to find a parking space so if you can, give preference to accommodations that offer to park.
During the night, it is possible to leave the car on the street. Most cities in Portugal are extremely safe. Just avoid leaving your belongings on display and pay extra attention if you are in big cities like Lisbon or Porto.
Best time to visit the area around Lisbon and Porto
Located in southern mainland Europe, Portugal is one of the sunniest countries on the continent and as such can be visited at any time of the year.
Of course, depending on what you want to see, there are good and better seasons. The giant waves of Nazaré, for example, take place in winter.
The grape harvest, on the other hand, happens in autumn. And for those who want to extend their trip and visit the Algarve beaches, the best time is spring or summer.
Other than that, it is good to know that July and August (summer in the northern hemisphere) and the period between Christmas and New Year’s, are considered peak seasons in Portugal. Therefore, everywhere it is more crowded and expensive.
So, in general, I would say the best time to visit Portugal and make the most of your epic road trip is during spring (from March to the beginning of June) and autumn (best between September and October).
During those times of the year, prices are lower, the attractions are less crowded, and the weather is quite pleasant.
About the Author
I’m Camila, an Oceanographer from Brazil which is where my journey began. My studies have taken me to unique places around the world since I was a teenager. I found in my academic career the chance to come across different cultures and languages while working as a scientist. By having lived in several countries I have been able to share my experiences as a travel content writer for the last 4 years and I still have plenty more to tell. I have a great passion for the outdoors and animals, especially dogs and seals (which, let’s be honest, are basically sea dogs!).