If you are planning 2 weeks in Portugal and to visit this beautiful country by car, this is the right post for you.
A good planning before leaving is what you need before for this travel, by choosing the cities and areas you want to visit and why. In part one one here I told you about the focus of our tour in Portugal and about the first week, from Lisbon to Algarve. Actually, we arrived in Lisbon and departed back from Porto, so we picked and left our car in two different cities: you will pay a smal extra cost but you will spare time and route for sure ( we booked our car online two months in advance, but I recommend you doing this with more advance, especially if you are travelling in August, as prices can be higher).
Se state pianificando un viaggio di due settimane in Portogallo on the road, questo potrebbe essere l’articolo giusto per voi.
Infatti una buona pianificazione delle varie tappe è fondamentale e se volete visitare questo paese magari in due sole settimane dovete fare una selezione di tappe e percorso ancor prima di partire. Nella prima parte del post qui vi ho raccontato un po’ dell’obiettivo del nostro tour in Portogallo e la nostra prima settimana tra Lisbona e Algarve. Noi abbiamo deciso di arrivare a Lisbona e ripartire da Porto, quindi prendendo e lasciando l’auto in due città diverse: pagherete una piccola spesa aggiuntiva ma risparmierete strada e tempo nel vostro tragitto (noi abbiamo prenotato l’auto online due mesi prima, ma vi suggerisco di farlo con più anticipo soprattutto se viaggiate in Agosto).
Alentejo, with stop in EVORA (1 day)
This is the day when we really clocked up the miles. Indeed, we left Lagos and arrived in Obidos late in the evening, where we booked a room for two nights.
The idea was to spend the day on the road in central Alentejo , that’s why we avoided the motorway and we drove in state highways: of course this is a longer route but I’m happy with this choice, as we had the opportunity to see and to stop in remote and fascinating places that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Landscape here is so dry and deserted you will feel time has stopped.
I suggest you make a stop in a small village called Entradas, in Baixo-Alentejo: it’s a photo-must and with its almost deserted roads, whitewased homes and colourful frames it’s a sample of Portoguese traditional rural village you will not forget.
Our main stop for this day was Evora: it’s Alentejo capital and the best-preserved Middle Age city of Portugal ♥ I think that this is also one of the hottest cities of Portugal so I must admit that planning our stop here for lunchtime was not such a brilliant idea…However we took our time to walk around the alleys, to admire Praça de Giraldo, to rest in Largo Conde Vila Flor (here you can enjoy a beautiful view over countryside) and to enter the Catedral.
Evora is also famous for the Megalithic sites in the countryside around the city: we visited Almendres, the largest megalithic monument in the Iberian peninsula – V millenium BC! -, located almost 15km far from the center and immersed in a fascinating cork forest.
Driving from Evora to Obidos!
Estremadura, with stop in OBIDOS & NAZARE’ (1 day, 2 nights)
We booked in Obidos for two nights because we chose this as a base to visit Estremadura region, and to move in Northern direction then.
I’m happy with this choice because Obidos is really a fascinating city, during night is almost better than during daytime and we loved to spend two evenings here in such a magical athmosphere. During daily hours it is really crowded with tourists, but don’t be scared as this is just for the main road: you just have to move in the secondary alleys for a more authentic feeling of this place, that it’s a lovely Medieval fortified village located on a hilltop and really well-preserved. One morning is enough for a general visit to the centre and the walls.
One suggestion: I felt in love with Obidos Biological Market, where veg and fruits are displayed together with thousands of books on old winecrates. It’s part of a wider project called Obidos Literary Town, promoting the culture of writing and reading in the city.
We moved in the afternoon to Nazaré (half an hour from Obidos) to spend some hours in the beach. Of course, if compared with Algarve’s cliffs and beaches this wide and sandy beach is not so fascinating…however if you are a surf lover you should know that two years ago someone here has riden the highest wave ever 😉 The village is quite confusing, really “pictoresque”: small fish-restaurants barbecues everywhere, and many women in traditional costumes…ok I have to say I didn’t like Nazaré so much indeed!
Back in Obidos then, with a stop in the lagoon, the largest saltwater in Portugal with the lakes and waterways extending inland for 6 kilometers.
Beiras, with stop in COIMBRA (1 day)
Time to drive North from Obidos to Porto.
We planned two stops for this day, one shorter in Bathala (with its amazing monastery) and the longest one in Coimbra. We also did a short deviation of our tour for an unscheduled stop in Fatima– more for curiosity than for faith we can say -…didn’t find a lot of spirituality, too many shops and people here, I was quite disappointed, however happy to see it.
Coimbra: a cool city, the University over the hill is majestic and you should visit the library here, but be careful because it’s open just in some daily hours (we didn’t go here for this reason). Academic year in August is closed, of course, but in other months you will see students with typical black uniforms here. Wear conmfy shoes, the stair leading down to the historic centre is called the Quebra Costas stairway (literally ‘the backbreaker‘) and you will understand why!
A suggestion: have a drink in the Machado the Castro Museum bar, it has a back terrace with a beautiful panorama over the historical centre and design furniture ♥
One hour by car and we arrived in Porto!
ALTO DOURO (1 day)
We booked four nights in Porto as we wanted to spend a day visiting the Douro valley: we didn’t book the car for the last days, as we would have visited Porto center by public transports, so we tood advantage of the latest day with our micro-car visiting the Alto Douro wine region.
Classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the Alto Douro is the most ancient demarcated region of the world and its wine tradition has shaped the green hills with thousand miles of terraces and grapevines. It’s almost two hours by car from Porto center, we headed the A4 highway and left if before Vila Real, heading to Pinhao: this small village on the Douro riverside has nothing special to be visited but it’s a good starting point for the best part of the valley. We drove along the N222 state highway that lines Douro and it’s a wonderful panoramic route.
Even I’m not a wine expert, I think that a Porto-tasting in a vineyard is a must when you are visiting this region. We chose one called Quinta do Panascal (found it in my Lonely Planet suggestions), with a wonderful location facing the hills, they also let you go on a small tour along the grapevines with an audioguide which explains you about Porto history and more…and of course they give you a tasting with different kinds of Porto. Loved it!
Once back in Porto, we stopped in Vila Nova de Gaia (or just Gaia): located in the South side of Douro and facing Porto historical center, it’s well known for its cellars where Porto is stored, but I really loved it for the beautiful view over Ribeira and its colourful typical buildings. A nice start to visit Porto!
PORTO (3 days)
We stayed in Porto for three days and four nights, and I’m quite sure they are enough to know different sides of the city.
Porto was our last stop, and I admit I informed less about this city than about Lisbon. I must say that Porto surprised me in a positive way: it is so fascinating, with some majestic areas and some decadent ones, its up&downs and its colourful Ribeira. Maybe I’ve preferred it during night than at day, with less tourists and a special athmosphere, that is very romantic but also lively in the right areas. You must visit it! ♥
Just a few points you can’t miss once you are in Porto:
- a visit to Lello&Irmao Bookshop, one of the most beautiful libraries of the world (and more crowded I suppose…)
- driving under Ponte Dom Luis I, than walking on its upper part (just make sure you do not suffer from dizzines!)
- staring at blue azulejos: from Capela das Almas, down to Igreja de S.to Idelfonso, a stop in Estaçao de S. Bento, then up to Igreja do Carmo
- taking pictures of the windows and the different colourful tiles you will see!
- a night out in the lively bar area between Rua da Galeria de Paris and Rua do Conde de Vizela
- a visit to Museu de Serralves and a walk in green Parque des Serralves
- watching Ribeira colourful waterfront from Vila Nova de Gaia
- the panorama over the city from the Sè cathedral place
- a walk down the alleys of Ribeira, the historical an popular area of Porto, reaching the waterfront (make sure to exploring it during day, at night its dark in the areas far from the Douro river)
- an afternoon of shopping in Mercado do Bohlao and down in Rua de Santa Catarina (with a coffee break in historic Café Majestic!)
- a walk in Rua da Bombarda, snooping in art galleries between curious street-art drawings
- a night walk along Ribeira waterfront ♥
Praça da Ribeira
Rua da Bombarda
View from Sé
All images ©Elisabetta Rizzato |italianbark
Finally, here a short recap of our schedule: hope this can be useful for your next travel in this beautiful country, and feel free to share with #portugalbark hashtag your travel images: I suffer from nostalgia now 🙂
day 1 – arrive by plane – lisbon
day 2 – lisbon
day 3 – lisbon
day 4 – car rental -> sintra -> algarve (lagos)
day 5 – algarve (lagos, portimao & sagres)
day 6 – algarve east (tavira & ihla de tavira)
day 7 – algarve west (rota vicentina -> from zamburjera to carrapateira)
day 8 – on the road, Alentejo -> stop in Evora -> arrive in obidos
day 9 – estremadura (obidos & nazarè)
day 10 – on the road, Beiras -> from obidos to porto, stop in coimbra
day 11 – alto douro
day 12 – car rental back-> porto
day 13 – porto
day 14 – porto – back by plane
See you next days on ItalianBark for Lisbon Design Guide and Porto Design Guide ♥