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March 19, 2020

Portugal Road Trip – Lisbon to Porto

Lisbon to Porto Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller

Nate and I love a good road trip.

This was solidified when we reflected on our 2018-2019 travels and discovered that most of our favorite moments and scenes came from road trips. We simply love the freedom that comes with driving and choosing your own itinerary, both in advance and on the go. So, when we planned our impromptu trip to Portugal, Nate immediately started researching road trip routes. And THIS, this is what we came up with.

First things first…rent a convertible if at all possible. It truly enhances the experience and the weather in Portugal is phenomenal. We were there in May and it was absolutely perfect for meandering through the country with the top down.

I hope you enjoy this photo diary + gain some inspiration and info for planning your own Portugal adventure. See trip details at the bottom.

The road trip begins in Lisbon and ends in Porto, but includes two towns for one night stay in each. Both towns we stayed in were absolutely darling. I never use that word, but it is THE BEST word to describe both locations. You’ll see.

View of Lisbon, Portugal in travel guide by Annie Miller
Bridge leaving Lisbon, Portugal by Annie Miller in Portugal Road Trip

Lisbon to Evora

Leave Lisbon, cross over the “Golden Gate-Like” bridge and head into the mountains. But first stop in Evora, a town with primarily white buildings overlooking vineyards. The streets are VERY tight here and all cobble stone. Finding parking was quite the task but once we found a spot, the little town was very walkable. We got a latte and snack at the only cafe open during siesta, snapped photos of the city, church, and ruin like structures, then went on our way.

White buildings in Evora on Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller
Old ruins in Evora on Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller
Old buildings in Evora on Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller
Church in Evora on Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller
Church in Evora Portugal by Annie Miller
Beautiful Church in Evora Portugal by Annie Miller

Evora to Covilha

After our coffee and walking pit stop, it was right back on the road to more tiny towns, churches and castles. We stopped off via a street sign to get drone footage of this castle and the surrounding town + landscape. And we did. But then failed to get the photos off the memory card before the drone was confiscated in Morocco a week later.

We got our birds-eye-view photos with the drone (and luckily I snapped a few with the our camera) and then it was off to Covilha.

Road trip through Portugal to Covilha by Annie Miller
Roadside views en route to Road trip through Portugal to Covilha by Annie Miller
Covilha Portugal on Road Trip by Annie Miller

Arrive in Covilha

This was a small university town in the mountains. Our hotel was up a ways, out of town at the Luna Hotel Dos Carqueijais. I wish we had more time at this establishment. The view and amenities deserved more time from us. We stayed in a loft, which had a lovely living space downstairs, and a spacious bedroom, plus full bath upstairs. Both downstairs and upstairs had windows with views. Again, I wish we had a day to simply relax at the hotel. There is plenty to do in this area as well. We saw people hiking and a massive hauler for dirt bikes at the hotel. You could adventure all day and come back to the views in comfort or just hangout at the pool in a cabana and read a book. Either way, it’s worth a trip into the mountains to stay here.

Views at Luna Hotel Dos Carqueijais by Annie Miller
Views from the mountains and Luna Hotel Dos Carqueijais by Annie Miller

Mountains to Douro Valley to Braga

After one night’s sleep we hit the road at 7am and headed to Braga – a town we fell in love with. Within five to ten minutes of driving we found ourselves on the top of the rocky plateau. We had views for days, in all directions. What an amazing experience in the convertible with not another car in sight. Who knew Portugal had terrain like this?! Not us, that’s for sure.

View from Covilha to Duoro Valley in Portugal Road Trip
Terrain View from Covilha to Duoro Valley by Annie Miller
Rocky terrain leaving from Covilha in Portugal Road Trip By Annie Miller
beautiful day and view roadside from Covilha Portugal by Annie Miller
on the way to Duoro Valley in Portugal by Annie Miller
Mountain and rocky views on Road Trip through Portugal by Annie Miller
Mountain views from Covilha to Duoro Valley Portugal by Annie Miller

Once we cleared the mountains, we started the descent and the terrain went from rocky, to timber, to vineyards. It was a truly spectacular road trip and this was by far our favorite day. The temperature was also 80 degrees with clear skies. You really can’t ask for a better top-down situation.

This valley (Douro Valley) in Portugal is well known. There are vineyards for days. They just kept going, going and going. We didn’t stop for any tastings, but would love to come back to this region again. If we had extra time we would have had lunch in Pinhao. This is the town at the bottom of the lake that you can see in the first photo below.

Lisbon to Porto Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller
Duoro Valley Views in Portugal by Annie Miller
Driving through Duoro Valley Portugal Road Trip with Annie Miller

Note – before arriving in Braga, we drove through another mountain region that was absolutely stunning in the afternoon light. The Sierra Nevada like mountain range was the backdrop for tiny villages perched on top of green hills. It was straight out of a movie. But we wanted to get to Braga, so we opted not to stop for photos…a decision I regret to this very day. Stop for the freaking photo fam.

Arrive in Braga

We pulled into Braga around 5pm, just in time for an early dinner and stroll around town. Again, our accommodation here was lovely and I wish we had more time in this quaint little town. We stayed at the Burgus Tribute & Design Hotel which had windows that opened up to a picturesque European street top (see third photo down). Our room was spacious, light and airy, had a beautiful refinished bathroom and a seating nook under the window. I would highly recommend staying here. The location was great as well – within walking distance of everything you need.

Building in Braga, Portugal with Annie Miller
City view in Braga, Portugal by Annie Miller
European Rooftops in Braga, Portugal
Amazing garden in Braga, Portugal by Annie Miller
Tiled buildings in Braga, Portugal with Annie Miller
church and architecture in Braga, Portugal
City of Braga, Portugal by Annie Miller

Braga to Porto

Over the mountains and the through the woods to Porto we go. We headed out of Braga the same way we came in. So we saw these mountains, lakes and picturesque orange-topped towns the day before. But we were so exhausted from the drive that we just wanted to get to our hotel. That was a shame because the lighting the day before was superb compared to this…either way, photos wouldn’t do this area justice. You must come and see for yourself.

Mountain drive from Braga to Porto Portugal with Annie Miller
Mountain views between Braga and Porto Portugal with Annie Miller
Above the mountains between Braga and Porto - Portugal Road Trip with Annie Miller
roadside views en route to Porto, Portugal by Annie Miller
road trip through Portugal with Annie Miller

Cascata Da Portela Do Homem (waterfall). This waterfall was literally right off the side of the road. You could miss it if you weren’t looking though, as it is tucked away as you turn the corner. The water was a beautiful green color. I don’t know if this changes with seasons, but it was a nice little pit stop along the way.

Cascata Da Portela Do Homem on Portugal Road Trip
Cascata Da Portela Do Homem with Annie Miller

Stop at Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Peneda. We saw tons of signs for this in Braga. It was a tight squeeze getting here with a car, but it was doable nonetheless. I think you can go inside or do tours of some kind (seeing as there was a lot of tourist info in Braga for it). It was like a ghost town when we stopped by. We were only there for five minutes, but didn’t see another soul – not in shops, or around the church. Maybe do some research before you go if you’re wanting to do a tour or enter the church. It’s tucked into the mountain side, and you must pass through a tiny town with laughable streets in and out of this location. There is the chance that our GPS took us the least logical way as well. But I am certainly glad we made it!

Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Peneda in Portugal Road Trip
Countryside views on Portugal Road Trip
Greenery on Portugal Road Trip by Annie Miller

Just before dropping back down into Porto, we drove up to Santuário de Santa Luzia. It’s a small, but beautiful church on a hill, with a view of a river on one side and the ocean on the other.

Santuário de Santa Luzia in Porto, Portugal by Annie Miller
Annie Miller at Santuário de Santa Luzia in Porto, Portugal
Cloudy views in Porto, Portugal by Annie Miller

Arrive in Porto

Porto marked the end of our short, but magnificent road trip through Portugal. It was an adventure I’d be happy to go on again. The town of Porto is great. We thought it lived up to the hype, but you can read more about that here, Porto Portugal Photo Diary + Travel Guide. Once you arrive in Porto, you’ll need to return your car wherever you planned to, and then get an Uber to your hotel or airbnb. We stayed at the S.Bento Luxury Building smack dab in the middle of the city and it could not have been a better experience.

Water views in Porto, Portugal in Travel Guide by Annie Miller

Portugal is a colorful, welcoming, diversified, culinary heaven of a country and culture. We happen to think a road trip is a great way to take it all in. But if you hate driving, then just come and see the main sites. They won’t disappoint.

Portugal Road Trip Map by Annie Miller

Details:

  • Paid just over $300 for a BMW convertible (highly recommend) through Auto Europe
  • 3 nights Lisbon – pick up car on last day
  • Stop in Evora & castle town.
  • 1 night Covilha (would stay a full day to relax or hike here)
  • Drive around Sierra De Estrella National Park & through Douro Valley.
  • 1 night Braga (could stay another night here and visit vineyards/sights around the area)
  • Stop at Cascata Da Portela Do Homem, Sanctuary De Nossa Senhora Da Peneda & Sanctuary De Santa Lucia
  • 3 nights Porto – return car on first day

The roads for the most part were great throughout Portugal. Once you get into the smaller cities, things get tighter and bumpier (cobble stone), but still very drivable. It was easy to navigate and the people there we kind. We felt safe, and highly suggest this trip to anyone who loves a good road trip. Take it as slow or fast as you like; you can even add or change up some of the locations. Just make sure YOU GO!

Planning a trip to Portugal? Pin this post for later!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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