One country, two girls and six days on the road. Not one, but two cars, two cities and countless towns. Tiny roads and wide highways, memories for a lifetime.
If you love roadtripping and haven’t been to Portugal yet – big love from here!
Our trip started with one-night stay at Porto. The city, or rather a town, is worth a visit on its own right. Beautiful hilly center, no rush, no stress, countless restaurants and more delicious courses to taste than you possibly can in a couple of days.
My must-dos: Long lunch by the riverside, wandering on the small streets, Livraria Lello, Port Wine tasting, sunset from the 80 m high Ponte da Arrábida and late night snack. Don’t programme your stay too much, as you might just want to sit and look around.
If we would have had more time, I’d combined a visit to scenic Guimarães to the same trip, but for now – next time…
To head out from the beaten path, we decided to get a rental car at Porto. And so the journey begins…
First stop: Aveiro, a beautiful old town south of Lisbon. Our choice of accommodation in Barra, Hotel Farol, was great. We were located right by the beach. After walking to the lighthouse and back, we ventured to a rather longish walk along the beach. At least we got hungry for another excellent long lunch, now at Bronze Seafood & Lounge Bar. The waiter let us choose our own fish from the counter!
Aveiro is famous for Ovo Moles, a very special kind of sweets – strongly recommended! Have one for dessert, or even better, grap it with a coffee as a mid-afternoon snack.
A stroll in the city center reminds you of Venice, latest when you see the Portuguese verions of Gondola.
Next day the trip continued through more scenic views. We developed a keen love/hate relationship to the navigator, and own mobile data was heavily used as a support mechanism.
We head towards Peniche, but not without stops on the way. A spontanious stop at Figueira da Foz reveals a beach that looks basically untouched, and second stop of Nazar makes me consider how life full of beach, surfing, reading and possibly writing would be. Too good.
Peniche is surf, surf, surf. We encounter one major set-back, namely broken car. Driving max 20km/hour is not fun even in the city center. Hungry as we were, the problem was left to be dealed with after a late lunch – swallowed in a record time, though. Rental company’s moves were luckily fast, and while the snail car was left in front of the excellent seafood restaurant, we were promptly driven to the nearest rental location. Swap, and Volkswagen > Audi.
The night was spent well chiling in the hotels spa and having another late dinner.
Last day on the road put our patience to a test and delivered memories seriously worth a normal month. After a great breakfast we decided to head towards another meal, I mean beach. Ericeira was on the must-see list, and the drive from Peniche to Ericeira offered as spectacular views as route 1 in California. Highly recommended!
In Ericeira we managed to find another excellent restaurant with the best seafood I’ve ever had. Right before the rush hour. Car parked right in front of it. Wau.
From that moment our slightly spontanousity (=googling what to do on the way) started to kick in. We headed to Sintra, on Easter Friday. Not quite sure where to park, we did one planning stop just outside the village. Heading to the villige, in beautiful sunshine, it was easy to notice that… We were not the only ones. Not a single parking spot anywhere. Well, no easy way out, and I guess, we need to see SOMETHING here. Up to the palace we drove. Half way up of a huge hill, another stop to think what to do. Up or down? One-way sign and racing bus made it a easy decision, and the clutch got to work.
Obviously, we got to do an amazing sightseeing, without a chance to park the car though.
When car was returned later same day to Lisbon airport, that definitely felt like one less commitment to take care of.
I liked Porto so much that I did not have too much expectations towards Lisbon. That was fine, and Lisbon turned out to be very fine! Here our accommodation, room in a private apartment, was located just by railways staion called Santa Apolónia. View from the room was specatcular, right to the square in front of the station towards the huge cruise ships.
After sama coffee, hot chocolate and natas we were ready to explore the city. The atmosphere was totally different than in relaxed and rather quiet Porto – tourists everywhere and people everywhere.
After some seightseeing and a viewpoint check-out, not so suprisignly, we found ourselves in Bairro Alto, the bar district. My friend used her excellent ‘the place to go’ -spotting skills once again, and we got the last seats for the whole weekend at BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto. Sincerely one of the nicest wine bars I have visited – the owner asked for our budget and preferences, brought always two different wines to taste and we just picked whatever we fancied the most. As a plus for me, we were able to follow how the Saints were taken out – it was Easter, after all.
No visit to Portugal is complete without some fado. We found some 11pm, and the trip was complete.
Distances are short, but it is still worth leaving loads of time for each leg – you never know if you wanna take the scenic road or stop for a walk on the beach
Portuguese traffic designers loooove roundabouts. The typical instruction is ‘7 km straight and 2nd exit from the roundabout’
Highways are tolled – but probs your car rental can loan you a handy device that lets you to pay the charges directly from your credit card.