Portugal is one of Europe’s top holiday destinations, and for good reason. The country’s seven distinct regions give travelers a wealth of culture, cuisine, and beaches to explore. A country steeped in a rich and vibrant history, Portugal is the ideal destination for an interesting and relaxing break. The people are friendly, the food is good, and the countryside and coastline is beautiful. There are so many things to do in Portugal; it’s hard to know where to start. Our guide will give you a useful itinerary to cover some of the most spectacular places to visit if you only have five days.
A great way to see Portugal is by car. It gives you the freedom to chooses your own agenda, travel across a broad and varied range of places, and set your own pace. Luckily, car rental in Portugal is relatively cheap. You can collect your vehicle from one airport and drop it off at another, giving you the perfect chance for a road trip. Drivers should be aware that road laws are as strict as much of Europe. Fines for speeding and drink driving can be expensive at best. Speed limits are in kph and they drive on the right. With that in mind, let’s start our itinerary.
Portugal by Car Days 1 and 2: Lisbon
Our itinerary starts with two days in the country’s beautiful capital, Lisbon. The city is truly a wonder to explore, from its bustling streets and wonderful architecture to its museums and restaurants. Start your first day by visiting the city’s most famous landmark, the Torre de Belém. Ride Tram 28 (one of Portugal’s hidden gems) from the hills of Graça to the Alfama District, Lisbon’s old town. Here you can enjoy a wonderful al fresco lunch among the beautiful buildings.
Whilst in the area, also pay a visit to St George’s Castle. Once you’re ready for some nightlife, visit the vibrant Bairro Alto for some excellent food, music, and bars. For your first night, choose from one of the many luxury hotels in Portugal’s capital.
Start your second day early and head to Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon’s famous and vivacious food market. If you’re feeling cultural, visit any of the city’s many museums, or if you need to unwind, relax at Caxias Beach. After lunch, visit the spectacular Aqueduto das Águas Livres and Basílica da Estrela. Unwind on your final evening in Lisbon and take in the exciting sights and sounds of the streets at night.
Portugal by Car Day 3: Cascais
Thankfully, car rental in Portugal is not too expensive. Once you have your vehicle, visit on of Portugal’s hidden gems; the town of Cascais. The seaside town has some beautiful beaches as well as plenty of lush greenery. After the short drive from Lisbon, start your day at the interesting Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães before enjoying the afternoon sun at either the lush Marechal Carmona Park or one of the many beaches. After lunch, visit the dramatic Boca do Inferno and take in the stunning views. In the evening, make sure you try some of the excellent seafood this former fishing village has to offer before retiring for the night.
Portugal by Car Days 4 and 5: Porto
There are so many things to do in Portugal that you’re a little spoilt for choice. However, having access to a car means you can see a lot of it. On day four, rise early and take the 3-hour drive to the magnificent city of Porto. This ancient trading site is still bustling to this very day, and there’s a lot to do and explore. You’ll no doubt be hungry by the time you arrive, so a Food Tour might be just the thing you need. Alternatively, check out one of the restaurants by the riverfront at Cais da Ribeira.
Like Lisbon, Porto is steeped in a rich history. The Church of São Francisco is one of the finest examples of the city’s historic architecture and is well worth a visit. Right next door is the Palácio da Bolsa. Enjoy your first night with a visit to the packed Downtown area; it’s bound to be a lively affair. If you’d rather have a quiet night in, you once again have a wealth of the best luxury hotels in Portugal to choose from.
On your final day, explore more of what the city has to offer or simply enjoy strolling through the streets. Some highlights include Porto Cathedral, the waterfront at Foz do Douro, and square at Praça da Liberdade.
Have a great road trip!
Your four-wheel travel buddy Carrentalia 🚗