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Portugal roadtrip 2019

Fly into Lisbon

  • 3.5 hours from UK

  • Lisbon airport is about an hour outside of the city centre by public transport, or 25 minutes by Uber (which is very well used and cheaper than the UK. We paid about £8 for our airport transfer.)

  • you will be at a DISadvantage with a car in Lisbon - don't hire one for your city break

Cool things to do and see in Lisbon

  • Wander the streets, enjoy the jacaranda trees and cute medieval squares

  • Pick up a coffee and a pastel de nata (we went to Fabrica)

  • Check out the street art, and Pink Street!

  • Walk the promenade

  • Find a viewpoint and take photos of the city

  • Visit the castle and gawp (squawk?) at the peacocks

Pick up a car and drive down the west coast

It's beautiful and the main roads are amazing. However, once you get off the highways, you are sometimes on a track.

Recommend: if you're planning to roadtrip, buying the toll pass from your car hire company so you don't have to worry about paying tolls as you go.

Places to stop

Hit the 'edge of the world' at Sagres

This is the most westerly point of Europe - and it feels like it! It's permanently super windy and feels really isolated. There's 3 things I recommend here:

  • the lighthouse at Cap San Vicente

  • a walk round the fort at Sagres (€3)

  • a surf lesson (in a 5mm wetsuit to keep you warm!) at Praia do Beliche (booked in Sagres town)

Head to the Algarve, and play 'avoid the Brits'

I'm British. I'm often not proud of the reputation, or the actual behaviour, of my countrypeople. Sometimes, the worst thing is the influence regular British tourism has - obliterating local culture, 'plasticising' areas into carbon copy resort hotel complexes and creating a kind of Stepford atmosphere that I can't stand. But that's just me.

There's plenty of the Algarve that has managed to avoid this process, despite tourism being the main industry for over 30 years. If you care about the same things I do, please spend your money in small towns and independent businesses, not at the Hilton or Thomas Cook-endorsed establishments.

Things I loved

  • Algar Seco: looks like something out of Star Wars!

  • Benagil caves: get down there early and book a kayak to see the caves at your own pace, the powerboat tours are less personal

  • Massa Fina de Praia de Galé - the eastern end of a huge, long beach with a couple of little restaurants

  • Ponte de Piedade - lots of steps down to an amazing little natural cove

  • Lagos old town - including the market at the marina and all the little shops

  • Kayaking around the beaches from Lagos Marina (we used Bom Dia tours, €35 each for 2 hours)

Spend 24 hours in Faro before you fly home

Faro was unexpectedly awesome. We travelled in late May, when the season is only just kicking off, and there weren't millions of tourists about so perhaps that was why I found it super chill and very quaint, but I think even swarming with tourists, it would retain some of its charm. Well worth a meander.

  • have a drink at the Old Tavern

  • choose your hypothetical boat in the Marina

  • watch the sunset from a rooftop bar

  • eat a fancy dinner with local wine

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