Portugal is a country of many surprises. The stunning scenery, old fashioned villages, incredible seafood and stunning coastlines make a self-drive holiday the perfect excuse to explore this magnificent Iberian paradise. Discover what we at Auto Europe consider Portuguese Essentials with this super road trip.
The hilly capital of Portugal, Lisbon, is a coastal city known for its cafe culture and soulful music. Explore the Jeronimos Monastery, the resting place of explorer Vasco de Gama, it's cloisters are considered amongst the most beautiful in the world. The Belem Tower is an ornate watch tower and city icon, built in the 1500s as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor. Art lovers will be at home with museums such as the Berardo, Madre de Deus Convent and the Calouste Gulbenikain Museum to name a few.
Once you have finished exploring Lisbon, head south along the coast in your hire car to Aljezur. Located in a lush, green valley the town is built on either side of the river that runs through the city. On one side you have the old city, with the remains of a 10th century castle and on the new side marvel at the 18th century church Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Alva.
Heading further south east along the coast to Faro, marvel the spectacular scenery along the way. Faro is unlike most other Portuguese resort towns as it is full of history and culture. Located in a beautifully scenic location, discover the Old Town with its cobble stone streets and quaint restaurants, view majestic dolphins leap through the water on a dolphin watching expedition or marvel in the history at Palacio de Estoi, located just outside the city.
Leaving Faro behind, the Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiania is our destination today. Located in a valley it winds its way through narrow riverbanks past aged watermills and sharp ledges covered in Mediterranean undergrowth. Follow the walking trails around the scenic paradise or rent a canoe and explore by water.
The mysterious town of Leiria is a 3 hour drive northwest today. With a river that flows uphill, a tower with no cathedral and a cathedral with no tower, this town is often mentioned in Portuguese rhymes and children's stories. Step back in time at the striking Castelo de Leiria castle, or relax at the Praia do Pedrogao beach.
Continue your Portuguese self-drive experience to Coimbra, the medieval capital of Portugal for over a hundred years. The old and new Cathedrals are exquisite pieces of architecture as is the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro museum. The Santa Clara-a-Velha monastery was once a thriving monastery but now offers a modern interpretation centre where visitors can learn about the fascinating history behind the convent and mull over the archaeological finds unearthed from the silted ruins.
Situated about one hour north of Coimbra, Viseu is a quaint town best known for its red wines and luscious gastronomic delights. Park your car and walk around the town, Viseu Cathedral is a great starting place for a walk. Continue to Grao Vasco Museum, devoted to one of Portugal's finest painters. The Praca Dom Duarte is a square with a romantic atmosphere or purusue Rua Direita a lively place with shops, cafes and cute old townhouses.
Further south along the A24, Vila Real is situated at the foothills of the majestic Serra de Marao slopes. The beautiful Casa de Mateus is a palace and gardens precinct which is full of amazing architecture and stunning gardens. The Baroque 18th Century Igreja de Sao Paulo Church is elegantly constructed and imposing facade located in the heart of the city.
Braga is an ancient city located just over an hour northwest of Vila Real. The Santa Barbara Garden is a must see attraction for any visitor to Braga. Built in a fortress-like style, the palace began being erected in the 14th century. The beautiful gardens are opened to the public year round and features modern and old fashioned architecture and flora.<
You are on the home run to Porto today. Once you have arrived in this coastal city visit the Cais de Gaia - birthplace of one of the world's most famous wines, Serralves Museum has two buildings that are as much a work of art as the collections housed inside or view one of Europe's most extraordinarily lavish church interiors at the Sao Francisco Church.
Auto Europe can help you save on your next Portuguese self-drive journey. Book today on our online search engine or call our friendly reservation consultants on 1300 656 601. Let us help you tick of your Portuguese essential destinations!