In this post we travel through the center of Portugal. A trip that brings you from the capital to the cradle of Portugal. Travel from Lisboa to Porto. Ideal time schedule to do this trip is 15 days. That is the same period as I did it myself and you also find in the information below. Now, let’s travel!
#lisboa, #porto, #river, #roadtrip, #capital, #cradleofportugal, #centralportugal
Ideal period is to travel in 15 days.
Stay 3 nights, 4 days, in Lisboa and Porto. So, you have enough time to discover the most important things in a relaxed way. Also, you can take a little bit time after you arrived in Portugal and travel further. Do the same in Porto, before you take your flight back home. In the locations in between, 2 nights per stay are more than enough. So, you have 2 full days in the larger cities and 1 full day in the other cities. The other days are travel days.
This road trip is ideal by car. You pick up your car at the airport of Lisboa and drop it off at the airport of Porto. From there you can take the metro to the city for your last days of the trip.
If you don’t like to drive around the airport or a metropolitan city, you also can rent your car in Tomar and drop off at Aveiro. These cities are easily accessible by public transport. This is the way how I did it.
It also is possible to do the whole trip by train and bus.
Below you find the travel plan of the road trip from Lisboa to Porto. Click left on a location name for detail information. Watch our YouTube video to get an impression of what you may expect.
Welcome in Lisboa. This is the start of our road trip. I suppose that you will arrive here by airplane. But of course, it also is possible to arrive here on another way.
Lisboa is the capital of Portugal near the Tagus river, o rio Tejo. Because this river is so wide over here, most people think it is the sea. But, this is wrong. In the city you have the wide river and beyond Belém, there is the Atlantic Ocean. So, there is no sea in Lisboa.
This wide Tagus river together with how the city is built up are the most important factors why Lisboa is a charming city of natural light. Read also our post “Lisboa – The city of natural light” for more inside information. Now, below we find out how the city is built up.
The city itself is built up on 7 hills near the river. All these hills contain wonderful neighbourhoods. The most famous neighbourhoods are Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Ato, Cais de Sodré and Belém. In our post “Inside Lisboa”, you discover all the neighbourhoods of this metropolitan city.
Ideal is to stay 3 nights, 4 days in Lisboa. The first and last days are travel days, so you have 2 full days to discover the most important hotspots. Staying longer is always a good idea to see more or in a more relaxed way. That is completely up to you.
TIP: It is the best option that you arrive in the morning. In the most hotels you already can leave your luggage before check-in. In this way, you still have some time on your first day to discover the city.
We travel further to the next place. You can do this by car or public transport. I did it by train. Below you see how to travel to Tomar, our second location.
By car you have your freedom. You drive in around 1h15 from Lisboa to Tomar over the Toll road. If you don’t have your own car, don’t worry. There are many places to rent a car. In Lisboa, the best option is to pick up your car at the airport. So, you don’t have to drive in the metropolitan city and can take immediately the A1 (E1) to the north.
For a road trip through Portugal, the automatic Toll system of Via Verde is very practical. By most car rental companies, you can rent it together. See below at this post for more information.
From Lisboa to Tomar, I traveled by train. This also is possible. In train station Lisboa Oriente, you can take a direct train to Tomar. This train brings you in around 2 hours in Tomar, without change. I rented my car for the next part of the road trip over there by Europcar.
Portugal has a nice network of fast bus lines between many locations in the country. This is operated by Rede Expressos. Also from Lisboa it is possible to take these bus to Tomar.
The Templars where monks who became soldiers. So, it was a Roman Catholic military order. There symbol was a red cross on a white background. In Portugal, they financed the great overseas discoveries of Portugal. That is why you see their symbol on the sails of the Portuguese caravels, the boats of discoveries.
Tomar houses the home of the Templars of Portugal. They lived in the Convent of Christ, also known as the Castle of Tomar. This is a typical Manueline building and a must see when you visit Tomar.
The Nabão river crosses this city in the center of Portugal. Over this river, you find the Ponte Velha, which is thought that it is built on an old Roman bridge. Aside of this bridge a nice green zone and park situated: Parque do Mouchão. From there, you have a nice view to this historical city.
If you have the freedom of a car, nice places to visit around Tomar are Fátima, Batalha and the Castle of Almourol. Fátima is known for the huge Sanctuary of Our Lady. In Batalha, you can visit the wonderful monastery. Finally, the Castle of Almourol also is a well preserved and important templar castle. It is located on a tiny island in the Tagus river.
Now it is time, to travel more to the north. We’re gonna to the city of the big university, Coimbra.
Without stop, it takes around 1h to drive from Tomar to Coimbra over the Toll highway. This is fine, not too long to drive. So, you have the time to still visit something in Tomar, Coimbra or in between.
You also can take a train from Tomar to Coimbra, but you have to change once. Take a look at CP for more information.
Our next stop is Coimbra. A wonderful city at the Mondego river in central Portugal. We are again a little bit closer to the huge Atlantic coast line of Portugal. Coimbra is known as the university city. The city is built up on a hill near the Mondego river. So, good walking shoes and a good spirit is a must when you visit this city.
If you visit Coimbra, you have to visit the old university. This is the oldest university of Portugal and one of the oldest of Europe and the world. Here are many old faculties you can visit as an interactive museum. A must see is the old library and Royal Palace.
As told above, Coimbra has a Royal Palace. This is because Coimbra was the capital of Portugal before Lisboa. It was King Afonso III who relocated the Royal Palace and government from Coimbra to Lisboa in 1255.
Aside of the old university and capital, Coimbra has a lot of other things to offer. You can relax near the Mondego river, a botanic garden, visit the old and new Cathedral and the wonderful Church of Santa Cruz. At the other side of the river, you can pass your time in “Portugal dos Pequenitos”. This is a scaled village of the most important monuments of the old Portuguese worldwide empire. A must do with children.
Also 2 nights are ideal to stay here. This is enough time to discover everything in this city on a relaxed way. On the road to our next location, you always can make a stop in the Mata National of Buçaco and the gardens of the Convent of Buçaco.
Our next location to go is Viseu. At the moment of writing this post, Viseu has no train station. So, this is one of the reasons why it is nice to have a car for a road trip in Portugal. A bus also brings you there.
You drive in just over 1 hour from Coimbra to Viseu. Also here you have to take Toll roads. So, you will get a lot of comfort with Via Verde. Because you can take the roads with automatic Toll systems.
Again, the buses of Rede Expressos also bring you from Coimbra to Viseu. Take a look at their website to get the time schedule.
We are again more inside the country. Viseu is a small city in central Portugal but has a lot to offer. Let’s discover more in this post.
The heart of Viseu is a well preserved historical Medieval city center. It contains a lot of small streets. The Praça de Dom Duarte was for a long period the main square of this city. On this square you find the statue of D. Duarte, who was King of Portugal for 5 years and born in Viseu. He was the brother of Infante Dom Henrique, who was the most important figure of the Portuguese discoveries.
Behind this statue, stands the Cathedral and Our Lady of Mercy church, Igreja de Misericórdia. At the left side of the cathedral, you find the old Bishop’s Palace, which is now the Grão Vasco Museum. These buildings determine the recognizability of Viseu.
In the center of the city, you can relax and walk through the garden of the mothers, o Jardim das Mães. This is located near the Praça da República. At the other side of this square, you find the Aquilino Ribeiro park.
Finally, behind the Our Lady of Mercy church, you can go down to the Ribeira garden, o Jardim da Ribeira. Don’t worry, it is possible to take a modern funicular to this place and back upwards. This is the garden where the famous Feira de São Mateus takes place every summer.
Also a stay in Viseu of 2 nights is more than enough to discover everything and have enough time to relax.
For our next location, we again go to the coast line. We’re gonna visit the Venice of Portugal. Let’s travel to Aveiro.
Normally, again it takes around 1h to drive from Viseu to our next stop on this tour. I suggest you to make a stopover in Águeda. More about this place in the next location.
As already told many times, Rede Expressos gives you the best service to transport you through Portugal by bus. This is due to the large network between the many cities. Take a look on their site for the time schedule to transport you from Viseu to Aveiro.
We arrive back at the Atlantic coast line. Now, we perhaps are in the most romantic city on our road trip from the capital to the cradle of Portugal. Welcome in the Venice of Portugal, welcome in Aveiro.
The city of Aveiro is characterized by the Ria. These are the water channels in the middle of the city. Here you find the Moliceiros, the boats, to make a trip through the Ria. This is a must do in this romantic city near the Atlantic Ocean.
Aveiro is also famous for its sweets, the Ovos Moles. It is made of egg yolks and sugar. Ovos moles were founded more than 500 years ago in the Convent of Aveiro. Now, they also have a liqueur of it. Also, famous in Aveiro are Tripas. These are not the same as these of Porto. Tripas de Aveiro are more like a pancake with the structure of a waffle. This can be topped with some sweets. Or if you want, you also can go for a liquid Ovos Moles topping. As you can see on the images, that’s what I did. But be prepared, this is a huge sugar and calorie bomb.
We go to the Atlantic coast. When you visit Aveiro, a visit to the beach, a praia, is a must do. Especially, the Praia da Costa Nova. This is an old fishermen place. Most of the beach houses are renovated and used as country house, restaurant, hotel, … But, the typical wood and colours make it a romantic and wonderful place to be. Go there by bus or car and enjoy it by yourself.
When you travel to Aveiro, I suggest to make a stopover in Águeda. This is a small city in the district of Aveiro. This town is well known for his wonderful “Umbrella Sky Project”. Many streets in the city center are decorated with colorful umbrella’s, balloons, swings, … Give it a chance and go visit Águeda before you enter romantic Aveiro.
This is the last place where I suggest a stay of 2 nights is enough to discover everything without having to rush. So, you also have 1 full day without travels to see all the aspects of Aveiro.
Here in Aveiro, I dropped off my rental car and I took the train to Porto. Aveiro has one of the most beautiful train stations in Portugal, decorated with a lot of Azulejos.
Of course, it also is possible to drive by car to our final destination, Porto. Traveling from Aveiro to Porto takes around 1 hour. Best place to drop off your car in Porto, is at the airport.
Over there, you take the metro to the center of the city. Or a taxi, if you prefer that option.
Finally, we reached our latest destination of this road trip. We are almost traveling 12 days to arrive in the region of the cradle of Portugal. Welcome in Porto. This is the Douro city with 6 bridges, famous of the Port Wine and a lot of history.
Famous in Porto is the lively Ribeira at the Douro river. Enjoy the feeling of the city, the old colourful houses and the Port Houses at the other side of the river. During the golden hour, in the morning and the evening, you will get wonderful colours on the river side. Please be there to enjoy the moment. In our post about Porto, you’ll get a complete inside in this metropolitan city in the north of Portugal.
I already told many times, Porto is located in the cradle of Portugal. This is because the oldest origins of the old Kingdom of Portugal and the current country are in Porto and his large region. In Guimarães, you find the letters “Aqui nasceu Portugal”, or in English: “Here was Portugal born”. These are placed on a tower of the old city wall. The history learns us that the first King D. Afonso Henriques was born in Guimarães. The first settlements in Porto also are an important fact why Porto is part of the cradle of Portugal. Read more about this in the history of Porto of our specific post about Porto.
If we say Porto, we can’t pass without talking about the Port Wine or Vinho do Porto. The lodges are located in Vila Nova de Gaia, on the other side of the Douro river. You see the most logo’s when you stand on the Ribeira. The typical boats, rabelo, are in the Douro river. But they are there as a decorative aspect. These days, these boats are not in use anymore. In the past they are used to transport the wine from the vineyards and Quinta’s more upwards the Douro river to the lodges over here. One of the rules to be called Port Wine is that the lodge is located in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Tip: You can’t say you have visited Porto, if you haven’t visited a Port Wine Lodge. So, book a tour to immerse yourself in the secrets of the Port Wine. Of course, afterwards it is possible to taste.
Because Porto is the 2nd largest city in Portugal and also a metropolitan area, a stay of at least 4 days is a must. A longer stay is always a good idea, especially if you have never been here before. For a city trip in a large city, I always suggest to stay at least 5-7 full days. So you have enough time to discover everything in a relaxed way.
This is our latest location on this road trip. If you came to Portugal by airplane, than it is possible to take a return flight in this city. Or to travel further to another destination. The international airport of Porto is Aeroporto Francisco Sá Carneiro, recognized as OPO.
You can’t wait to make this road trip? Don’t wait any longer! Click on the buttons below to find your perfect flights and/or hotels to prepare yourself and go for it!
On most of the highways in Portugal, you have to pay toll. Via Verde offers a system to pay your toll automatically. A sensor is placed on the front window of your car and connected with your credit card. In this way, you can pass the special lines of Via Verde. So, you don’t have to wait till the barrier opens after you paid.
Also, you can take the highways with automatic toll. These are sensors above the road that detect your car sensor. If you don’t have such a sensor in your car, you aren’t allowed to take the highways with only automatic toll systems.
Conclusion, a car sensor for the automatic toll system is a nice to have in your car. So, you don’t have to worry about which highway you are allowed to drive on and which not. Also you don’t have to wait at the toll barriers. By all the large car rental companies, you can rent this system together with your car.
So, go for it!
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