Making a road trip through Portugal is very popular. Indeed, it is one of the best countries of Europe for road trips. Many people like it to travel from the north to the south. Indeed, road tripping through Portugal from north to south is a good idea to discover the whole country. Or in other words, from the cradle and monuments to the sun and beaches. In this case, I can give you a great experience with this post. From the north to the south, it is possible to drive over the longest route through the country. Take the famous Route EN2.
From Chaves in the north, you can take the longest route national of Portugal. This is the Route EN2, or in Portuguese Rota EN2. This historic route is built in 1945 and takes you in around 738 km through the whole country. You’ll travel from Chaves in the north to Faro in the Algarve. In between you travel along many wonderful and picturesque places of continental Portugal. It is the ideal way to discover the real Portugal. And don’t forget to collect your stamps. In 2020, Portugal celebrated 75 years of Rota EN2. In most locations at this famous historical route from north to south, they placed new yellow markers.
In this post, I’ll inform you about this route. Ready to make a road trip through the real Portugal? Drive the Portuguese Route 66 and discover the wonderful Portuguese culture with passion. It will be an unforgettable life experience.
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The road is 738,5 km long. It is OK to drive every day around 70-80 km to your next destination. In that case you don’t miss much and have the opportunity to discover a lot of things on your road trip. In this way, you drive in around 10 days from the north to the south. Also include some extra days to see something. Because you are traveling. It has to be fun, relaxed and enjoy your time.
Of course you can make this road trip shorter or longer. Or make your day trips longer and make a stop in between to discover some places and monuments. It is all up to you. How you want and like to do it.
Keep in mind that traveling has to be fun and relaxed, no rat race. So, how you travel, keep it amused and enjoy your time.
The most popular way to drive the Portuguese Route 66, the Route EN2, is by motorcycle. The route is ideal to do with this kind of transport. Lovely and many winding roads that lead you through the beautiful Portuguese landscapes. Also, you always find a good place to park your motor near the road to enjoy the wonderful views around you. Or drive in the small streets of the picturesque towns and villages.
Another option is to take or rent a car. Route EN2 is a national road through the country. The roads are ideal to drive by car. More details on the roadmap below.
What do you thought of traveling by motorhome? OK, some parts of the Rota EN2 are a little bit smaller and may be more difficult to pass. A positive point of this kind of transport is that you have your stay with you. Only look for a legal camping place.
In many cities and villages where you pass with the Rota EN2, you are able to ask for a stamp. Go to the Tourist office for your travel passport to collect the marks where you passed on this wonderful road trip through Portugal. During your trip, it is not always easy to find where you have to be for your stamp. Isn’t that part of traveling and discovering with a local experience? Real travelers collect all the stamps. And you, are you gonna collect them all?
As already told above, driving the Rota EN2 is making a road trip of 738,5 km through a whole country. This means you will discover a lot of wonderful places in Portugal. Travel through the Douro Valley, central Portugal and the Alentejo. Finally, we reach the most southern part of Portugal, the beautiful Algarve. Drive the longest road of Portugal, drive the Portuguese Route 66. Find out below where you will pass on this trip. We take you on a road trip across the famous Rota EN2 and discover Portugal from north to south.
If you don’t live in Portugal and plan to make this road trip, you perhaps plan to arrive in Portugal by airplane. Porto has the nearest international airport to arrive in this part of the country. You drive around 150 km to arrive in Chaves. So, you already have a nice trip to go before you can start to drive the Portuguese Route 66 over the Rota EN2: Portugal from north to south.
We already learned that our start point of the Route EN2, Chaves, is located near the Spanish border in the north of Portugal. But of course, Chaves also is a wonderful city in a great Portuguese region to discover. It is in the north of the district Vila Real and is a charming city which always was a strategic place in the country. Around 100 km at the east side, you find Bragança. Bragança is the location of the House of Bragança, the latest Royal family of Portugal.
Aside of the House of Bragança, the northern part of Portugal is also known as the cradle of Portugal. But this is more in the region around Porto, with Guimarães. Famous products in the whole northern part are Feijoada, cabrito estufado and presunto de Chaves.
Now, let’s start our road trip. In this post, I will discuss the different important regions you will pass during a trip over the Rota EN2. Start at the marker of KM 0 and drive over this famous route. Don’t forget to take your Rota EN2 travel passport with you. It remembers you to all the places where you have to stop and get your stamp. Let’s rock and road trip! Enjoy!
After around 85 km traveling over the Rota EN2, we arrive in Peso da Régua. This is are first wonderful and famous region of this trip. Peso da Régua is located in the famous Douro Valley. The wonderful terraces at the river side are UNESCO classified. Yes this is a World Heritage. Welcome at the Douro river, the home of the Port wine, o Vinho do Porto. The location Peso da Régua is a fundamental place in the production and sale of Port Wine. In our post about the Port Wine you find everything about this delicious and protected fortified wine.
At the other side of the Douro river, we enter the district Viseu. A must stop location here is Lamego. Lamego is famous for his Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. This Sanctuary has some similarities with the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus near Braga, above Porto. You can’t miss this Sanctuary, because the Rota EN2 passes in the middle through this Sanctuary. Admire the wonderful steps of the many stairs to the top, where the church of this Sanctuary is located.
Take a short break over here and walk the stairs upwards. Whether you have something with any kind of Faith or not, it is a must do on this trip. Because Portugal is a very Catholic country. So, if you want to understand and immerse yourself into the culture of the country you visit, it is a must to visit and discover what is so important for the locals.
In this region, the Rota EN2 is very winding through the hilly landscape of the Douro Valley. Be prepared for more dangerous roads in the first part of the Rota EN2, which also is known as the Route 66 of Portugal.
As already told in the previous point, we are now in the district Viseu. Again around 85 km, we arrive in the city Viseu itself. Now we traveled 170 km on the most wonderful road from the north to the south of Portugal.
With Viseu, we arrived in central Portugal. Viseu still is a historical place. Famous buildings to visit here are the Cathedral of Viseu with the convent and the Igreja da Misericórdia. Viseu is also known for his huge Feira de São Mateus. It takes place from August till September and is known as 1 of the largest festivals in Portugal.
If we leave Viseu over the Rota EN2, we travel further in the direction of Coimbra. In between, when arriving at the Mondego river, we pass Penacova. Now we already are in the district Coimbra. A little bit away of the EN2 is Luso located. These are 2 places of famous water brands in Portugal. It is worth it to leave the EN2 a moment and drive in the direction of Luso. Over there you find the wonderful garden and natural park of the Palace of Bussaco. These days, the Palace is a hotel. But it is possible to visit the wonderful gardens. A must do when you are in this region.
Do you want to taste regional dishes? Well in and around coimbra, you have to go for Chanfana, a dish of stewed goat. Or some delicious sweets? In that case, I can recommend Torta de Canela or Torta de Coimbra for you.
Let’s travel further on the Rota EN2. Further to the south, the road winds further through the beautiful landscapes. In all these windings, we pass the charming place Goís. We are now 100 km away from Viseu, at KM 270 on the Rota EN2. Goís is still in the district Coimbra, in the mountains of the Serra de Lousã. A wonderful natural area that is worth it to make a stop on this road trip through Portugal. The Aldeias do Xisto are a wonder to see. Don’t forget to collect your stamp in Góis.
When you are ready to go further, we follow more southward to pass the district Leiria. After we passed the Zêzere river, we make a stop in Sertã. Sertã is a small city in the district Castelo Branco. When you arrive in Sertã, we arrive in the region of the Templars. In Portugal, the Templars were important for the overseas discoveries of Portugal.
A little bit further on the Rota EN2, we arrive in Vila de Rei. Here we reached KM 369. Yes! We are halfway the Rota EN2! We are in the half of our road trip through Portugal from north to south. We are not only halfway on the Rota EN2. Vila de Rei is also known as the place located in the geographical middle of Portugal. If you draw a vertical and a horizontal line to locate the middle point of Portugal, than you will find on the cross point of these lines Vile de Rei. So, I think this is a nice place to make our last stop in central Portugal, isn’t it? Don’t forget to take a picture over here at the yellow marker of 75 years of Rota EN2. Also collect your stamp for your travel passport in this city.
When we leave central Portugal, we arrive in a more flat part of the Rota EN2, the Portuguese Route 66 to discover Portugal from the north to the south of the country. As told at the end of the previous point, we arrived in the Templars region of Portugal. This brings us further to where the Rota EN2 passes the Tagus river, o rio Tejo. The Tagus river rises in Spain and flows after around 1000 km in the Atlantic Ocean, near Lisbon. It is known as the longest river of the Iberian Peninsula.
You can consider the Tagus river as the divider of Portugal. The Tagus divides Portugal in a northern and a southern part. Above the river you find Portugal North, the Douro Valley and central Portugal. Below this river we arrive in the southern part with the Alentejo and the Algarve. The region around the river is known as the Ribatejo. This is the region of Portugal where we are arrived at this moment.
A first place to make a stop is in Abrantes. Abrantes is located in the district of Santarém, in the Ribatejo and the place where the Rota EN2 crosses the Tagus river. We passed 400 km of our road trip, because the city of Abrantes is located at KM 404.
If you are a fan of one of the most famous brands of Portuguese olive oil, than you may already know this city. Because Abrantes is the home of Gallo, which is a well known brand of olive oils and vinegars in Portugal.
Due to his higher location near the Tagus river, Abrantes always was a strategic military location. This is the same for some other places in this region around the Tagus river. As already told, this part of the Ribatejo is home of the Templars. You still can find many castles around the Tejo. They were important to protect this whole region and the previous Portuguese capital Coimbra. Other famous and important places in this part of Portugal are Tomar, the Castle of Almourol, Constância and at the other side further upwards the river Belver.
Also not far from Tomar, you discover Fátima. Fátima is the most famous sanctuary in Portugal. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Fátima. The legend tells us that in 1917 the Virgn Mary appeared in front of 3 young shephered children: Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta.
We drive further on the Rota EN2 and passed the Tagus river. Now we enter in the largest region of Portugal. Here you find beautiful plains, wide viewpoints and an a mouth-watering gastronomy. Welcome in the Alentejo, the most pure region of Portugal.
If you ask me to describe the Alentejo in a few words, then I give you the these 5 keywords:
Pure – Relax – Wideness – Castles – Gastronomy
The name Alentejo is a contraction of “Além do Tejo”, which means “Beyond the Tagus”. Literally, Alentejo means the region beyond the Tagus river, which divides Portugal in 2 parts. And this part, is marked as the most pure region of Portugal But you can divide the Alentejo in 4 large sub-regions. Read more about them below.
You can divide the Alentejo in 4 large sub-regions. In the north you have the Alto Alentejo, which is the district of Portalegre. In the middle you have Central Alentejo. This is marked by the ditrict of Évora. While the city of Évora also is known as the capital of the Alentejo. The most southern part is the Baixo Alentejo, in the district of Beja and borders the Algarve. Finally, the last part is located near the Atlantic Ocean and is called Alentejo Litoral. This sub-region the southern parts of the 2 districts Setúbal and Beja. Our roadtrip on our Portuguese Route 66, the Rota EN2, crosses only the first 3 sub-regions of the Alentejo.
Enough about the Alentejo. Which interesting and cool Alentejo locations will we discover on this road trip over the Portuguese Rota EN2? I discuss them with you below.
When cross the Tagus river in Abrantes, we firstly arrive in the Alto Alentejo. Now we are in the district Portalegre. Directly after Abrantes, we welcome Ponte de Sor. It is a agreeable city aside of the Sor river. Also part of Ponte de Sor is the huge Barragem de Montargil. This dam is a wonderful place to escape from the city. A place to relax at the water side or in the water. Make a stop over here and enjoy your time aside, in or on the water. Afterwards we travel further through the Alentejo.
By driving further on the Rota EN2, you will see that the road over here is less dangerous as the previous part above the Tagus river. Aside the road you see some strange trees. Trees with a removed bark. These are cork oaks. Portugal is famous for his cork production and most cork oaks are located in the Alentejo. So, you will discover a lot of them in this region. Cork is fully ecological product. As you see around you on this part of the Rota EN2, they only need the bark. At the cork harvest, they can let the tree stand. This means that no new tree needs to planted after harvest. Isn’t it wonderful?
After around 30 minutes driving from Ponte de Sor, you will be around 40 km further. Now we arrived in Mora, in the district Évora. Mora is asmall village in the Central Alentejo. Here you already feel it how relaxed the Alentejo is. People still have time. Stress, euh what do you say?
Again drive around 30 minutes and around 30 km on the Rota EN2 to the south to arrive in Montemor-o-Novo. We are on the line Lisboa-Évora and drove already 500 km on the Rota EN2. A good place to make a little side trip to Évora. It’s worth it. Évora is an UNESCO classified city and the capital of the Alentejo. Évora is known as the best place in the Alentejo to taste the wonderful gastronomy of the Alentejo. Don’t forget to also taste the delicious wines of the Alentejo. Our post about Évora will give you a short introduction about this wonderful city. Aside of Montemor-o-Novo, you find Vendas Novas. This place is known for the Bifanas de Vendas Novas.
By driving back from Évora to the Rota EN2, you can pass at Almendras. Here you see the Almendres Cromlech. Like Stonehenge in the U.K., it is one of the largest stone circles in world. But this one is a lot older, Almendres dates from 6000 BC and as you see it today, it dates from around 3000 BC. Stonehenge dates from around 2500 BC.
After half an hour, Alcáçovas welcomes us. Alcáçovas is a parish of Viana do Alentejo. When you walk through this location, you discover it immediatly that the Alentejo is a very quier place. Don’t be surprised that you can walk completely alone through the streets. This is completely normal, especially in the hot summer time. Alcáçovas owns the wonderful Paço dos Henriques with a beautiful garden. You only can visit it with a guide and book this at the entrance of the nearby museum. The good thing about this, is that you get some background information about this place. But keep in mind that you are in the interior of Portugal. So, it is not sure that the guided tour is available in English.
Also visit the village Viana do Alentejo itself. Viana do Alentejo is famous for a wonderful Sanctuary. Yes, again a Sanctuary. This one is a wonderful place for road trippers like you. Don’t make the mistake to leave this behind you. Because it is famous by road trippers. Now that you are in Viana do Alentejo, also visit the castle of the village. Because as I told in the introducion, in the ALentejo are a lot of castles to discover. Most of them are more a sort of ruins with well preserved walls and towers. Even some of them are not able to visit. But the castle of Viana do Alentejo, still holds a church with a wonderful Manueline gate.
Finally, we drive to the lowest part of the Alentejo. Drive around 45 km on the Rota EN2 and pass some wonderful small picturesque villages of the ALentejo to reach our next stop in Baixo Alentejo. In the Beja district we make a stop in Ferreira do Alentejo. We drove just under 600 km to reach this place. Left of this village is the Alentejo Litoral located with the famous places Sines and Grândola. But on this road trip, it maybe is better to go to the interior of the Alentejo. The capital of the Baixo Alentejo, Beja, is only 25 km away from Ferreiro do Alentejo at the Rota EN2.
The latest place in the Alentejo to make a stop is around 640 km on the Rota EN2 in Castro Verde. This place is important because the route goes for a few kilometers over the IP2. Don’t be afraid if you lost the route over here. You drive back on the Rota EN2 when you leave Castro Verde at the south. Also we only have to drive around 100 km to reach our final destination at the Atlantic Ocean. These aspects make this place a good location to make a stop or a break. Also, after Castro Verde, we’re gonna leaving the Alentejo. So, it is a good moment to enjoy for a last time this wonderful Portuguese region. Finally we will arrive in the southern part after a huge road trip over the Rota EN2 to discover Portugal from north to south.
Whoohoow! Finally, we reached our latest destination of this road trip. It happened, we are in Faro. A road trip of around 740 km from the north of Portugal, through the whole country to reach the Atlantic Ocean at the Algarve.
Algarve is the most southern part of Portugal. A lot of excellent views, a wonderful Atlantic Coastline and a pleasing climate are the facts why the Algarve attracts a lot of people. We are now in one of the most touristic regions of Portugal, with Faro as the capital. The Faro district covers the whole Algarve.
You can split the Algarve in 2 sides. One part is situated at the west-side of Faro, with the famous locations Albufeira, Portimão, Lagos and Sagres. At the east-side of Faro, you find Olhão and Tavira to finally reach the Spanish border.
Faro itself is a wonderful city. It still has a wonderful historical city center with a lot of Arabic memories. This location already is a gate to enter the Algarve and Portugal from over the sea. Also now, for many people it is the place to enter in the Algarve. Most people arrive at the international Airport of Faro.
We arrive in Faro and the Algarve via the Rota EN2. Drive the road till the end. Again, we are on a roundabout. Calçadas on the roundabout mark the latest km of this Portuguese Route 66. Faro is at KM 738. You are at the final destination of our road trip. Don’t forget to collect your latest stamp for your travel passport. Maybe it is your most important stamp. Afterwards, enjoy! You reached the Atlantic Ocean and started in the North of the country.
Now it is time to relax and enjoy, enjoy the city, the atmosphere and the wonderful sunset views. You made a huge road trip through whole continental Portugal. A road trip with a lot of wonderful views, impressions, different ways of living and mouth-watering gastronomy. This is a road trip you will never forget. Maybe it changed your mind set, making you a different person.
Make your road trip over the Rota EN2. Find your perfect flights and where you want to stay. A good preparation keeps the fun in your road trip. But keep the freedom for last minute changes. Now it is up to you to make this wonderful trip through Portugal from north to south and drive the Portuguese Route 66.
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