Wild waves, high jagged cliffs, sea caves and historic towns. All of this is located on the territory of the Portuguese Republic. In a few days you can drive the entire coast and get to know the most beautiful places in Portugal. Read about famous seaside resorts, the most beautiful beaches and famous cities such as Porto and Lisbon. In addition, all the places in the article are arranged in such a way that they can be visited as part of a road trip.
Portugal is over 3,000 km from us by car, so it might be better to fly here and rent a vehicle. Those who have more time will certainly not be fooled if they travel here by car from the Czech Republic like we did. There are many interesting places along the way. But let’s go straight to Portugal. Less than an hour’s drive from the Spanish border is the Ria Formosa Natural Park on the southern coast.
Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is a natural park located around the city of Faro , which is the center of the Algarve region . The park itself consists of several sandy islands that create a system of lagoons and canals. They are a great place for the life of various animals, especially waterfowl. That’s why you can also see flamingos here. Faro is also a famous bathing resort, which is why you will find many accommodation options here, as well as an international airport. Lots of tourists come to the entire southern coast of Portugal for swimming, so we will move further along it. Another well-known resort is the city of Albufeira.
Albufeira is a classic seaside center and there is not much to see inside the city. Crowded city beaches are also not entirely inviting. But you only need to drive a bit and you will get to great places where you will be almost alone. Behind the town of Olhos de Água is the nice beach of Praia de Santa Eulália . If you walk a little east from it, you will reach among the rocks, where you can rest undisturbed on the yellow sand. A little unusual on this coast is the low tide, during which the water recedes by up to 30 m.
Just drive a short distance outside Albufeira and you will be at the Gruta do Xorino cave . The small beach here is surrounded by rocks and you will have to walk a bit to get to it. But the views here are amazing and worth it. An interesting fact is that you can only get to the open sea by swimming through a small cave/rock arch. The place is also tempting for snorkeling, but the problem is that you can’t last long in the icy sea. For us, however, great views are motivating, and we will endure a little cold. If you don’t feel like going into the water, the views of the rocks are also nice. The nearby Praia do Castelo beach is also nice . If you like mussels, you are truly blessed with them here. You will bring home some really interesting pieces.
Point of Pity
We continue west along the coast and pass through the town of Lagos to the point of Ponta da Piedade. You will definitely like it here . Leave your car in the lighthouse parking lot (free) and go for a walk above the cliffs. When we were here for the first time, we were so excited that we didn’t know what to do before. Whether to take pictures of rocks and cliffs from the top, or go down to the water and take pictures of the cliffs from below, or run for diving equipment and jump into the water. The place is really amazing and we recommend you to spend the whole day there.
Tip: Between Albufeira and Lagos is the massive “cave” Algar de Benagil . It has two entrances from the sea, an open ceiling and is one of the main attractions of Portugal.
When you’ve had enough of the views from the top, go down the stairs to the pier, where the boatmen from the sightseeing cruises drop tourists ashore. Boat trips around the rocks are organized from Lagos and cost around 20 euros/person. It is also possible from 35 euros/person. buy an organized sea kayak trip. You can find more information about options and prices > here <. If you don’t want to pay that much, that’s fine. Wait for low tide, and then you can explore the various caves and rocky nooks and crannies barefoot. The local beach (GPS: 37°4’58.770″N, 8°40’3.824″W) or the nude beach Praia dos Pinheiros is also beautiful . Walk around Lagos in the evening, but it will be more about the atmosphere of the evening city than the sights.
Cape St Vincent
Cape St. Vincennes is a similarly amazing place. The cliffs here are not so jagged and do not form different formations, but they have an impressive height of 60 m and the Atlantic Ocean shows its power here . Leave the car at the lighthouse and take a walk along the cliffs after passing the small fort. It is nice to go down here, for example (GPS: 37°1’50.741″N, 8°59’18.484″W) and from the top of the rock arch observe the masses of water hitting the rocks. If you would like to swim, the only option is the other side of the cape, where the waves are not so strong. You can try the Praia do Beliche beach , for example .
One day we would like to visit here in bad weather, when the waves are really huge and the crashing water sprays up to the top of the rocks (according to the photos). On the way back, you can stop at the Fortaleza de Sagres fortress . The entrance fee is 3 euros/person. and the tour takes about 30 min. You won’t find anything interesting in the nearby village of Sagres, so it’s better to continue on. The capital city of Lisbon is waiting for us!
There are so many interesting places to see in Lisbon that we wrote them down in a separate > article <. If one were to go through all the beautiful places, one would need enough time and, above all, money. Entrance fees to monuments in Lisbon are not cheap. Even so, the best can be done within one day and almost for free. The monuments are also interesting outside, and the most beautiful in the whole city built on seven hills are the various viewpoints. The city also has interesting surroundings, such as Cape Cabo da Roca.
Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of Portugal , and above all of continental Europe. You should not miss this place not only because of the location but also because of the nice cliffs and ocean views. You can park your car for free under the lighthouse and go to the viewpoints. How many times in a lifetime does a person stand on the westernmost point in Europe? After taking in the ocean views and snapping photos at the monument, follow the trails to Ursa Beach . It’s about a 1.5 km easy walk and the beach is one of the most beautiful in Portugal. As usual, you don’t get to swim much in the ocean due to the big waves and cold water, but the view of the rock tooth of Rocha da Ursa is amazing.
Magoito beach is a bit more peaceful . Here again, you will know the difference between high tide and low tide. It is also interesting to observe the local women peeling off the clods from the rocks at low tide. It’s almost a national sport here, like mushroom picking here. Both beaches are located in the protected area of Sintra-Cascais, which is governed by the city of Sintra.
Sintra is a city of palaces, castles and parks. History lovers will really enjoy themselves here. The biggest icon is the colorful Palácio Nacional da Pena . The palace is occasionally used by the government to receive foreign visitors and the entrance fee is 13.3 euros/person. You will have a nice view of the palace from Castelo dos Mouros . Here, the entrance fee is already a little cheaper – 7.6 euros/person. You can also visit the white Palácio Nacional de Sintra , which has long been the residence of the royal family, or the Quinta da Regaleira palace , full of fountains, ponds and corridors. You can find more information about the palaces, opening hours and prices > here < and about the Regaleira Palace > here<. We were a bit pressed for time while going around the Portuguese coast, so we went straight to Porto.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, and also one of the most visited areas. You will be dazzled not only by the famous wine, but also by the historic part of the city with the flowing Douro River. We were most excited by the two-story bridge Ponte Dom Luís I. On its edge there is a monastery and two viewpoints from which the whole city can be seen. The bridge can be crossed on both floors, and on the upper one, the subway passes slowly among the people. Cross the bridge to reach the Sé de Porto Cathedral . A little further away is the São Bento station, which also has a nice building. Now one is in the true center of the city and it is only a short distance to the church and the observation tower Igréja e Torre dos Clérigos .
The Harry Potter bookstore
Most Dom Luís
Tip: You can park for free near the center in the street Variante Silva Tapada (GPS: 41°8’3.422″N, 8°36’13.372″W).
If you pay 6 euros/person. you can climb the 200 steps to the Clérigos tower , which offers a great view of the entire city. The ticket price also includes entry to the museum. More information can be found on the > official website <. From the lookout, cross to the pretty Largo Amor de Perdicao square . It is surrounded by churches, museums, a pleasant park and a university. Harry Potter fans will certainly welcome the nearby bookstore Livraria Lello , where little Harry bought textbooks in the 2nd movie. The entrance fee is 5 euros/person. and you can buy it online > here <. The nearby Igreja do Carmo church is also interesting. Are you familiar with the Lion Fountain in front of the church? You have a good point. The winged lion became the model for the Gryffindor Hall crest when JK Rowling began writing the first story of the young wizard here.
After you’ve seen all the interesting places, go down to the Ribeira promenade by the Douro River. Walk along the river and stop at one of the restaurants for something good. Of course, tasting the famous Port wine is a must. You can also visit one of the traditional wineries where real Port is sold. At the same time, it is a great souvenir, but the price of one bottle starts at 30 euros. Porto can easily be visited in a day, but if you want to spend more days here, you will definitely not be bored.
Praia do Forte do Cão
At the end of our journey through the most beautiful places in Portugal, we have a tip for you to spend the night. If you are already approaching the Spanish border but want to spend one more night in Portugal, then Praia do Forte do Cão is the perfect place for you. Here (GPS: 41°47’57.028″N, 8°52’15.357″W) you can park overnight for free and nobody will mind. The beach itself is great, but the main advantage is the public showers and toilets under the restaurant. Such free luxury is sure to be appreciated by everyone who travels in a car. There are also great sunsets from here.