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Roadtripping in Portugal

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The Best of Portugal Along Scenic Route N2

Experience the Estrada Nacional 2 – Portugal’s “Route 66”.  Discover the beauty and cultural treasures of the inland regions from Chaves near the Spanish border to Olhão on the Atlantic Coast traveling privately by car and with a pre-planned itinerary.

Itinerary

Day 1: Porto to Lamego

Arrive at Porto airport and pick up your rental car.

The perfect introduction to your amazing trip, Porto boasts wonderful landmarks, such as the Clérigos Tower, Maria Pia and Luiz I bridges, the Cathedral and baroque church of São Francisco, historic Ribeira Square and beautiful Lello bookshop.

Make your way to Lamego in the Douro Valley, a charming town with a rich history, the place where the courts of the Kingdom of Portugal first gathered. Inside the Convent of Santo António Ferreirim is a unique Manueline-Renaissance style retable, the distinctive artistic expression of Portugal. Treat yourself to peixinhos de chila and bolas, the town’s famous meat pie, and indulge in pastries such as barquinhas and tarte de Lamego.

Overnight at a 4-star hotel in Lamego.

Day 2: Douro Valley

Your route N2 road trip starts at km zero in the northern region of Trás-os-Montes with its remote villages, lush mountains and healing hot springs. Begin in the lovely spa town of Chaves, a former Roman settlement with one of the finest bridges from that era, its 12 arches stretching across the Tâmega River.

Next stop is elegant Vila Real boasting stately homes with romantic wrought iron balconies and ornate Manueline windows. One of the finest examples is the Mateus House – well worth a visit – built in the national Manueline style, a more exuberant variation of Gothic architecture. The manicured gardens surrounding the villa make for a wonderful walk. A few minutes outside of town is Fraga de Panóias, a 3rd century pagan shrine classified as a national monument.

Enjoy lunch in a traditional quinta in Peso de Regua followed by a boat tour on the Douro River. The stunning valley is the oldest designated wine region in the world. It is also a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site for over 250 native wine grape varietals are grown here on steep terraced hills typical to the area. The most famous wine produced from the region is the fortified Port wine.

Overnight at a 4-star boutique hotel in Lamego.

Day 3: Picão to Viseu

Drive through Serra de Montemuro towards Castro Daire stopping in the historic village of Picão where you can browse the local artisan shop for locally made products. Continue to São Pedro do Sul, the spa town with thermal baths dating back to Roman times and then to Viseu, the artistic jewel of the region. The town lives up to its name, which means a good view, offering superb panoramas over the Dão wine region. Admire the highlights of the rich cultural heritage, the Cathedral and Misericórdia church. One of the most famous Portuguese artists, Vasco Fernandes known as Grão Vasco, founded a prominent school of painting here. The artist’s own paintings can be admired in the local Grão Vasco Museum.

Arrive at your fabulous lake view accommodation for an evening of rest and relaxation.

Overnight at a 5-star spa hotel in Aguieira.

Day 4: Penacova to Sertã

Make your way through the heart of the country, stopping in Penacova, Gois and Sertã, taking a break from driving with a dip in the water or simply enjoying one of the many river beaches, such as Pego Escuro. Just outside Penacova you can visit the historic windmills and the Lorvão Monastery to learn about the story of Cistercian nuns, the forerunners of the elaborately carved willow toothpicks that you can buy at handicraft stores in the area.

In the Lousã mountain range do not miss one of the most famous swings of Europe, the giant wooden Trevim Swing. In the same area visit the unique Schist villages of Aigra Velha, Aigra Nova, Pena and Comareira, named after the stone used in the construction of houses. In Góis visit a blacksmith designer to learn about Portuguese ironwork (hot iron workshop is possible on request).

Overnight at a 4-star historic hotel in Sertã.

Day 5: Vila de Rei to Abrantes

In the first part of the day explore Sertã, a town that according to legend got its name after a ‘sertã’ (frying pan) full of boiling oil thrown by a noble woman over the attacking Roman troops. The highlight of the town is the old castle used by the Order of the Templars. The 15th century Parish Church boasts baroque woodcarving and precious tiles. 

Continue to Vila de Rei where you can visit some of the local artisan shops and Centro Geodésico. Vila de Rei lies at the actual center of Portugal, a fact marked by a geodesic monument. Next stop is Sardoal, a picturesque village with whitewashed houses, alleys paved with pebble stones from the nearby river, 3 churches and 6 chapels. Almost as famous as the religious heritage is the local sweet called Tijelada, a pudding-like delicious dessert – a must-try.

In Abrantes, the final stop of the day, enjoy a walk through town as you admire the flower bedecked homes and visit the Moorish castle seized by the first King of Portugal and later invaded by Napoleon.

Overnight at a 4-star hotel in Abrantes.

Day 6: Alentejo’s Cork Oak Woodlands

Explore fascinating Alentejo, a land of great plains, cork forests, vineyards and a rich cultural heritage, among which the Cante Alentejano traditional singing style, a UNESCO listed Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

As you drive south towards Ponte de Sor marvel at the Portuguese montado (cork oak woodlands) – the largest in the world – from where the production of cork originates. Just like the Douro Valley’s terraced vineyards, the Montado is a cultural landscape shaped by human activity. The cork oaks and holm oaks grown here are protected species since the 7th century. At the Arts and Cultural Center in Ponte de Sor you can see the largest cork stopper panel in the world.

Continue either on N2 driving across the Montargil dam and visiting the Fluviário in Mora, the first large freshwater aquarium in Europe, or take a short detour through more cork oak woodlands by Avis and Fronteira eventually making your way to Évora. The town is home to a well preserved Roman and Moorish heritage as well as Portuguese Manueline style architecture.

Arriving in Alcáçovas discover another Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity listed by UNESCO, the manufacturing of cowbells. You can learn all about this traditional Portuguese percussion instrument at the local Museu do Chocalho (Cowbell Museum).

Overnight at a 4-star historic castle-hotel in Alvito.

Day 7: Sado Estuary to Aljustrel

Venture off N2 for a half-day heading to the Sado river delta on the Atlantic coast. Following the Sado first arrive in Alcácer do Sal, an ancient town and an important port during the Roman Empire from where olive oil, wine and other products were shipped out to other parts of the world. Enjoy sunny Comporta and its vast beach, part of the Sado estuary, where kite surfing is a popular sport. The fishing village of Carrasqueira is a must-see. The wooden piers known as Cais Palafítico and the fishing huts built on stilts make for a unique sight.

In the afternoon visit an olive oil producer in Ferreira do Alentejo. Olive trees thrive in the mild Mediterranean climate of Portugal and production of olive oil has been a long-standing tradition. Taste the different types of olive oil from this local producer as you learn about farming and processing olives.

End the day in historic Aljustrel exploring the town’s mining route from the local history museum to Vipasca well, Triturador mill, Corta de S. João and the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora do Castelo.

Overnight at a 3-star boutique hotel in Aljustrel.

Day 8: Castro Verde to Olhão

Reach beautiful Algarve whose name comes from the Arabic ‘Al Gharb’ meaning The West. The region is home to a rich cultural heritage influenced by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and other conquering empires.

In Castro Verde visit the Royal Basilica, an homage to the battle that took place near the village leading to the independence of Portugal. The tile panels and murals are especially interesting. A small museum housed in a historic building in Almodovar is dedicated to the ancient Conia writing, and São Brás de Alportel is home to a traditional cork factory where you can learn about the processing of the cork bark and the latest products made from it, such as fashion accessories.

Arrive at the end of N2 road in Faro, but not to the end of your adventure. Spend the evening listening to a passionate fado performance, the original Portuguese music genre, or try your dancing skills at corridinho algarvio, the traditional dance from the Algarve. Celebrate with an authentic dinner discovering the flavors of the region with dishes like stewed chickpeas and cabbage, cured sausages, ham, and frango de Guia, the famous spicy grilled chicken. Finish it all with a delicious Dom Rodrigo, a dessert made from egg yolks, sugar and almonds.

Overnight at a 5-star hotel in Olhão.

Day 9: The Algarve Coast

Spend the day on the stunning Algarve coast. Discover secluded sandy beaches surrounded by golden cliffs, dip into the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean or take a boat trip to a deserted island. Explore one or two colorful towns and villages (such as Vilamoura, Faro, Estoi, Tavira and Olhão) with their vibrant architecture, roof terraces and ornate chimneys, lively streets lined with shops, cafés and restaurants. Relax and reflect back at the favorite sights and experiences of your trip.

Overnight at a 5-star hotel in Olhão.

Day 10: Depart home

Drop off the car at Faro airport. Depart home.

Book this itinerary for $1,600.00/person.

Pricing is based on double room occupancy. Other options (i.e. single supplement, family rates) are available on request. Rates valid for travel in 2021. Trip is customizable for an extra fee.

Package includes:

  • 1 night at 3-star accommodation with breakfast
  • 5 nights at 4-star accommodation with breakfast
  • 3 nights at 5-star accommodation with breakfast
  • Meet & greet service on arrival
  • Rental car with basic insurance and tax
  • Lunch in a traditional quinta in Peso de Regua
  • Shared cruise on the Douro River
  • Tour of cork workshop
  • Driving directions
  • Restaurant recommendations
  • Emergency customer support

Package does not include:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entrance fees to attractions
  • Wine and olive oil tasting fees
  • City tax at hotels (€2/person/night)
  • International driver’s permit
  • Optional car rental extras (additional insurance, GPS)
  • Parking fees, tolls, fuel
  • Personal expenses

Payments

  • Deposit 35% of total – paid at booking
  • Trip balance – 60 days before travel date

Cancellation and Refund Policy

  • Cancellable and refundable up to 60 days before trip start date
  • Refunds are subject to 10% administrative fee