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From pristine coastal towns, to beautifully intricate cathedrals and UNESCO world heritage sites, driving between Libson and Porto will take you past some of the most iconic spots in Portugal, and maybe a hidden gem or two. It’s a route we do often, so to make sure you don’t miss a thing here are we want to show you the best towns to visit on your road trip between Lisbon and Porto!

In this post, we’ll plot out what we consider to be the best driving route between Lisbon to Porto. Taking you through scenic coastal towns, small historical villages and quirky hidden gems, this road trip from Lisbon to Portugal should be at the top of everyone’s Portugal bucket list!

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Hours Drive Time
Days (Reccommended)

Things to Know Before Your Lisbon – Porto Road Trip

It typically only takes 3 hours or so to drive between Lisbon and Porto, but if you really want to experience we recommend you take 5-7 days with this itinerary. Throughout, we’ll recommend places to stay and let you decide how long you want to spend in each location.

Our Lisbon to Porto driving route includes the use of toll roads. Each destination is easily accessible toll-free but you can expect to add three or more hours onto the overall drive time. If you’re using a rental car you can add an automated via verde box which means you can drive through the barrier free lanes. Using this website, we calculated tolls will cost you around €26 one way, not including Lisbon city tolls.

This Lisbon to Porto doesn’t include things to do and see in each city but we’re working on weekend guides for those too!

Best Time For Your Lisbon – Porto Road Trip

The best time to visit Portugal or to plan a road trip between Lisbon and Porto is in late Spring (April – June) and early Autumn (September-October). During these months, the weather isn’t too bad and the crowds are minimal. Prices during these shoulder seasons tend to be more reasonable too, especially for accommodation.

Most people visit Portugal during the (UK) school summer holidays, so you can expect everywhere to be really busy between July and August. However, this is when the weather is at its best for those looking for a full sun summer holiday. Beaches will be packed, accommodation will be at peak prices and your options for hiring a car will be limited.

After living here for 2 years, it seems that March gets the most rain so we tell family to avoid visiting during that time if they’re looking to avoid bad weather.


We’re going to kick off this Lisbon to Porto road trip with a stop at Peniche, just a short one hour drive from Lisbon.

Aside from being famous for its surfing scene, hosting the Rip Curl Pro event at Praia dos Supertubos every October, Peniche is a delightful little coastal town with plenty to do.

We spent the day here recently and particularly enjoyed the Ilhéu da Papôa peninsular walk. Following the short 3km path, you’re guided across limestone ridges that give you great views over the Atlantic ocean and back towards town. It takes roughly an hour to complete the loop and is family & pet friendly, however some spots are quite narrow so keep an eye on young children and keep dogs on a lead. 

Another popular thing to do in Peniche is a walk around the old fortress (Fortaleza de Peniche). Built in the 16th Century, it was used as a military base up until 1897 and after this a prison and a refuge. Entrance is €1.60 for adults, kids under 16 go free. It was closed when we visited (only open Wednesday – Sunday) so I’m unsure if this is a pet friendly attraction.

For those not in a time crunch, consider making time for a boat trip out to Berlengas Archipelago. This small cluster of islands just 10km off the coast are a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife including a colony of puffins and the small penguin-like Airo. You can either tour the islands and caves by boat, or spend some time exploring the fort, small settlement and walking tracks.

If you wanted to stay in Peniche, here are some of your options:



Just 30 minutes outside of Peniche, you’ll find Obidos; a charming fortified village that is a day trip from Nazaré or Peniche that you can’t miss during your Lisbon to Porto road trip. Inside the ancient walls of Obidos, you’ll find traditionally painted houses in labyrinth-style streets guarded by a mediaeval castle. While there, you can walk around the town walls for beautiful views of the area, try the local cherry liquor, explore the castle, visit the 16th Century viaduct or, if timed right, take part in their annual chocolate festival which happens every year in March.


One of our favourite beach towns in Portugal and only 40 minutes from Obidos, Nazare is a must for every road trip between Lisbon and Porto. 

World famous for its giant waves, Nazare is one of the few coastal towns that experiences two peak seasons through the year. The usual summer season runs from July – September, then the big wave season which runs October – May however this tends to be quieter than summer unless there’s a surf competition on.

The most popular thing to do in Nazare is visiting the lighthouse and museum on the top of the cliffs. It’s just 1 to enter and gives you amazing views of the big waves and coastline in general, you’ll also be able to see surf boards donated to the museum by world famous big wave surfers. Whether  you’re a fan of extreme sports or not, I imagine you’ll be able to appreciate their talent once you see how big the waves get here.

A fun way to get to the lighthouse is by taking a trip on the funicular. This old hill-side tram is an attraction in its own right and a really fun way to get amazing views without walking up the steep hill to get to the top. There is parking at the top but in summer and during big wave season it’s really busy up there so the funicular is your best option.

Other things to do in Nazare include, of course, relaxing on the beach, wandering around the narrow streets, visiting the Nazare museum and checking out the traditional dried fish stands alongside the traditional fishing boats on the foreshore.

If you’re feeling adventurous or want to explore further afield you can also do 4×4 buggy tours of Nazare.

We really enjoyed our stay at Hotel Miramar Sul that looks out over Nazare, but there are plenty of other places to stay in Nazare:



Only 30 minutes from Nazare, Batalha isn’t exactly a hidden gem – tours come here frequently – but it’s a town with heaps of history that we stumbled upon by accident on our drive home from Nazare one weekend, we decided to stay the night and have been back several times since.

As you pull into the town, you’ll see straight away what its main attraction is: Batalha Monastery. This gothic style Monastery, built in the 14th century, is a UNESCO world heritage site and at €6 per person it’s 100% worth paying to enter. Inside you’ll find more amazing architecture, crypts of old kings & queens, memorials for soldiers lost in the war and much much more. There are several entrances and little hidden sections to Batalha monastery, so make sure you do a full lap to make sure you don’t miss anything out!

Our other favourite things to do when we’re in Batalha is eat at the T Bone Steak House. These easily do the best steaks in Portugal and they’re open for lunch which makes Batalha a great mini stop between Lisbon and Porto.

There isn’t much else to do in Batalha but just a short drive out of the town is Grutas da Moeda, or the coin caves, a 350m cave network discovered in the 70’s. There’s also a museum on site where you can learn more about the geology and see some of the fossils found on site.

When we’ve stayed in Batalha we’ve always stayed at hotel Lis who have an incredible view out over the Monastery, but like every great town in Portugal there’s plenty of other places to stay too:



Another 30 minutes up the road from Batalha, roughly 1.5 hours from Lisbon, is one of most important Christian pilgrim sites in the world – Fatima.

In 1917, it’s said that the virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherds. The area this is said to have happened, has now been turned into a huge sanctuary that attracts millions of devoted Catholics every year. In fact, this town is a lifelong ambition for a lot of people so if you’re passing by you’d be crazy to not pop in and see it.

Along with the Sanctuary of Fátima, you can also visit the young shepherds house, the original chapel (Capela das Aparições) which was built soon after the apparition and many many more important monuments.

While the majority of things to do in Fatima are centred around this religious apparition, the town is still worthwhile for those of us who aren’t Catholic, especially if you can appreciate impressive architecture and the energy that encapsulates such a spiritual place.

However, if you’re not at all interested in the historical and religious sites of Fatima, how about some dinosaurs? 10 minutes out of town you’ll find Monumento Natural das Pegadas de Dinossáurio de Ourém-Torres Novas, which is home to footprints of the recorded animal in the world: the sauropod dinosaurs. It’s €4 per person and dog friendly!



We love Tomar and are itching to go back – one day really isn’t enough! Like a lot of the towns in this Lisbon to Porto road trip, Tomar is steeped in history and only 30 minutes from Fatima – are you noticing a theme here? You can get to a lot of places in 30 minutes here in Portugal.

From the 12th Century Knights Templar castle (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) to the historic town itself and scenic river, Tomar has something for everyone.

The main attraction in Tomar is the Castle. Built by the Knights Templar in the 12th Century, this is perhaps the most significant  military building of its time in the whole of Portugal. However, by the time we’d finished exploring the centre and reached the top it was closed (but it’s also not dog friendly, so with Lilly we wouldn’t have been allowed inside anyway).

Even without visiting the castle, our day trip to Tomar was still enjoyable. We spent ages wandering the narrow winding streets and soaking in the old buildings that lead to Praça da República. If there’s one thing European cities do well, it’s grand town squares and the one in Tomar is no exception.

Here you’ll find a statue of the city founder and grand master of the Knights Templar, Guialdim Pais, the city hall and the St. John Baptist Church but tying this all together rather impressively is the bold cobblestone flooring. Tomar walking tours pass through here frequently so it can get rather busy but it’s an ideal place to sit and people watch for a bit.

If you’re pushed for time, a relaxing stroll around Parque do Mochão is a must! It’s an idyllic spot for some lunch and some snaps of the river before you move on to your next destination of your Lisbon to Porto road trip.

When you’re ready to leave Tomar, don’t forget to stop by the famous Aqueduct of the Covenant of the Christ. Constructed in 1593, you can walk along the top if you dare.


Conimbriga Ruins

If you love all things Roman, you’re going to really enjoy a stop by the Conimbriga Ruins. Now, these could be paired with your trip to Coimbra – coming up next – but we didn’t want you to miss them so here they are as a stand alone stop. Afterall, they can easily take you most of the day!

These ruins are the best preserved roman ruins in Portugal and showcase some of the most intricate ancient mosaics I’ve ever seen and a lot of them are almost pristine! You’ll also get to explore the original city walls, ancient Roman bath, an amphitheatre (of course) and some of the original houses from the old city. 10/10 a must visit.

On site there’s also a small museum housing some of the relics that were found during the archeological dig. No bodies, unfortunately – although I’m sure some were found, but plenty of jewellery and things that really give you a feel of what life was like back then.

After your visit, take a walk around the main town of Condeixa-a-Nova too, which in itself is a quaint Portuguese town.


Your next stop on this Lisbon to Porto road trip is Coimbra. Once the capital of Portugal, Coimbra is a beautiful waterfront city that I don’t think gets enough love from tourists who fly in and out of Porto or Lisbon.

What links Coimbra and the Conimbriga ruins nicely is that it was here, Coimbra, that the Romans fled to once the old city was invaded. The ruins site also has part of the original road on display that was used to link Lisbon and Coimbra

You’ll definitely need a few days here if you want to soak it in completely. It isn’t a large city as such, but there’s a lot to fit in.

Starting with the university of Coimbra. Dating back to the 13th century, it’s the oldest University in Portugal, one of the oldest continuously used in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Even though it’s still being used as a University and is attended by more than 21,000 students each year, you can buy tickets to go inside where you can freely explore a science & natural history museum, climb the clock tower for amazing views as well as relax around the Uni grounds. Be sure to get the ticket that includes access to the library because that’s the highlight. Entrance numbers are limited to the Library, so get there early too!

General self guided admission is €12, but you can also join a private guided tour here.

Other things to do in Coimbra include visiting the Monastery of Santa Cruz, the Botanic Garden, Biblioteca Joanina (where Portugal’s early kings lived!), walking around the narrow lanes and of course, strolling down the river for an amazing view of the city.



Considered the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is just 45 minutes from Porto and 2.5 hours from Lisbon, so even if you don’t want to do a week long road trip you should absolutely do a day trip from either city.

As its nickname suggests, Aveiro is built around a network of canals that were once used for transporting salt, seaweed and other goods. So unsurprisingly the most popular thing to do in Aveiro is one of their traditional boat tours

We do a boat tour pretty much every time family come to visit and as far as I can see there isn’t much difference between all the different companies so I recommend having a wander and picking which ever company has availability and the best price at the time.

On the boat tour, you’ll be taken around the oldest part of the town while the guide points out different important buildings and bridges. Yes, you can see all of these things on food too, but being on the boat just gives it a little traditional touch and, if you get a good guide, they can be really entertaining too!

A fun thing we like to do is lookout for the boats with rude paintings on the side. There’s only a few of them so it’s a great game of I-Spy.

Aside from admiring the beautiful pavements and architecture, other things to do in Aveiro include a salt spa & tour of the working salt pans, shopping in the narrow artisan lanes and sampling the traditional Ovo Moles – a local delicacy with an interesting history.

If you’re travelling at the start of January you might be lucky enough to experience a fascinating – and bizarre – local tradition that we unknowingly stumbled into: São Gonçalinho. This is considered to be the oldest festival in Portugal and until you learn the story behind it you might think the locals have simply lost their minds.

As we stood watching locals throw rock-hard bread loaves from the top of the church, our mind boggled at the reasoning for this. Eventually I conjured the courage to ask a bystander what was happening and they explained the bread, or Cavacas, was being thrown as a promise to São Gonçalinho who grants good luck in health & relationships. While people throw Cavacas from the roof, others stand below catching them in umbrellas and other random household objects. The atmosphere was electric so I really recommend checking it out if your dates line up!

Whenever we head to Aveiro we stay at Hotel Jardim. It’s reasonably priced and a nice short walk from the centre of town. There’s plenty of other options available though if you want something closer:


Honourable Mentions

There are so many amazing places in Portugal that it was really hard to narrow it down to just a few places for this Lisbon to Porto road trip itinerary. I had to be realistic and while Dec and I would zigzag all over the country to get from one end to the other, I understand some people want to take the most direct route and experience as much as possible. So that’s what the above plan was.

However, There are plenty of places to visit between Lisbon and Porto that are much further inland. So, if you’re like us and want to zigzag and be a bit erratic in your road trip planning, here are a few quick honourable mentions that you could add onto your route.


Monstanto 2 hours inland from both Tomar and Coimbra so it would slot in nicely there if you fancied a big detour through the countryside. This historic boulder town was voted the most Portuguese village in Portugal, hosted the Game of Thrones film set and is by far the most unique town we’ve visited. It isn’t easy to get to without a car, each time we’ve visited there’s only ever been a handful of others there and its protected status means there’s limited accommodation.

To avoid disappointment… make sure to go to the Monsanto in Central Portugal and not the one within the Lisbon district. 

Serra Da Estrella National Park

The Serra Da Estrella mountain range is the highest in mainland Portugal and offers amazing views over the Central Portugal region. At the top you’ll find an indoor market where you must try some of the local cheeses and meats, we always come away with a goody bag full of things. Then take a walk around the old watch towers and admire the view. If time permits, stop off in one of the iconic mountain villages or do one of the many Serra Da Estrella hikes.

This is another location that’s a must but ideally requires a couple of days if you want to do more than just the iconic lookout. It does require a little back tracking or zigzagging with your Lisbon to Porto driving route depending on where you places it, since it’s slightly past Coimbra but inland inline with Monsanto.

In the winter, believe it or not, you might need snow chains to reach the top because yes Portugal has snow and even a ski field!

This Lisbon to Porto road trip itinerary is just the tip of the iceberge of what’s on offer in Portugal, but we’re confident that whether you take 5, 7, 10 or more days driving between these two cities, it’ll be a good taster and have you wanting to come back to see more!

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