Portugal Road Trip | All Planning Tips for 2021 | Best time to Visit Portugal
We have just come back from our third tour of Portugal and are just thrilled. Portugal has so much to offer. Whether traditional villages, relaxed big cities like Lisbon or Porto, countless beaches, cliffs, good waves for surfing, and much more. It just never gets boring in Portugal, there is always something new to discover.
The country is also ideal for a road trip. All you have to do is rent a car or a camper and then you’re ready to go. Today we will take you to our absolute favorite country and give you information and tips for your own Portugal tour. Have fun browsing and copying!
Table of Content
- The Best time to travel to Portugal
- Arrival and City Trip
- Rent a car in portugal
- Hire a Camper in Portugal
- Campsites in Portugal
- Toll roads in portugal
- Easy Great
- Great Service
- Withdraw money in Portugal
- Shopping and Supermarkets
- Packing list for your road trip
The best time to travel to Portugal
The best time to travel to Portugal is certainly the low season from March to May and from September to early November . In the summer months and the holiday season there is of course a lot more going on, which is why we like to travel there in the quieter months.
In general, however, you can travel through the country all year round, the climate is also quite mild and pleasant outside the main season. The temperatures move in the off-season between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius. In the mornings and evenings, it is usually quite cool, which is why a thick jacket is an advantage.
Arrival & city trip
You will certainly arrive by plane. Many airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet, Eurowings, Lufthansa or TAP bring you cheaply to Porto , Faro or Lisbon. The flight duration is usually just under 3 hours.
If you want to fly to Lisbon , you can start cheaply from Frankfurt, Bremen, Karlsruhe, Hamburg, Berlin or Cologne. It gets a little more expensive from Munich, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf. Depending on the month of travel, you can get a return flight for an incredible 40 €.
Porto is also easy to reach. You can start from Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Dortmund, Berlin, Memmingen or Stuttgart. It is significantly more expensive from Munich. You can get a return flight to Porto for around € 35. But you can also fly directly to Faro in the Algarve .
It starts from Frankfurt, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Memmingen or Bremen. It gets more expensive from Berlin, Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen and other Aiports. You can get there and back to Faro for under € 30.
Where you are going depends of course on your planned travel route. You still have no idea where to go? Below we present two beautiful routes. You surely know what to find there! Before your actual tour of Portugal, it is a good idea to take a look at the city in which you landed.
Whether Porto, Lisbon or Faro, it is really worth planning 1-2 days for these cities alone. You don’t need a car there yet, the cities all have good public transport, otherwise we also like to use the UBER app.
Rent a car in Portugal
The best way to explore the country is of course your own rental car . This makes you super flexible, the roads are well developed, and rental cars are cheap. The prices depend on the travel season, on average you can expect around € 10 a day.
We always book a car online in advance and compare the prices . It is always important to us that we select “fully comprehensive without excess” and the fuel policy “full / full”.
You should check out other insurance policies in detail and decide for yourself which ones you think are necessary. Depending on the landlord, a deposit may be required upon collection, which you can only leave with a credit card . In Lisbon we had to deposit € 1200 last time. So make sure that your credit card limit is sufficient.
In Faro, Porto, and Lisbon you can pick up your rental car directly at the airports. Of course, you can also find rental car stations within the cities. Border trips to Spain are usually not a problem. But you should clarify this with your landlord in advance. Portugal also has some beautiful islands. However, ferry crossings with the rental car are usually really expensive and sometimes even prohibited. Again, you should talk to your landlord in advance.
Hire a camper in Portugal
A camper naturally offers an even greater feeling of freedom. Sleeping right by the sea and then having a relaxed breakfast there is the culmination of decelerating. You can now search for and book a suitable camper or bus from the comfort of your own home.
We have put everything on this topic in a separate article: Rent a camper in Portugal (… will follow shortly). We have also written a detailed article on camping in Portugal. There you will get all the information and tips for your road trip.
Campsites in Portugal
“Wild camping” is not officially allowed in Portugal. You are not allowed to pitch your tent on private property, nor to rest with the caravan or caravan in parking lots and rest stops. Officially! But things often look much more relaxed on site. During our round trips through Portugal we had no problems and could always find a quiet place. There are larger parking lots everywhere, where there were also several campers and caravans. It really didn’t bother anyone. You should then only leave out ” camping ” and really only “park” there with the camper and not take out the tables and chairs.
The good thing about real campsites is that you can use the sanitary facilities on site. You can also use electricity, water, pools, playgrounds, shops or restaurants. Especially in the north of the country or on the edge of the Algarve (Lagos, Motto Gordo) you will find good places for your camper, caravan or tent. You can find a good overview here: ☞ ADAC Camping in Portugal.
With the ☞ Camping Card you can camp for less and receive discounts at participating campsites on presentation. So you pay only € 11 to € 19 per night for 2 people. The Camping Card is accepted at over 3330 campsites in 21 European countries. 3 children up to 5 years of age travel for free on over 650 campsites. You can purchase the card online for € 16.95.
Toll roads in Portugal
There are also some toll roads in Portugal. There are various tollbooths on the Autobahn (AE), where you have to pay the fees depending on the route section. You can find an overview of the toll stations and costs here: Portugaltolls.com (English). From Lisbon to Faro, for example, it is around € 17 for a car and € 30 for a motorhome. You can pay at the ticket booth in cash or by credit card. On some routes (especially in the Algarve), however, the electronic toll is charged.
These are marked with a blue sign that says “electronic toll only” (an electronic device is required here). Almost all rental cars are equipped with such a device, but discuss this directly with the landlord when you accept the car. The car rental company will then also be billed directly. The following section is only interesting for you if you want to travel to Portugal with your own car:
There are 4 electronic payment systems. For stays of up to 30 days, Easy Toll is recommended if you have a credit card. If you come by car, you have to go straight to a welcome point near the border. There you will find payment stations where you can enter your credit card. Your license plate will then be photographed and linked to your credit card. All applicable tolls will now be debited directly from your card.
TollService is ideal for a short trip to Portugal. This is a kind of prepaid card that you can top up with credit. Once the card is activated, it is valid for 1 year. You can get such a card at many petrol stations (e.g. along the A24), at airports and post offices.
If you are often out and about in Portugal, the TollCard might be suitable for you. This is valid for one year and can be topped up with 5, 10, 20 and 40 €. Here, too, the license plate is linked to the card. You can get the TollCard in the branches of the Portuguese Post, at motorway petrol stations and online. However, this card is only valid on motorways without a pay station. If there is a paying office, you have to pay cash there.
Via Verde Visitor
The Via Verde Visitor transmitter is suitable for longer stays in the country and is valid for 90 days. This transmitter is attached to the front of the car and connected to your credit card. But you can also top up a credit from € 10 directly. The rental fee for this transmitter is € 6 for the first week and € 1.50 for each additional week.
If you borrow the device, you have to pay a deposit of € 27.50. You can get the transmitter in post offices, at motorway petrol stations, in Via Verde sales outlets or online. You can only use the Via Verde lane on motorways with this transmitter. You can recognize this by a white V on a green background.
If you do not want to pay a toll, you can only use the country roads / side roads. However, if you have enough time, we recommend these roads anyway (e.g. the N120 towards the south west coast and Algarve). You can see more there than on the highways. We usually don’t use toll roads at all, and if so only to get from A to B as quickly as possible. There are great stretches along the sea, which are definitely more worthwhile than the expressways.
Withdraw money in Portugal
In Portugal you can withdraw your cash easily and straightforwardly from ATMs. We have been using the DKB credit card for more than 5 years . We are simply super satisfied with the service and the account management. As an alternative, we always have the rechargeable Mastercard from N26 with us. We are also totally happy with this card. For card payments, the major credit cards from VISA, Matsercard, American Express and Diners Club are accepted in Portugal.
You can also use EC cards with the Maestro or Cirrus logo. Inquire at your bank in advance whether there are any fees and, if so, how high these are for card payments abroad. You can find ATMs (Caixa Automático) in every place, in every city and at most tourist spots.
Shopping & supermarkets
Shopping is just as easy in Portugal as it is in Germany. There are various supermarket chains on site such as LIDL, Aldi, Intermaché, Continente, SPAR, Coviran and others. Here you can actually get everything your heart desires. In terms of prices, it doesn’t really differ from Germany. As always, some products are more expensive and others are cheaper.
In the Intermaché markets, you can have breakfast (croissant + coffee) good and cheap at the bakery. You can also use the toilet there if you are traveling with your camper. In front of large supermarkets, there are usually washing machines and dryers in front of the entrance. There you can wash and dry your laundry for 6 €. As you can see, Portugal is well prepared for camping tourism.
If you are traveling by rental car and need accommodation on site, take a look at Booking.com or Airbnb . There you will find tons of accommodation. You can get a shared room in a hostel for € 10 per person depending on the region. There are also really cool and stylish hostels in Porto and Lisbon. At Airbnb you get super cool apartments and private rooms. But in the other cities of the country, you will also find something for every budget.
By the way, you can also couch surf in Portugal – give it a try! If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, you can set up one using our invitation link. As a new customer, you get a whole 30 € discount on your first booking. This usually results in a free overnight stay. We have only had good experiences with Airbnb in the past 3 years. There was only one stupid incident in Malaysia, but we were able to resolve it quickly with the help of Airbnb.
Packing list for your road trip
Depending on the month of travel, you should take different clothes and things with you on your road trip. The winter months can get rainy and really cold. In summer, on the other hand, it can get really hot. We were in the country in May, October and April. Actually, the weather was always the same: warm days, hot days and also fresh to cold days with rain and fog.
Today we always like to take a little more clothes with us, because in the end a sweater and pants were not enough. When it comes to clothing, you have to decide for yourself what you feel most comfortable in and what should be in your backpack. Therefore we do not link shirts, shoes, pants or underpants here. Rather, we show you which gadgets are really cool and helpful.
ur must-haves for a road trip:
- For the perfect sound: music box
- For an “emergency”: LED lamp (solar or with batteries)
- Charging batteries in the car: USB distributor
- Mosquito repellent and sunscreen
- Wetsuit & surfboard ( one week from 90 € in the Algarve )
- Card games (our favorites Qwantum and Ganz Schön Clever )
- foldable drinking bottles (very practical, even for the flight)
- Pocket knife (no knife in hand luggage)
- Microfiber towels (dry quickly and save space)
- Clothesline and pegs for traveling
- Hammock to chill out
Round trip Portugal – from Lisbon to the Algarve
Of course everyone has their own idea of where the journey should lead. For example, you can start in the north in Porto and drive to Lisbon or even the Algarve . But you can also start in Lisbon and drive to Porto or you can just do a small road trip along the beautiful Algarve.
We have now taken some common routes. We will now introduce you to two routes as inspiration. We are now taking you on a cool 7-day Portugal road trip from Lisbon to the Algarve and on to the south west coast. So you can decide for yourself which places appeal to you and make it onto the shortlist for you.
Sightseeing in Lisbon
Of course, the trip begins with a detour to the capital of Portugal. On foot you can stroll through the streets relaxed throughout the day, check out some viewpoints (Miraduoros) and discover cool spots. We have been to Lisbon three times so far and just like the flair of this city. Let your gaze wander from one of the many terraces at sunset – a dream!
Summary of the route
- Route: about 642 kilometers
- pure travel time: 7 to 8 hours
- Highlights: great surf spots, unique stretches of coast, rock formations, wild bays, cities
- Duration: at least 7 days, better 10 to 14 days
Conclusion round trip Portugal
As you can see, there is a lot to discover on a Portugal tour. No matter if south, west, north or east – the country is bursting with sights and highlights. You can easily explore the country by rental car or camper. And even if it’s “just” a city trip to Lisbon or Porto, it’s worth it.
The country is reasonably priced, easy to travel to, and designed for tourism. You can always find petrol stations, supermarkets, restaurants, and cafes. You can also find cheap accommodation spontaneously on site. So you don’t even have to plan and book everything in advance in Germany.