Explore Portugal By Car With Our Jet-free Itinerary

Dots White

May 2020

Here at The Luxury Travel Book, we are anticipating that the most popular way to visit Portugal this summer will be to explore Portugal by car, so we have been researching some possible routes, and good websites we can recommend.

Our website features a tempting choice of city apartments in major cities, and stunning villas in the countryside, and by the coast – so, depending on your timescale, to explore Portugal by car means that you could also take advantage of staying at more than one of our destinations.

Our beautiful holiday properties to rent in Lisbon, Comporta, and the Algarve, can be visited either separately, or if you have plenty of time, you can enjoy maybe two, or even all of these destinations! When you are planning, bear in mind that there isn’t a direct ferry between the UK and Portugal, so the options available are via the channel tunnel to Calais, or by ferry to northern France, or Spain. The channel tunnel (Le Shuttle) from Folkestone to Calais is the quickest route (just 35 minutes and with over 60 crossings a day), while the ferry options to Calais take approximately 1 ½ hours. 

A journey through France will require a longer drive to get to Portugal, but the northern Spain option is a longer ferry trip (3 times weekly and taking around 24 hours) from Portsmouth to Bilbao or Santander. 

Regardless of which route you explore Portugal by car, it requires a long drive, and by planning in advance, and breaking up the trip, it is a great way to explore parts of France/Spain/Portugal that you may have always wanted to see, but not had the opportunity. While researching this, I found a very informative website, portugalist.com, with some very tempting ideas for routes and stopovers – via both France and Spain, as well as some excellent advice for travelling within Portugal. If you have the time, and decide to take the ferry to northern France, you could consider driving down the west coast of France to Bilbao, then approximately 8 ½ hours’ drive through Portugal, to Lisbon, or via Spain and Madrid (approximately 10 hours). 

If you prefer to travel by train, another very useful website for checking out rail travel generally is The Man in Seat Sixty One.

FIRST STOP: LISBON

Situated on the river Tagus, Lisbon offers a rich maritime history, ancient buildings and monuments and beautiful tiled walls. The character-filled cobbled streets, in the old quarters of the city can be explored on foot, or by tram. With both a relaxed ambience and a contemporary, buzzing atmosphere, the city also offers a great choice of restaurants and nightlife.

During a stay here, visitors can also explore the beautiful town of Sintra (15 minutes’ drive), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the old fishing port of Cascais (30 minutes’ drive), on the coast, with its wide range of restaurants and shops, excellent tennis and golf amenities, plus a marina. There are also a good range of Atlantic beaches reachable within half an hour drive from central Lisbon.

Avenida da Liberdade II

8 - 10 Guests | 3 -5 Bedrooms

Situated in a characterful 19th-century building, our pristine Avenida da Liberdade apartments combine contemporary and minimalistic interiors with bespoke furniture and feature several balconies with views to the famed boulevard below. 

Our other two equally stunning properties are Avenida da Liberdade I and Avenida da Liberdade III, all suitable for extended families and large groups of friends.

Rua da Flores

6 Guests | 3 Bedrooms

Located in the bohemian district of Chiado, this apartment offers excellent views from its private roof terrace over the historic buildings of Lisbon and is perfect for couples and family stays.

NEXT STOP: COMPORTA

The quickest way to get from Lisbon to Comporta is by driving and taking a car ferry (costing €13 - €20, and taking around 1h 18m).

One option is to go via Vasco da Gama Bridge, and take the road along the Sado estuary. Along the banks of the river, you will pass the village of Alcácer do Sal, with its charming narrow streets and castle. The other option is to drive to Setúbal and then take the 25 minute car ferry crossing to Tróia. From Tróia, it is just a 15-minute drive to reach Comporta, and its 10 kms long, sandy beach.  

As well as a relaxed, casual-chic vibe, Comporta offers plenty of activities, including bird and dolphin watching in the Sado nature reserve, surfing, horse riding, golf and yoga, as well as trendy boutiques and restaurants. 

Herdade da Comporta

14 - 16 Guests | 7 - 8 Bedrooms

Spread over a 5 acre estate, in a secluded area nestled on the sand dunes, this designer villa is a mere 100m from the beach and provides an ideal base for extended families and large groups of friends.  

Pego Beach

6 Guests | 3 Bedrooms

Designed to blend in with the natural surroundings, from native pine trees to sand dunes, our Pego Beach villa is an easy five-minute stroll to one of the best beaches in Portugal, a perfect base for families and friends.

LAST STOP: THE ALGARVE

The Luxury Travel Book offers holiday villas throughout the popular Algarve region with its 200 km coastline of beaches, picturesque fishing villages, historic towns, excellent cuisine and wine … and over 30 golf courses. Most of our villas are in the Western Algarve, which is generally a quieter option, although the Eastern Algarve has plenty of less touristy spots as well.

Our villas in the Western Algarve are near the historic walled, coastal town of Lagos, and the quaint traditional fishing village of Salema, 15 kms west of Lagos.

The Algarve beaches generally offer great facilities for watersports, including surfing, water skiing and windsurfing, as well as sailing, diving, deep-sea fishing and motor and sailboat cruises. 

To reach the Western Algarve, if you are staying in Lisbon or Comporta first, it is easiest to just drive down the west coast (approximately 2 ½ hours). If you are planning to stay further east, the drive to Faro is even shorter (approximately 2 hours). Alternatively, if you are not staying elsewhere in Portugal first, you could consider driving down from Bilbao or San Sebastian via Spain stopping in Madrid and Seville. There are also train services from Lisbon to Faro, including a fast train (3 hours) twice a day, which also stops in the resort town of Albufeira and the market town of Loulé, both also in the Algarve.

Villa Silves

6 - 12 Guests | 3 - 6 Bedrooms

Located a short drive from the historic town of Silves and a choice of stunning west and southern Algarve beaches, this lovely property can be rented for smaller groups but also offering ample space to comfortably accommodate large gatherings.

Salema View

12 Guests | 6 Bedrooms

Situated on the cliff top of Praia de Salema, this spacious holiday villa is an idyllic oceanfront retreat featuring breathtaking views over the Salema beach and beautiful coastline.

Stay tuned for more unique road trip features and travel with us on Instagram for inspiring post-lockdown destinations.

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