A road trip through Portugal – Part 1: Porto to Setúbal
A road trip through Portugal – 14 days pure adventure
Road trip through Portugal? Are you sure guys? You have to sleep somewhere else every other day and if you want to spend a nice holiday in Portugal you better go to the Algarve, there are great resorts …….
We got those reactions from most people when we told about our upcoming plan for our summer Vacation. But we would not be the traveling uniqorns if we could stay it in only one place for 14 days. Unfortunately, a package holiday (we have tried once and never ever again) is not an option for us, and while we are totally respecting people who spend their holidays a little more conventionally, we prefer a vacation of adventures and exploring as much as possible in that short amount of time.
This year we decided to go to Portugal. We were so impressed after our trip to the north last fall – therefore we absolutely wanted to go back. Portugal is such a varied country and it’s very well connected to Luxembourg.
Our travel planning
We sat down one evening with a good bottle of wine and started planning our trip. Which places do we want to visit? Where should we sleep? How much budget should we plan and which rental car is the right choice? A ton of questions popped up, and it took us quite a while to figure everything out.
Thanks to Insagram and various other travel blogs, we found our perfect route:
Porto – Aveiro – Nazarè – Foz do Arelho – Peniche – Setubal – Vila Nova de Milfontes – Arrifana – Sagres – Salema – Albufeira – Faro – Lisbon
Our goal was to spend maximum 100 € per night for accommodation, which should be a combination of Air BnB, small villas with pool as well as budget hotel rooms. Of course, it took a lot of energy and a lot of browsing on Booking to find the perfect accommodations, but in retrospect we can say that we made an excellent choice, except for one or two places. Food is reasonably cheap in Portugal, therefore we ate out most of the time, except for the few times we had tapas at our pool.
Our capture. Seriously, we fell in love with our white mouse and we really recommend renting a Renault Caputre.
We drove on isolated roads, through beaches and in cities, and thanks to the large trunk we had the whole back seat free for our cooling box and snacks.
Day 1 – Porto
We arrived in Porto at 9 o’clock in the morning. It was our second time in Porto and we felt the incredible energy of this city immediately – we knew that we have arrived and were super excited about our vacation.
We used our favorite transport app Uber to get to our hotel, Zero Box Lodge.
The description was quite adequate because the room is actually a tiny box, which felt more like a chicken coop than a hotel. It is absolutely not the right choice for people with claustrophobia. Nevertheless, it was a cool experience, the hotel is very stylish, the location is perfect, directly in the city center and at check in, we received a bottle of beer with their own hotel design.
We already knew some of the sights, and since we wanted to celebrate the start of our adventure, we went to the mall El Corteluges in Gaia to buy some clothes for our trip. On the way there we had to cross the Doro – the bridge over is just amazing and you have a great view.
Check out one of the many terraces on the riverbank for a good sangria, it is wonderful there.
We also planned to visit a Porto winery this time, therefore we have visited Sandeman. An interesting fact: The Sandeman logo was one of the first corporate identity’s out there.
In the evening, we went to the Brick, a super good vegetarian restaurant and then we celebrated our first night in various bars around the city center.
Day 2 – Aveiro & Nazarè
In the morning, we were ready to pick up our car, a white Renault Capure. Our first stop on the way to Nazarè was Aveiro.
The village is located about 45 minutes south of Porto. The main attraction is definitely the Barcos Moliceiros – colourful boats that used to harvest seaweed. Of course, we had to go on such a boat, but the tour was quite boring and the ride was full of tourists. The small village itself is beautiful, but unfortunately, tourist busses pass by every few minutes to stop in Aveiro.
Our tip: just walk along the canals, and then continue to Costa Nova – a place where tourists do not often get lost.
Costa Nova lies like an island on the south side of the strip of land between the lagoon and the open sea and can be reached by car just passing a bridge from Aveiro. Beautiful colorful straw houses characterize the Promenade and leaves you with a warm holiday feeling.
We walked along the beach and enjoyed a good toast Baccalau in a beach cafe. Really a very idyllic and calm place with a beautiful view!
Nazarè is known for its big waves. The waves, which break close to the shore in winter months, can reach up to 30 meters. For big-wave surfers, the giant waves of Nazaré are the ultimate goal- and they have every contest a new chance for a new record. The reason, why the waves in Nazaré have such gigantic high is due do the very special geological conditions.
Off the coast is the Nazaré Canyon, a 230-kilometer sea gorge with a depth of up to 5000 meters.
Since we were there in the summer, the sea was calm and no waves to be seen. We visited the Surfer Museum at the lighthouse and were impressed by the surfboards, which hung there, as a souvenir from the successful big waves surfers.
Nazarè is a lovely place with many cafes and even a disco. We stayed in an Air BnB not far from the beach. In the evening, we enjoyed the sunset and tried to imagine how big the waves could be in winter.
If we visit Nazarè again, then definitely in winter, because all those waves talks there made us curious.
Day 3 – Foz do Arelho
After breakfast on the beach of Nazarè we made our way to Foz, 30 minutes south. There is not much to say about this 1,200 souls place, except that we were able to relax like queens. After 3 days of travel, we already had some impressions in our backpack and it was time to relax a bit, reflect the good memories and chill. We found the perfect accommodation for it.
We can 1.0000% recommend this accommodation. We have never been welcomed so warmly anywhere before. Located on the hills of Foz, these small apartments offer pure relaxation.
We spent the whole day at the infinity pool and the Jacuzzi. The nice host made us a breakfast the next day which is hard to beat. This accommodation is definitely worth staying because the price per room is 102 euros per night!
In the evening, we ate in a restaurant right on the beach and watched the sunset. Unfortunately, we had underestimated the cold weather at night and shivered our toes on the way home.
Day 4 – Peniche
we were looking forward to the next place – Peniche. Not only did we find a super cool hotel, it was also the first stop on our surfing trip.
When I first stood on the surfboard a few years ago, I fell in love with the sport. Unfortunately, I am still a beginner and can only dream about going out by myself and riding the waves without any guiding. Nevertheless, I use every opportunity I have for surfing.
We regretted staying in Peniche for only 1 night. The Ride & Surf is a hotel offers a surfing school in addition to a skate park, a pool and various other cool activities. The rooms are decorated in a rockabilly pop art style and we were flashed the first moment.
While the bays of Consolação and Baleal invite for a day at the beach, surfers and body boarders from all over the world like to check out the waves of the west coast, like Praia de Medão Grande, known for its large tubular waves as supertubos. In a national competition, this spot was chosen as one of the “7 wonders of Portugal”. Together with the Praia do Lagido, it is the location of the big worldwide surfing championship Rip Curl Pro Portugal, a competition that belongs to the WSL – World Surf League Tour.
Our favorite place in Peniche were definitely the Balearic Cliffs of Baleal. Its crazy, what Mother Nature is able to do. A breathtaking view, which we won’t forget easily.
Danau Beach Bar
We would not be ourselves if we had not found the best beach bar in Portugal or at least in this area, the Danau Beach Bar. During Happy Hour, you get 2 for the price of one, for 2 Corona and 2 Aperol Spritz we paid 7.50 euros.
Cantina de Ferrel
Not far from Baleal we found an excellent pizzeria. Although we were there at 23:00, we were served and had delicious pizzas. The place looks pretty new and hipster, the prices are unbeatable. Eating out in Portugal is certainly cheaper than cooking yourself. We loved this pizza.
Surfing in Peniche
Early in the morning, it finally started! I had booked a private surf lesson. My surf instructor Anita, taught me how to overcome my excitement and showed me how to relax.
Unfortunately I was pretty tense at first because I broke my big toe 3 weeks ago and I did not know if I could go surfing or not. Luckily, everything went well, and I stood a few of the waves. The sea is very shallow and sandy compared to Ericeira.
Day 5 – Setúbal & Tróia
With a heavy heart, we left Peniche after a successful surf hour and continued to travel towards Tróia. The journey took almost 3 hours. After passing Lisbon we crossed the Ponte Vasco da Gama. The Vasco da Gama Bridge is the second-longest bridge in Europe with 12,345 km in length and one of the longest bridges in the world, so it’s nothing for people with vertigo.
The peninsula Tróia (Península de Tróia) is one of the most beautiful coastlines of Portugal, with 13 km of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and pine-wooded sand dunes.
We had the impression as if we had landed in the Caribbean. We walked along the beach for hours and enjoyed the scenery. Unfortunately, it was a bit too cold to lie on the beach; nevertheless, we spent unforgettable hours, away from the mass tourism and the metropolis of Setúbal.
The luxury hotel is hidden behind a pine forest. This place was one of the more expensive stays of our trip, but we also wanted to treat ourselves well occasionally, especially after a busy surfing day therefore we booked it. Unfortunately, the design hotel did not quite meet our expectations. The reception was not welcoming at all, we quickly had the impression that we didn’t fit in with all those rich guys around. The pool area was beautiful, but that’s about it.
They also tried to screw us over regarding our room, they put us in a normal double room, even though we had booked the premium room. Although we did get the room we had originally booked in the end, we just realized that we identify better with smaller establishments or apartments in Portugal because some of the are luxury as well.
The green Atlantic Ferries catamaran is the fastest way from Tróia to Setúbal. The ticket from Troia to Setubal is free, but the return costs around 7 euros which is kinda weird.
While preparing our trip, we talked to some of our Portuguese friends from Luxembourg, and many recommended a stop in Setúbal. We really don’t quite understand why this has been recommended serveral times to us, the city was quite empty in June, and sightseeing was boring as well. Maybe the situation is different in the main season, but that was one of the cities we could have skipped.
We dined in the middle of the promenade….. The food and the sangria were lovely. Although it was only the fifth day of our trip, we felt really comfortable in Portugal and enjoyed a different kind of cuisine every night. we tasted a different wine from a different region every evening and ate delicious desserts after desserts.
Part 2 of the journey will follow shortly