Quinta da Padrela, Portugal
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Explore Portugal by Van in 2 Weeks • Read Now

Ever wished to discover Portugal by van?
Read along for our 2-week guide to exploring this digital nomad paradise,
from Lisbon, to Porto, the Douro Valley, the Alentejo and the Algarve.

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Trip Overview

Portugal, a captivating European gem, entices visitors with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and warm hospitality.

During the pandemic, we decided to explore the country in 2 weeks with a rental van. We then stayed in Lisbon a little more, for a total stay of 3 weeks in Portugal.

Needless to say: we were not disappointed!

Portugal by Van: 2 Weeks in a Nutshell

Things To Do

  • Go to Mars in Serra da Estrela
  • Wine tastings in the Douro Valley
  • Hike in Serra de San Mamede
  • Kayak Tour in Benagil Caves
  • Fat biking in Santa Cruz
Surfers in Peniche, Portugal - Portugal by van
Surfers in Peniche, Portugal

Itinerary

While 2 weeks were awesome to tour Portugal by van, the country is so rich in culture, cuisine, and activities, we wish we had more time. Get ready for an incredible journey across Portugal!

We visited Portugal in the Fall, so it was much more flexible to park on regular parking lots, to spend the night.

Lisbon

Our journey began in the vibrant capital city, Lisbon. We stayed at Urbano FLH Hotel in Alfama district, a great location for exploring the city. We only spent one night as we were picking up our rental van from Indie Campers the next morning.

A few things we did:

Alfama in Lisbon
Staircase in the Alfama quarter in Lisbon

Peniche

We stopped the camper by the beach and had a romantic first stop with aperitif by sunset.

After a dreamy night in the van in Peniche, we had a day full of activities:

Hiking in Furna que Sopra
Hiking in Furna que Sopra

Nazaré

The town has beautiful architecture and the waves were spectacular to look at. There is a lower town and a funicular bringing you to the top, and a few hikes with cool viewpoints.

We slept at the top of the town, in a car park around where the famous fort and surfing competitions take place. In the morning, we took a nice hike along the coast.

Swing in Nazaré
The famous swing from the view point of Nazaré

Aveiro

A town not to miss! With colorful fishing houses, loads of culture, delicious restaurants and a different vibe than the rest of Portugal.

little beach houses in Aveiro, Portugal
The cute little beach houses in Aveiro
Photo by Héctor Martínez on Unsplash

Porto

An absolutely jewel, Porto is renowned for its port wine and charming riverside ambiance. We stayed 2 nights at Villa Teresa Apartamentos in Vila Nova de Gaia as it is not only cheaper and less touristy than staying in Porto, but our apartment also had a view of the Porto harbor while being 5 minutes away from the city by walk.

Nice Things to Do in Porto:

Delicious food to be had:

Pasteis at Manteigaria, Porto
Pasteis & espresso at Manteigaria in Porto

Douro Valley

As we ventured into the Douro Valley, we were awestruck by Portugal’s dramatic fall colors. This picturesque region is known for its terraced vineyards and meandering Douro River, offers a truly serene escape.

Quinta da Padrela, Portugal
Quinta da Padrela
Quinta de Covela, Portugal
Quinta de Covela

We were lucky enough to spend the night at Quinta da Padrela, that we found on Park4Night. With a campervan, they let you park in their parking lot and allow you to use their bathroom with hot shower. What a treat!

On the next day, we went for a lunch and Port wine tasting at Quinta de La Rosa. It has a beautiful decor and great food – highly recommended! Do arrive in advance or book a table; we got there at 3pm and could only order snacks.

Serra da Estrela

Serra da Estrela felt like being on Mars. It’s a former radio station nested above the clouds, and you can go for nice hikes. But it’s very cold! There is even a ski station in there. It was one of my favourite stops.

Serra da Estrela, Portugal
In Serra da Estrela
Serra da Estrela, Portugal
We’re on Mars!

Serra de San Mamede

Also above the clouds, Serra de San Mamede is perfect for little walks. There is a small cafe to stop by and a cute souvenir shop. We had spectacular colors thanks to a mellow sunset, which gave us incredible views.

sunset on San Mamede, Portugal
Sunset in San Mamede

Évora

Évora is known for its well-preserved historic center, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It boasts ancient Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and charming cobbled streets.

Yellow houses in Evora, PT
Evora, Portugal
Photo by Dennis Irorere on Unsplash

Beautiful sights:

  • Chapel of Bones
  • Jardim Público de Évora – it’s full of peakocks!
  • Tribunal da Relação de Évora
Our amazing setup at Quinta Alfarrobeira!

The Algarve – Salema, Albufeira & Sagres

Once in the Algarve, it’s time to relax on the sun-kissed beaches and go have fun in the water! We tried to quickly pass the cities to enjoy more nature, rented kayaks to go see the Benagil Caves, hiked around it for awhile, and went cliff jumping.

Where we stayed:

  • Around Albufeira & Faro, we stayed at Quinta Alfarrobeira, the most fairytale-y accommodation of all. It’s a farm owned by an old Dutch expat, who built some guests houses, has a harvest, some fruit trees, some horses and rents a couple of van spots to tourists. I highly recommend! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Around Sagres, we slept at Salema Eco Camp, and can also recommend their cute little restaurant.

A few things I recommend doing in the western Algarve:

Sintra

No trip to Portugal is complete without visiting Sintra, so we went to explore the surroundings, but the Pena Palace was closed. We could still enjoy the colorful blend of architectural styles that seems to emerge straight from a fairytale!

Back to Lisbon

This is how our 2 weeks by van ended – we then stayed for an additional week in Lisbon, working from various coworking cafés and enjoying the food, architecture and lazy life of the city.

Green building in Lisbon
Beautiful azulejos tiles in Lisbon

Planning for Portugal by Van

General organization

I always use the same template to organize multi-day trips. Make a copy of the ultimate Trip Planning Template here!

Budget

We paid a total of €1,396 per person / €2,792 for 2. Here is the breakdown:

  • Transportation:
    • Van rental: €1,273
    • Taxi to/from van rental spot: €70
  • Accommodation:
    • Campsites: €231
    • Hotels/B&Bs: €450
  • Food:
    • Groceries: €200
    • Dinners: €250
  • Activities:
    • Equipment rental: €270
    • Wine tastings: €48

Hope you enjoyed! If you have any feedback or questions,
I would love to hear them in the comments. Cheers!


Looking for more adventures? Check out our Hut-to-Hut Hiking Trip in Slovenia!

The hut "Vodnikov dom na Velem polju" in Slovenia
Hiking in Triglav National Park

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