Although not as well known as the routes around the Algarve in the south, a road trip along the western side of Portugal is a great alternative. For visitors on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday this route will take you through some of the more traditional areas and unspoilt countryside, for a different view of the country.
Cascais is a typical picture postcard cosmopolitan beach town with elegant pedestrianised streets, cafes, and luxury villas. This town was once a fishing village, and even today keeps up the tradition of the afternoon fish auction on the beach; the ideal place to buy some sardines for a barbeque. Once you’ve explored the historic centre there are two short walks along the coast to enjoy, one leading to Boca do Inferno and the other to Estoril.
The 20 minute walk to Boca do Inferno, or Mouth of Hell, is a leisurely stroll to caves which have been carved out of the rocks where high waves crash against them. Just as leisurely, but in the other direction, is the boardwalk to Estoril.
This is a popular tourist area so there’s a good choice of places to overnight before returning tomorrow towards Lisbon.
After lunch, and no doubt feeling blessed, another hour away is the city of Coimbra, and the ancient Roman city of Conimbriga. Conimbriga is the largest Roman settlement in Portugal, and some of the site dates back as far as the first Iron Age in the 9th century BC. If you’re not into ancient things there are also small fortified towns such as Montemor – o – Velho with its Moorish castle, Lousa, a charming town where the plains meet the mountains, and the spa towns of Luso and Curia. There is so much to see and do here, and that includes some great shopping opportunities, you could if you had time spend a few days. If you decide to stay in the area but prefer to stay near the coast, then the coastal town of Figueria da Foz is the perfect spot.
The city is one of the oldest ports in Europe as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are lots of things to see and do here (see Motorhoming in Porto) there’s also a wide range of places to stay, so park up and enjoy the area.
Day 5Its 119Km’s to Braga, one of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, and home to the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. The city also has some beautiful buildings and squares where you can relax, but if you only have one day to spare, make sure you visit the Sanctuary and the Cathedral.
Day 6The last day and a short drive to Geres. This is the Peneda-Geres National Park, a wild and dramatic mountainous site, scattered with rural villages. Most tourists head for Soajo which has some huge granaries topped with crosses, known locally as esipguerios. Also make sure you visit Caldas do Geres, a pretty spa village which is the place to pick up details about the park, where to stay, and places to visit. Can you squeeze in a few extra days?