Exploring Portugal by Car

The stunning Algarve coast, with plenty of private beaches, is reason alone to hire a car to discover and explore a timeless hinterland seemingly unchanged in a century. There is also the lovely Duora valley as well as many wonderful national parks offering a wide variety of landscapes.

Sintra should be the first stop out of Lisbon for anyone exploring the country. It is a beautiful town set among wooded hills, and a popular hideaway for Royalty over the centuries. The Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Palácio Nacional da Pena, Convento dos Capuchos and rambling Monserrate Gardens are among its highlights, and you can escape the crowds by exploring the charming little village of Évora nearby.

The Algarve coast, along the southern border, is famous for its towering cliffs and secluded beaches. All along this stretch are former fishing towns and resorts, some enjoying unbeatable locations. Lagos is busy and popular, with plenty of entertainment and wonderful beaches. Portimao caters well for visitors, Vilamoura has a casino and marina and Sagres, to the extreme west, is dramaticallM40_outside_Madridy located facing out towards the Atlantic. This particular town has an important maritime legacy.

Inland, Silves is another historic gem which was once capital of the region. If you wish to escape the crowds during the summer, the Serra de Monchique offer a cool, quiet respite from the beach, with picturesque wooded hills and stunning vistas as you wind your way up to the small town of Fóia.

The Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s scenic highlights, typified by rolling hills covered in vineyards, near to Oporto. To the north is the ‘green coast’ or Costa Verde, with its beautiful and remote scenery where Sanfins Citânia (Paços de Ferreira), ruins of a Pre-Roman settlement dating from the 2nd century BC, represents the most important archaeological find in the country.