Located next to Spain, Portugal is known for its dramatic coastline, port wine and affordable prices, making it a popular tourist hotspot over the last few years.
Despite the increased popularity of the country, Portugal should still be on everyone’s travel bucket list. The country has ample cities and towns to enjoy, especially in Northern Portugal. Northern Portugal, or the North Region, has an area of 21,278 kilometers filled with history, beaches and natural wonders.
In this Northern Portugal road trip guide, we will go over everything you need to know, from the best towns to stay into the tastiest foods to eat.
Best Hotels In Northern Portugal For A Road Trip
Every memorable trip and road trip needs excellent accommodation. Northern Portugal has many different accommodation options with unique places to stay in Porto, Lisbon, Aveiro and Nazare.
Portugal has a perfect blend of luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation. These are 12 of the top-rated hotels in Northern Portugal. I organized them by luxury, mid-range and budget.
Luxury Northern Portugal Hotels
- Torel Palace Porto – This luxury hotel is located in the Centro/Baixa area of Porto and is within walking distance of the Porto Cathedral and the Historic Center. Torel Palace Porto has an outdoor swimming pool, bar, library and spa services.
- MS Collection Aveiro – Palacete de Valdemouro – This luxury Aveiro hotel offers a full-service spa and restaurant. The hotel has 40 rooms, including bathrooms with tubs and showers and a buffet breakfast. The hotel is in the Aveiro city center, close to the Aveiro Cathedral and Igreja de Ois da Ribeira.
- Montebelo Mosteiro de Alcobaça Historic Hotel – Located within the city center of Alcobaça, this hotel is close to the Alcobaça Monastery and Arco Da Memoria. With 91 rooms, an indoor swimming pool, complimentary self-parking and a spa, this hotel is ideal for a relaxing night or two to break up a road trip.
- Four Seasons Lisbon – This family-friendly hotel is located in the heart of Lisbon and has 282 rooms with premium bedding and air conditioning. Located close to the Gulbenkian Museum and Commerce Square, the Four Seasons has an outdoor and indoor swimming pool with sun loungers and a poolside bar.
- The One Palácio da Anunciada – Located within walking distance of the Avenida da Liberdade, Rossio Square and Castle of São Jorge- is an excellent base for exploring Lisbon. The Luxury eco-certified hotel has 82 rooms, including suites with lounge areas and deluxe and cozy rooms.
Mid-Range Northern Portugal Hotels
- Torel Avantgarde – This family-friendly hotel offers a variety of rooms, including river view rooms with balconies, twin rooms, a royal one-bedroom suite and even a luxury apartment. Located in Porto, this hotel is an ideal base to explore the city while staying in luxury.
- Hotel Aveiro Palace – This hotel is conveniently located in Aveiro. It is connected to a shopping center and is close to the Museu de Aveiro and Fabrica de Porcelana da Vista Alegre. With 48 rooms, this hotel is ideal for everyone with different room configurations, including double or twin rooms, junior suites and single rooms.
- Hotel Magic – This three-star hotel is just a short walk from Nazaré Beach and a short drive from Nazaré Lighthouse and Norte Beach. The hotel offers two rooms: a double or twin room and a single room.
Budget Northern Portugal Hotels
- Hospes Infante Sagres Porto – Located close to Aliados Square and Clerigos Tower, this hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, buffet breakfast and a terrace. The hotel has 85 rooms with double beds, premium suites and queen beds, sleeping between one and four people.
- Hotel Moliceiro Aveiro – Located in the city center of Aveiro, close to the train station, this hotel is an excellent option for exploring the local area, with the Aveiro Cathedral and Igreja de Ois da Ribeira both within walking distance.
- Villamar Style Maison – Located just a six-minute walk from Nazaré Beach and a nine-minute walk from Promontório do Sítio, this hotel is located close to the beach. The hotel features 11 individually furnished rooms, each with thoughtful touches and free wifi. The hotel also has an outdoor pool with sun loungers and offers complimentary self-parking.
- InterContinental Lisbon – With one and two-bedroom suites, this hotel is ideal for families or groups of friends on a road trip. Many of the rooms also feature city or river views. This hotel is in the city center within walking distance of the Marquis of Pombal Square, Avenida da Liberdade and the Gulbenkian Museum.
Best Tours In Northern Portugal For A Road Trip
Northern Portugal offers a variety of enjoyable tours for exploring the area, taking to the water and visiting natural wonders. For a road trip, here are seven great options:
- Experience the beauty of Douro Valley on a full-day trip from Porto. Enjoy a traditional lunch, taste local port wine and olive oil, and relax with a scenic cruise along the Douro River.
- Sit back and relax with a glass of port while enjoying a live music show. Discover traditional Portuguese Fado music. Choose between three historic Casa do Fado venues in central Porto.
- Hop on a Douro boat to see the only European city with six bridges. Cruise by Porto’s historic center, Vila Nova de Gaia, and the Douro River mouth.
- Experience a guided boat tour through the central channels of Ria de Aveiro, marveling at the city’s beautiful architecture while passing through the Central Canal, Canal do Côjo and other waterways.
- Experience Aveiro’s rich history and highlights on a guided walking tour. See the Carmelite Convent Church, Church of São Gonçalinho, and Canal da Fonte Nova.
- Experience the splendor of Sintra on a full-day, professionally-guided tour originating from Lisbon. Take in the stunning Pena Palace and its Royal Gardens, and savor breathtaking views of Cabo da Roca, Cascais, and the picturesque coastlines.
- Enjoy a delightful evening cruise on a spacious boat, taking in stunning views of Lisbon’s iconic landmarks while sipping wine or beer and listening to upbeat music.
7-Day Northern Portugal Road Trip Itinerary
A Northern Portugal road trip is the perfect way to see different areas of the country, traveling at your own pace and exploring diverse landscapes and regions.
On this 7-day Northern Portugal road trip, the recommended stop-off destinations are Porto, Aveiro, Nazare and Lisbon. These four cities and areas are very different, from beaches to thriving cities and everything in between.
Here is my 7-day Northern Portugal road trip guide.
Day One – Porto
This road trip itinerary starts in the second largest city in Portugal, Porto. Porto is one of my favorite European cities; you will see why when you visit. Located on the stunning Douro River, Porto is known for its port wine, incredible views, and delicious seafood.
I recommend spending two full days in Porto. Porto is a very small city, so seeing everything in two days is manageable.
Located right next to Sao Bento Station is a lovely brunch spot called Noshi Cafe. Noshi Cafe serves delicious breakfast and lunch food. I recommend trying their Ovos Selvagens.
Once you are full, walk across the street to Sao Bento Station. Sao Bento Station is located in the center of Porto and cannot be missed. The famous azulejo tiles attract many travelers to Portugal every year. These tiles in the century-old Sao Bento Station tell a story about Portugal’s history. Visiting Sao Bento Station is completely free.
Next, walk over to Casa Da Ribeira. The second you see Casa Da Ribeira, your jaw will drop. Walk along the river, pop in a few shops, and snap pictures. Local singers often perform at Casa Da Ribeira, so sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Grab lunch at one of the many restaurants along the Riberia. Almost all of these restaurants serve traditional Portuguese food. One of my favorites on the Ribeira is Franganito because of the delectable food and the remarkable views of the Douro River.
After lunch, keep walking along the Riberia Towers Luis I Bridge. You will find steps leading to the top of the Luis I Bridge. Climbing the 210 steps is not easy, so if you are older or are not feeling up to the climb, hop on the Porto Funicular right next to the steps. The views from the top of Luis I Bridge are astonishing.
Once you have crossed the Luis I Bridge, you will be on the river’s Vila Nova de Gaia side. There is not much to see besides the riverwalk on this side of the city, so walk along the river, pop in a few shops, and enjoy a different view of Porto.
Grab some dinner while you are on the Vila Nova De Gaia side of the river. I loved Decastro Gaia because of the views and top-notch food.
One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed was the Cais da Ribeira de Gaia sunset. Live music, drinks, and a stunning view of the sun sinking into the city will be there.
Day Two – Porto
Start your day at one of my favorite brunch places in Porto. Nola is a great breakfast joint to enjoy coffee and avocado toast before your busy day of adventure.
A 10-minute walk from Nola Cafe is the Porto Cathedral. The Porto Cathedral is a must-visit. You will see azulejo tiles all over the indoor/outdoor cathedral. Climb to the top to see a lovely view of Porto.
Bishops Palace is located right next to the Porto Cathedral. Once a residence of the Bishops of Porto, the Bishops Palace holds art from the 18th and 19th centuries and is known for its stunning architecture. The Bishops Palace is a must-see if you are a fellow history lover. You can buy tickets for the Bishop’s Palace and Porto Cathedral at the cathedral.
Grab a quick lunch from the Hungry Biker, just a 5-minute walk from the palace and cathedral. The Hungry Biker serves soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Next, head over to Largo da Pena Ventosa. The UNESCO World Heritage site, Largo da Pena Ventosa, can be challenging to find. It took me an hour to see it, and I was right next to it the whole time. To find Largo da Pena Ventosa, walk to the Porto Cathedral and put it in your GPS; it will be down the steps to the right.
Take a few pictures in this iconic square and wander through the alleyways while stopping in any shops or cafes you want.
You will be hungry after your busy day of exploring. Tasco is a high-end restaurant located in the center of Porto; they serve anything from traditional Portuguese food to sushi.
Day Three – Aveiro
Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal because of the canals through the streets. The buildings that line the streets in Aveiro are very colorful and make a great picture. Aveiro is much less expensive than Porto and Lisbon, so enjoy the shopping here. One night in Aveiro is enough time to see everything.
Wake up early, hop in your car, and head to your next destination. The adorable village, Aveiro, is an hour south of Porto. Aveiro was and still is a major salt-producing center, but the town was on the travel map because of its canals and Costa Novas striped houses.
Once you arrive in Aveiro, take a gondola tour. The gondola tours are inexpensive and an excellent way to see the village. On the tour, you will learn about Aveiro’s past and how the canals were built. Once you are off the boat, you will probably be hungry. Restaurant Musgo is a perfect vegan joint for lunch.
After lunch, take a 10-minute drive from the center of Aveiro to Costa Nova. The Instagram-famous Costa Nova is a great place to photoshoot with your girls and take a beach walk.
Once you get back to Aveiro, check out Subenshi Sushi for dinner.
Day Four – Nazare
Nazare is known for having the biggest recorded waves in the world. Daring surfers who ride these enormous waves put this tiny fishing village on the map. You can also enjoy some of Nazare’s best traditional Portuguese seafood dishes.
After a good night’s sleep in Aveiro, hop in the car and head an hour and a half south to Nazare.
Once you arrive in Nazare, wear your sneakers and hike to the red lighthouse. The red lighthouse is the best place to see the Nazare waves. The hike itself is gorgeous. You will have views of Portugal’s rugged coastline and see Nazare from a bird’s eye view. While on the hike, watch for the swing — it makes for a great picture.
Located right next to the red lighthouse is the Surf Museum. The Surf Museum commemorates all the surfers who have conquered the waves at Nazare. You will also learn why and how the waves at Nazare can get so tall and see photos of the waves at their highest. The waves in Nazare are tallest during the winter.
A 5-minute walk from the Surf Museum is a restaurant called Casa Pires. Casa Pires serves traditional Portuguese seafood.
From the Casa Pires, continue your hike to the other side of the lighthouse. Once you have reached the other side of the lighthouse, you will easily find Forno de Orca Cave. Forno de Orca Cave is small but worth hiking that extra bit.
If you do not feel up to walking this much, you can Uber or take the funicular to the top of the hill. You will need to do a challenging but short hike to see the cave.
Once you hike back to the other side of the lighthouse, you definitely will be hungry. Maharaja Indian restaurant is an excellent choice if you are tired of seafood at this point in your trip. I know I was.
Day Five – Lisbon
The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a must-visit while in Portugal. Known for the hills and the trams, Lisbon is truly a fantastic city.
An hour and a half south of Nazare is Lisbon. When you arrive in Lisbon, head over to the Lisbon Riverwalk. The Lisbon Riverwalk is one of the most lively parts of the city. Enjoy the water and boats gliding through the water in the distance. There is live music and food along the riverwalk.
You can easily walk over to Arco da Rua Augusta from the riverwalk. Arco da Rua Augusta was built after the 1755 earthquake to commemorate the reconstruction of the new city.
I love The Mill for lunch. The Mill serves delicious coffee, brunch, breakfast, and lunch.
Once your belly is full, head over to the Alfama District. The Alfama District is known for its Arabic influence, trendy shopping, and stunning architecture.
An excellent place for a high-end dinner in Lisbon is Alama. Alama received two Michelin stars and is home to some of the best meats and seafood in the city.
Day Six – Lisbon
Start your day off in Lisbon at my all-time favorite coffee shop, Copenhagen Coffee Lab.
After breakfast and coffee, hop in the car and drive to the Tower of Belem. The Tower of Belem is a 15-minute drive from the center of Lisbon. (could be more or less depending on traffic) The Tower of Belem is often called the gateway to Lisbon because it was a meeting point for sailors during the age of exploration.
Next to the Tower of Belém is Padrão dos Descobrimentos (monument of discoveries). Padrão dos Descobrimento was built in the 1940s by Cottinelli Telmo and the sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida to commemorate Prince Henry the Navigator.
Drive back to Lisbon and stop at LX Factory. LX Factory is known for its art, food, and unique shops. Grab some lunch at one of the many delicious restaurants and explore!
Loco is a great place to grab some dinner in Lisbon, but you will need a reservation.
Day Seven – Sintra
The last stop on this Northern Portugal road trip is Sintra. Sintra is a 30-minute drive from Lisbon, so it is more of a day trip. Known for its castles, Sintra is a great place to visit while in the Lisbon area.
Wake up early and head to Sintra to beat the crowds. Make sure to buy all of your Sintra tickets online beforehand. Some places will sell out for the whole day.
The best castles in Sintra are Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace, and the Moorish Castle. Visit Pena Palace first because it will get hectic as it is the most popular later in the day.
Next, stop by Monserrate Palace.
Then stop by Moorish Castle (my favorite).
Bring snacks and sneakers to Sintra because food can be challenging to find, and you will be doing a lot of walking. Drive back to Lisbon and then grab dinner at Belcanto.
When To Go To Northern Portugal
Portugal is mild year-round, but the best weather is in the late spring, summer, and early autumn. Although if you are a surfer, the best swells are in winter.
I am a budget traveler through and through, so I am a huge fan of shoulder seasons. A shoulder season is a little before or after the high season. Shoulder seasons have great weather, reasonable prices, and less crowds.
Getting Around Northern Portugal On A Road Trip
You will want a car for this road trip! So rent one at the Porto airport when you arrive. If you do not feel comfortable renting a car, you can also do this itinerary by train.
I use the app Omio when booking my trains in Europe.
Northern Portugal Road Trip Guide Wrap Up
I hope you found this Northern Portugal road trip guide helpful. I hope this guide inspires you to do your own road trip adventure through Portugal.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Northern Portugal on a road trip. If you have any questions or advice to share with our readers, please leave these in the comments below.
Want to share your own travel tips by guest writing for We Are Travel Girls? Please visit our Contribute Page for guidelines and to submit your article.
Read More About Portugal
- Complete 3 Day Itinerary To Lisbon Portugal
- 10 Most Unique Bookstores In Lisbon
- 11 Best Bars In Lisbon For After Work Drinks
- 8 Of Lisbon’s Best Co-Working Cafes
- 10 Must See Places In Belem, Lisbon
- Where To Stay In Lisbon, Portugal: The Best Areas & Hotels
Pin For Later
This article may contain affiliate links, if you purchase something using one of our links we may receive a commission. Please see our Disclosures for more information.