• No Products in the Cart

VanLife Portugal Road Trip MAP + 20 Favorite Places

VanLife Portugal, mr and mrs adventure, best vanlife destinationOut of the 19 countries we explored throughout our 2.5 year VanLife Europe (and Africa) honeymoon, there was one country that we actually considered living the in FOREVER, and that incredible country was Portugal. If we had to pick one reason why, we’d have to say it was the ease and quality of life. With endless opportunities for wild camping, its beaming beaches, iridescent seas and the kind, relaxed people and culture, it was just easy to be.

vanlife portugal, live in portugal, portugal country signWe arrived in Portugal after having spent 3 months in Morocco; we took the ferry from Tanger-Med across the Straight of Gibraltar to Algeciras, Spain, and then drove 7 hours straight to Lisbon, where we had flights to San Diego for a friends’ wedding. We left The Howeller at an off-site airport parking lot and returned a few weeks later to embark on a journey that looked a little something like this:

vanlife Portugal MAP, best of portugal map, road trip Portugal Map, must do portugal, best of algarveWe originally planned to vlog each week, but for the sake of enjoying our present moments, knowing full well that we’d eventually have to leave this marvelous place behind, we abandoned that idea after week one. For your viewing pleasure, here is the only vlog we made, sharing the excitement that was our 1st week of VanLife Portugal!:

What happened after that was nearly 2 months of pure magic… which brings us to our list of the 20 most unforgettable places and memories from our time living the VanLife in Portugal!:

1.Arriving to Lisbon with GLORIOUS weather! Exploring the magical library at the LX Factory, wandering through the historic Alfama, visiting the massive Cristo Rei statue and biking the path along the Tagus River, and these were just some of the highlights!:

best of lisbon, best of portugal, vanlife portugal, follow me to

lisbon alfama, cable cars lisbon

amazing tree in lisbon, magic tree lisbon, best of portugal

cristo rei, christ statue lisbon, must see in lisbon

lx factory librbary, magic library portugal, best library europe

lisbon alfama, climbing trees lisbon2.Trying one (or three) of the famed Pasteis de Belem, and eating them in front of the golden pavilionLearn about the history of these monk-made pastries here.

pasteis de belem, pasteis de nata, best portugal pastry, best bakery in lisbon, Pavillion Princess Maha Chakri3.Oh and one more Lisbon must do! In honor of the late and great Anthony Bordain, drinking “a Ginjinha” in the same place as he did on his first trip to Lisbon. This no-frills, hole-in-the-wall spot that has been serving up the famed cherry liqueur since the early 19th century and for just under 2 Euros you can down a shot (get the sour cherry in the bottom) in the same spot as the legend himself:

a ginjinha, best ginja in portugal, ginja in lisbon, must try lisbon, anthony bordain portugal, best drink lisbon, cherry liquor 4.Watching the sunset + sleeping on the westernmost point of Portugal, Cabo da Roca. When you go, you can look for our sticker on the sign below!

5.Hiking up to the magically colorful Palace of Pena through the enchanted forest of Sintra.

palace of pena, sintra hike to pena palace, Castelo dos Mouros hike Pro Tip: Order your tickets online (you get 5% off and avoid one of the lines) and arrive first thing in the morning to avoid the VERY long line + extremely crowded castle experience. You DEFINITELY want to do this.

palace of pena, sintra hike to pena palace, Castelo dos Mouros hike

6.Surfing + sleeping on the beach in Nazare and feeling so small being so close to the LARGEST WAVES in the world!

nazare portugal, wild camping portugal, vanlife portugal

7.Droning over the city of Porto + waiting in line (for over an hour) to walk through the famous Livraria Lello, one of the world’s oldest and most BEAUTIFUL bookstores!:

porto drone, droning portugal, best of portugal

porto drone, droning portugal, best of portugalPro Tip: Purchase your tickets online beforehand + get in line for the library by (at least) 9am if you want THE BEST experience (yes, even though it doesn’t open till 10). There are lots of places nearby for coffee and a breakfast treat. Oh and leave any backpacks at home if possible, otherwise prepare to wait in another line for bag check, which you will need a 1 Euro coin for.

oldest most beautiful bookstore in the world 8.Celebrating my 30th Birthday in Peniche.

vanlife portugal, peniche portugalNote the fire alarm sitting next to me on the couch, LOL:

vanlife birthday, mr and mrs adventure, fire in van

9.Our 80-mile, 5-day trek along the Rota Vicentina:

Rota vicentina map, how to hike rota vicentina, rota vicentina 5 days, best way to hike rota vicentina, best hike in europe, best portugal hikeWe hiked from South to North (which was ideal for not being blinded by the sun, highly recommended), starting in Aljezur and ending in Vila Nova de Milfontes, covering anywhere from 7 to 13 miles per day. I planned for this hike to be more of a joy ride, less taxing than the 6 days we spent hiking the relentless 110 miles + 36,000 feet of collective elevation gain on the Tour du Mont Blanc…! While it was wayyyy easier, I forgot to take into account the additional time it would take to trudge through miles of SAND!:

We spent most of the hike barefoot (keeping our flip flops close by for back up) and started early so we could spend as much of each day taking in the absolutely incredible scenery. Our favorite day was the stretch from Odeceixe to Zambujeira do Mar:

rota vicentina hiking, zambujeira do mar, best hike portugal, best hike europe

rota vicentina hiking, zambujeira do mar, best hike portugal, best hike europe Another great stretch was the last day, from Almograve to Vila Nova de Milfontes:

rota vicentina hiking, vila nova de milfontesTip: We hiked in early May (before season) and booked all our hostels via Booking.com (use our referral link, yay!) which made it super simple to research availability + keep track of reservations.

rota vicentina hiking sign, portugal street sign, vila nova de milfontesThe Rota Vicentina is definitely one that will be added to our future list of the best hikes of our lives! If we were to do it again we would do the same thing, except start in Odeceixe and end in Porto Covo.

rota vicentina, best hike portugal, best hikes in the world10.Speaking of the Rota Vicentina, we will never forget our victory meal, eating some of the freshest fish of our lives at A Choupana in Villa Nova de Milfontes:

A Choupana in Villa Nova de Milfontes, best restaurant rota vicentina, where to eat rota vicentina, best restaurant vila nova de milfontes

a choupana, restaurant vila nova de milfontes, best restaurant rota vicentinaWe asked our waiter what kind of fish they had and that (above) was what he showed us. We didn’t know what that meant, so we asked him which one he liked and went with it! Needless to say, it was an excellent choice. A $40 feast for two and there was nothing left:

a choupana, restaurant vila nova de milfontes, best restaurant rota vicentina11.Coasteering at Praia da Ingrina + SUPing at Praia Dona Ana with Coastline Algarve:

View this post on Instagram

Some days I feel cracked open, completely vulnerable, not always ready but always willing to try and embrace what the day has in store. Drew is much more fearless than I am in certain situations, like those that involve us jumping off rugged cliff edges into mysteriously deep waters… which is exactly what we’ll be doing today #coasteering with @coastlinealgarve!… which I signed us up for?! 😬 My secret to facing these fear-inducing situations? I choose to focus on the joy and sense of accomplishment that will fill my body to the brim at the end of a day where I chose to let my faith and spirit of adventure be louder than my fears 💪🏼 Cliff jumping, here we come!! #confessionsofanadventuress ••• PS- Dear cliffs, please don’t be too high 🙏🏼

A post shared by Brittany + Drew (@mrandmrsadventure) on

coastline algarve, coasteering portugal, cliff jumping portugal, ingrina beach,

coastline algarve, SUPing portugal, cliff jumping portugal, dona ana beach paddle board, paddle board algarve, best algarve adventures12.Living THE GOOD LIFE with the Algarve’s endless coastal parking: views + ocean + beaches for daysssss. One of our favorite spots was right next to the incredible Benagil Cave!

benagil cave, vanlife portugal, best country for vanlife, algarve vanlife,

13.Praia do Carvalho. Probably our favorite beach in the Algarve and we got to park right next to this little piece of paradise!:

carvalho beach, best beach in the algarve, best beach portugal, magic beach with stars and cliff algarve

the algarve, best beaches portugal, amazing water portugal

carvalho beach, best beach in the algarve, best beach portugal, magic beach with stars and cliff algarve14.Picnicing on top of and swimming under the famous double arches of Praia da Marinha:

marinha beach, best beaches in the algarve, best beaches portugal, romantic beaches portugal, best of the algarve, double arch beach portugal

marinha beach, best beaches in the algarve, best beaches portugal, romantic beaches portugal, best of the algarve, double arch beach portugal15.Trying a Cherimoya (aka. Custard Apple) for the first time EVER! It tasted like a crazy exotic mix of bananas, coconut, pear and pineapple… but be careful not to eat the big black seeds! Apparently they’re poisonous:

cherimoya, portugal green fruit with black seeds, mystery fruit portugal16.Kiting and staying with our dear friends (@travelmanyroads @weareanae) at Praia de Loule Velho:

faro beach algarve, vale do lobo beach, best beaches algarve, travel many roads, we are anae, mr and mrs adventure

View this post on Instagram

Sending #allthevibes and love for a blessed Memorial Day back home in the US today ❤️ This past weekend we were so lucky to hangout with @travelmanyroads + @weareanae, 2 couples from The Netherlands who met each other for the first time on the road in Spain 6 months ago and have been caravanning, making beautiful music, performing in various cities and by cozy firesides, together, ever since. Their story is one of faith. Instead of relying on savings or a paycheck, they trust in God to provide as they share their talents, allowing them to travel many roads, share all the songs and touch all the hearts wherever they roll. We miss you guys already and can’t wait for our paths to cross again someday 💋 #gezellig ••• PS- Seitske we missed you! But it was incredible being able to stream you singing live @eobeam + @cornelis_brink we were happy you could be a part of all the good times! ✨

A post shared by Brittany + Drew (@mrandmrsadventure) on

View this post on Instagram

As the boys gathered pinewood from the forest, Anna and I cooked up a feast of delicious van-made nachos with a giant bowl of guac, made with avocados bought from the little farmer on the side of the road 🤤🥑 We were lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea and awakened by the bright morning sun glittering on the waves as they crashed to shore✨ #thesearethemoments ••• I think we would stay here in The Howeller forever if we could, but as Americans we are limited to 90 days in the Schengen countries, which is most of mainland Europe, causing us to constantly be on the clock, watching the days, making sure we can make it to Morocco or England, the Balkan’s or catch a flight back to the US (aka non-Schengen countries) as not to violate our Visas (which adds to our thoughts shared on the post 3 photos ago). Knowing that our time in Europe is limited, over the past 3 years, we have grown more and more conscious of the importance of appreciating each every moment, a practice I hope we carry with us forever, wherever we go ❤️

A post shared by Brittany + Drew (@mrandmrsadventure) on

17.Taking a side trip to Tarifa (Spain) to kitesurf! Valdevaqueros was Drew’s fave:

best place to kite surf, kite surf capital of europe, where to kite surf in europe, kite surf spain, playa de los lances

Take a look at #6 in this post to see what else, or should we say WHO else, these magical winds blew our way.

best place to kite surf, kite surf capital of europe, where to kite surf in europe, kite surf spain, playa de los lances18.Biking to, watching the sunset and sleeping on Cabo Sao Vicente in Sagres, the extreme south-westernmost tip of Portugal, and all of Europe!:

 Cabo Sao Vicente, sagres portugal, westernmost point in algarve, must see portugal, biking portugal, bike the algarve, sagres lighthouse

 Cabo Sao Vicente, sagres portugal, westernmost point in algarve, must see portugal, biking portugal, bike the algarve, sagres lighthouse

vanlife portugal, cabo sao vicente, sagres portugal, best places in the algarve19.Reveling in how easy it was to take care of all our van chores! We never had a problem finding a place refill our water jugs or empty our tanks, in fact, most of the time we were able to do all of it for FREE! The Intermarche grocery stores made it especially easy, providing services behind their stores + being able to do our groceries + laundry at the same time. Thank you Portugal for making VanLife so easy AND so overwhelmingly enjoyable!

vanlife portugal, intermarche van rv portugal, fill water portugal

vanlife portugal, peneda geres van rv portugal, fill water portugal

vanlife portugal, sagres portugal, the algarve20.And last but certainly not least, exploring Peneda-Geres National Park, which is actually Portugal’s ONLY National Park!

peneda geres, best hike peneda geres, only national park in portugal, portugal national park, This was our last stop before leaving Portugal and it definitely made it hard to say good bye. We chilled by the lake, did lots of awesome hiking, slept on top of Pedra Bela (the highest point in the park) and on our last day, we went swimming/bathing in the Cascata do Arado… it was warm, sunny, the air was lush and everything was overflowing with sweet, Portuguese freedom… 

peneda geres, best hike peneda geres, only national park in portugal, portugal national park,

peneda geres, best hike peneda geres, only national park in portugal, portugal national park, pedra bela view, hike to pedra bela

Cascata do Arado, waterfall hike peneda geres, waterfall hike portugal

We will never forget our time in Portugal. Just when we thought VanLife couldn’t get any better than Norway, this place went and gifted us with some our most treasured memories with The Howeller ever… nós te amamos Portugal!

3 Comments

  1. Reply

    Eliot Lawson

    November 11, 2018

    I am surprised you did not mention the nicest bay in Portugal: the bay of Arrabida (close to Setubal)… but I agree Portugal has a lot to offer

    • Reply

      Brittany Rouille

      November 12, 2018

      We did love it there, that is true, and we actually adored the little town of Sesimbra! One of our favorites…. maybe some places are best kept a secret 😉

  2. Reply

    Steve Miles

    October 13, 2018

    nice summary! just got back recently ourselves!

Leave a Reply

RELATED POSTS