With only a long weekend to spare, there is plenty to see and do on a 5-day road trip from Lisbon. This short-but-sweet road trip itinerary explores Portugal’s Atlantic Coast like the locals do.
Start with the coolest clubs and corners of vibrant Lisbon, before heading to the Lisboetas’ favourite beaches in Cascais. Winding through a lush mountain range, the colourful castles and spooky history of Sintra will capture your imagination. Finally, catch a break in the popular surf town of Ericeira with a side trip to nearby Mafra.
Now you’re practically a local yourself!
Portugal’s coastal capital is one of the oldest cities in Europe, predating even Paris and Rome by a few centuries. Thankfully, 48 hours in Lisbon is more than enough to captivate the imagination and inspire a return trip.
The city centre is compact and cobblestoned, so it’s best to park your campervan on the outskirts and use any of the old-fashioned trams to explore the sights.
Perched atop the city’s highest hill, the imposing São Jorge Castle has stood guard over Lisboa since the 11th century. Visit the castle for sweeping, pastel-hued views of the old Alfama district and beyond.
Head next to the waterfront to view the landmark, medieval Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery.
When the sun sets, Bairro Alto is the place to be. Slip into a bohemian wine bar, catch the traditional fado singers at a local club, then see where the evening takes you.
The seaside resort towns of Cascais and Estoril make for one of the best Lisbon road trips. Lisboetas flock to Cascais for its sandy beaches, fantastic seafood, and boutique shopping.
Park your campervan on the outskirts of town; the compact city centre and coastline are easy to explore on foot. You’ll want to snap a few Insta-worthy shots at Boca do Inferno, where the waves crash noisily beneath dramatic cliffs.
Next, wander through the old town and marina, where you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fresh seafood to eat and boutiques to browse.
Finally, a leisurely walk along the beach (or a 3-minute train ride east) leads you into neighbouring Estoril.
The town’s main attraction is a large casino, but the powdery-soft sands of Tamariz Beach are a better bet. The spot is popular with locals and Lisboetas, as it lies at the foot of a medieval fortress, Forte da Cruz.
Another easy day trip from Lisbon is Sintra, a must-see on any Portugal road trip itinerary. Plan to make an early start, as there is much to explore!
Nestled into the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, this enchanting region is dotted with pastel palaces like something out of a fairytale. The most famous (at least on Instagram) is the whimsical, multicoloured Pena Palace.
The best photo opps can be found on any of the palace grounds’ winding walkways.
Another worthwhile stop is the Gothic masterpiece Quinta da Regaleira, with its many underground passageways, mysterious Masonic history, and spooky Initiation Well.
Back in the centre of Sintra town are many exceptional restaurants and cafés to tempt you. Be sure to try a few local sweets, like travesseiro (a flaky, almond-flavoured cake) and queijadas (sweet, flour-crusted cakes filled with cheese and cinnamon).
The final stop on this short-but-sweet road trip from Lisbon is the surf town of Ericeira and its neighbour, Mafra.
Another early start is in order, to join the morning wave of surfers who flock to its sandy coastline. If you’re a novice, head to the southern beach Foz do Lizandro for a lesson among beginner-friendly breaks.
When you’ve had your fill of sun and surf, join the locals for a lazy breakfast or brunch back in town.
Day trips from Lisbon often pair Ericeira with a few hours in nearby Mafra.
The main attraction here is the sprawling National Palace, an opulent monument to Baroque period architecture. In addition to its sumptuous palace, the complex is home to a magnificent monastery, church, and library.