Our two-week Portugal road trip, including Spain and France, took place during the summer holiday seasons. In the beginning, we only wanted to spend two weeks on a beach resort in Portugal. But because we had to bring many beach kinds of stuff and lots of kid items for our one-year-old child, we decided to drive to Portugal from Germany.
As our kid was still small, we had to stop many times on the way. With a distance of 2500 kilometres between the two countries, we would spend one week on the road and had stopovers in France and Spain. Therefore, we only booked one-week in Crown Plaza Vilamoura, in Portugal. Nevertheless, our two-week Portugal road trip was still less stressful than expected. And we managed to see more places during the two weeks.
On the way to Portugal, we stayed overnight at Nimes, Valencia, and Cordoba. On the way back, we stopped at Salamanca, Bordeaux, and Verdun. The main activities in Portugal were near our hotel. Here is the detailed itinerary of our two-week Portugal road trip:
- 1st Day: Nimes, France (ibis budget Nimes Centre Gare)
- 2ed Day: Valencia, Spain (Vincci Lys)
- 3rd Day: Cordoba, Spain (Tryp Córdoba)
- 4th Day: Vilamoura, Portugal (Crown Plaza Vilamoura)
- 5th Day: Vilamoura Beach
- 6th Day: the old town of Lagos and Punta da Piedade
- 7th Day: Vilamoura Beach
- 8th Day: Praia Do Carvalho
- 9th Day: Vilamoura Beach
- 10th Day: Loulé
- 11th Day: Salamanca, Spain (NH Salamanca Puerta de la Catedral)
- 12th Day: Bordeaux, France (Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre)
- 13th Day: Verdun, France (Hotel de Montaulbain)
- 14th Day: back to Germany
1st Day: Nimes, France (ibis budget Nimes Centre Gare)
It was a long drive from Germany to Nimes. We arrived very late on that day. The reception of ibis budget Nimes Centre Gare opens 24 hours. That’s why we could still check-in. If you visit the French masterpiece of ancient architecture, this hotel is a perfect place to stay overnight.
2ed Day: Valencia (Vincci Lys)
From Nimes to Valencia, it took s 7 hours without stops. But as we made several stops, it still took us nearly 10 hours to arrive at Valencia. Our hotel Vincci Lys is not far from the city beach. So we had a short walk at the beach and settled in a buffet restaurant for dinner.
3rd Day: Cordoba
Our hotel is in the centre of Cordoba. When we got out of the car, we were hit by the hot weather, about 40 degrees! Since Cordoba has many sites, it was impossible to see everything on such a hot day. Therefore, we set focus on the historic old town, a World Heritage Site, including the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
Not far from the Mosque of Cordoba, in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, we found the Calleja de las Flores Alley, a little floral street, whose balconies with their wrought-iron windows filled up flowers.
South of the Mosque of Cordoba is the Roman Bridge and Bridge Gate crossing the Guadalquivir river. Further down towards the south-west of the Mosque is the Alcázar (castle) of Cordoba with thick defensive walls. It functioned both as a fortress and a palace. You arrange your visit to the Mosque to save time for the queue.
4th Day: arrival in our hotel
After a few days on the road, we finally arrived at our hotel, the Crown Plaza Vilamoura. The hotel looked newly built and clean. It has a large outdoor swimming pool facing the sea. Besides, kids could play in a separate area with a kid’s pool.
The dinner was in our room rate. We were happy to see many kinds of seafood and other local freshly-made food. The air-conditioning inside the eating room was very cool, but we could choose to sit outside in the fresh air. They also provided a kid menu. The hotel is also suitable for families.
5th Day: Praia de Vilamoura
Praia de Vilamoura, the beautiful golden sandy beach, is closed to many hotel complexes, including Crown Plaza Vilamoura. Praia de Vilamoura is semi-sheltered from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It is perfect for families to bathe and splashes around. We spent a few hours there and felt very relaxed.
6th Day: the old town of Lagos and Punta da Piedade
The old town of Lagos
Lagos is a base to discover the western part of the Algarve. The walled old town has a historic centre that overlooks the harbour estuary. Its modern marina complex is full of bars and restaurants. Lagos is a typical Portuguese city with a welcoming atmosphere and charming character. It is also a favorite holiday town with many activities.
We strolled through its cobbled streets and visited several attractions before heading to the top site, Punta da Piedade.
Punta da Piedade
The cliffs of Ponta de Piedade is one of the best natural scenes of Algarve. The coastline has dramatic limestone formations, such as sea pillars, fragile arched rocks, and hidden caves, offering sweeping sea views. We walked to the cliff tops via footpaths that lead to the picturesque coves and delightful coastline views.
The wondrous nature boosts many activities, kayaking, dolphin watching, and cruising. Therefore, many tourists choose to visit Punta da Piedade from the sea. Besides, many organized tours start from Lagos. But you can also join a tour from Albufeira or Faro.
7th Day: Vilamoura Beach
The Vilamoura beach is between the mouth of Vilamoura marina and fishing port of Quarteira. Since it was just in front of our hotel, we spent a day there again.
8th Day: Praia Do Carvalho
This beach is small but has stunning scenery. Surrounded by high cliffs, it is not easy to access it. We had to walk through a man-made tunnel in the rocks to get there. The tunnel has some steep and uneven steps. Praia do Carvalho is also characterized by a big rock in the water, just in front of the beach.
The small beach was full of Portuguese but less crowded than other beaches. The golden sands were soft and flat. Praia Do Carvalho is a secluded paradise. The tour from Albufeira to Benagil Caves includes the visit of this beach.
9th Day: Vilamoura Beach
Since our kid likes the beach very much, we spent another day on the beach. It was a simple day, swimming in the water and tried to build sand sculptures with our child, but it was a day full of family pleasure.
10th Day: Loulé
Loulé is about 15 kilometres north of Vilamoura. It is a traditional Portuguese market town, with a Moorish inspired covered market hall. Loulé is not a tourist-oriented place, but a place to experience authentic Portugal.
We went to the market hall and saw many freshly caught fishes, regional handicrafts, and other local products. Outside the market are several shopping streets and tree-lined squares. But once we wandered through the pretty cobbled backstreets of Loulé, everything got silent. There is an organized tour to explore the market hall and other things.
11th Day: Salamanca Spain
One-week holiday in Portugal ended quickly. As we visited Porto already, on the way back to Germany we selected Salamanca as the next stopover for our Portugal road trip itinerary. It was about six hours of driving to the hotel in Salamanca. So, we checked out very early and were able to arrive in Salamanca not so late.
Our hotel NH Salamanca is near the centre of the old town. It took us about 10 minutes from our hotel to the top attraction, Plaza Mayor. Next to the square is another attraction, Iglesia de San Martín de Tours. The city is big and you could hire a local guide to discover the city’s hidden gems and also help you experience this popular destination like a real local.
In the old town, we found several shops selling local air-cured hams. As cured-ham lovers, we spent quite a while to select two big packs of hams. But things got messed up, and we forgot to pack them with us the next day when we checked out.
12th Day: Bordeaux
The distance between Salamanca in Spain and Bordeaux in France is about 700 kilometres. After a long drive, we arrived at Bordeaux in the late afternoon.
The city of Bordeaux, famous for Bordeaux wines, is perhaps the most recognizable place after Paris. However, it is not only the wines that make the Bordeaux so famous but also its history, waterfront, fine art museum, and more. If you stay there for a couple of days, you could use the Metropole City Pass to get around the city.
Our purpose was to have a nice dinner since Bordeaux is also famous for its food. But soon we realized the problem. Nearly all restaurants we have passed by were full! Local people sat inside and outside, busy drinking and eating. It was also impossible to wait for a table because the French dinner lasts long. We went further away from the centre and finally found a small restaurant which was not full yet.
13th Day: Verdun
It took us around nine hours to arrive at Verdun. We did not do any sightseeing but just stayed overnight there. Historically, Verdun has many important events related to the First World War. But today, it is the world capital of Peace. Many war-related sites are open to the public.
14th Day: Back to Germany
On the last day of our two-week Portugal road trip, we did not stop anywhere for sightseeing but straight drove back to our home in Germany. Our holiday was mainly a beach holiday with a few excursions in between. But our short visit to those places lured us to go back to the holiday area someday again.
Our Travel tips
How to find accommodations
Crown Plaza Vilamoura is a five-star hotel, though the room rate is more or less at four-star level. There are plenty of hotels in Vilamoura, many are close to the beaches. You need to check around since many hotels include dinners as well.
How to reach Vilamoura
If you come from overseas and stay in Vilamoura or Algarve, you can arrive at Faro Airport. From the Airport, you can either rent a car, pre-arrange a transfer, or use public transportation to Vilamoura.
If you arrive in Lisbon, the driving time is about three hours.
Now, how would you arrange your Portugal road trip if you have two weeks?