Ultimate Two-Week Portugal Road Trip, with Stopovers in Spain and France

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.

Our two-week Portugal road trip, with stops in Spain and France, took place during the summer holiday season. Initially, the plan was a simple two-week beach resort stay in Portugal. However, the logistics of bringing many beach essentials and numerous items for our one-year-old led us to opt for a road trip from Germany to Portugal.

Given our small child’s needs, frequent stops were a necessity. Covering a distance of 2500 kilometres between the countries, we planned a week-long journey with stopovers in France and Spain. Our accommodation was booked for one week at Crown Plaza Vilamoura in Portugal. Surprisingly, our two-week Portugal road trip turned out to be less stressful than anticipated, allowing us to explore more destinations during the extended period.

Two-Week Portugal Road Trip itinerary

On our journey to Portugal, we had overnight stays in Nimes, Valencia, and Cordoba. On the return leg, our stops included Salamanca, Bordeaux, and Verdun. The key activities in Portugal were centered around our hotel. Here’s a breakdown of our two-week road trip itinerary in Portugal:

  • 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: Praia de Vilamoura
  • 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)

Setting off on a lengthy journey from Germany to Nimes, we reached our destination quite late. Luckily, the reception at ibis budget Nimes Centre Gare operates around the clock, enabling us to check in despite the late hour.

The hotel is conveniently located near the French masterpiece of ancient architecture, Pont Du Gard, making it an excellent choice for your visit to the area.

2ed Day: Valencia (Vincci Lys)

On our journey from Nimes to Valencia, the direct drive took approximately 7 hours, but with several stops along the way, our travel time extended to nearly 10 hours before reaching Valencia. Our accommodation, Vincci Lys, is conveniently located not far from the city beach. Upon arrival, we took a brief stroll along the beach and later enjoyed a dinner at a buffet restaurant.

3rd Day: Cordoba

Our hotel is situated in the heart of Cordoba, and upon stepping out of the car, we were greeted by scorching weather, reaching around 40 degrees! Given the intense heat, exploring every site in Cordoba seemed impractical on that hot day. Therefore, we decided to focus our attention on the historic old town, a designated World Heritage Site, particularly the remarkable Great Mosque of Cordoba.

In close proximity to the Mosque of Cordoba, within the Jewish Quarter, we stumbled upon Calleja de las Flores Alley. This charming street is adorned with balconies featuring wrought-iron windows bursting with vibrant flowers.

South from the Mosque of Cordoba is the Roman Bridge spanning the Guadalquivir River. Continuing in the southwest direction, we explored the Alcázar (castle) of Cordoba, characterized by its robust defensive walls. This multifunctional structure served both as a fortress and a palace. If you plan to visit the Mosque, consider arranging your visit strategically to minimize waiting time in queues.

Cordoba, Spain; Stopover during Verdun; Stopover during Bordeaux; Stopover during The Two-Week Road Trip to Portugal

4th Day: Vilamoura, Portugal (Crown Plaza Vilamoura)

After several days on the road, we eventually reached our accommodation, the Crown Plaza Vilamoura. The hotel appeared to be recently constructed and well-maintained, featuring a spacious outdoor swimming pool overlooking the sea. Additionally, there was a designated area for children with a separate pool.

Dinner was included in our room rate, and we were delighted to find a variety of seafood and freshly prepared local dishes. The dining area had efficient air-conditioning, but we had the option to dine outside in the refreshing air. A kid’s menu was also available, making the hotel a family-friendly choice.

Terraced Restaurant from Crowne Plaza Vilamoura
Swimming pool of Crowne Plaza Vilamoura

5th Day: Praia de Vilamoura

Praia de Vilamoura, the stunning golden sandy beach, is situated near various hotel complexes, including Crown Plaza Vilamoura. This beach is partially sheltered from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, making it ideal for families to enjoy a leisurely swim and playful splashing around. We spent a few hours there and felt thoroughly relaxed.

Vilamoura Beach, Portugal

6th Day: the old town of Lagos and Punta da Piedade

The old town of Lagos

Lagos is a perfect hub to explore the western region of the Algarve. The walled old town features a historic centre that offers views of the harbour estuary. Its contemporary marina complex is teeming with lively bars and restaurants. Lagos embodies the quintessential Portuguese charm, featuring a warm atmosphere and charming character. This town is a favoured holiday destination with an array of activities to enjoy.

Punta da Piedade 

The cliffs of Ponta de Piedade is one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the Algarve. The coastline boasts dramatic limestone formations, featuring sea pillars, delicate arched rocks, and concealed caves that provide breathtaking sea views. We explored the cliff tops through footpaths leading to charming coves and delightful coastal vistas.

The natural setting offers various activities like kayaking, dolphin watching, and cruising. Consequently, many visitors opt to experience Punta da Piedade from the sea. Additionally, numerous organized tours commence from Lagos.

Lagos, Portugal

7th Day: Vilamoura Beach

The Vilamoura beach stretches between the entrance of Vilamoura marina and the Quarteira fishing port. As it was right in front of our hotel, we decided to spend another day there.

Vilamoura Beach, Portugal

8th Day: Praia Do Carvalho

This beach is petite yet boasts breathtaking scenery. Enclosed by towering cliffs, accessing it is no walk in the park. We had to process through a man-made tunnel through the rocks, navigating some steep and uneven steps. Praia do Carvalho is also distinguished by a sizable rock in the water, right 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.

Despite being frequented by locals, the small beach was not as crowded as others. The golden sands were soft and level. Praia Do Carvalho felt like a secluded paradise. The tour from Albufeira to Benagil Caves even includes a visit to this charming beach.

The secluded beach, Praia do Carvalho, Portugal
A big rock in the water of Praia do Carvalho; Portugal

9th Day: Vilamoura Beach

Since our little one adored the beach, we decided to spend another delightful day by the seaside. It turned out to be a simple yet joyous day, with moments spent swimming in the water and attempting to craft sand sculptures with our child. It was a day brimming with family happiness.

10th Day: Loulé 

Loulé, situated approximately 15 kilometres north of Vilamoura, is a traditional Portuguese market town with a covered market hall inspired by Moorish architecture. Unlike tourist-centric spots, Loulé offers an authentic taste of Portugal.

Exploring the market hall, we discovered an array of freshly caught fish, regional handicrafts, and other local products. Beyond the market, several shopping streets and tree-lined squares awaited us. However, it was the peaceful cobbled backstreets of Loulé that truly captured our attention.

Moorish Market Hall in Loulé, Portugal; Two-Week Road Trip to Portugal, Spain, and France

11th Day: Salamanca Spain

Our one-week holiday in Portugal seemed to fly by. Since we had already explored Porto, we decided to make Salamanca our next stopover on the way back to Germany during our Portugal road trip. The drive to our hotel in Salamanca took about six hours, so we set out early and managed to reach Salamanca in good time.

Our accommodation, NH Salamanca, was conveniently located near the centre of the old town, just a 10-minute walk from the top attraction, Plaza Mayor. Adjacent to the square, we discovered another interesting site, Iglesia de San Martín de Tours. Salamanca is a sizable city, and for a more in-depth exploration, one could consider hiring a local guide to uncover hidden gems and experience this popular destination like a true local.

Wandering through the old town, we found several shops offering local air-cured hams. Being enthusiasts of cured ham, we spent quite some time selecting two generous packs. Unfortunately, things took a turn when we forgot to pack them with us the next day upon checking out.

Plaza Mayor in Salamanca; Stopover during the The Two-Week Road Trip to Portugal

12th Day: Bordeaux

After covering around 700 kilometres from Salamanca in Spain to Bordeaux in France, we arrived in the late afternoon.

Bordeaux, renowned for its wines, is perhaps one of the most iconic cities after Paris. Its fame is not only attributed to the wines but also to its rich history, waterfront, fine art museum, and more.

Our primary goal was to enjoy a delightful dinner, considering Bordeaux’s reputation for exceptional food. However, we soon encountered a challenge – nearly every restaurant we passed was fully occupied. Locals were immersed in conversations and culinary delights both inside and outside. Waiting for a table wasn’t feasible, given the leisurely pace of French dinners. Eventually, we decided to venture further away from the city centre and, after some searching, discovered a charming small restaurant that still had some availability.

Bordeaux; Stopover during The Two-Week Road Trip to Portugal

13th Day: Verdun

The journey to Verdun took us approximately nine hours, and our visit was brief, focused mainly on an overnight stay. Verdun holds significant historical importance, particularly related to the events of the First World War. Presently, it represents the global capital of peace, with numerous sites associated with wartime history open to the public.

Verdun; Stopover during Bordeaux; Stopover during The Two-Week Road Trip to Portugal

14th Day: Back to Germany

On the final day of our two-week Portugal road trip, we opted not to make any sightseeing stops and instead drove directly back to our home in Germany. Our holiday, centered around beach activities with a few excursions interspersed, left us with a desire to revisit these charming places in the future.

Our Travel tips from the two-week Portugal Road Trip

How to find accommodations

Crown Plaza Vilamoura stands as a five-star haven, delivering a luxurious experience with room rates that resonate more with four-star affordability. Vilamoura has a variety of hotels, particularly in proximity to the beaches. It’s advisable to explore different options, considering that numerous hotels may also offer inclusive dinner packages.

How to reach Vilamoura

For those arriving from overseas to explore Vilamoura or Algarve, Faro Airport serves as a convenient entry point. Upon landing, options like renting a car, pre-arranging a transfer, or utilizing public transportation are available to reach Vilamoura.

Should you find yourself in Lisbon, the driving time to Vilamoura is approximately three hours.

Now, let’s discuss how you would plan your two-week Portugal road trip.

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