Portugal is located on the westernmost tip of Europe. The country is rich in history, nature and authentic culture. Similar to neighbouring Spain, the Roman and Moorish history is an integral part in the history of Portugal. Most tourists take Lisbon as an opportunity for a holiday in the region, and although the old cobbled streets are definitely on the trip list, Portugal has so much more to discover than only the flair of an ancient city.
Portugal enjoys an outstanding reputation among wine connoisseurs for its particularly sweet and strong wines, produced in the northern city of Porto. The coastal location makes Porto the starting point for exploring the Douro Valley and the central region of Dao. Even a short trip to Porto will give you the right impression of what the rest of the country has to offer. We invite you to set off on a Dao road trip!
With a car hire in Portugal with Auto Europe you can view the entire Dao region during an unforgettable road trip. After a couple of day trips from Porto, such as the one to cosy Foz do Douro, you can head towards the central part of the country. Ancient Vila Real is an impressive example of the many historic towns and villages of Portugal. Drive a little further and you will discover a very special forest in the Luso Bucacoa, where you can admire a temple from the turn of the century. Pay a visit to the scenic Serra da Estrela, set deep in the heart of Portuguese forests, before moving on further south to the lively university town of Coimbra. With the abundance of impressions that you will have on your trip along the winding roads, you will not miss the commercial routes of the tour operators even a bit!
Attractions in Porto
Porto is known mainly for its eponymous wine, characterized by a strong sweet flavour and thus suitable for a sip after a sumptuous meal. If you are interested in the manufacture of these wines, Museo do Vinho do Porto holds all the information ready.
Afterwards go on a tasting tour of typical Porto wines at Port Wine Lodge. Despite the wine culture having a strong presence in Porto, even teetotal travellers will get value for money during their road trip in Porto. Art lovers can admire the Dos Reis National Museum featuring art pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries. Modern art, on the other hand, can be seen in Museu Arte Contemporanea. Decorated with lovingly detailed ornaments, the Sé Cathedral is a real eye-catcher and among the finest in the country. Test your stamina whilst climbing more than 225 steps to the Torre dos Clérigos. For this effort, you will be rewarded with a simply stunning view over Porto. Party-goers should plan their holiday for the summer when most of the music and art festivals take place. Festa de Sao Joao is only one of them. With your car hire in Porto, you should also have a trip in Foz do Douro, where you will have a good opportunity for some beach fun. Many locals flock to this beach to unwind from everyday stress.
Restaurants, Bars and Night Life
Porto might be at the top when it comes to wine, but what good is the best wine without a proper meal? Real gourmets will enjoy the elegant dining room of O Paparico. The exquisite food will live up to any expectations.
The more rustic ODE Porto is also an attractive alternative. Although tapas are more of a speciality from neighbouring Spain, Portugal also provides some ways to enjoy them. For a jolly evening with the whole family or your friends, we recommend a wine bar such as Quay, Jimao Tapas e Vinhos or Portu.
Accommodation in Porto
After a long day you can relax in one of the chic contemporary hotels in Porto. Porto Palacio Congress Hotel & Spa or HF Ipanema Park are our clear recommendations. Honeymooners will certainly find the romantic Pousada do Porto with extremely spacious rooms a great fit.
Travellers on a budget should opt for the oceanfront location Praiagolfe or the simple Quality Inn Portus Cale. Both offer comfortable rooms at affordable prices. For art lovers, whose thirst is not quenched by the visits to the museums of Porto, the rooms of Castelo de Santa Catarina offer a pleasing ambience. Striking ornaments, stained glass and antique decor make for a very special flair.
Additional Travel Resources: Porto
Attractions in Vila Real:
As the name might already suggest, Vila Real is a northern city with regal charm. Royals used to frequent the town in the Middle Ages. Casa de Mateus from the 18th century is a prime example of royal connections with Vila Real. Drive your car hire in Vila Real and visit this beautiful historic building. Get to the interior of the mansion through the stables and the chapel or take a stroll through the beautiful gardens of the property. Admission prices here are not cheap, but this highlight should not be missed on a road trip to Vila Real in any case.
Casa de Mateus is also known for its Rosé. Take home a bottle as a souvenir if you can resist the urge to open it while still there. Further exploration of the city should lead you to Capela Nova, which should definitely be on your list. The 17th century chapel is known by many names: clérigos church, Igreja de São Pedro Novo and Igreja de São Paolo. However, all visitors to the chapel agree on one thing: The imposing facade, the gilded Renaissance altar and the traditional blue tiles are of fundamental importance for the construction of the city. Teatro de Vila Real is also worth a visit, because here modernity meets history.
Restaurants, Bars and Night Life in Vila Real:
Treat yourself to a truly royal feast at Cais da Villa! The restaurant features traditional Portuguese dishes combined with contemporary cuisine and an exquisite wine selection, in a trendy, comfortable atmosphere. At Chaxoila choose from various meats starting from pork and tripe to cod and squid.
The traditional food in the rustic charm of the Terra de Montanha will delight your palate. For a good dessert you should try the pastries of Casa Lapão.
Accommodation in Vila Real:
Enjoy the breathtaking views of the nearby canyon from one of the rooms at the hotel Miracorgo, a four-star hotel with affordable prices. Somewhat less luxurious but with a rustic and traditional flair, Quinta do Paco Hotel will welcome you during your road trip to Vila Real. Casa Agricola da Levada allures its visitors with the charm of the old world and also gets plus points for wine and cheese in the reception area - the perfect complement for a picnic on a sunny afternoon in the historic city centre. Casa da Quinta de Sao Martinho offers comfortable and cosy rooms for travellers. All hotels are within easy reach with a car hire in Vila Real.
Events and Attractions in Luso & Serra de Estrela:
A small village known as Luso lies on the wooded hills of central Portugal. The landscape around Luso provides the perfect retreat from everyday stress and the noise of the city, and is rarely mentioned on Portugal tours. Drive your car hire in Luso along the winding roads through the Buçaco Forest and make a stop at Palace Hotel do Buçaco even if you do not plan on staying overnight. The Manueline palace with its ornate gardens and grotesque gargoyles is an important landmark in the region.
For more luxury, treat yourself to a spa treatment at Maloclinic Spa. Should Luso and the Buçaco Forest not match your idea of the ideal retreat, just continue your road trip from Luso to Coimbra through scenic Serra da Estrela. This magnificent mountain range has some of the best and widest hiking trails for an active holiday. Regular Porto tours would probably not lead you so deep into the heart of Iberia, so enjoy this tour with your rental car in Portugal.
Luso & Serra da Estrela Restaurants, Bars and Night Life
Regardless of whether you want to book a room at Palace Hotel do Buçaco, you should at least have dinner in the spacious dining room of the imposing castle. The trained professionals serve an excellent selection of gourmet dishes.
For a slightly more modest but still satisfying meal you should try a steak from the black pig in Pedra de Sal. Or enjoy a tasty dinner with traditional Portuguese cuisine at Restaurante Lourenco.The Cesteiro, a cosy restaurant with picturesque views, not so well known to tourists, offers a family atmosphere, tasty food and reasonable prices.
Accommodation in Luso & Serra da Estrela:
Feel like in your own personal fairy tale in Palace Hotel do Buçaco. The overall picture of the castle seems like out of a storybook, and is therefore particularly suitable for a honeymoon or a romantic couples getaway. Something cheaper but of no less quality are the rooms of the old Alegre Hotel. The classic Grande Hotel de Luso, as well as the quaint and old-fashioned Inatel Luso, offers an optimal starting point for hiking and exploring the wooded region. Travellers who want to get very close to nature, should go camping in Covao da Ametade which has incredible views. Or, try glamping in the terraced tents of Quinta das Cegonhas. If such "simple" accommodation is not to your taste, try Residencial Santos in Serra da Estrela which offers comfortable and affordable accommodation.
Portugal Road Trip further information and services: Luso & Serra da Estrela
Events and attractions in Coimbra:
Your road trip through Dao is now slowly coming to its end, because the vibrant university town of Coimbra is the final destination of the route. Velha Universidade, the oldest university town in Europe, had its origin in the 13th century and still greets students in its impressive halls every year. And that's what makes the wonderful mixture of Coimbra - youthful energy in combination with the centuries-old history! The medieval campus is open daily for tours and really comes alive when one-week celebrations of Queima das Fitas take place every May.
Another highlight is located in the city; the medieval church Igreja da Santa Cruz with the royal tombs is a true masterpiece. The adventurous have the option of renting a kayak from O Pioneiro do Mondego and paddling along the Rio Mondego. Coimbra's small winding streets are just full of taverns and bars. Sit back in the trendy tearoom Galeria Bar Santa Clara or the hip, student-friendly Feitoconceito and go dancing until the early morning hours at The Rock Planet.
History buffs are going to love Conimbriga, a small town with ancient Roman ruins and a historical museum, located about 10 miles south of the city. It will be easily accessible with a car hire in Coimbra. Hiring a car for your road trip to Coimbra will let you avoid overcrowded buses and arrive quickly and easily to the city of mosaic floors and ornate fountains.
Restaurants, Bars and Night Life in Coimbra:
Enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine in the energetic atmosphere of Restaurante Zé Manel. At Dux Petiscos e Vinhos, try delicious tapas such as shrimp curry or bruschetta with mushrooms.
Many tasty snacks combined with exquisite wines can be found at La Botiga Bistro & Mercearia. For another tasty meal, order the highly praised Francesinha at Compostu Tavern.
Accommodation in Coimbra:
The rooms at the hotel Quinta das Lagrimas with its antique décor exude an incomparable charm rightfully expected from such a historical mansion. The facilities include a sauna, steam room and very comfortable lounges. For a slightly more modern ambience, book a room at the sleek Hotel Vitoria. Vila Gale Coimbra has the four-star status earned through exceptional service, comfortable rooms and additional leisure options. The best location for a tour of historic Coimbra will be at Central Hotel Oslo Coimbra.
We hope you had a pleasant journey on your road trip in Coimbra. Spend your next holiday in one of the neighbouring countries, Spain or Morocco!