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Discover Portugal's Atlantic coast by campervan: from picturesque sandy beaches to breathtaking cliffs

Discover Portugal's Atlantic coast by campervan: from picturesque sandy beaches to breathtaking cliffs

Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of one of Europe's most sought-after camping destinations. From the vibrant atmosphere of Porto and Lisbon to the charming, secluded beaches along the coast and southwards to the Algarve, this country undoubtedly has something for everyone. The culinary diversity ranges from the national dish bacalhau, to all the petiscos (which are similar to Spanish tapas), to the popular dessert pastéis de nata. Let yourself be enchanted by the diversity and beauty of Portugal - a journey that not only revitalises the senses, but also creates unforgettable memories.

Route: 

Peneda-Gerês - Braga - Porto - Aveiro - Lissabon -Ponta da Piedade

 

Peneda-Gerês to Braga:
  • Route length: approx. 45 kilometer
  • Journe time: approx. 50 minutes
 
Braga to Porto:
  • Route length: approx. 60 kilometer
  • Journey time: approx. 45 minutes
 
Porto to Aveiro:
  • Route length: approx. 75 kilometer
  • Journey time: approx. 1 hour
 
Aveiro to Lissabon:
  • Route length: approx. 250 kilometer
  • Journey time: approx. 2 hours 40 minutes
 
Lissabon to Ponta da Piedade:
  • Route length: approx. 300 kilometer
  • Journey time: approx. 3 hours

One more tip before we start:

Spending the night outdoors on your own in Portugal, also known as wild camping, is unfortunately not permitted and can be penalised with fines. But before panic sets in, there is good news: from the Spanish border to the picturesque Atlantic coast, there are around 250 campsites throughout the country. Many of them are even located right on the shore, so you can enjoy the sea breeze right on your mobile doorstep.

To make sure you don't miss out on the gems of the Portuguese coast, we have put together a selection of the most beautiful places for you in this blog post. From charming bays to breathtaking stretches of coastline - these places should definitely be on your itinerary.

So get ready, because the journey of discovery along the Portuguese coast is about to begin!

Stop 1 (STARTING POINT): PARQUE NACIONAL DA PENEDA-GERÊS

A visit to the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, Portugal's only national park, is an absolute must and a perfect starting point for your trip. The fascinating landscape is characterised by the country's only holly forest, majestic rivers that cascade down and spread out in idyllic reservoirs, as well as the diversity of rare wildlife. Covering an area of around 700 km2, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a jewel that offers a wealth of activities such as hiking, canyoning and canoeing. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this unique protected area and experience unforgettable adventures.

The Best Campsites in and Around Peneda-Gerês

Gerês Vidoeiro Camping: This idyllic campsite is located in the heart of the national park and is the perfect place to enjoy a drink at the terrace bar after a long day of exploring. The pitches right next to the river flowing through are particularly popular.

Ermida Gerês Camping: This small, family-run campsite on the edge of the national park offers cosy pitches for a relaxing stay.

Culinary Recommendations and Restaurants

Marina Bar: This restaurant not only offers delicious food, but also a breathtaking view of the River Cávado from its own terrace. Whether you're looking for a relaxed breakfast before your excursion, a snack between meals or a cosy dinner right by the water, you'll definitely find what you're looking for here

Cruzeiro: The Cruzeiro Restaurant is located in a charming little town in the north of Portugal, around 20 kilometres outside the national park. Here you will not only find authentic Portuguese cuisine, but also a rustic ambience that provides the perfect setting for an enjoyable meal.

Highlights, Activities and Sights
There is a wealth of discoveries to be made in the national park that go far beyond what you can experience in just one day. That's why we've put together a few highlights for you here. 

 

Cascata do Arado: A breathtaking waterfall on the River Arado, located around 3 kilometres from Ermida and 8 kilometres from Vila do Gerês.  At a height of around 900 metres, it reveals a magical sequence of waterfalls between the rocks. Most of the journey is by car, followed by a final picturesque kilometre on foot. Once you reach the bridge over the River Arado, you have two options: You can either walk down to the water or climb up the stone steps to a viewpoint that offers an impressive view of the waterfall.

Mirado da Pedra Bela: This picturesque viewpoint sits at an altitude of around 800 metres and offers an enchanting view over the Rio Caldo bridges and the entire Caniçada reservoir. You can get there either by car or on one of the many hiking trails that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural landscape. Charming picnic tables are available for a cosy break to enjoy the idyllic scenery to the full.

Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta: The Basilica of St. Benedict of the Open Door is a church built in the 17th century on the edge of the national park, just a few kilometres from Rio Caldo. The São Bento da Porta Aberta is the second largest Portuguese shrine and attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. So a visit is definitely worthwhile!

Stand-Up-Paddle: Discover stand-up paddle boarding and enjoy an activity at your own pace that harmoniously combines water and nature. Simply rent a paddle board from TOBOGA, for example, and explore the River Lima in the heart of the national park - whether alone, as a couple, with the whole family or in a group of friends. 

Sonnenaufgang Peneda Gerês

 

Stop 2: braga

Braga vom Wahrzeichen Bom Jesus Do Monte

Our second stop on the journey takes us to Braga. This enchanting city is considered the religious centre of Portugal and is home to the country's first cathedral, which was built in 1089.

Braga, the third largest city in Portugal, impresses not only with its many churches, but also with its charming shopping streets, baroque mansions and magnificent squares.

One of the city's highlights is the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary, known for its stunning baroque stairway and panoramic views. The historic center, with its narrow cobbled streets, traditional shops, and lively cafes, offers a perfect blend of history and modernity, making Braga a captivating destination for all visitors.

The Best Campsites in and around Braga

Parque Campismo de Braga: After a day in the enchanting city of Braga, you don't have to travel far, as this campsite is located directly in the south of the city, bordering the Picoto city park. Not only the usual amenities await you here, but also a private swimming pool - perfect for cooling off on hot days.

Culinary Recommendations and Restaurants

34: This charming restaurant just a 20-minute drive from the centre of Braga in Guimarães not only has local recognition, but has also been featured in the Michelin Guide since 2023. Although the food is not exclusively ‘traditional’ Portuguese, with Italian and Brazilian influences that lend a Mediterranean flair, it is an absolute insider tip for foodies on holiday.

Tasquinha do Fujacal: However, if you are looking for an authentic Portuguese meal, you will find it in this small but fine restaurant in the centre of Braga. Not only is the food here praised by tourists and locals alike, but the extraordinary hospitality is also on everyone's lips.

Highlights, Activities and Sights

In addition to the numerous churches and squares, there are of course many other sights in this fascinating city. We have summarised some of them for you here.

Bom Jesus do Monte: However, we start our exploration on the eastern outskirts of Braga with what is probably Portugal's most famous shrine, the Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte. An impressive church sits enthroned at the top of the hill, which can be reached via 577 baroque steps or with the help of the oldest funicular railway in the world. The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a breathtaking panoramic view over Braga.

Jardim de Santa Bárbara: Another spectacular scene awaits you in this beautiful garden in the heart of Braga. Adjacent to a medieval palace, this flower garden has numerous walkways and benches.

Biscainhos Museum: Just a few minutes' walk from the Santa Bárbara Garden, the Biscainhos Museum gives you an insight into the noble lifestyle of the inhabitants of the palace, which was built in the 16th century. The guided tours start inside the palace and provide lots of information. Afterwards, you can also stroll through the beautiful gardens.

Stop 3: Porto

The next stop on our journey is Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. The particularly beautiful old town of Riberia, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, is a must-do on this trip. The coastal city is known for its magnificent bridges and the port wine produced here and is just 60 kilometres from Braga. 

The Best Campsites in and Around Porto

Parque de Campisimo Marisol: This popular campsite is a very good starting point for many activities in Porto. In addition to numerous amenities such as the small in-house supermarket, a leisure room and the Marisol restaurant, the highlight is probably the close proximity to the beach.

Parque Biologico Avintes:  This motorhome site is located a little outside the city, right next to Santo Inácio Zoo, around 15 minutes' drive from Ponte Dom Luís I. Enjoy the natural surroundings and the opportunity to explore Santo Inácio Zoo, while at the same time being just a short drive from Porto.

Culinary Recommendations and Restaurants

DOP - Rui Paula: Immerse yourself in the exquisite world of cuisine in Porto and visit the renowned restaurant DOP by Michelin-starred chef Rui Paula. Here, traditional Portuguese flavours merge with modern influences for an unforgettable taste experience.

Cantinho do Avillez:  If you are looking for a place that presents authentic Portuguese cuisine in an innovative way, Cantinho do Avillez is the perfect choice. The cosy atmosphere and creative menu make it a popular culinary hotspot, just a few minutes from the Sé do Porto.

Majestic Café: Let yourself be enchanted by the charming Belle Époque atmosphere at the Majestic Café. This historic gem is not just a café, but also a place to enjoy coffee and nostalgic experiences.

Highlights, Activities and Sights

Livaria Lello:  Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Livraria Lello, a bookshop that is also an architectural masterpiece. Experience culture and history at this unique place in Porto.

Ribeira: Stroll through the picturesque alleyways of the Ribeira waterfront and discover the cultural heart of Porto. Traditional restaurants, a charming atmosphere and a lively neighbourhood make this place a must-see on your round trip.

Palácio da Bolsa: Experience the splendour of times gone by in the Palácio da Bolsa, a magnificent palace with a rich history. Immerse yourself in the historic rooms of the Porto Chamber of Commerce and discover the cultural diversity of this fascinating city.

Porto Brücke bei Nacht

 

Bibliotek Livaria Lello

Stop 4: Aveiro

Welcome to Aveiro - an enchanting city with idyllic canals, traditional boats and a wealth of experiences! This charming place is not called the ‘Portuguese Venice’ for nothing. Explore the picturesque alleyways with us, experience culinary delights and discover the fascinating sights Aveiro has to offer.

The Best Campsites in and Around Aveiro

Campsite Costa Nova: Located on the outskirts of Aveiro, this campsite not only offers pitches for motorhomes, but also direct access to the beautiful beaches of Costa Nova. The location and amenities make it a favourite spot for campers.

Campsite São Jacinto: Situated close to the Ria de Aveiro nature reserve, this campsite boasts a tranquil setting. Its proximity to nature and good facilities make it a top choice for nature lovers.

Culinary Recommendations and Restaurants

Mercantel: With its cosy atmosphere and authentic dishes from the region, the Mercantel is a delight. Guests praise not only the traditional cuisine, but also the warm hospitality of the staff.

Restaurante O Bairro: The Restaurante O Bairro has made a name for itself for its creative interpretations of Portuguese specialities. The dishes are not only delicious, but also attractively presented.

Mercado do Peixe: The Mercado do Peixe is a lively fish market selling fresh seafood and local delicacies. A culinary experience for fish lovers and a great opportunity to savour the local atmosphere.

Highlights, Activities and Sights

Ria de Aveiro:  A boat trip, for example by AVEIRO MOMENTS, through the canals of the Ria de Aveiro is a must. The colourful Moliceiro boats and the charming architecture along the waterways create a unique backdrop. 

University Aveiro: The modern architecture of the University of Aveiro is truly impressive. The campus is designed with striking buildings and extensive green spaces and offers a pleasant atmosphere for a stroll.

Costa Nova do Prado: The beach of Costa Nova do Prado attracts attention with its characteristic striped fishermen's houses. A relaxing morning on the beach and a stroll through the picturesque village is definitely a worthwhile activity.

Stop 5: Lissabon

After a car journey of around 250 kilometres, we made it to the Portuguese capital Lisbon, which impresses with its unique charm, historical splendour and vibrant cultural life.

This city on the banks of the Tagus River combines a rich history with modern flair and invites you to explore its colourful districts on your own. Immerse yourself with us in the lively hustle and bustle of Lisbon and let yourself be enchanted by the beauty of this metropolis!

The Best Campsites in and Around Lissabon

Lisboa Camping: This campsite offers an ideal location, just a short drive from Lisbon city centre. With modern facilities and green spaces, it's perfect for a relaxing stay.

Orbitur Guincho: If you prefer to be close to the beach, the Orbitur Guincho campsite is an excellent choice. Surrounded by nature and close to the picturesque coastal town of Cascais, it offers a stunning setting about half an hour outside the city centre.

Culinary Recommendations and Restaurants

Time Out Market Lisboa: The Time Out Market is a culinary hotspot that brings together a variety of restaurants under one roof. Here you can sample traditional Portuguese dishes and international delicacies.

Tasca do Mercado: The Tasca do Mercado is known for its authentic Portuguese cuisine. Here you can enjoy local specialities and fine wines in a cosy atmosphere.

Pastéis de Belém: A visit to Lisbon is not complete without the famous Pastéis de Nata. At Pastéis de Belém, you can experience these delicious puff pastries with icing sugar and cinnamon at their best.

Highlights, Activities and Sights

Torre de Belém: The Torre de Belém, a Lisbon landmark, not only offers a historic atmosphere, but also a spectacular view of the Tagus River. If you're interested in history, it's an absolute must-see!

Bairro Alto: The Bairro Alto neighbourhood is known for its lively nightlife, charming alleyways and trendy bars. You can stroll through the boutiques here during the day and experience the vibrant atmosphere at night.

Castelo de São Jorge: The Castelo de São Jorge, a Moorish castle with a breathtaking view of the city, is enthroned on the hill of Alfama. The historic walls and gardens invite you to take a relaxing stroll.

Pasteis de Nata

Still haven't seen enough of this beautiful place? Then here are two more tips for a day trip less than an hour from the capital. 
A Fairytale Journey to Sintra

Just a short drive from Lisbon, Sintra awaits you - a fairytale town with the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and the colourful Palácio Nacional da Pena as its main attractions. The park around the palace not only offers lush gardens, but also breathtaking views. Don't forget to try the famous travesseiros. Sintra is a gem for an impressive day trip that will enchant you with its magical beauty and historical charm.

A Trip to the Westernmost Point of Europe

Kurz vor den Toren Lissabons erwartet dich das Cabo da Roca, der westlichste Punkt Europas. Die schroffen Klippen und der majestätische Atlantik bieten eine atemberaubende Kulisse. Der Leuchtturm auf den Klippen gewährt einen spektakulären Blick über das endlose Meer. Erkunde die Küstenwanderwege, schnapp dir ein Erinnerungsfoto am Monument und erlebe die wilde Schönheit der portugiesischen Atlantikküste – ein unvergesslicher Tagesausflug.

Stop 6: Ponta da Piedade

The Ponta da Piedade, a natural jewel of the Algarve, presents a breathtaking coastal landscape with golden cliffs and turquoise waters. Around 300 km from Lisbon, our last stop invites you to experience the beauty of the Portuguese coast in all its splendour.

The Best Campsites in and Around Ponta da Piedade

Camping Turiscampo: This campsite offers peace and relaxation. Just a short drive from Ponta da Piedade, it is surrounded by lush nature and has modern facilities.

Orbitur Camping Lagos: Located directly on the coast, this campsite not only offers breathtaking views, but also good access to the region's picturesque beaches.

Culinary Recommendations and Restaurants

O Camilo: This restaurant not only impresses with its impressive seafood selection, but also with a breathtaking view of the cliffs. The fresh ingredients and inviting ambience are particularly praised here.

No Patio: Here you can experience the diversity of authentic Portuguese cuisine in a charming ambience. The special atmosphere of the restaurant and the varied menu selection make No Patio a culinary experience that celebrates Portugal's culinary tradition.

Fim do Mundo: The Marisqueira Fim do Mundo focuses on exquisite seafood and presents a selection of fresh delicacies. The quality of the food and the inviting atmosphere make this restaurant a culinary highlight that celebrates the pleasures of the sea in a cosy setting.

Highlights, Activities and Sights

Boat tour to the caves: Experience the impressive coastal landscape of Ponta da Piedade on a boat tour. The Lagos Boat Tours take you through majestic caves, grottos and past imposing rock formations.

Cliff walk: A walk along the cliff paths offers breathtaking views of the azure blue water and the golden rocks. The path along Praia Dona Ana is particularly recommended for spectacular panoramic views.

Cliffst above Praia Dona Ana: Climb up the rocks above Praia Dona Ana and enjoy a unique panoramic view of the coastline. Visitors praise this activity for the unforgettable views and the special experience.

We hope that this virtual road trip through Portugal has whetted your appetite for travelling and given you an insight into the diversity and beauty of this fascinating country. From the breathtaking natural landscapes in the north, to the historic cities and the golden beaches of the Algarve - Portugal has so much to offer.

 

Have you got the travel bug? Then book your PIA Camper now and set off on your next adventure!

Book now

If this post has piqued your interest and you want to learn more about exciting travel destinations, we invite you to explore more of our posts. Maybe your next adventure is already waiting for you!
 

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