What is there to see between Porto & Lisbon?
If you’re travelling between Porto and Lisbon, there is so much to see that reveals the true heart and soul of Portugal. There are many well-known destinations, several of which we highly recommend despite the potential for crowds. But we at Honest Routes believe in getting away from the standard tourist track and, instead, digging deeper into the traditions, history, and beauty of our beloved country.
If you have time for a leisurely trip between Porto and Lisbon, we have plenty of recommendations for you. But if you’d rather let someone else handle the planning, research, bookings, navigating, driving, and so much more, then take a look at our Portugal Guided Tour on the N2 for the most iconic road trip in Portugal. You won’t regret it!
For now, let’s delve deeper into the many places to see between Porto and Lisbon so you can start dreaming of your adventure.
Getting Around: How to Travel Between Porto and Lisbon
Travelling between Porto and Lisbon can be an efficient trip or quite the enjoyable journey, depending on your schedule and preferences. For a nonstop journey, you could fly in less than an hour or take the train in about 3.5 hours.
However, we recommend you slow down and explore the lesser-known destinations between Porto and Lisbon. Getting away from the crowds and experiencing rural Portugal offers a true glimpse into local life. Traditions are still strong in these quiet villages; you’re also far less likely to see signs in English or silly souvenirs in shop windows.
If you can, take a road trip. The most iconic and highly recommended is a road trip along the N2, the National Road 2, which traverses the interior of Portugal.
This route runs from Chaves in the north to Faro in the south, so you wouldn’t follow it exclusively for a trip between Porto and Lisbon. But if you’re only travelling between the two cities, you could certainly opt for part of this scenic route to get a taste of the real Portugal.
If you’re keen to do the full route, check out our truly immersive Portugal Guided Tour on the N2.
Popular Places to See Between Porto and Lisbon
Coastal Towns and Beaches
If you take the most direct route between Porto and Lisbon, you’ll stay closer to the coastline and have easier access to several towns and beaches along the way. Just outside of Porto is the resort town of Espinho, known for its extensive beaches and the country’s largest farmer’s market.
As you continue south, you stop to enjoy some sun in Aveiro. Aveiro is known as the “Venice of Portugal” for its plentiful canals running through the city, so taking a moliceiro boat ride is popular.
Whilst near Aveiro, you should visit the seaside village of Costa Nova. This small village has gained popularity on Instagram for its colourful striped buildings, called palheiros. On a sunny day against a clear blue sky, the colours are striking! Also notable is the stunning stretch of beach at Praia da Costa Nova.
One of the more popular towns located nearly half-way between Porto and Lisbon is Coimbra, a university town known for its astounding history and beautiful architecture. Coimbra was once the capital of Portugal and it seems to retain that air of authority and status even today.
Seeing Coimbra University is, of course, a top spot if you’re just stopping quickly. If you opt for a longer stay, you can check out our local recommendations in the lesser-known places below.
Situated on the coast just before the Peniche Peninsula as you head south, Nazaré is another typical stop for visitors travelling between the two large cities. You can go see Cabo Carvoeiro, which is the westernmost point on the Peniche peninsula. Visit the Farol da Nazaré at the fort of Sāo Miguel Arcanjo to explore the small surfing museum and marvel at the crashing waves below.
These massive waves attract surfers from around the world for competitions and fun. In fact, the world record was set here in 2017 for surfing the highest wave. It was an incredible 80 metres!
Another popular town to visit between Porto and Lisbon is Óbidos. There, you can enjoy the picturesque village with plenty of character. Óbidos Castle is a top attraction, as is the main city gate, called Porta da Vila. Santa Maria Church also deserves a visit during your stop in Óbidos.
Just before you finish your trip between Porto and Lisbon, you should certainly stop in lovely Sintra. Its colourful, historic centre is always a popular spot for visitors to the region.
Instagram is absolutely filled with images of the buildings of Sintra, as well as some more prominent landmarks in the town. Castelo dos Mouros, Palacio Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Palacio de Monserrate are all typical stops on a trip to Sintra.
One of our guides, Rita, has been doing tours of this spectacular place for years. Get in touch if you wish to find out more about this!
Lesser-Known Places We Recommend
The city of Tomar is one of our favorites here at Honest Routes. Its history is astounding and absolutely worth a visit when you travel between Porto and Lisbon. We actually visit Tomar during our day trip from Lisbon on a Knights Templar tour.
You should visit the Convent of Christ whilst there. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the original seat of the legendary Knights Templar. Tomar Castle is also worth exploring in this city.
Cabo da Roca
While not exactly lesser-known, Cabo da Roca should be on your itinerary if you’re taking a slower route. This is the westernmost point of mainland Europe. Situated in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, there are plenty of walking trails to enjoy the natural beauty if you have time to enjoy a slower visit to Sintra before heading into Lisbon itself.
If you visit Coimbra, we recommend you stay for a night or two to maximise that stop. From there, you can stretch your legs after too much time on the road and explore the magnificent Buçaco Forest. Currently on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list, Buçaco Forest is a true breath of fresh air. Relax, breathe deeply, and enjoy the splendour of nature.
Schist Villages & Roman Ruins
Also in the vicinity of Coimbra, we love the intriguing Schist Villages; we actually pause here for lunch and a wander during our Portugal road trip!
Another interesting spot just south of Coimbra is the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga. The layers of history in Portugal are thick, with varied cultural influences readily available…if you know where to look!