Explore southwestern Portugal's stunning scenery on this six-day road trip from Lisbon to Lagos at your own pace. Set out from the capital to wind your way south through a land of sweeping beaches, whitewashed towns, and unspoiled countryside. Along the way, you'll stand at the edge of mainland Europe at Cabo da Roca, cross the Sado Estuary by ferry, and explore the wild beauty of Costa Vicentina National Park.

Highlights

  • Get to know Lisbon's historic Belém quarter
  • See the "end of the world" at Cabo da Roca
  • Explore the wild beaches of Costa Vicentina National Park
  • Paddle past the golden cliffs and hidden caves of the Algarve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lisbon Lisbon
Day 2 Explore Cascais & Sintra  Lisbon
Day 3 Drive from Lisbon to Alcácer via Sesimbra & Tróia Alcácer do Sal
Day 4 Drive to Aljezur & Costa Vicentina Natural Park Aljezur
Day 5 Drive to Lagos & the Western Algarve Lagos
Day 6 Drive to Lisbon & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon

Explore Lisbon at your Leisure (with Road Book)
Views across the rooftops of Lisbon's Alfama district

Welcome to Portugal! Upon arrival at the Lisbon Airport, you'll pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel in the city center. Spend the rest of the day exploring Lisbon, one of the world's oldest and most beautiful cities. Walk its narrow and hilly streets, admire its intricately tiled sidewalks, visit important historic sites, climb to panoramic viewpoints, and taste the delicious local gastronomy. Don't miss the Belém quarter, famous for its monuments from the age of the Portuguese Discoveries and the renowned Portuguese delicacy of pastel de Belém (custard tart).

As evening falls, head to a local restaurant to experience the splendor of Portugal's traditional music firsthand. Known for its haunting melodies, fado originated in the poorer quarters of Lisbon, singing of all the sadness, sorrow, and longing of day-to-day living. The band may have a variable number of performers but typically consists of a singer, a classical guitar player, and a fado guitar player. Tonight you'll immerse yourself in the beauty of this art form as you enjoy dinner serenaded by a soundtrack of live fado music. 

Day 2: Explore Cascais & Sintra 

The magical Pena National Palace
The fantastical architecture of Pena National Palace

Explore the picturesque countryside and coastline around Lisbon at your own pace today. Start with visits to Cascais, the former summer residence of the Portuguese royal family, and the neighboring luxurious seaside resort of Estoril. Continue past the sweeping vistas of Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe once believed to be the end of the world.

End the day with a trip to the fairy-tale town of Sintra. Set among the lush mountains and forests of Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to fantastical palaces and manor houses, including the iconic yellow Pena National Palace and the Castle of the Moors.

Day 3: Drive to Alcácer via Sesimbra & Tróia

Don't miss the breathtaking Comporta Beach in Tróia

Today, you'll bid Lisbon farewell and start heading south. Drive through the unspoiled nature of Arrábida Natural Park and pass the small fishing town of Sesimbra, the perfect spot to stop for a lunch of fresh-caught seafood with an ocean view. At the port of Setúbal, you can take a short ferry ride across the Sado Estuary or drive the long way around to reach Tróia. This narrow spit of land is known for its tranquil beaches and is home to a stretch of the longest continuous sand coast in Europe.

Turn inland to finish your day in Alcácer do Sal, a charming city with ancient Roman and Moorish roots on the banks of the Sado River. Get settled into your accommodations, then spend the rest of the afternoon trolling its riverside promenade or climbing to its hilltop castle for sweeping views across the rolling hills and cork forests of the Alentejo province.

Day 4: Drive to Aljezur & Costa Vicentina Natural Park

Views toward the quiet, whitewashed town of Aljezur

Today you'll drive along Portugal's stunning southwestern coast, most of which lies inside the protected Sudoeste Alentejano and Costa Vicentina Natural Park—a true national treasure and one of the best-preserved stretches of coastline in Europe.

Highlights along the way include the picturesque towns of Porto Covo and Vila Nova de Milfontes, the unspoiled beaches of Ilha do Pessegueiro and Amado, and the dramatic Atlantic cliffs of Cabo Sardão. Your destination for the night is the whitewashed town of Aljezur, where you'll find cobbled streets full of history and a bevy of spectacular surfing beaches within easy reach.

Day 5: Drive to Lagos & the Western Algarve

Travel from Sagres to Lagos & the Western Algarve
Descend a staircase to reach Praia do Camilo in Lagos

Head deeper into the Algarve today as you make your way toward the golden sands and rugged cliffs of Portugal's southern coast. Make sure to stop in Sagres to visit the dramatic clifftop fortress of Cabo de São Vicente and the most southwesterly point of continental Europe.

Continue to the 16th-century city of Lagos, which has retained its local, authentic feel amid more modern resorts and development. Get settled in, then explore its charming inner walled town and castle. Sample some fresh seafood at one of its many excellent restaurants, or take a stroll to one of the area's renowned beaches—such as Ponta da Piedade with its soaring sandstone cliffs or Praia do Camilo, where 200 steps lead down to a sheltered, sandy cove. 

Day 6: Drive to Lisbon & Depart

Explore the Algarve's hidden coves by boat

Depending on your schedule, you could spend this morning exploring more of the tucked-away beaches of the Algarve with a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard adventure. Or embark on a small boat tour to discover some of the caves and grottoes scattered along the coast, like the famous vaulted stone ceilings of Benagil Cave and the tranquil coves of João de Arens.

When the time comes, you'll say your goodbyes and get back on the road for the return journey to Lisbon, dropping your rental car at the airport and catching your departing flight. Safe travels and boa viagem!

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Map

Map of Self-Drive Southern Portugal: Lisbon, Alcácer do Sal, Aljezur & Lagos - 6 Days
Map of Self-Drive Southern Portugal: Lisbon, Alcácer do Sal, Aljezur & Lagos - 6 Days