If you want an active, several-day trip where you can visit new and interesting places, the trip option below will probably appeal to you.
- Circuit on the Malaga – Fatima – Lisbon – Algarve route
- About Portugal
- How to get there
- Portugal itinerary – 5-day circuit
- Day 1: Travel by car, on the route Malaga (Spain) – Entroncamento (Portugal)
- Day 2: Tour of the monasteries in the area (Alcobaça, Batalha) + visit to Fatima
- Day 3: Travel by car on the route Entroncamento - Lisbon
- Day 4: Travel by car on the route Lisbon - Costa Algarve
- Day 5: Return Costa Algarve – Malaga
Circuit on the Malaga – Fatima – Lisbon – Algarve route
The excursion itself is a proposition of one circuit of about 5 days, by car, starting from the south of Spain to the center of Portugal and back to the south coast of Portugal, en route Malaga – Fatima – Lisbon – Algarve – Malaga.
I have chosen these destinations and routes because I have not visited them before and they are generally not advertised very often as regular tourist destinations.
The main destination in this circuit, viz Portugal, turned out to be a beautiful country with a varied relief (from plain/hill areas to beaches on the south coast, on the Atlantic shore. I drove almost half of the country, from north-central to south, both on the national road and on the highway and had some extremely interesting scenery.I will detail each location visited below.
Portugal(in Portuguese, Portugal) is a country on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe with a population of approx 10 million of inhabitants, with the capital in Lisbon.
It is the westernmost country in continental Europe. To the west and south it opens to the Atlantic Ocean, and to the east and north it borders Spain. The border between Portugal and Spain It has 1,214 km long and is considered the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union.
Portugal also includes archipelagos Azores and Made from the atlantic both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.
The time zone is UTC+1 and the official currency is the Euro.
The official language is Portuguese. As a foreign tourist he can easily communicate in English.
How to get there
Our trip started from the airport in Cluj-Napoca, with a flight of about 4 hours to Málaga (Spain). Wizz Air Company (https://wizzair.com/ro-ro#/) offers direct flights to several destinations in Spain (including Malaga), departing from Cluj-Napoca or Bucharest.
The next day we picked up our car from the car rental company DELPASO CAR HIRE (https://www.delpasocarhire.com/), from Malaga airport. You are normally picked up directly from the airport terminal by a shuttle bus from each of the car rental companies at the airport, which transports you within minutes to the company where you rented the car to pick it up.
The procedures for taking over the car went quite quickly. The cost of renting a car amounted to approx. 100 EUR for 6 days, with insurance included. After all the formalities were completed, we started our "adventure", according to the schedule that I will detail in the following.
Portugal itinerary – 5-day circuit
Day 1: Travel by car, on the route Malaga (Spain) – Entroncamento (Portugal)
We started our adventure with a trip of approx 620 km on the route Málaga (Spain) – Entroncameto (Portugal). Spain has an extremely well developed highway network (there are both toll and toll freeways). We chose the free option, but we also used the national roads (where the traffic is really light).
Note that in both Spain and Portugal, parking or fuel stations on the highway are quite rare (if you need gas stations, you usually have to exit the highway).
In the end we covered this distance in about 6-7 hours with related stops and reached our destination namely in Entroncamento (location chosen for a 2-night stay, being also close to the circuit of monasteries we intended to visit the following day).
For the 2-night stay in Entroncamento I chose Hotel Dom Joao – clean hotel, with affordable prices, with breakfast included;
Day 2: Tour of the monasteries in the area (Alcobaça, Batalha) + visit to Fatima
The next day I started a tour of the monasteries in the area. The circuit can be done in 4-5 hours, with strict breaks, but there are certainly locations worth visiting.
We started the visit to the monastery Alcobaca, located approximately 60 km west of our accommodation. The road to this location passes through a very beautiful hilly area. Monastery of Alcobaça (in Portuguese) is a monastic complex located in the town of the same name. The monastery was founded in 1153 by the first Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques, and developed close relations with the Portuguese monarchy during the century. ARE YOU COMING. Due to its artistic, cultural and historical relevance, the entire complex is today included in the UNESCO cultural heritage.
A fee of EUR 6/person is charged for the visit, with free entry on Sundays and public holidays.
We then continued our tour with a visit to the monastery The battle (approx. 20 km north of Alcobaca).
Monastery The battle
Batalha Monastery or Mosteiro da Batalha (in Portuguese) is a Dominican monastery in the municipality of Batalha. Originally and officially known as the Monastery of Saint Mary of Victory, it was erected in commemoration of the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 and was to serve as the burial church of the dynasty of Portuguese royalty. It is one of the best and original examples of Gothic architecture in Portugal, combined with the Manueline style.
A fee of 6 EUR/person is charged for visiting the monastery. or free entry on Sundays and public holidays.
I went further in this mini-circuit and reached the pilgrimage site of Fatima (approx. 24 km east of Batalha).
Fatima is a small Portuguese town that hosts Sanctuary of Fátima – a place of Catholic pilgrimage. The pilgrimage site of Fatima is associated with a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, since 1917, allegedly witnessed by three children of local shepherds. The Catholic Church later recognized these events as "believable". A small chapel was built at the site of the apparition in 1919 and a statue of the Virgin Mary was also erected.
The chapel and the statue have since been in Sthe accountant of Our Lady of Fatima, a sanctuary complex containing two minor basilicas. Associated facilities for pilgrims, including a hotel and a medical centre, have also been built over the decades in and around the Shrine. The city has become an important international destination for religious tourists, receiving between 6 and 8 million pilgrims annually.
Entrance to the sanctuary is free, and once you are there, the atmosphere is very special. We recommend avoiding pilgrimage periods, when there are many people and difficulties may be encountered in finding parking spaces.
Day 3: Travel by car on the route Entroncamento - Lisbon
The next day I went on the road again, on the route Entroncamento - Lisbon, a distance of approx. 120 km, easily traveled in 1 h 30 min (on the freeway). The tax system of highway in Portugal has 2 ways: manual and electronic. It is important to know that each freeway it has only one payment system, so on motorways with a manual payment system, you will not be able to pay electronically. For more details you can access the link https://cargotrack.ro/ – Portugal motorway payment methods.
In Lisbon I chose 1 night's accommodation at Holiday Inn Express Hotel - good conditions, with breakfast included;
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, has around 550,000 inhabitants (2,900,000 in the metropolitan area, 27% of the country's population) according to the statistics of 2021. It is located on the west coast of the country, at Atlantic ocean, where the river Tagus it flows into the ocean. It is located in the heart of the city "Down" or "Lower City", area where it is located São Jorge Castle and Santa Maria Maior Cathedral. It is the oldest district of the city Alfama, close to the Tagus River. Other important monuments would be Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, which were registered in 1983 on the UNESCO world cultural heritage list.
We managed to visit several of the above locations within 1 and a half days. But the more interesting or spectacular we found: those two bridges, Vasco da Gama and April 25, the statue of Jesus and Alfama districtwith its narrow streets.
The highly touristic locations are very crowded at peak times (12 pm – 4 pm), so it's best to avoid these times. For a more detailed visit of the city we recommend around 2-4 days.
The weather in Lisbon was very pleasant for walking, with temperatures between 25ºC – 26ºC and a slight breeze. But although the trip took place at the end of April 2023, we also experienced extremely high temperatures in both Spain and much of Portugal, reaching up to 38ºC in places.
Want to know more about Lisbon and what to visit? Read this travel guide about Lisbon.
Day 4: Travel by car on the route Lisbon - Costa Algarve
The next day, in the afternoon, we left Lisbon and headed to the south of Portugal (Algarve coast). I covered a distance of 250 km in about 2h 40 min.
Arriving at the destination, namely in Silves, a nice little town located in a hilly area close to the south coast of Portugal, we stayed at the hotel Dos Mouros Hill – an extremely interesting location - for details you can access the link above.
We spent the next day at the sea, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, where the scenery is truly spectacular (see the pictures below). Although the air temperature was high (around 30ºC), the ocean water was quite cold for the period. However, for a quick splash, it's worth a try. We ate at various terraces in the area and the prices seemed really affordable (around 15 EUR-20 EUR/person for a full meal).
Nearby you can also see the most spectacular cave, famous for its rock formations – Paradise Cave.
Day 5: Return Costa Algarve – Malaga
The next day, as the trip was coming to an end, we also left this area of wonderful scenery and returned to Malaga, covering the 460 km in almost 5 hours, with stops. In total, in this whole circuit we covered around 1800 km.
It should be noted that such a trip is suitable for lovers of active vacations, lovers of long car journeys, who will certainly discover other extremely interesting locations along the route.
If you still have time, we recommend that you also explore the city of Malaga, which was our starting point! Even if Malaga is not a city famous for its tourist attractions, you will be surprised to learn that the beaches are not the only ones that will delight you. You have a lot to see and especially activities! If you want to know more details about Malaga, before you set off, read on our Malaga travel guide to ensure that you will have a memorable experience, there you will find the most important tourist attractions, beaches, activities and lots of useful information.