Trip idea / Portugal

Top to Toe Portugal

For Active Families

The Lowdown

  • What:

    This north to south family road trip starts in Porto, with a stop inland in the Burel Mountains before heading to surf mecca Ericeira ending in the wild and remote Alentejan region

  • When To Go:

    With school holidays in mind, this two-week road trip is best taken over the summer months

  • Who For:

    Suiting families of surfers, cyclists, hikers and explorers, this itinerary is for those that love to be active

Hit the open road with the family for an activity-based, self-drive trip from north to south Portugal, curated by our team to include surf spots, hiking routes, beach time, fabulous food and our personally recommended hotels in cities, mountains and sustainable seclusion.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Savour family time and the independence of a carefully crafted road trip with the freedom to stop where you like
  • Relish the contrast of city, mountain, beach and countryside, exploring some of Portugal’s lesser-seen landscapes
  • Enjoy our handpicked hotels, personally visited by our team
  • Wander the strollable city of Porto and take a cycle ride all the way to the beach
  • Hike the pathways of Serra Da Estrela National Park, cooling off in mountain lakes
  • Catch waves in world surfing reserve Ericeira and stay in a cool surf hotel
  • Finish at a chilled eco farmhouse for arcadian pleasures in nature

    PRETTY PORTO

    Flying directly into Porto, throw yourself into one of Portugal’s most easy-to-love cities. Dissected by the Douro River and linked by the curved arch of the Luís I bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel, Porto has plenty to catch the eye. Explore the city on foot, crossing the iconic bridge and jumping on trams or the gondola to bring you into Vila Nova de Gaia where many of the historic port houses reside. Some allow you to pop in for a taste of ruby, tawny and white port which is easy enough to do with kids on the go, but if you’re serious about port, allow us to book you a specially curated tour around Sandeman’s, Taylor’s and Cockburns among others.

    Porto is the kind of place where time slips through your fingers like sand, sitting by the river on the promenade, having a drink and watching the boats cruise by and buskers perform, but to make the most of your trip, we recommend a bike ride. Cycle along the river, passing small villages and coastal nature until you come to the mouth of the river at Foz do Douro. Sandy beaches await and it’s an excellent spot for sunset and dinner in a seafood restaurant.

    End your day at our recommended hotel, The Yeatman; a great option for families; the hotel is located on the hillside with scenic views over Porto. Even better The Yeatman has a beautiful swimming pool for kids to let off steam in, plus a Michelin-star restaurant to keep adults happy too.

     

    MOUNTAIN EXPEDITION

    From Porto, we will arrange a car for you so your road trip can begin in earnest. Cruise south along the coast before heading inland and ascending gently into the epic surrounds and rocky terrain of the Serra Da Estrela National Park.

    Resting at an altitude of 1,500-metres, your home will be mountain hideaway Casa das Penhas Douradas, a stylish yet homely place to stay which will also serve as your entry point into the rugged and remote mountains. By day, head out on 4×4 jeep adventures in the wilds, passing historic villages and the Burel wool factory, stopping for a picnic lunch in a remote scenic spot. Afternoons are for wild swimming or kayaking in crystal-clear mountain lakes or splashing about in waterfalls. Head home for a hot tub or swim in the indoor pool and await dinner: a four-course meal inspired by the mountains, with tempting menus for kids too.

    SURF MECCA

    Your road trip will take you back to the coast making a beeline for surf hotspot Ericeira in around three-and-a-half hours. On your way through break the journey at famed surfer’s paradise Nazaré. In summer there won’t be the giant rollers that lure big wave surfers from around the world in winter but you can walk to the iconic lighthouse and visit the small surf museum. Factor in a stop at well-preserved medieval hilltop town Óbidos; stretch your legs wandering the high castle walls.

    Arriving in the attractive, white-washed town of Ericeira, it seems every other shop is a surf shack – surfing is the lifeblood of this town which sits in a world surfing reserve with waves to suit everyone from beginner to pro.

    Stay just outside the town at You and The Sea, a stylish set up that works well for families with its indoor and outdoor pool, pizzeria and apartments, some of which have four bedrooms. Let the hotel arrange all your surfing needs from board hire to lessons or even a surf safari around the best waves.

    The town also has a sheltered bay if you fancy a day sunbathing and swimming. Evenings are for wandering the cobbled alleys stopping for typical Portuguese fare like arroz de marisco (seafood rice) at one of the many restaurants that line the narrow streets.

    RURAL ECO RETREAT

    Now might be the time to slow the pace for the last part of your journey and sustainable hotel Craveiral Farmhouse is just the place to do this, located in the serene wilds of Portugal’s Alentejo region reachable in under three hours’ drive from Ericeira. In fact, such is the addictive, laid-back ambience of this country eco-retreat, some families don’t leave the resort for the duration of their stay.

    There’s certainly plenty to do here and kids can wander freely, collecting eggs from the chicken coop, petting donkeys and goats, cycling (there are bikes for everyone to use) or swimming in the indoor and outdoor pools. The low-rise houses are found in white-washed clusters, linked by a boardwalk that sit above the native plants. All houses are stylishly furnished using local cork, some with shared pools, all with kitchens and bathtubs. The rooms vary in size, let us know what you need and we can find the right match. The restaurant is a surprising delight, serving a range of wholesome dishes and multi-hued salads (picked from the garden) that wouldn’t look amiss in Ottolenghi, plus perennial family favourite – wood-fired pizzas. We’d also recommend visiting the wild, empty beaches of the Costa Vicente, excellent for surfing and horse riding. Consider spending four or five days here before you drive to the airport in Faro, with plenty of miles under your belt and a colourful array of memories to cherish.