Driving through Spain and Portugal

From the white sand and sparkling beaches of Playa del Carmen, we’ve flown over the North Atlantic ocean to the historic cities of Spain and Portugal. Our lives have quickly sped up from the leisurely pace of snorkeling and beach-going to match the buzzing, vibrant cities of Southern Europe.

It’s our first trip to Spain and Portugal, and we’re finding ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of visits to lovely local bakeries and wandering through seemingly endless city plazas full of history and monuments. We spent our first week in Madrid adjusting to the seven hour time change and touring its cobblestone streets.

piggyback on the streets of Madrid
Jordan catching a ride through the streets of Madrid

On our last day in Madrid, we rented a car and are slowly driving over three weeks across Spain and along the Portuguese coast. From Madrid, our first stop was the beautiful mountain town of Avila, Spain, where we walked along the medieval fortress walls and experienced a quieter side to life. From there, we took a short drive to the university town of Salamanca, with wide streets perfect for walking, and took refuge from the chill and even snow next to looming cathedrals and trendy cafes.

After Salamanca, we veered West across the border to the warmer city of Porto, Portugal, a city so picturesque and quirky that I swear it’s impossible to take a truly bad photo.

Blossoms on the streets of Porto Portugal
Trees blossoming in Porto

After port tours and boat rides along the Douro River, we headed south and I’m now writing this from Lisbon, Portugal. We’re right in the heart of this charming city, in the Bairro Alto district, with steep, crazily vertical cobbled streets that are hundreds of years old and dodging century-old trolley cars careening through the twisty cobblestone roads.

From our window, we can see people walking at all hours of the day along streets so narrow that you can touch the walls on both sides of the buildings if you roll your car windows down! Driving is crazy down here and we now understand why most of the cars are tiny and trains are so popular.

Micki Snapping Pics in Porto
Snapping pics in Porto

After Lisbon, we’ll be driving to Portugal’s Algarve region, before turning inland to the orange blossoms of Seville and eventually the beaches of Malaga, Spain.

We’ll write more about our trip in the next few weeks, when we settle down for a while. We’re hoping to rent a villa in one of the white villages in Andalusia, Spain, and catch up on some school work for the kids and write a backlog of posts for us.

In the meantime, we’re sharing photos and some of the fun things that we’re doing (along with some of our travel mishaps) on our Facebook page and Twitter.

Be sure to leave us some travel tips!

Our road trip route through Spain and Portugal:

7 Responses

  1. Heidi @WagonersAbroad

    What a lovely trip. We are heading to Porto in 2 weeks for Spring Break. We were in Lisbon and the Algarve over Halloween. Hey, if you make it to Almuñécar, give us a shout.

  2. budget jan

    So you were able to take the hire car across the border without any problems? I have been to Spain and Lisbon but not with a hire car, but it would be great to do it.

  3. Johanna Bradley

    Superb shot of the magnolia in Porto. I love that city! Don’t forget to visit Tavira in the Algarve, and if the weather’s good , go over to the Ilha.

    • Micki Kosman

      Nicole, you’re absolutely right. Lisbon was especially crazy, with lanes that ended out of nowhere, and some streets so narrow that we could (literally!) touch the buildings on either side of our car.

  4. Rafael Gonzalez

    Spain and Portugal are beautiful countries to experience on foot, bike or car. Spain has been my favorite country thus far. I try to go there every year when possible 🙂

  5. Bill

    Ok. I’ve never been to Europe and I’ve decided to take some of my retirement fund and travel. I am partial to beach vacations but I also want to see great art and architecture. I will only have about 3 weeks to travel so what do you suggest? P.S somewhat limited in physical challenges. I have had knee replacements so extreme walking trails are out of the question


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