Discover the wild coast of Portugal with a Camper Van

Chloe O'Brien | Live the World

May 2, 2023

Set out on a journey that you’ll never forget, discovering the untamed beauty of Portugal with a camper van.

The coast of Portugal is filled with hidden gems that are favourites among Portuguese locals, but very off-the-radar for many travellers. This road-tripping journey will fully immerse you in the culture and make you feel like a local as you discover the country’s beach towns with the most traditional of food and architecture, as you’re greeted by the friendly locals, ready to share their rich culture with you.

The opportunities are endless with a camper van along the Portuguese coast, exploring the rugged cliffs alongside the Atlantic Ocean, waking up to sunsets over the golden sands, exploring protected natural parks to get in touch with nature, and soothing yourself to sleep with the sound of the crashing waves outside. Taste the freshest seafood, delectable pastries, and world-renowned wines.

Sea-side communities in Portugal are known for having a relaxed lifestyle. You’ll find yourself surrounded by a more laid-back environment where you can enjoy things slowly. Let go of your responsibilities and feel at one with nature, experiencing the true essence of coastal living, embarking on a new adventure every day, and admiring the secluded paradise of the Portuguese coast.

Renting a camper van with Goboony

Goboony is an amazing platform similar to sites like Airbnb, but made for camper vans instead of rooms! The unique website is easy to navigate, with different vans throughout a variety of different countries, ready to book at whichever dates are most convenient for you! The camper van is an amazing choice because it allows you to explore off-the-beaten-path areas and wake up with the view of your own choice! Not to mention, you get to travel completely at your own pace, spending as much time in each destination as you want without worrying about tour groups or public transportation schedules! Your favourite places you visit you can even choose to wake up to!

Portugal’s rugged coastline is a wonderful start to those interested in exploring with Goboony. Undisturbed nature, easy-to-navigate roads, and adorable coastal towns which are all easy to get to from the country’s main airports of Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Many camper vans are ready to rent as well in Portugal, so there are plenty of different options to choose from, and you can take your van around the country to curate your itinerary.

Where to discover with your motorhome rental near Lisbon

Queluz

This enchanting town is nestled just a short distance away from the Portuguese coast, and is just a short train ride away from the nation’s capital! Located right between Lisbon and Sintra, Queluz serves as a great starting point to discover this region of Portugal. The adorable town is colourful with traditional houses that are a great example of the wide variety of architecture the country has to offer. Explore the quaint shops that are housed in the colourful Portuguese buildings and stop into one of the many bakeries and grab some traditional Portuguese sweets.

Queluz Palace

One of the most beautiful gems in Queluz is the Queluz Palace, a perfect spot for history buffs looking to uncover the long-standing stories of Portuguese royalty while admiring the ornate chandeliers and grand hallways. One of the most impressive parts of the palace is its impeccable gardens, filled with beautiful fountains, plants, and small nooks and crannies.

Experience the enchantment of Queluz from the convenience of this camper van that transports you back to the 1980s with its fun, tangerine colour scheme. Imagine waking up to the breathtaking views of Queluz, and discovering the hidden gems of its surroundings at your own pace. Live out your fairytale by visiting one of Europe’s most impressive and famous castles in Sintra, at Pena Palace, and then drive over to the coast to stand on the most western point on Mainland Europe, at Cabo da Roca!

The inland town is blessed with a location just a 30-minute drive from some of the most stunning beaches in Portugal, like Ursa Beach, known for its dramatic rock formations unique to the beach, reachable by a steep hike, and it is even closer to more lively, built-up beaches that have become quite the party amongst Lisbon residents like Carcavelos Beach, also well known for its surfing. The coast between Queluz and Sintra is also dotted with many rugged beaches ready to be explored, such as Magoito Beach, a calm beach with distinctive natural formations.

Santo Isidoro

Santo Isidoro

Santo Isidoro is the epitome of an untamed coastline. Towering cliffs, jagged rock formations, and the giant waves colliding with the edges of the cliffs immerse its visitors into the raw nature of the region. For experienced surfers, the hidden gem of Praia dos Coxos is a great spot to ride the challenging and powerful waves, with fewer crowds compared to some other surfing beaches nearby. Even if you aren’t a surfer, it’s worth a visit to admire the natural beauty of the cliffy beach, and it's always fun to appreciate the talent of those who are surfing while you relax on the coast!

A more swimmable beach near Santo Isidoro is Praia de São Lourenço. Golden, sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing and taking a dip in the cool, refreshing waters. Stop in a traditional Portuguese tavern to get the freshest seafood dishes, as the region is well-known for its traditional dishes such as Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, lemony-garlic soaked clams, and Arroz de Marisco, often compared to Spanish paella due to its similar ingredients, but saucier and prepared more like a risotto, and in my humble opinion it's even better than paella!

Live like a hippie in this cool Santo Isidor Explorer camper van. The comfortable van is fully equipped and even has tables and chairs that you can set up for a delectable homemade meal with a view of your choice, perhaps overlooking the picturesque Praia de São Lourenço.

Ericeira

Ericeira

Located just a short drive from Santo Isidoro is the surfing haven of Ericeira. We highly recommend combining both stops during your camper van getaway! This surfing town has been built around its surfing culture, and lessons are offered for beginners, or if you’re already an expert there are plenty of shops in the cute town that will rent out surfboards. You’ll fall in love with the laid-back charm of Ericeira and its calm atmosphere makes it an amazing place to explore with a camper van.

Embark on an unforgettable journey with the ocean as your backyard with this vintage camper van in Ericeira. Whether you want to sleep in town, wake up bright and early and grab a delicious Portuguese coffee first thing in the morning, or wake up next to the beach overlooking the surfers that ventured from all over the world, this van is perfect for your Ericeira getaway, allowing complete flexibility to explore Ericeira, and nearby regions like Santo Isidoro.

Caparica - Vitor Oliveira

Costa da Caparica

Costa da Caparica is right across from Lisbon, and is reachable from the city by a beautiful drive over the city’s famous bridge, Ponte de Abril 25. The journey with panoramic city views to get to Capatica is worth it alone! Costa da Caparica is a vibrant gem, with over 30 kilometres of coastline with a number of different beaches. While it is lively, the beaches are still relatively undisturbed, with a few restaurants and bars here and there and wild cliffs in the background that share similarities with those in Algarve. Compared to the beaches across the bridge right next to the city, it is a lot less crowded on average and more laid back.

Like most of the beaches in Portugal, there is a huge surfing culture, and a lot of the beaches have designated surf schools that its visitors can take lessons at. This 2 or 4-hour surfing experience offers expert lessons for any level! The beaches at Caparica are great for beginners as it attracts people with little experience from the capital daily. A bit scared of the idea of standing up on the board but still wanna get your feet wet? Try out body boarding in Caparica, a more relaxed and accessible version of surfing, with an expert instructor and get a taste of those famous Portuguese waves.

Since Caparica is such a long coastline with an extensive network of beaches, there are a variety to choose from depending on the atmosphere that you’re looking for. Praia da Mata is the first beach you’ll encounter after crossing the bridge, and it is known for its immense wild beauty and tumbling dunes. This beach is for anyone hoping to relax and soak up nature without any distractions. Praia do Irmão is a favourite among young crowds and often throws parties on the beach starting in May. Fun cocktails, house music, and daybeds characterise this beach, and it is one of the more built-up beaches on the coast. Praia da Nova Vaga is perfect if you’re looking to catch some rides on the waves, as the beach is known for its consistent waves, and Praia da Rainha is a captivating beach with a charming beach bar along the dramatic cliffs.

To explore Caparica, rent one of the camper vans situated in Lisbon and take the short drive over the bridge! This camper van is super modern and new, powered by solar panels and even comes with a nespresso machine and also a projector so you can have a movie night under the stars in your cosy queen-sized bed! Another solar powered option that will serve as your home away from home is the adventurous camper van named Ocean Spirit. This luxurious van has a lounge area and heating, as well as a foldable table and chairs so you can enjoy some dinner or drinks overlooking your favourite beach in the Lisbon region.

Where to discover with your motorhome rental from Porto

Moreira

Northern Portugal’s coastline is probably the most rugged in all of Portugal, and Moreira is a stunning village that is a serene coastal escape. Moreira has the optimal location for exploring the beautiful Costa Verde, including its own beach Praia de Moreira, a tranquil beach with calm waters and a long stretch of sand perfect for leisure. Praia de Moreira is perfect for a relaxing day, but if you’re looking for a bit more of adventure, consider Praia de Mindelo, known for its pristine beach and bright blue waters that offers a range of amenities like beach bars, restaurants, and water sport facilities where you can find a variety of activities like surfing and paddleboarding to try out at this family-friendly beach.

One of the most unique beaches in the country is quite a close drive from Moreira, known as Praia de Labruge. The beach is peaceful and gorgeous, with great waters for swimming. What makes this beach so special is its proximity to the Labruge Dunes, which is ideal for nature enthusiasts. The protected area is home to impressive, rolling dunes and distinctive flora and fauna, explorable by wooden walkways.

Journey through Moreira with this motorhome that is air-conditioned and comfortably sleeps 4. A great feature of this van is fun amenities can be added on to enhance your journey, such as a canopy to enjoy your stunning views, a barbeque to cook up the finest meals from your van, and a bike rack.

Chapel of Senhor da Pedra

São Felix da Marinha

São Felix da Marinha is a coastal town that is a wonderful combination between culture and nature. Visitors can explore the adorable town and one of its historical structures, São Felix da Marinha Church, a peaceful 18th-century building with intricate architecture. Get a taste of both the beach and the history at Praia de Miramar, known for its emblematic Chapel of Senhor da Pedra. The picturesque chapel was built right on shore, how adorable is that? Another beautiful beach is Praia da Granja, a serene beach with a long boardwalk that has become a favourite among locals for sunbathing and relaxation.

São Felix da Marinha is also very close by to Porto, so it is easy to venture in for a few hours into the city before returning back to the serene nature. Drive along the coast for a bit of a roadtrip to visit the beach Praia do Camarido. This is often referred to as the last beach of Portugal, as the ocean acts as a natural border between Spain and Portugal, and you can see the Spanish coast on clear days. The beach is also incredibly beautiful, with vast dunes, clean sand, and known for being a great place for camping, so why not bring your camper van to catch these amazing views? Bring a sweater because its geographical location can make it a bit windy!

This luxurious camper located in São Felix da Marinha is perfect for small families as it comfortably sits four. It is extremely modern, fully equipped, with special amenities like camping chairs and tables for you to make the most of your wild adventure along the coast.

Vila Nova de Gaia

Vila Nova de Gaia

Vila Nova de Gaia is right across the river of Porto, and is photographer’s favourite location to get the best shots of Porto alongside the Douro. Vila Nova de Gaia is well-known for its wine, with plenty of wine cellars and rooftops offering delicious tastings with a view. Treat yourself to a tasting of the delicious Porto wines that are so famous worldwide with the option for a delicious cheese pairing!

While Vila Nova de Gaia may be known for its wine and stunning views, it actually extends to Porto’s coastline, offering beautiful beaches worth exploring. One of the most popular beaches in the area is Praia de Lavadores which has a scenic promenade and soft sand. Locals journey to this beach on the sunny days and enjoy the swimmable waters and fun atmosphere. For a more relaxed beach close to the city, head over to Praia de Canidelo, a sandy stretch that is perfect for picnics. A bit further north you’ll find Praia da Apúlia, a quiet, sandy beach that has adorable windmills that are perfect for photo-ops and add to the charm of the beautiful beach.

Vila Nova de Gaia is also a short ways away from a beautiful coastal park named Parque Natural do Litoral Norte. This national park is located where the ocean meets the river, and is home to beaches, ocean reefs, and sand dunes. The park is protected and home to a lot of bird species. It is quite a wild park with lovely walkways to explore the area, filled with beautiful plant life.

Head a bit inland one day to explore the natural beauty of the Douro Valley, home to some of the best vineyards worldwide, immense biodiversity, and quaint towns like Pinhão ready to explore. This tour includes a wine and food tasting where you get to explore the traditional gastronomy of the region, sip on wines, and try some olive oil with a local guide.

This modern campervan is ready for your exploration of Northern Portugal. The van is fully equipped and has everything you need for a stress-free journey, including friendly staff ready to help with your needs! Take the Campervan named Gisela through the city, the valley, and of course along the wonderful Northern coast!

Where to discover with your motorhome rental from Faro

Armação da Pera

Armação da Pera is located in the Algarve, about an hour from Faro and about 20 minutes from Albufeira. Like all of Algarve, of course it is quite built up by resorts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t beautiful, untouched spots to discover with your camper van. It is also one of the best places in Europe for year round beach holidays, as the weather is warmer than in other parts of Portugal, so you can comfortably enjoy the beaches year round. What is great about Armação da Pera is that it is quieter than its neighbouring Albufeira, and it is quite central so you can easily explore both the East and West of the Algarve from here.

Just 10 minutes from Armação da Pera is Praia da Marinha. Of course, this beach isn’t necessarily a secret as it has made countless lists as being one of the top 50 beaches in the world and top 10 in Europe, but besides a small café, there is nothing built up on this breathtaking beach. The parking lot is a great place to park your van and enjoy the stunning views of the insanely gorgeous beach. Nearby is Praia Benagil, one of the most photographed spots in Algarve known for its rugged cliffs and stunning cave. A must do when in Algarve is to kayak to the Benagil cave. This way, you can stop and get out and explore the hidden spots of the caves, as well as get in your photoshoots at these natural-made wonders!

From Armação da Pera, you can explore the rest of the Algarve, which is a huge region including Faro, Lagos, Lagoa, Albufeira, Sagres, and Portimão, all special in a different way with hundreds of beaches to explore along one of the most famous destinations. For more inspiration on the best beaches in Algarve, check out our 5-day itinerary that you can follow to get to know Portugal's southernmost region.

If you have a big group, this camper van is perfect for you because it fits up to 7 people comfortably! Imagine being with all your friends, road-tripping through the stunning region of the Algarve. The campervan has a TV with a DVD player so you can enjoy some movies after a long day of sunbathing and exploring the wonderful coast, and with all your friends together, you can even explore a bit of the Algarve nightlife like the Montechoro Strip, the heart of Albufeira’s nightlife.

Another cozy camper van that fits up to 3 people is great if you’re looking for a long journey through the Algarve. This camper van is available to rent for a minimum of 7 days, and if you’re interested in surfing, the owners advertised their ability to connect you with the best surfing instructors and rental shops in the Algarve!

Budens and Sagres

Budens is perfect for anyone looking to get the full Algarve experience of stunning beaches with iconic rock formations and whitewashed towns, but in a more remote, quieter location. The village has kept its traditions and has an authentic Algarvian ambience, and it hasn’t been overrun by tourism, so it’ll feel more Portuguese than some other places in Algarve like Albufeira and Faro which have become huge resort towns. One of the most adorable parts of Budens is its cute, colourful fishing boats that are docked near the town.

Cape St. Vincent

From Budens, you can also explore the rugged coast of Sagres, one of the least visited parts of the Algarve, and the namesake to the famous Portuguese beer Sagres. In Sagres, explore the historical Cape St. Vincent, which has been an important spot in European history. Before European colonisation efforts, Cape St. Vincent was thought of as being on the edge of the world since neolithic times! The cape has incredible views and gets crowded around sunset time. Underneath Cape St. Vincent is the beautiful Praia do Beliche, which also has a deep history, as it is where a lot of the Portuguese colonisers embarked on their voyages from. This beach is well-known for being the port in which Gil Eanes set sail from to round Cape Bojador, a cape near West Africa that was thought of as uncrossable for a long time, and it was the first time anyone had done this trip. This journey became important in Portuguese literature and poetry, frequently being referenced, so if you have interest in the history of 15th century Portugal, this beach is a beautiful, yet somber destination, although still worth seeing despite the terrible outcomes some of the journeys leaving from this port had worldwide.

For a nature getaway, explore the natural beauty of the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. The natural park is unspoilt from the rest of the world, with plenty of scenic hikes that offer the most incredible views over the Atlantic Ocean and the dramatic cliffs. There are many hidden coves, and it is amazing to see the rugged landscapes nearby Budens. Some of the beaches that you can hike to from here are Praia do Amado, Praia da Arrifana, and Praia de Odeceixe. Birdwatcher’s will love this park for their abundance of rare species and aquatic birds that call the wetlands their home, and you may spot some fun wildlife like wild boars, foxes, and deers if you embark on a hike through the forest.

Moneypenny is the name of this light blue camper van which, if you’ve ever seen the TV series Lost, looks exactly like the Dharma Initiative vans! The owners of this van take a personal approach to insure your comfort with the van, test driving it with you, and ensure backup plans in case the van isn’t what you were hoping for or in the rare event that it may break down. The well-maintained camper sleeps 4 and is in a perfect location for discovering the undiscovered part of the Algarve.

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