An ideal European road trip: from Madrid to Lisbon

An ideal European road trip: from Madrid to Lisbon



The great capitals of Spain and are excellent destinations in themselves that offer boundless cultural sights, museums, cuisine, and much more. Many might choose to fly between the two and others to take a bus, but renting a car is an excellent option for an entirely different journey.


An ideal European road trip: from Madrid to Lisbon

The roads that connect one between these memorable are filled with pristine and historic places. Along the way one can expect to encounter wild and striking landscapes, ancient towns with impressive fortifications and some of the most unique views in the whole Iberian Peninsula. There are of course the biggest highways with tolls that cut through the area in less time, but honestly if you want to make the journey part of your destination, enjoy the smaller but equally efficient highways that wind through the impressive countryside. Here’s what one can enjoy in this excellent itinerary.


An ideal European road trip: from Madrid to Lisbon

Departing Madrid is very easy and most likely affordable if renting a car from the airport. Gas is much more affordable here than in the rest of Europe so that makes this an ideal place to get into a thrilling road trip. Roads are well marked and wide departing Madrid and soon enough you will be on your way in the direction of Badajoz, Spain’s frontier city with Portugal and an ideal place to spend an overnight in your trip. Along the way one will first pass through the semi arid landscapes of Castilla-La Mancha. This region is full of strange brush, vineyards and various rock formations. Be sure and stop at a café along the highway for some great Spaniard sandwiches and coffee.


An ideal European road trip: from Madrid to Lisbon

Before arriving in Badajoz be sure and appreciate the region you’re passing through known as Extremadura. This is an enchanted landscape with massive freestanding bolders, alpine mountains in the distance, fertile fields, lush forests and lots of livestock. Badajoz is a nice mid sized city with an impressive ancient fortress and a sprawling old city full of local charm. The newer town is home to some good hotel options, modern parks and river walkways to enjoy the best of the city’s natural beauty.


An ideal European road trip: from Madrid to Lisbon

Leaving Badajoz one is passing into Portugal within minutes. The border is close and so is the next city where one should stop. The town of Elvas is an impressive walled city. It is perfectly intact with a mind-blowing scheme of three layers of walls for defense. There are well-sculpted turrets and moats on every side. The views from the city walls and its ancient castle command the plains on every side. This has earned it the title: “queen of fortified cities.” Explore the city on foot in about an hour with its impressive churches, fascinating streets and abundant art and architecture. Moving outside the town one can behold the 9km aqueduct, which is a stunning work of art and engineering especially given its age.


The next city along the route that has lots of attractions is Evora. This city has roots back to Roman times and the remains of a fascinating temple to prove it. The city is completely walled and has ancient streets full of appealing goods, gorgeous churches boutique monastery hotels and intriguing cultural fusion. The historic remains are everywhere to be found and give the town a unique identity.


The rest of this route moves along some entrancing wine country. In fact if one stays on the local highways, it is guaranteed passage along the official Alentejo wine route. Here one will encounter vineyards on rolling hills, centuries old olive orchards, and year round fields of green mixed with natural white stone quarries. For a more varied attraction along the way be sure an check out Freeport outlets in Alcochete. This offers a world-class shopping center with some of the best brands in the business often with incredible discounts. One can enjoy from here a half hour ride onwards to Lisbon, having experienced a true journey into the heartlands of Spain and Portugal, an ideal and most worthy itinerary.




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    • Valorie on 1 May, 2016 at 6:52 am
    • Reply

    Thank you so much for the information. This will make our trip from Lisbon to Madrid so much more memorable!

    1. Hi Valorie,

      It is our pleasure, certainly one of the best road trips we’ve ever done, you’ll love it! We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • kate on 5 May, 2017 at 3:41 pm
    • Reply

    do you have recommendations for car rentals that allow you to pick up in Madrid and drop off in Lisbon?


    1. Most major companies will allow you to do it

      We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • NURSEN on 6 May, 2017 at 8:01 pm
    • Reply

    Hello.I want to learn if we rent a car from Madrid,can we pass portugal easily?or it is forbidden by rental agent?

    1. Usually it is ok, just ask the rental company first. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Audrey Oswald on 26 January, 2018 at 5:12 pm
    • Reply

    Hi. My cousin and I want to drive from her apartment in Madrid to Lisbon ! I liked the itinerary that you have on your site! How long will the trip take counting both ways and maybe spending two days in Lisbon , longer drives than 4 or 5 at the most, is not an option. Thank you!
    Audrey Oswald.

    1. Hi Audrey,

      Thanks for your comment and interest in our trip. The drive we took with just two overnights was around three days maximum. It was a leisurely pace and we got to see some wonderful towns and traditional hotels along the way. Counting both ways you might spend 6 days on the road with plenty of time to explore towns in the evenings. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Audrey Oswald on 26 January, 2018 at 5:17 pm
    • Reply

    I already sent a comment! My cousin and I have our own car and want to drive from Madrid to Lisbon like,, the scenic route described on your site! How long does it take , round trip and should we do a different route on the return?

    1. You can take a different route on the return like going along the Southern Coast of Portugal and Spain which will take a little longer or go back by the same route and see some different towns along the way. There are plenty. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Susana on 4 August, 2018 at 10:53 am
    • Reply

    Id appreciate it a lot if you could tell me if there are any mountain roads onbthis trip. I’m recovering from eye surgery and I’m not allowed to travel by plane or “climb” mountains.
    Thanks a lot in advance!!

    1. Hi Susana, thanks for your question. There are some decently sized hills along the route and tunnels if that makes a difference, but proper mountain roads there are none. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

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