The great capitals of Spain and Portugal are excellent destinations in themselves that offer boundless cultural sights, museums, cuisine, shopping 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.
The roads that connect one between these memorable cities 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.
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.
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.
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.