The Ultimate Portugal Foodies’ Road Trip


 

Portugal. The country of wide beaches, amazing people and where the sun shines two-thirds of the year. Of course, you’ve heard of all this. But what about the food? 

 

Recently, Portugal’s cuisine has won award after award, from the beer and olive oil to chefs and restaurants. Such international appreciation must have some strong groundings, right? That’s what we’re going to discover with this road trip. Hop in our van, buckle up, and enjoy this mouth-watering journey! 

 

 

 

Portugal’s Foodies Road Trip Itinerary

 

Route: Porto – Algarve

  1. 0 km    Porto
  2. 170km   Douro (Viseu)
  3. 180km   Aveiro
  4. 10km    Costa Nova (Aveiro)
  5. 160km   Serra da Estrela
  6. 200km   Grutas de Mira de Aire
  7. 20km    Almeirim
  8. 55km    Óbidos
  9. 25km    Berlengas & Peniche
  10. 70km    Mafra & Ericeira
  11. 20km    Sintra
  12. 30km    Lisboa
  13. 180km   Alentejo (Beja)
  14. 150km   Algarve (Faro)

1270km Algarve

 

 

1. Porto

In Porto, 2017 Best European Destination, you’ll find one of the most imposing dishes of your life that will make you eat and feel like a king. Behold, the royal queen of all sandwiches: the Francesinha. This is no ordinary sandwich, no, no. Made of toasted, freshly-baked bread with a delightful wet-cured ham peacefully resting alongside linguiça (a lovely kind of chorizo), fresh sausage and beef or roast meat… All covered with a significant layer of the most exquisite and playful melted cheese, and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce that angels crave for, where your french fries can dive in, resulting in a heavenly combination of flavours swirling in your mouth like… Ok, you got the point: just have a bite of this all-mighty sandwich.

 

 

2. Douro

Welcome to Douro, the second stop on your road trip and the place where you don’t have to cry a river (since Douro River is large enough already) to drink a glass or two of the best Portuguese wines (but don’t drink and drive!). The Douro region is so wine-centred that even the landscape is sculpted to its image, with vast vineyards covering every meter alongside the river. 

Be sure to enjoy the amazing wine tasting tours that will give you a taste of Portugal’s essence, whilst you look at the panorama of the country’s wine land. 

 

 

3. Aveiro

“Portugal’s Venice” has a lot to offer.  From traditional boat rides right in the middle of the city centre, to walks throughout history as you explore the streets, Aveiro is nothing less than a sweet adventure. And talking about sweet, have you ever tried Ovos Moles? It means “soft eggs”, and it’s a mix of egg yolks and sugar, covered by a thin layer of white wafer. It may sound a bit weird, but it tastes like heaven!

 

 

4. Costa Nova (Aveiro)

Still in Aveiro, you’ll find a magical place where houses are dressed in stripes and the beach is always 2 steps away. Yes, it feels like you’re on a real movie set. Having that in mind, you have all the right to pretend to be a spoiled actor with crazy desires. The most desired thing in Costa Nova? Tripas de Aveiro! A thick crepe, filled with whatever you like: Nutella, snickers, apple and cinnamon, doce de ovos (a traditional sweet filling made of eggs), the list goes on and on.

 

 

5. Serra da Estrela

If you decide to reach new heights in Portugal, Serra da Estrela is the place. The highest mountain in the country, where sheep walk in the middle of the roads covered by snow, is also where you’ll find one of the hardest delicacies to top: Queijo da Serra. A cheese so creamy you can eat it with a spoon! But we highly advise you not to, since the local bread is also unmissable.
 
Some say that if you try this delicacy while contemplating the scenery, you’ll fall in love with Serra da Estrela. Cheesy, right? But we’re glad it is – and so will you!

 

6. Grutas de Mira de Aire

In the district of Leiria, you’ll find a natural monument that just simply rocks – literally. These are the Mira de Aire Caves, the largest caves in Portugal, with 11km of extension, of which 600m can be visited along plenty natural galleries. After that, don’t be surprised to have an appetite of a miner. The solution? Morcela Mirense (or “Morcela de Arroz”), a local delicacy like black pudding, but with rice, baked in the oven or fried in a pan. There’s nothing like a couple of them to feed your temporarily-miner-stomach.  

 

7. Almeirim

The legend says a homeless priest told some villagers he could cook a soup with a rock. The villagers were intrigued and wanted to see that miracle. He asked for a pot with some water, putting the rock inside it immediately after. A few minutes later, he tried it and said “it needs salt. Can anyone lend me some?”. Then, he said, “a few cabbages wouldn’t hurt”. And then potatoes, beans, chorizo, and so on, one by one. By the end, he ate it all but left the rock. The villagers asked, “what about the rock?”. And he replied “This one? I’ll take it with me for next time”.

You can have exactly the same tasty soup, created by the smart-tricky-priest, all over Almeirim. And if you end up with the rock on your plate, well… It’s your lucky day!

 

8. Óbidos

Óbidos truly is a gift from the past: It’s a small village surrounded by tall thick walls built to protect the people from outsiders. But don’t think for a second these well-protected villagers didn’t know how to think outside the box (or the walls, actually). They created one of the most famous Portuguese liqueurs: Ginjinha de Óbidos. This bittersweet cherry liquor is served in a small cup made of fine chocolate. You can then either drink the liquor and eat the cup at the same time or have refills until you’re ready to obliterate that cute little chocolate mug.

Every year, Óbidos hosts the biggest chocolate fair in Portugal, having chocolate treats from all over the world, which turns this location into an authentic chocolate village. 

 

9. Berlengas & Peniche

What about visiting a small paradisiac island right next to the Portuguese coast? If you’re up to that, leave your van in Peniche and take a ferry to one of Portugal’s natural wonders. And, fish lovers, we have great news for you! Wherever you go, mainly in Peniche, you’ll have great fish dishes, so you can feast all day long! Try “Sardinha Assada”, “Robalo grelhado”, or even any of the Portuguese typical 1001 recipes of Bacalhau (codfish). 

 

10. Mafra & Ericeira

A foodie’s road trip in Portugal would not be complete if you didn’t have a taste of one of the best types of Portuguese bread. And in Mafra you’ll find one so good it even has its name: Pão de Mafra – a bulky, strong-flavoured delicacy that will make you question your own concept of bread. Our advice? Eat it still warm, with cheese or even with a bit of chorizo, in Mafra or by the Ericeira's beautiful coast. You’ll thank us later. 

Also, try Mafra’s typical pastry called “Fradinho”, and visit the mighty Mafra Convent, with plenty of stories to tell, since it inspired one of the most famous Portuguese writers, José Saramago.

 

11. Sintra

Before arriving at the capital, make sure to stop here. Sintra is known for being the most mystical place in the country, with odd myths and tales that live throughout generations. Why, you ask? Well, you only need to visit Quinta da Regaleira, or Palácio da Pena to get a feel for this incredible location.

And, since you’re there, a little treat wouldn’t hurt, right? Give “Queijadas de Sintra” a try (a mix of cheese, sugar, egg yolks and cinnamon, all baked in the oven), or even the famous “Travesseiros de Sintra”, where puff pastry, crushed almonds and egg yolks result into one of the most perfect pastries you’ll ever taste.

 

12. Lisboa

Finally, the capital. Your road trip is almost reaching the end, and you’re 100% sure nothing will top what you already visited and tasted. Well, don’t be. Lisbon is just the proof of that. Enjoy the city’s nightlife, listen to Fado, have amazing dinners in typical restaurants and walk on top of beautifully designed sidewalks (Calçada Portuguesa). But most important of all: do not miss the Pastéis de Nata (being the most famous ones from “Pastéis de Belém” and “Manteigaria"). A crunchy pastry jam-packed with the creamiest egg, sugar and vanilla filling, with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Mouth-watering, right? 

 

13. Alentejo (Beja)

Ok, until now we only gave you one, two or even three examples of what to eat at each location. But that’s just impossible to do in Alentejo. Because if the Eiffel tower is the perfect element to symbolize Paris, Alentejo is exactly that to Portuguese cuisine. Have a bite on Pão Alentejano (Alentejo’s bread); taste all kinds of dishes regarding Porco Preto (Black Iberian Pig), like “Secretos de Porco Preto”; don’t miss chorizo, morcela, linguiça or any other kind of “enchido”; try the typical Açorda Alentejana, a blissful purée made of bread and coriander; the incredible Pão de Ló, a cake so soft and fluffy that could only be enhanced by the sweet and creamy topping of the traditional “doce de ovos”; and the list goes on, having always in mind that everything will taste even better when accompanied by the exquisite and highly coveted Alentejo’s wines. 

 

14. Algarve (Faro)

Last but not least, we reach Algarve’s region – the nº1 choice of tourists in Portugal. Is it because of the beaches? Yes. Is it also because of the great weather? For sure. And what about the food? Oh, no doubt it’s one of the best things here! Where to start? Small. Start small – literally. Frango da Guia is a small-sized roasted chicken with butter or hot sauce on top. This crispy dish may be small in size when compared to a regular chicken but, god, how great it is in flavour! Then you may order “Cataplana de Ameijoas à Algarvia”, a clams’ dish cooked with chorizo, prosciutto, garlic, tomato and white wine. 

And if you want to be left with a sweet taste in your mouth, as a dessert choose the typical “Doce Fino” made of only almonds, sugar and water; or the extraordinary “Dom Rodrigo”, an egg-based dessert that will make you cry for more (but fortunately there’s no need, just ask for another).

Don't have enough on your plate, yet? Start your road trip in Porto and have a taste of Portugal's best.

About the Portuguese cuisine


Portuguese cuisine truly is filled with wonders. Olive oil, garlic, onion, fish and meat are the pillars that sustain almost every tasty dish. And always after each one of them, in a restaurant by the sea or on an esplanade in the middle of the city, a creamy pastry or a suggary ingenious treat suddenly appear, making you fall in love not only for the food but for all the sweet experience of being Portuguese. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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