A road trip through Spain and Portugal, travelling from the top of Spain to the bottom and then from the bottom of Portugal to the top. It has to be our most epic road trip yet, full of changing scenery and temperatures and we loved it.
A road trip through Spain and Portugal
We started from Portsmouth, boarding Brittany Ferries for the 26 hour crossing to Spain, full of anticipation for the journey ahead.
Sunny skies and calm seas meant we had plenty of time to relax on board, with the entertainers which made the children laugh, shops to explore, large open decks with children’s play areas inside and out, restaurants and bars which hosted the family quiz we could all take part in. We slept well in the cabins which were cosy and comfortable.
Then we were off, back in our car, disembarking in Santander and speeding along towards a night in Valladolid. We would have loved to have spent more time exploring this interesting looking town but the south beckoned. As soon as morning came we set off again.
The drive south was beautiful. We could feel the temperature rise as we passed signs to Madrid and then saw the majestic old and new cathedrals of Salamanca rise hazy in the distance, stood together like an old couple, proud and grand, the little houses of their subjects scattered around reverently.
The landscape yellowed and spring time flowers flourished, dancing happily to their own beat as our little car kept heading south.
We stopped off in the sweet little town of Monasterio for some tapas. Picturesque with tiled houses and shops and the sleepy feel of southern Spain.
Then on we pressed, passing Seville, somewhere again we wished we could stop and explore before taking a sharp right turn towards Portugal.
Coming over the border we whizzed along this sandy stretch of the Algarve, billowing reeds and palm trees with blue skies over gave it a tropical feel. We arrived into Four Seasons Fairways, our home for the next five days, in time to sit out in the sunshine, beside our pool and relax with lemonades. The biggest part of our journey was over.
The next few days in the Algarve were spent happily relaxing. We were in the Algarve over Easter so the children happily partook in Easter Egg hunts and we all enjoyed the amazing Easter procession in the nearby town of Sao Brás de Alportel.
We swam in the pool, walked hand in hand across the beach, went horseriding through the forest and played golf. It was the most wonderful, family time and we really indulged in it.
But our travels would not end here. Somewhat reluctantly we packed our bags, loaded up the car and pointed north. Out of the Algarve through pine forests and rocky lands to Lisbon.
Lisbon is a city we adore, it has so much going for it – a mild temperament, good food, historic sites. We pulled in to Corpo Santo, our hotel that oozed history and a fine welcome – canapés and wine for the adults, sweets and almond cake for the kids.
We spent a lovely few days in the city, climbing steep tiled streets to the castle of Sao Jorge, pacing the battlements, admiring the peacocks.
We stopped for delicious pastel de natas, eating their creamy custard middles in the grand city squares while fountains played around us. We watched the trams rattle past, learnt about the great earthquake which destroyed the city in the Lisboa Story Museum and skipped through the beautiful arched pathways that stretched around the grand squares.
It was a wonderful few days in Lisbon and strengthened our love for this beautiful city.
Once again though it was time to head further north. Through twisting mountain roads and past tiny communities, almost impossibly perched on top of the craggy landscape and over vast, fast flowing rivers we headed back in to Spain. The landscape and dwellings started to take on an Alpine air, changing from the dusty yellows of the south so distinctly.
We arrived at our final destination on our road trip through Spain and Portugal to Allariz and a spa hotel nestled in the valleys here and close to the picturesque and beautiful Arnoia River.
We spent such a lovely few days here, relaxed, watching the calming waters flow past the hotel. The best thing was that Oca Allariz has an amazing spa which children are welcome in to and we loved our time splashing about in the warm waters here, letting the tension of the travels wash away.
Allariz was our final stop on this wonderful adventure from north to south and back again and we headed towards the port of Santander, the grey skies and fat raindrops perfectly reflecting our sadness that this fun road trip was over.
The Bay of Biscay rocked us along, grey skies matching the grey sea as we counted down the time. The journey back wasn’t as pleasant as the one out but we got through it and completed our amazing family road trip through Spain and Portugal. We saw so many sites, shared so many smiles and will remember this fantastic time for ever.
We were guests of Brittany Ferries for the purposes of this review but all opinions are our own.