Road trippin’ from Porto, Portugal’s often underrated city is just about as good as it gets. A fantastic year-round climate, vibrant culture and unspoiled wild spaces offer history buffs and nature enthusiasts a perfect balance of culture and adventure. Porto is not far behind the magnetic draw of let’s say Lisbon or the Algarve and even well kept secrets have a habit of eventually getting out.
You can have a great time doing a Porto road trip in a regular rental car, but for a much better time, hit the road in a campervan. There are many choices for campervan hire in Porto, and the number of companies seems to increase on a daily basis, but these are no all created equal.
For this road trip we went with Siesta Campers, a well known and respected company in Portugal. The cool thing about their campervans is that they only work with VW campers and motorhomes. They’re onto something special there so check them out if you’re just starting planning your Porto road trip itinerary.
1 – Porto climate & geography
While it may not receive as much sunny days on average as Portugal’s southern regions, Porto is still very pleasant and suitable for year round camping.
Located on Portugal’s Northern coast, idyllic beaches are often arm’s reach, offer excellent surfing opportunities and are rarely crowded.
Looking inland, A porto road trip is a great choice for travelers wishing to explore the numerous natural parks such as the popular Peneda-Gerês National Park. En route, you’re sure to encounter mesmerizing historic villages and UNESCO sites.
The good thing about the vans from Siesta Campers, they’re all thermo and sound insulated so you stay cooler in the summertime and warmer in the winter time.
Speaking of insulation, water temperatures near Porto are very pleasant in the summertime, but extended dips during the cooler months will be quite fresh. For surfers wishing to spend more time in the water, a wetsuit is highly recommended.
2 – The flexibility of road tripping in a camper
Vacations are supposed to be all fun and no stress, right? Sadly, too often getting those dreamy holiday vibes demands lots of planning and preparation. Wouldn’t it be more fun to just go anywhere without the stress of having plans set in stone? Changing holiday plans last minute often tends to be stressful and expensive, unless you have camper loans.
If you choose to pick up a campervan in Porto over a regular rental, prepare for your worries to melt away. You don’t have to worry about hotel bookings or how long you’ll stay in certain places. If you crave a little detour, to leave a place early or to extend your stay all you’d got to do is set your mind on it. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned van-lifer, traveling in a campervan is a liberating experience.
3 – Is a Porto road trip budget friendly?
Porto is considered a very affordable European destination and if you’re planning on spending most of your time outside of the city in the more remote areas, prices drop even more. Combine this with all the benefits of campervan travel such as having your accommodation, kitchen and transport sorted out, the total cost ends up being quite reasonable.
Campervan hire in Portugal will typically cost somewhere between 50 – 250€ per day depending on seasonality and of course the type of camper or motorhome. Most of the time you’ll be able to find something for 125 – 150€. This ends up being about the price of a hotel room during the peak tourist season. What a hotel room does not provide however is transport or a kitchen in most situations. Having all of these things in 1 place is good for your wallet and offers tremendous freedom.
Hat about dining our in and around Porto? A beer at a bar will cost you around 1.50€ and it’s pretty easy to have a nice lunch for under 10€. Dinner is about the same. So, dining out won’t bankrupt.
If you plan on doing your own meal prep and putting that campervan kitchen to use you’re going to save even more.
For those practicing their cheffing skills inside their campervan, check out the local markets too. The produce is very high quality, cheap and you’ll get a better sense of the local culture. The Portuguese people are kind hearted and welcoming. Because tourism is so well integrated here, the majority of the locals will speak English too, and some a bit of French and German.
Tip: for additional savings, rent a campervan in Portugal outside of the peak season. The weather is just as good and you’ll have the beaches all to yourself.
Getting to Porto
With an international airport in Porto, a north Portugal road trip is very accessible. Porto’s location in general makes it easy for travellers to catch non-stop flights from many EU countries, North and South America, Africa and as far as Asia.
If you’re already in Portugal, getting around is easy. The country has a well established public transit network stretching between the far north all the way down to the Algarve. Busses and trains are quick, efficient and cheap so no matter where you’re coming, finding your way to Porto is a breeze.